All posts tagged: Adventure

How I Officially Became a Middle-Aged Badass in the Finnish Arctic

A few summers ago, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a roundtrip holiday junket to the Finnish Arctic region in hopes that I’d write about the region’s beauty, sustainability and why it should be a top travel destination for millennials who are increasingly seeking meaning and purpose when they travel.  But as a woman in midlife, a decidedly non-millennial, I found meaning, purpose and a little bit of a super-hero skill in the deep-freeze. I was offered two, week-long options. The first was to take the trip during the summer solstice in August, featuring hiking, biking and outdoor trekking. The second was a visit during the darkest and coldest time of the Finnish winter, January. Given that I’d be traveling solo and am middle-aged, I initially leaned towards the safe and more “typical” sounding summer holiday. But, after reflection, I thought, “Hell, Susan, why not go the challenging route? Get out of your comfort zone and be a badass for once.” So winter darkness was the selection I made, and my trip would …

25 Years Later, Adventures with My Husband Are Just Getting Started

“What’s the Australian equivalent of Ibuprofin?” I asked my husband, handing him Band-Aids out of a medicine chest in a hut in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness. “Is it paracetamol?” I said, flipping through various tiny white medicine packets stored in a Dixie cup. My husband winced and limped back to a bench to tend to his blistered feet. He’d been pretending they weren’t bothering him, but four days and almost 40 miles into our traverse of Tasmania’s Overland Track, his feet weren’t playing along. “Hey, your legs are still bleeding from the leeches,” he said, pointing to the rivulets that traced their way down my left calf. We’d learned that leeches secrete a chemical to prevent your blood from clotting while they fill up. You can’t feel them latch onto you and it doesn’t hurt to have them there, but once they fill up and drop off it, it takes ages for the bleeding to stop. “I know,” I said, dapping at the blood with a tissue. “Those little Tasmanian bastards.” It was the …

How to Lose at Wife-Carrying, and Win at Marriage

Author and journalist Jo Piazza had no idea what to do when she got engaged. She was terrified of taking on the role of someone’s wife. To figure it out, she traveled to 20 countries on five continents for her new memoir, How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage. Told in honest prose with astute reporting, the book is a survival guide for the first year of marriage. The following is an adapted excerpt from the book. Most dating advice given to newlyweds is horrible. Maybe not horrible, but at least not terrifically helpful. It’s like the people writing the advice wrote sitcoms in the ‘80s where the laugh track covered the sadness and every problem was fixed in 28 minutes, including commercials. There’s a lot of “don’t forget to have a date night,” and “never go to bed angry,” and “say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.” In other words, there’s a lot of bullshit. In the …

A Pragmatist’s Guide to Adventurous Living 

When people ask how a nice Mormon girl from a small, conservative college town ended up in New York City, I tell them it was by way of the Western Sahara, a desert wedding and a white camel. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trained for a life of adventure. Conceived in a well-traveled uterus (my parents had spent a grueling 12 months traveling the globe the year prior), I had been to 32 countries and visited every one of the United States except Alaska by the time I was 12. I celebrated my third birthday crying over a lost sweater on a Norwegian fjord. My fourth, waiting patiently in our VW camper for my father to be released from a Mexican jail. My fifth, eating couscous from the henna-ed hands of bejeweled women at a Berber wedding in Morocco and begging my parents to let me bring home a very sweet, very tiny white camel. And the year I turned 18, I furtively exchanged blue jeans for Soviet bezdelushki behind …

Oh Ottawa: Reflecting on a Canadian Life Left Behind

  If Belle from Beauty and the Beast were 40 today, would she still be living happily ever after or would she have second thoughts about leaving her provincial life? Would she still identify with that life at all? Growing up in Ottawa, Canada, I suppose in some ways I was a modern-day Belle leading the proverbial provincial life*. The grass is green, and there’s lots of it – in the summer months at any rate. With the federal government headquartered in the nation’s capital, the job market is robust and typically weathers market downturns well. There’s access to good schools and, of course, universal healthcare. At home, we indulged in many popular American imports. Our family tuned in to ALF and laughed at Steve Urkel’s silly jokes, my dad received a hero’s homecoming when he signed up for a Jumbo Video membership (Canada’s answer to Blockbuster) and surprised us with a copy of the newly-released Batman movie, and in the 10th grade I became completely obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera when a …

Margit’s Note: Choose Your Own Adventure

I turn 50 in June. I’m supposed to be lying to you about that, but nah. How old am I? I’m this many. Five Zero. I’ve earned my stripes. How does one celebrate half a century? I’ve been to a few fabulous 50 birthdays recently (remember, when you turn 50, many of your friends do too) — karaoke in a dive bar; 100 people sweating it out in a studio apartment, witnessing a friend (via Facebook) leap into the sky. My husband reminds me that I partied a little too hard and puked at my 40th. I’d rather not do that this year. For this milestone, I think I’d prefer a few mini trips with close friends. I’m not the sort to heave myself out of an airplane or do a soul-seeking trek to Tibet — I’m a little major-adventure averse. I’m not even keen about driving a car, thanks to a decade-plus of living car-less-ly in NYC. But taking a long weekend to a new spot with one or two really close pals? That seems like a …

How Flying on a Trapeze Helped Me Defy My Age

I twist and turn my way up four sets of metal stairs. Breathless, I finally reach the roof. The sun hits my eyes, obscuring the blue sky momentarily. When my eyes adjust I see a man swinging back and forth from a narrow bar, the skyline of New York in the background. Muscular legs wrap around the bar, his arms and shoulder-length blonde hair hanging free. Finally I spy the sign: Trapeze School New York. I stand next to my boyfriend. He is 29. I am turning 45. Today. When I told him I wanted to go on the trapeze for my birthday, I thought he’d pick me up afterward and take me to dinner. Instead, he wanted to come. Reluctantly, I let him. We’d already talked children (I’m too old, neither of us are interested) and managed late-night concerts (I went home at midnight, he at dawn). And yet, I was still afraid he didn’t realize what my age really meant. That I was at risk for osteoporosis and a host of older-age ailments. That …

I Left My New York Apartment For Life on a Boat

Three weeks ago, I sailed away from New York City. I cast off the lines from our 37-foot sloop and left New York harbor for the East River, along with my husband and dog. In that moment, and without much ceremony, we were no longer New Yorkers. The moment we left the dock, we became full-time sailors with no homeport to call us back. This wasn’t a longtime dream. We’re not lifelong boaters. Nor did we come from wealth or retire early on some startup exit. My husband, Jon, and I are simply wanderers. We spent years wanting something else. This is our else. Before moving to New York two years ago, Jon and I met through our love of travel. After a couple of years of dating, we each began working without an office, for a total of about five years, sometimes running a business together, sometimes working separately. This wasn’t gig economy work but rather leadership positions for traditional companies that were trying a new format of working. And it worked. I completely …