I'm now back home from this amazing adventure... A week enjoying the daily rhythm of the sunrise and sunset over the Great Mississippi River... and it's time to reflect on my journey.
And of course not forgetting the fabulous people I met along the way. The strangers, who I can now call lifelong friends, who sat beside me throughout the journey and listened to my story.
I booked this trip as a holiday, I wasn't looking for an all out challenge, for that I'd have tried to climb Kilimanjaro, but I did want something more than just being a sheep for a week on a tour. Something that was going to push me a little, take me away from my home comforts, from everyday life and give me a real break from work and the rat race.
Canoeing down the Great Mississippi River, camping each night on a new sandbank, watching the sunrise each morning and setting each evening, seeing sky and water that stretched beyond what I could take in in one view, all made for paradise setting that any holiday should be made of.
Take away your phone, handbag, food choices, commuting, working, your make-up, a mirror, a toilet... yep, no toilets... then you really start to switch off and just enjoy the world we live in and so often forget to take notice of. Even sitting on the ground became a comforting place to be.
And then, you add the magic. Dave and Emily guided us throughout the week to talk about the world we live in, how we fit into it, and how we can give something back and find our purpose. It sounded scary at first - to stand up in front of the group and give a 20 minute talk about yourself, but it was actually quite liberating. We got to know one another in a different way to how you get to know people in everyday life. Instead of chit-chat conversations that spread out over dinners and drinks and boiling kettles... this was special, you were opened up from the outset, and with no mirrors or make-up, there was certainly nowhere to hide.
We talked about our passions, our goals, how to overcome our blockers and utilise our strengths to get to where we want to be. For some of us, we weren't even sure where that was until we started talking! Using Dave and Emily's examples, guidance and hints and tips, we all certainly got our ideas flowing.
At the end of week, we each created our own 'Yes List' - an almost private list of the things we want to achieve on returning home. I say almost private, now being a group of people who have bared all, we've also shared our Yes Lists. Which, of course, also means that there's no going back on what we've set out to do! We're each accountable to each other - I have to tick off my list and report back to the others, as do they, so there's no getting swallowed back up in life and staying in exactly the same spot as we were before we left.
So with renewed optimism, and what feels like an unscratched lottery ticket in my hand, I now have a Yes List that I am passionate about completing. And above all else, I'm really excited about where this river journey is going to take me...
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