Sonya is a 50-year-old wanderluster. She enjoys the thrill of a new discovery, finding new favorite things to do, and heart-pounding adventures. Mostly she enjoys traveling with her fiance Ray. They recently purchased a 2020 Jayco Redhawk SE and now they refuse to sit still or look back. Look out world, here they come!
How Trying New Things Enriches My Life
With Sonya Lowery
Fifty years old is when some people start to slow down, but I decided to crank it up. I believe that life is meant to be lived, and that you should never lose a sense of child-like curiosity. You don’t get to come back and do life over again, so why not live your best, most exciting life while you can? My motto is, “If it frightens you, do it anyway. Do it scared––but do it!” So when I started pursuing adventures, I gave myself a few guidelines to help myself get started.
TIP #1: LIVE OUT LOUD AND ON PURPOSE!
Make a decision, make a list, and then just do it. And here’s another tip… If the things on your list don’t scare you or challenge you, then you’re not thinking big enough.
In 2009, I decided I needed to do life differently. I was a single mom of two young boys, and I had fallen into a semi-depression. I remember thinking, “Is this it? Is this all that life has to offer?” The monotony was maddening. I found pleasure in escaping through travel shows with Samantha Brown or Anthony Bourdain, and writing down all of the adventures I would try if only I could. And then one day I took a long, hard look at that list and asked myself, “Why not?” Why not visit all the places on my list, and have all the adventures I’d been dreaming of? What was stopping me?
That day was the spark of a wildfire that could no longer be contained. That’s the day that I became my own personal she-ro.
As a single mom, I knew I couldn’t afford the expense of some of these adventures. But I had a plan. I called my dad, a television news editor, and asked him for help. This was before the days of YouTube influencers, but my idea was to barter videos in exchange for an experience. For example, if I couldn’t afford the price to skydive, I would offer to produce a professional-grade video for the company. They’d get marketing materials to draw in new customers, and I’d get to have an adventure for free.
The day of the jump, I nearly cancelled because I was paralyzed with fear. I imagined all the worst scenarios––what if my chute didn’t open? What if I landed wrong? And just who jumps out of a perfectly good plane, anyway? After hours of debating whether or not I should back out and a middle-of-the-night panic attack, I made myself drive out to meet the skydiving team. I told myself I could just show up and that I didn’t have to jump. And then I told myself I could just go into the building and take the lesson, and I still didn’t have to jump. Then I told myself to just get on board (without jumping). Pretty soon I had a nice gentleman strapped to my back, standing on the edge of the plane, looking down from 13,000 feet above the earth. I remember shouting, "WAIT!," but it was too late. He didn't let me hesitate. We were already falling through the air.
I remember that moment in slow motion. The rush of air filling my nostrils. The quiver of my cheeks as I hurled to the ground at 200 feet-per-second. “Ooooooh sh*#!” I suddenly remembered the poster on the wall in the building. “Don’t worry if you wet your pants, they’ll dry on the way down.”
That day. That jump. It changed my life on so many levels. The moment my feet touched the ground, I became a different person. Suddenly I could do anything! I would try anything! I remember thinking, “Man, other people have GOT to do this!” And that’s when I started my company, World Next Door. As Chief Adventure Officer, I knew that I had to create a place for all newbie bucket-listers and adventurers to get together. I knew there were other people that needed to feel alive like I did. But mostly, I decided to show others how to live fully––all while I was teaching myself. Suddenly, I wanted to do it all. So, after tackling white water rafting, hang gliding, zip-lining and tons of international travel, the next item on my bucket-list was to learn how to RV during COVID!
TIP #2: FIND YOUR PERFECT ADVENTURE PARTNER.
It’s important to become your own perfect partner first. If you know yourself and are truly happy on your own, you’ll attract the person that best suits the life you’re living. The right partner will bring out your best, follow you to the moon and allow you to shine for you both.
I met my fiancé Ray, by divine intervention one Sunday at a Memorial Day party. The moment I saw him, I knew he’d be my husband. And I was right. He proved to be my match, allowing me to lead when it came to trying new things, obliging all of my quirky curiosities. (In return, I allowed him to lead when it came to all things BBQ grilling. After all, he is the Master Grill Master. But I digress.)
When COVID hit, we had three international trips planned for the year. As adventurous people, being stuck in the house was doing a number on our mental health. We did all we could to stay busy, which mostly consisted of cooking, eating and steady weight gain. So when I suggested that we should buy an RV and hit the road, it didn’t take long for Ray to jump on board. (Pun intended). When it came down to staying in the house or moving around the country, we chose the latter.
Neither of us had camped or gone RVing before, but there was something that drew us to it. In the months before COVID, we had gone to several RV shows just for fun, deciding that it would be something we should try when we got older, like in five or ten years. But by the time June 2020 came around, cabin fever hit hard. We narrowed down our search for the perfect home-on- wheels, looking for a beginner RV that would fit our lifestyle. We chose the Jayco Redhawk SE.
Once we got it, we were like, “So how exactly does this camping thing work?” We were clueless. It was like leaving the hospital with a new baby. They put this thing in your hands and now you’re responsible for it. But this was a BIG baby and not only were we learning how to drive and maintain it, we had to get up to speed on a whole new lifestyle. Like what the heck was boondocking?
But with every challenge came an appreciation for our new way of life. RVing allowed us to feel truly free. If we wanted to see whales, we’d just pack up Rayson (yes, our Jayco has a name) and drive up to Cape Cod and rent a kayak. If we wanted to eat Beignets in New Orleans, we’d just hit the road and dream of Cafe du Monde. Now we go where we want to, whenever we want to. And because Ray can work remotely as a Senior Technical Recruiter, and the company I work for as an esthetician is flexible about when I can travel, the possibilities are endless.
TIP #3: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS.
This tip does not only apply to men. In this day and age, people have become so self-sufficient––sometimes too self-sufficient. We act like we don’t need each other, but that’s not true.
Ray and I are so new to RVing and so many things seemed to go wrong on our first few trips that we could’ve easily given up, sold it and gone home. But we found that the RV community is full of eager beavers who are ready and willing to help. They could see the angst in our faces when the shower backed up or our power went out. One neighbor helped us see that we were using too many amps at once, which had tripped the breaker. He showed us our reset button and told us which appliances were using the most power. Later, he brought over a serious blue daiquiri, and before we knew it, we’d made a friend for life. And in the great tradition of RVing, now we’re the ones passing along knowledge to other newbies. We recognize the look of frustration they have when they’re trying to process too much information. If we can help, we do. If we can’t, we offer them a serious blue daiquiri!
Because in the end, that’s what RVing and seeking out new adventures have in common. They bring you closer to versions of yourself you never dreamed you’d be. And they allow you to meet other like-minded people while pursuing your wildest dreams. So never be afraid to ask for a helping hand. It just might be the start of an adventure you’ll never forget.