Some of the core values of AdventureWomen include stepping outside of what’s familiar and exploring new paths. Recently, our team has embarked on a special kind of adventure ourselves: we’ve taken a new leadership direction. Judi, Nicole, Erica, and Eliza are the new faces of AdventureWomen, and you’ll want to hear each of their amazing stories about what brought them here. This is Judi’s story.
By AdventureWomen owner, Judi Wineland
It is easy to stay within your comfort zone; it is familiar, safe, stress and risk free, and a rhythm that beckons every morning as you begin the day. But over the course of my life, I’ve seen the much more important benefits which flow from taking that unfamiliar leap, risking ambiguity, and diving into unknown waters.
Positive life transitions often come from traveling. Traveling takes you outside your comfort zone and gives you a chance to search for newness, see things differently and provides you with a chance to venture outside your familiar world. For some, this might feel risky, unsafe, and stressful. We wonder how we will act and react to the unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells and cultural differences inherent in new places we have never been to. But for those who are curious, who dare, the world awaits them.
For me, travel changed my life. The repertoire of taking a new challenge, gaining self-awareness, and learning that I have accumulated over the years continues to frame how I see myself and the world around me. Often even a single trip will be a transformational moment for me. When, for example, at 19, I headed to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, a major shift happened in my life. It was 1969 (please don’t do the math) when I joined a small all-women’s band at Colorado State University playing a 12-string acoustic guitar and singing songs from Peter, Paul, and Mary, the 5th Dimension, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel and, of course, the Mamas and the Papas. We sang to local fraternities and the occasional Shakey’s pizza parlors. We were novices but we thought we had potential, so we made a bold move to contact the USO in Los Angeles to ask if they might need us on one of their tours. A big leap but we felt, “if you don’t ask, you’ll never get.” When the letter came from the USO stating that they wanted us to go to Japan, Korea, Guam, the Philippines, and Vietnam to sing for our US troops, a new horizon appeared, with transformational potential.
Having never left the US, I was both incredulous and frightened. Shots, passports, strange people, long flights, the unknown, more shots, anxiety, and the unpredictable future provided months of sleepless nights for me for months. But this first trip abroad taught me to appreciate new cultures and the people who compose them. I learned that people who were so different could also be and so similar, changing my view of them and myself. Playing my guitar on the military bases or on the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier were exhilarating but what I loved most was going to the fish markets and mingling with the locals in Japan. I relished driving through the streets of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) filled with people, bicycles, and beautiful architecture. I began to feel at home on the rice farms outside Seoul, Korea, hearing languages so totally unfamiliar, and smells and tastes a world away from my westernized meat and potato diet. I loved every minute, every second of it.
That exhilaration propelled me forward as I majored in anthropology, taught high school, and then, in 1978, finally realized my passion by starting my own travel company, Overseas Adventure Travel. Finally I could show people that if you are willing to embrace some personal risks, feel the unfamiliar, be challenged, and live a little outside your comfort zone – you will surely find that travel can provide the most extraordinary life rewards!
My mantra has always been: “Change is better than a rest, so always continue to explore.” I’m pretty sure there are a few of you nodding your heads about now and I’m looking forward to hearing your AdventureWomen stories about how travel has transformed your lives.