Upon arriving into Auckland, New Zealand mid-day on a gorgeous Sunday in late January, I hopped on the Skydrive double decker bus to head to city center and dive into a new adventure.
Our travel group met up at the hotel and hit the ground running on our 22 day journey by visiting the All Blacks Experience dead center of downtown. We were immersed into a cultural experience and deep dive into the proud history of the country’s national sport of rugby.
Being the sports jock, I surprisingly had never been exposed to this sport. The interactive tour was very well done and informative, as we even got to step into the players’ shoes to kick, pass and run. But even more powerful to me was the rich team culture that they live and die by.
These are the 15 team mantras that created such a powerful, dominant brand & vision:
1. Pride in performance – do the little things
2. Self improvement – no complacency
3. Play w/ a higher purpose
4. Take responsibility & own team improvement
5. Be humble, hungry & smart – mentor
6. No dickheads – team first
7. Dream big – embrace fear of failure
8. Prepare to win – emphasize training
9. Be aware – decision making under pressure
10. High performing teams – honesty & authenticity
11. Strong sense of community & belonging
12. Sacrifice for team – high standards
13. Shared team culture – legacy
14. Your character is more important than your reputation
15. It’s your time to make a difference!
It’s rare to be a part of a high-performing team and winning culture, so these lessons are applicable in all walks of life. Definitely something to aspire to!
I am a huge fan of a four day adventure anchored around Saturday & Sunday. These “quickies” always give me something to look forward to and help me power through the typical extra long event days.
These bite sized adventures give me life and always revitalize my energy level. For out of state ideas, I research late Thursday pm flights and red eyes returning in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. While for local ideas, I have the car packed and ready to bolt immediately after work.
My travel philosophy is to cram in as much as humanly possible, as I can sleep when I die. I live out of my trusted bookbag and wouldn’t have it any other way. It is very empowering to live simply and just go with the flow. I have definitely learned to embrace spontaneity and be more patient as travel plans rarely unfold exactly as you had imagined.
From short cruises to beach getaways to hiking in National Parks to road-tripping with family to big city escapes to university roommate reunions to diving excursions to college basketball celebrations, the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
My personal goal is to have a minimum of one weekend a month to get out and explore. Ambitious?!? Yes. Doable?!? Absolutely.
I don’t take for granted my extreme adventurous spirit….. ever!
After a 3:50am delayed arrival onto the island of Tahiti, I got whisked away to my hostel directly adjacent to the ferry in downtown Papeete. I had 45 mins for a Power Nap and quick shower to refresh prior to dashing over to the terminal to grab a spot on the first sailing to Moorea at 620am.
The short 17km channel between the two French Polynesian islands was my literal passage into vacation mode and my smile grew wider with every wave we crushed through.
I had no plan but immediately knew when I bolted off the ferry I was going to rent a scooter for the day to enjoy this paradise on my own terms.
With a killer playlist, I tooled around the island loop hugging the coastline and couldn’t have been happier with the freedom to roam. I stopped at every overlook and even caught a glimpse of the infamous overwater bungalows. Stunning!
About halfway around the island, I took a beach break and had the entire shoreline to myself. AYKM? Tucked into a bay between the towering, rugged cliffs and the open sea, the white sand beach had crystal blue waters that I just had to dip my toes into.
Then I rode high up into the mountains to get a different perspective and it didn’t disappoint. After a short 1km hike to a couple of overlooks, I sped down the switchbacks to continue my journey.
I found a popular Oceanside cafe to indulge in some fresh shrimp curry while basking in the gorgeous 70 degree summer sunshine. The eyeballs were even glaring back at me… talk about fresh seafood!
I couldn’t resist another beach visit to enjoy some snorkeling and swimming, prior to completing the loop. Not a bad way to spend 7 hrs and ease into an exciting 3 weeks of vacation. I had earned it!
How could I have forgotten how tantalizing the last weekend of October can be?
Through the eyes of children, this holiday takes on a whole new meaning. I’ve never really been a fan of the horror genre or found joy in dressing up. I would rather skip right over the festivities and have an extended Christmas season.
But I had a long weekend off that just happened to fall on Oct 31 and got sucked into a kids dreamland of never ending trunk or treats and sponsored parties. And nowadays, every kid has like 2-3 different costumes to rotate throughout the week. WTF? Growing up, we had one silly outfit like a crayon or a clown to be embarrassed about. Now the choices of Buzz Lightyear, the Hulk or a skeleton all sound pretty damn cool. The young princesses also can sport a Harry Potter robe or unicorn blowup.
Regardless of the scary vs the cool, chaos ensues while constantly changing outfits, maximizing the time left after crappy daylight savings time has gone into effect and chasing the “good candy”.
The night is over in a flash, as all the kids go into a sugar coma and the adults raid the massive stash of goodies after they fall asleep.
Swim in a glacial lake with visual icebergs?! If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I would never believe it.
Our last trek on a three week jaunt around New Zealand culminated at the base of the majestic Mt. Cook on the southern island. Much to our delight, we had the perfect summer day with abundant sunshine and minimal cloud cover. To see the peak of the highest point in the country is very rare and our cameras clicked away.
