10 Reasons to Say YES to Adventure!

Selfish. Ridiculous. Impractical. Nutballs.

I’ve been called these things before, and in many respects, they’re all true depending on your outlook. Is it selfish to take time for you? I dunno… Can you continue giving when completely depleted? Is it ridiculous to prioritize a scoot around the Grand Canyon over re-paving your pot-holed driveway? Maybe.

Saying YES to ourselves is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

I don’t care who you are — we all need to recharge from time to time! If that means taking a walk in the forest, so be it. Busting out to Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’ in your basement, rock on. Whatever your jam, you should spread it on and spread it when you need it. (SICK METAPHOR alert!)

And saying YES to something like an adventure is also not nutballs. See, adventure, changed me.

It all started back in 2009 when I finally faced the sinking feeling that despite all the fullness in my carefully curated adult life, I had nothing that really lit me up. (Please don’t ask me why I didn’t take up knitting or some other less costly endeavour… ) I took a chance on myself and decided to climb a mountain. With zero experience and no specific interest in the outdoors. You can verify this by asking my fam: Sam Plavins was decidedly NOT an outdoor girl.

But it’s HARD to say YES to ourselves. Because it’s an acknowledgement that we’ve been putting everything and everyone above our own needs. And, can also do the math. Carving out some YOU + YOU TIME = LESS TIME FOR LOVED ONES. Super. How do we feel about THAT?! Show me a woman who wants her family to suffer and I’ll show you the devil herself. It doesn’t exist. (Guess what? They will be fine and in fact, perhaps better to be left to their own devices for a while!)

The reality is, most of us keep plodding along. Telling ourselves we’ll wait until we have more money (newsflash: we’ll never have enough because human nature keeps us notoriously dissatisfied) or push the thing out until we have more time (another illusion: we have no control over our time here. It could all end tomorrow, and I know you know what I’m talking about).

Anywayssssss, in the spirit of urging you out of your funk, I’ve compiled this 10 Reasons to Say YES to Yourself (and take that Mother-Effing Adventure). Hope it helps!

  1. Your HEALTH. Girl, if you’ve got your health right now, THIS is the time to act. Thinking we can defer these epic goals of ours until we’re a little bit richer, older, wiser is a fool’s game. I’m dead-ass, too. You can always do that home renovation… but will you always be able to hike? What happens if you lose your mobility? What happens if you’re catapulted into a care role (like we were when my father took ill)? HEALTH IS WEALTH. Don’t wait. Do the thing.
  2. Travel is CHANGING. And not necessarily for the better. Pent-up demand is putting pressure on flight costs and who knows what the future looks like for air travel. If you care about our planet, you’re only going to feel worse about your carbon footprint as time marches on. Making a thoughtful, calculated decision with the information in front of you NOW is far better than the “wait and see” mentality.
  3. Find out what your MADE OF. I mean, you’re already super amazing and bad-ass. But what if you could stretch yourself? How would it feel to walk in sand for days? What would happen to your confidence if you stood atop that mountain for the first time? From a girl who had no business strapping on those crampons… let me tell you, CONFIDENCE is the first game-changing impact of Adventure.
  4. Open NEW DOORS. Over my 13+ years of adventuring, I’ve been blessed to meet some incredible folks. Some of these people have become allied business partners, dear friends, and spontaneous fellow adventure-seekers (read: always up for some random Sam Adventure whenever I call). Staying inside my little radius over here keeps my world small. It also keeps me safe, but safe is boring, predictable and ordinary. You’ve got one life. Who will you meet that could make a difference in your world? And vice versa!
  5. Face your FEARS. We all have them… Heights is a common one. On all my mountaineering adventures, invariably there would be someone deathly afraid of heights. And yet. There they’d be… putting one foot in front of another, pulling their weight up the mountain, learning to trust and let go. Would the rope and caribeener hold? Would our guide keep us safe when near those exposed ledges? Absolutely. Sidebar: I’ve never been afraid of heights, but I am afraid of losing control. I have had seizures in the past and they always happen when my cortisol levels shoot up. In other words: when Sam is stressed, she can seize! On my first mountain climbing adventure, I had no idea how my body would react to the thinner air. 22,000 feet is CRAZY HIGH. So of course I went for hypnosis before I left! Whether or not all that brain re-wiring helped remains to be seen. But I didn’t wig out, nor did I have a seizure. Fears faced!
  6. Behold the POWER OF YOUR BODY (and mind). I used to bemoan my meaty thighs, far too generous to get me anywhere in the ballet world. It’s the same reason you will NEVER see me in shorts. This is an annoying (being kind here) hangover from my body dysmorphia years as a teen. But over the years, I’ve seen what this body can do. And I’ve seen what MANY DIFFERENT BODIES can do. It’s unreal. The human body is built to be in motion. It can endure. It can repair, literally overnight. And it will shock the hell out of you if you let it. I was lapped by Octogenarians on the Camino Frances, absolutely humbled by the stamina of these older folks. If you don’t use it? Prepare to lose it. So take advantage of your here and NOW and don’t wait until you’re “fitter,” “thinner,” or “stronger.” (To be sure, it’s not ideal to show up for an Adventure having just loafed on your couch for all 8 seasons of Wentworth.)
  7. Unearth the EPIPHANIES. One of the most life-changing moments for me was that half hour at the top of Pequeño Alpamayo in Bolivia. I held up a picture of my family, at the time, the girls were 2 and 7. I professed my gratitude into my camera to them… for supporting me in my wacky adventure. But it was in that moment that I had the profound realization: “Why NOT me?” “Why would I feel guilty over having this joy?” “Don’t I deserve this after all I do for everyone else?” It was then that I stopped shaming myself for chasing my own happy. Imagine the epiphanies that could come from a night in the Atlas Mountains, where all you hear is the distant bleating of a goat and the sound of that gentle stream a few feet away.
  8. Expand your PERSPECTIVES. Adventure can happen in our own backyards, but it also can take you to the other side of the world. What can we learn from the people in Jordan? Can we crank up our awareness on the ACTUAL most precious resource on the planet? (Hint: it’s not diamonds.) Water! This country is the second poorest of all when it comes to water. What does this mean for the future? How can we help? What do we take for granted over here? Can we shift what we value in life? Could we reprioritize some of the initiatives we support? What can we learn from the farmers in Guatemala? How many pounds of snow peas does it take for them to make just $1? When we’re at the grocery store, how will this mindfulness change our consumption? Our waste?
  9. Fall in LOVE WITH YOURSELF. Ladies, I’m not joking here. It sounds like a load of hooey, but we can’t love others unless we love ourselves. I’m talking, falling in love with your stinky, aching, uncomfortable self. In the middle of nowhere. Yup… this happens. We become softer and more tolerant towards ourselves when thrown into the unknown. We rise up. We make decisions, choose the left path and not the right, trust ourselves, our guides, each other. We find all our needs met and realize that being on our own is not only COOL, but necessary for our soul restoration.
  10. Set the EXAMPLE. For those of us with kids, what behaviour do we model for them? Do we glorify the 60-hour work grind? Do we preach save, save, save, school, school, school? Our values will always guide us, but if we’ve ever wanted something different for our children, it needs to start with how they view us. I was once asked advice from a close friend about her daughter wanting to take a “gap year” over starting university. For my friend, it felt scary to have her 18-year-old go out into the world and explore. What if she never wound up pursuing any further education? I mean, WHAT? SPUTTER?! COUGH! We need to show the next generation that “YES! Contributing to society and working hard matters.” But so does taking chances, and letting go. I hope that my daughters view my “life is short” mentality as one option they could adopt down the road. We are over-conditioned to value money, possessions, structure and certainty in society today. It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Show them that deviating from the plan can also be healthy!

If you’ve never done anything off the beaten path and want to rediscover yourself, send me a message. A whole world awaits, and it doesn’t need to be a She Walks the Walk adventure. Just say YES to yourself, already!


She Walks the Walk at Tikal Guatemala

Finding her rhythm on Canada’s Bruce Trail.

“I felt so liberated on the Bruce. That’s the way I want to continue to live.”

At 24, most women are starting their lives with a road map to successful ‘adulting.’ They’ve got plans and expectations. But not Kendra. She’s following her own internal compass. And her quiet confidence moves me. 

Kendra Slagter considers herself the “super outdoorsy, super adventurous” type. Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Kendra’s thirst for the unknown took her to the far corners of Africa, where she spent a semester in Uganda during her third year of university. After graduating with a degree in Social Work in 2018, she then spent two months working in Kenya. She’s summited mountains. Hiked through rain forests. Always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible during her time out in nature. 

Last year, Kendra was chosen among thousands of applicants for a sponsored permit to tackle America’s famed Pacific Crest Trail, a 4200-km thru-hike that’s gained mainstream recognition thanks to Cheryl Strayed’s popular memoir Wild. Despite the formidable effort required to prepare for the journey — including selling most of her belongings to offset the cost — her March 2020 departure date came and went. Thwarted by the onslaught of COVID. 

Now unemployed, void of any plan, and stuck at home, Kendra found solace in tree-planting contracts as she began to dream about other opportunities for fulfillment. Her father was also in transition, dealing with the impact of COVID on his business and deciding his next steps. One day in September, while sitting at the kitchen table with her dad, an inspired idea hit Kendra smack in the face. She needed only to look out into her backyard. The Bruce Trail.

What if she seized this moment of downtime?

Kendra had grown up with the Bruce Trail right on her doorstep, spending weekends hiking short stages of it with her family. But the trail had lost its lustre once she began to experience the wider world and its infinitely tantalizing possibilities. Could she be convinced of the Bruce’s ultimate worthiness? What if she hiked all 944 km of Canada’s longest and oldest waymarked trail? What’s more, what if she tackled it with her dad? The serendipity of their combined downtime fuelled her imagination. Would he walk the whole thing with her?

The short answer, is YES to all of the above, but her story is a journey worth digging into. A tale of strengthening her self-awareness. Of facing intense discomfort. Embracing personal growth. And finding solace in slowing down. Together, she and her dad Ken supported each other through abysmal rain stretches and recurring injuries. But they never gave up, and completed the Bruce in 29 days, just as the snow was beginning to fall.  

Kendra produced a stunning video about her experience, which is how I discovered her. I was particularly moved by her reflections on the hike’s positive impact on her bond with her father. I knew I needed to know more about this young woman, who has already figured out that she doesn’t need to fit into some box society prescribes. So I interviewed her for the launch of my new SWTW Podcast. I’m stoked to bring you her story, which premieres on our first episode, here! You’ll find it wherever you get your podcasts.

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