Machu Picchu. Bucket List.

Share

Bucket List.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Not sure why it’s taken me so long to publish this post, but it has.  Some might call it lazy, but lazy I’m not.  Some might say, I was too busy to focus on it. But if the truth be known, I was not too busy; I was just a procrastinator. In any event, here we go!

A few months ago, I was watching a segment of Sunday 60 Minutes called, the Children’s Village. I was touched by the humanity of India Howell and her business partner, Peter Leon Massy.  Their love of and desire to help children was heart-touching. It also reminded me of my recent adventure in Peru.

Machu Picchu. Bucket List.

Machu Picchu was never on my bucket list.  No, I was not jumping for joy at the opportunity to travel 12,000 feet above sea level—in hiking boots.  I mean the truth is, I’m a high heel kind of girl—5 inches high, I might add.  Yet, much to my surprise, when given the chance to journey to Peru in July, I was willing and able to show up.  That’s how life works. When we are open to the endless possibilities presented to us, we get so much more than we planned. At least that’s my experience.

12,000 Feet Above Sea Level.

Because I had never ventured to such a high altitude, I was a bit concerned. So, I prepared myself for the journey. I spoke with several friends who had trekked up the mountain, and had a conversation with my doctor about appropriate actions to take.  But the interesting and most telling thing is that I took the suggestions offered to me. What a novel concept. That single action allowed me to avoid the sickness often visited upon high altitude hikers.

First Class Travel, not so shabby!

The actual flight to Peru was delightful. Because I travel a lot, I’m an elite flyer on American Airlines and a lifetime member of the Admirals Club. Being an Executive Platinum has its perks, and there is something to be said for first class accommodations.  It makes a difference. So even though I arrived into Cusco at 5am Sunday morning, I felt rested.

The Bread House.

But the real fun began on Monday, which was our humanitarian day.  We left Cusco at 6am headed for the Azul Wasi Orphanage.  But let me step back. On the way to the orphanage, we stopped by a bread house.  Peru is a relatively poor country, so folks make money in whatever way they can.  Many bake and sell bread in their homes, hence bread house. The bread was so delicious that I took several wheel-shaped loaves home.  Perhaps because I love bread, but also because it was my small way of supporting the economy in this poor village. Three months later, I’m still eating bread.

Azul Wasi Orphanage.

From the time we arrived at the orphanage, I felt like I was steeped into a magical experience.  Nineteen kids greeted my small group with bear hugs and kisses. Wow! What a sweet and pleasant surprise.  They were so happy to see us, and made sure we knew it.  From that moment until we left the orphanage hours later, my heart was cracked wide open. Had I returned to San Francisco after that day, I would have felt fulfilled.  But there was more to come.  It was the start of an affair to remember.

On one hand, being with the kids was joyful. But on the other hand, it was sad. For most of these children, being at this orphanage was a place filled with more love than they have ever known.  Most of them had lived on the streets since they were barely able to walk. Their ages ranged from 3 to 19-years old, yet you could see in their little faces that they were old beyond their years.  Drugs, alcohol, and the streets were all some of them knew.  It was sad to hear their stories, and for the most part, we couldn’t discuss it with them. The memories were too fresh and painful.

I, more than anyone in my group, understood their plight. While not an orphan, my childhood was lost to drugs, alcohol, and a sordid lifestyle.  I lived homeless on the streets of New York at 18 surviving in whatever way I could.  I know all too well what one must do to survive.  Yet, I was granted a reprieve, an opportunity to turn the tide. There were angels in my midst.  So for me, this trip was not just a trip to Peru, but one more opportunity for me to say thank you and give back. And as in my life, there was an angel for these kids, and his name was Alcides.

A police chief for 30-years, he got tired of seeing these street kids come through his station. So he saved and saved and vowed when he retired from the police force, he would buy land and build a place where these kids could come live, grow, get an education, and become productive members of society.  A place where they could feel safe and loved.  Alcides has obviously succeeded, as evidence by the fact that while the kids are free to leave at any time, not one has chosen to do so.  How lucky they are and how blessed I was to get to speak with Alcides.

Sacred Valley. Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu.

