How Curiosity Can Help You Find Courage and Joy

Learn how to kayak ✅.

Staying curious and open to learning new skills is a key ingredient in living a happy, authentic life. Every day is your classroom as a lifelong learner.

As you may know from my Instagram posts, I do not know how to swim and am not really comfortable out on the water. Actually, I’m afraid of being out on open water. Yes, I live for being next to and looking out on oceans and Great Lakes. Yes, I love beaches and intend to move to Portugal so I can live overlooking an ocean in an oceanfront flat. But put me in any large body of deep water and fear starts to take over. I’ve done a Viking River Cruise on the Danube, a handful of sailings on the Nile, in Indonesia, and in South America, but my rising anxiety was usually calmed by a glass or two of “medicinal” beverages.

Felucca on the Nile at sunset

Then there was the speedboat ride in Thailand that turned into a nightmare when the boat next to us hit a concrete pier and went airborne, throwing everyone into the water. There were no lifejackets on these boats, and the panicked passengers all tried to climb onto one side of our boat as we reached out to help them. We nearly capsized, but everyone got safely out of the water with no serious injury. Needless to say, this did not help my fear of being on the water one bit.

Minutes before the boating accident in Thailand
What remained of the sinking boat

Despite my fear, though, I’ve been curious about learning to kayak. In fact, kayaking is on my learning list I blogged about earlier this year, along with Portuguese ✅, bourbon-making ✅, and golf ❌(took lessons but didn’t love it).

Well, curiosity spurred me on, and I did it this week. My first time in a kayak and I didn’t tip over. I didn’t go out on an ocean or even a Great Lake. Just the upper Cuyahoga River in Hiram, Ohio. It took me four hours to paddle just seven miles, though, so I’m not winning any races, that’s for sure. Pushing whiskey tanks and flipping bourbon barrels have nothing on paddling for four hours straight if you ask me. Shoulders sore AF, but my core felt it in a good way.

There was only one brief section of rapids, but lots of downed trees and obstructions to maneuver around. I did it without incident so that’s an accomplishment in my book. I built up my courage, too, which is a win for me. Baby steps, yes, but a big dose of joy.

I also have to give a shout-out to blogger Still Bitchy After 60 for inspiring me to get going with my learning after she mentioned kayaking in this post of hers. Thank you for the encouragement!

Next, I’ve added hula-hooping to my learning list. I was gifted a beautiful, custom-made hoop by Empress Chakra Wanda, handmade by Sole Dimension. It’s a goddess hoop, nearly four feet in diameter and filled with healing crystals that make the most wonderful sound. So far, I’ve only heard the sound of them falling to the ground as the hoop drops around my feet during my wacky, made-up version of “hoola”-ing. I’ve never been able to hula-hoop, even as a child. Of course I don’t have a fear of hula-hoops (unless they’re on a large body of water), but I am afraid of making a fool of myself so I’ve only been practicing in the privacy of my living room, not outside where anyone can see — and laugh at — me. But I’m going to cast aside that fear and take my goddess hoop outside now, to work with a friend who said she’d teach me. I am determined to leave my “hoola” hooping behind and transform into a Hula-Hooping Hot Goddess one day. Stay tuned.

I’ve written about Tom Vanderbilt’s book, Beginner: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. It’s one of my favorite reads because it celebrates discovery and possibility at any age. Vanderbilt committed to learning five new skills — chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling — that had nothing to do with career or professional development. Like learning how to make bourbon whiskey, speak and read Portuguese, kayak, or hula-hoop, mastering his new skills helped conquer fears and bring joy as a beginner seeing new possibilities.

Curiosity and an open mind are powerful, comfort zone-busting facilitators of courage and happiness.

So tell me: What are you curious to learn?

All images The Hot Goddess

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  1. Kudos again Natalie. I admire how you keep learning, growing, and enjoying new experiences. I love kayaking, although it’s been a few years since I’ve gone. And I love playing, swimming, being in or near water! 🏄‍♀️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Amazing! Were you scared in the kayak? Also, all of those pics are amazingly gorgeous! And BTW, I suck at hula hooping also. Like I just can’t do it! 🤷🏼‍♀️ Hmm, something I want to learn. Umm lemme get back to you, I feel like I’m keeping my head above water at the moment and all my focus is on that. But it’s a great question and I want to answer it! 😬🤣🦋xo

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So glad you went for it. The more you kayak, the more you love it. I go two or three times a week. Thanks for the shoutout. Happy to be able to help you make the decision. Now I am looking forward to updates on the hooping.

    Liked by 2 people

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