One night I recently mentioned to my husband how my dentist wanted me to replace some fillings. I hate the dentist, always have, and so out of habit I started to use my old standby metaphor of how I'd rather go ice fishing than go to the dentist
But before the words made it out of my mouth I suddenly stopped myself — because I realized in one surprising instant that I really did want to go ice fishing.
I am not the person I was a year ago.
The idea that I could consider ice fishing an enjoyable, or interesting or even tolerable activity would have been unthinkable a year ago. Last January, being even a little bit physically uncomfortable was a nonstarter for me. Cold? NO WAY. Wet? Nuh-uh, not no how.
It's not like I was a mousy, pink-loving, spa-living, scared of everything kind of girl. After all, I joined the Army. I survived a divorce, then navigated single motherhood without killing myself or my kids. I ran on the treadmill and lifted weights several times a week. I was a survivor.
But "outdoorsy"? No, I was not outdoorsy.
So what changed?
What changed was I made the decision to take a risk. I came up with an idea — the concept of Outdoor Book Club — that I knew would change the world. But I also knew that idea would require me to show up in the world in a much different way than what I was used to. I would have to learn to find my way in the woods, how to put a kayak on the top of my car without help, how to lead other women out of their comfort zones and into the starry night of their own adventures.
Here's what didn't change: I have always valued experiences over things. I'm an INFJ on the Myers Briggs scale, which means I tend to be introverted but deeply committed to seeking out a meaningful life that has a positive impact on others. So the fact that I had to learn how to backpack, how to mountain bike, how to lead women out into the wilderness to discover how truly strong and amazing they could be? That became a mission I could get behind.
So I sought out the experts, and learned by doing. These days, I spend my days seeking out adventure. Whether that's calling up the editor of the local paper to see if she wants to write an article about my company, or talking with my sixteen year old daughter about her college options (which is actually pretty scary for me), I'm always trying to push myself to risk just a little bit more.
Often that means hanging out with women who were just like me, women who know there's more to life than just work and zoning out in front of the TV or internet. I help them move past their fear and into a zone of bliss called self-discovery. I help them discover that they are capable, strong, amazing, and best of all, KICK ASS.
Never could I have imagined the changes that lay in store for me
This change has also showed up in my own life in some unexpected ways, and here are four areas of my life that have completed changed since I've become more adventurous:
1. I've lost weight — effortlessly
About 15 years ago, after my first child was born, I was tipping the scales at 180 pounds and was sick and tired. I decided to change my lifestyle using the fairly draconian fitness and diet program. I won't lie, it was a TON of work. Cardio, weight-lifting, complete diet overhaul. I became lean and strong and lost 20 pounds of fat in eight weeks. Eight long, hard, ABSOLUTELY BANANAS weeks.
But a person can work out like crazy and obsess about food only for so long. Fortunately, I've found something more sustainable: going outside and having fun. Today I walk my dogs, ride my bike in the woods, cross-country ski for date night, hike with friends, kayak first thing in the morning — whatever it takes to get outside and move. Although I may have a slightly unhealthy relationship with pizza and wine, it turns out that when you're physically active as part of a dedicated spiritual and mental daily regimen, achieving a healthy weight comes naturally. I may not have the 7% body fat of my post draconian-fitness days, but I'm also a lot more accepting and appreciative of my body and what it can do.
2. I attracted an amazing love into my life
I remember a moment less than five years ago after my husband left me. It was 3 a.m., I couldn't sleep and was staring out the kitchen window at the snow, despairing at the mess my life had become, with one thought running rampant through my broken heart: no one is ever going to love me again.
It was an incredibly difficult journey back from that point, one that included an eventual divorce and a shit ton of emotional work on my own insecurities and flaws, but the transformation has been life-changing. Two years after splitting from my ex, I met Mike, who eventually became my husband. He was (and continues to be) impressed by my passion for life, my curiosity, my ability to decide to do something and then do it. He has enriched my life in so many ways that there was no other option than to marry him. Today I take risks, both physical and emotional, with him that I NEVER would've taken in my previous life. Adventure can show up in your life in some really crazy ways.
3. My confidence has skyrocketed
Perhaps as a direct result of the improvements in my weight and my relationship, or maybe the other way around, my ability to own who I am as a woman feels like coming home. I still have anxious days, but that's more of a function of what's going on in my life right at this moment (blending five kids into a new family). I finally wrote that book I've been meaning to write (I also have a novel that I'll someday finish). Today I spend my days saying what I mean, asking for what I want and generally enjoying being happy and strong.
4. I make money that is all my own
Last year I started Outdoor Book Club, and though it's barely been a year, the financial freedom that comes with owning your own business feels incredible. I'm working my ass off to market and sell the trips and workshops that I offer, and have some big plans for this company in the future. When I spend money that I make doing what I love, it's an act of strength and power so enormous that I feel invincible. In fact, it feels so good to own my own business I'm passionate about helping other women launch their own successful businesses (want to learn more? I've got a workshop for you!)
Here's how I define adventure
Eleanor Roosevelt once said “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” That sums up exactly how I live my life — whether that's deciding which book I'm going to read next, or the goals I'm going to set for the next 20 years.
The weight loss, the relationships (I didn't even mention my new network of strong women who bring joy and strength to my life in a myriad of ways), the confidence and the money have all shown up since I made a conscious decision to seek out adventure, wherever it may be hiding. Now instead of living a life of constant struggle and self-doubt, I live a life that I'm proud to have built on my own.
Let me know in the comments if adventure has changed your life, or maybe some ideas of how it will in the future. If you're still figuring out how to find more adventure, stay tuned. If you want to lead a more adventurous life, I've got some great tips and guidance coming up soon.
In the meantime, I have an ice fishing trip I need to plan. :)
Want to add more adventure to your life? Take the plunge, or leap, or spin or whatever it is you do and join us for an adventure weekend that will change the way you see the world.
Jill Hinton Wolfe