The next day we were off to the Sacred Valley, and then Machu Picchu. What I can say most about the Sacred Valley and then Machu Picchu is how awestruck I was with what the Incas accomplished. We often like to think we are superior to other people and cultures. Yet, when one is able to witness firsthand what these courageous people created, we think twice about our assumption that we are better than most. Like the Romans, the Incas built structures that are still standing.

The most exhilarating part of the Machu Picchu day trip was that I became willing to do something I was afraid to do.  In anticipation of a bumpy upward climb, I gave myself permission not to go to the top. Once there, I allowed myself to take one baby step at a time, and before I knew it, I was on top. Being atop Machu Picchu was wonderful, but being willing to get there was awesome!

Someone asked, what was my favorite part of the trip? My answer was – the entire trip!  From the first day at the orphanage with the kids, to interviewing Alcides, to interviewing two of the children (Alfredo and Dante), to visiting a bread house, to visiting the Sacred Valley, to climbing Machu Picchu, every step of the way was a piece of the puzzle that made for a beautiful picture.  The final piece, bringing the puzzle all together, was the group itself.  I went to Peru, primarily, to support a friend’s charity (Legacies in Motion), engage in humanitarian work, and visit one of the NEW 7 wonders of the world. What I got was so much more. Yes, the actual act of climbing Machu Picchu was awe inspiring, but what impacted me was the fact that I was even willing to go.

A Life Filled With Endless Possibilities.

Today my life is filled with endless possibilities, and I am grateful to be alive and fully present enough to participate in this, my journey.  There was a time when I sat on the sidelines judging those who showed up for life.  People who, even if afraid, had the courage to take risks, go for their dreams, and possibly fail.  I was always afraid to fail, so I made safe choices.  Making safe choices keeps you protected and out of harm’s way, but also keeps you and your life small.

After 37 years of trying new things, I take a stand for those who are courageous enough to show up for their lives, try new things, meet new people, and live a life of limitless expansion. Life is so short; don’t waste it. Before you now it, it’s over.

Here’s to you!   Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter

 

 

Love Life. Live life quotes.

Share

I Ain’t Dead yet!

Live life.

Live life.

One of the good things about my life is that I have all kinds of friends and acquaintances. Some are moms.  Some are dads. Some are childfree. Some are retired. Some work. Some are gay. Some are straight. Some aren’t sure.  Some are dreamers. Some are not. Some like their life just like it is. Some do not. Some are willing to take risks and try new things. Some live in a self-created prison and allow their fear to stop them (even though they are afraid to admit that).

The friends I am most grateful for are those who believe that their life is continually evolving and are willing to stay in the game and discover the next chapter.  I especially love my girlfriends who are in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s who look amazing and who are active participants in their own lives.  If they are retired, they are still DOING things instead of waiting around to die. To them, retirement does not mean the end of life. In fact, for me at 63, I believe I have a lot of good, productive living left to do.  Why would I retire and drop out of life when there are so many more great places to visit, wonderful new people to meet, and fabulous new adventures to experience.

High heels, facials, and pedicures.

On top of it all, I’m still getting pedicures & facials, and wearing heels!

It’s kind of funny about the heels.  I still wear high heels and often women will ask me with great interest, “how can you wear those heels?” Then they proceed to tell me, “well you’re still young, so you can walk in them.”  I laugh, first because they think I am younger than I am, and often, they even think I am younger than they are.  I just take it in and laugh because my attitude is that I will continue to wear high heels until the moment I can’t.  I don’t wear mini-skirts, hot pants or dresses cut to my navel anymore, but I do love me some high heels!

So are you letting other people define you simply based on your age? If you are, you are doing yourself a great disservice and missing out on what can be a fun, productive, and yes, even an exciting life. Time doesn’t discriminate. Those who are 21 today will one day be 71 and 81, if they are lucky. Yes, our culture has become more biased in favor youth, but you don’t have to live in the box society places you in. You can live your life on your own terms.

As for myself, I ain’t dead yet, and I’ll live my life on my terms for as long as I can. Won’t you join me?  I’m Francine Ward living my life every second of the day. