The first message I received on Valentines Day went something like this:
heidi,this is the first time I’ve looked at facebook in 5 months or so. i wanted to tell you that i love how much you live your life. few people ever live truly, and so most people might as well have not ever lived. But you live, i like that…..
Ok, well to level set, I am not always loving living. My facebook updates make me look like a rockstar but that’s because I’d never promote “I’m so blue today” or allow my fat pictures to go viral. However, regardless of my emotional state, I do jump into life’s high and low points and relish every moment of it. Many people are focused on just promoting their life, that they actually don’t get into it enough to really live it. So, a few lessons that have helped me LIVE, for what they are worth.
1. Embrace Your Failures
Failure is inevitable. Jesus, I had so many in 2012—broken career, broken relationship, broken feet (fracture-1st metatarsal, both feet). I was not loving very much of my life and took my relationship with the whiskey bottle very seriously. However, after sufficient drunken wallowing, I decided to stop and evaluate what had happened and what I will do differently. Because once you hit rock bottom the only way to go is back up. Through failure we rebuild. Someone I know and love dearly has a company that is on the brink of bankruptcy. However, instead of letting grief overcome him and blowing his (metaphorical) brains out, he acknowledges how much he has learned, and what he will do different next time. Because there will be a next time. A next company, a next love, and a next race.
2. Get Uncomfortable
I was at a fancy dinner recently where I recounted my adventures in Central America. I told the diamond bracelet women and well suited men how I had taken the local buses and crossed the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica on foot. They looked at me like I was a fungus.
“But..” one woman stammered, “it’s so poor there. And not Americanized! That’s not for us….” Little did she know the best experiences of my entire trip happened because I took the local buses, worked my (broken) Spanish, and hung out with locals and backpackers. In Nica I got to hang out with the first Nicaraguan surfer who told me her inspiring story. In Costa Rica I gave up a marbled condo to sleep outside with a beautiful adventurer who led me to moss covered hot springs, secret rivers, and other wonders far off the beaten path. If you stick to man made luxury, you are never going to experience anything and you certainly won’t grow. Get out of your comfort zone- let the world amaze you.
3. Take HUGE Risks
In everything. Everyone says “Life is short” but few really live like it is. People stick out their corporate job with 401K padding, date the ‘safe, good on paper’ guy, and vacation in modernized timeshares. They keep their dreams and loves locked in a tiny box and never open it, fearful that it just won’t work out.
Sometimes it doesn’t. I *may * have once sent a foreign love interest a love letter with a photo collage. He didn’t respond well.
I *may * have also hastily passed off my rolodex of clients to another consultant as I jumped into a job I thought I was destined for. It didn’t work out.
However, at least I tried. What if it HAD worked out? The regret of not trying and not going after what I want would haunt me far worse than any failure. Entrepreneurs are revered here in Silicon Valley because they go up against millions of naysayers and fight poverty to prove out a concept they believe in. (Read the story of Air BnB). Stories of lovers that risk family or country war (Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Antony) are the most revered tales.
Some people think I’m crazy. Others tell me to be practical. Many hope I land somewhere safe with someone safe. However, that would be boring. I’ll never stop having adventures. I’ll also never stop writing love letters. It’s Valentines Day after all.
” Life is either a daring adventure or nothing “– Helen Keller.