The Hooker Valley 7 mile round trip trail was an absolute delight with numerous suspension bridges, viewings of the glacier and lookout points to keep us yearning for more. The packed shingle (aka gravel) path was very well maintained and transported us to a glacial lake in the shadows of the stunning Mt. Cook (where Sir Edmund Hillary did much of his high altitude training prior to summiting Mt. Everest).
After savoring this masterpiece for awhile, our local guide Taz did the unthinkable by taking the cringe worthy jump into the icy waters. AYKM?!? He literally swam out to the floating iceberg and climbed atop in his bare feet.
After numerous cheers from our team and other random strangers, he had a few moments to himself to revel in the feat and truly enjoy the crazy experience prior to delaying the inevitable of jumping back into the icy waters to complete the journey.
I don’t know about you, but once the clock hits 5pm on the day before vacation I feel as light as a feather. Once it actually sinks in that a new adventure is on the horizon, I am like a kid in a candy store……
My music gets cranked up, smile widens to an obnoxious level and anxiety kicks into overdrive that what I packed 2 weeks prior is still sufficient.
I finish the email to my parents and BFFs with my crazy web of plans and can’t wait to push off from the runway to disappear…..
Ready to get out of my comfort zone.
Find a way to disconnect.
Meet new, like-minded travelers.
Be fully present.
Get lost in my dreams.
Do you experience that feeling of invincibility and complete high of cloud nine?!?
Usually once or twice a year, Central Floridians get the joy of hunkering down as a natural disaster rips through the state. Locals and tourists alike go into a state of panic, as the nearby gas stations run out of petrol and the local supermarket shelves sit bare.
All houses near the coast come with mandatory shutters and the debate ensues on the threshold of wind in which you will finally succumb to break out the ladder. My neighborhood has gotten lax over the years and I don’t even flinch until 70+ mph. What people don’t tell you, is that shutters block all the natural daylight from existence and you are stuck in a dark dungeon to waste the hours away.
However, I thoroughly enjoy the downtime and quiet refuge. And I’m one of those that really dives into all those projects on the to do list that have sat for way too long. Plus I usually chose a new TV series to binge watch and loose all track of time (remember, I’m in a huge black box where time is irrelevant).
I obviously make light of the situation, but it is always fortunate when we don’t lose power or have any substantial damage….. the threat is always out there!
I get a lot of crap for this one, BUT I’m one of the proud few that can’t wait for Halloween to expire so that I can climb into the attic to throw down all my Christmas decorations.
That first week of November is my time to get in holiday mode and I rarely find an excuse to delay this tradition. It’s not that I don’t love Thanksgiving or the somewhat cooler fall temperatures (which can be questionable in central FL), but I’ve always worked most major holidays. So the season is significantly squeezed and I will find any excuse to enjoy the calming lights and fir scents as long as humanly possible.
So my winning combo is showcasing the start of college basketball season on my big screen, light up a few seasonal candles, heat up a quick dinner and tackle the onslaught of pine needles flaking off all the smashed tree limbs that are screaming to awaken. I inevitably get frustrated with finding the non-labeled branches and end up just haphazardly draping the four strands of lights after a few hours. I dive into original boxes of keepsake Hallmark ornaments, which are never ending and half of which don’t get used once again.
The star is the final touch and I always sit for at least 30 mins just reminiscing and enjoying my creation. And typically, I rest my eyes for a few…….. and realize it is now 3am & groggily move to the bedroom!
Mid October is a college basketball fanatic’s greatest joy, besides rumbling in the Final Four in early April. The squeak of high tops on the hardwood floors and the clank of the ball hitting the rim are welcome sounds after a long summer hiatus.
On certain years, my birthday falls on the eve of Duke basketball’s coined matchup called “Countdown to Craziness”. This event is the first time raging fans get a glimpse of the new team and all the preseason conditioning is put to the test.
We showcase our new blue and white gear, along with fresh kicks ready to cheer on the boys through the ups and downs over the next 5 month schedule grind.
While most fans revel in an explosive dunk or wild fast break, I love picking apart all the offensive sets and dissecting the defensive formations. A former point guard’s mindset never changes.
Then you just have to buckle up for the wild ride while teams learn how to play together, the freshmen grow into their roles, injuries plague certain squads, coaches push the superstars to elevate and team loyalty runs at an all time high.
While it is just a game, the contagious school spirit is so invigorating and addictive. Fall is easily my favorite time of year!
Give yourself the gift of adventure and I promise, you will rarely be disappointed.
The trance of a new trip is so invigorating, and I do mean every step of the process.
About a month in advance, I start to gather my essentials and a pile builds on my bedroom floor. Then I squeeze everything into my tried and true vacuum bags and, inevitably, I need to scrap half my clothes and start over.
Then a week out, I am usually consumed with tying up work loose ends but avoid the last minute stress of packing. The countdown to 12:01am comes knocking and I frantically try to slip into a sleep coma so every ounce of energy is bottled up. Bring it on!
And the world tour begins….
Each adventure is equally riveting and a grand new story starts to unfold.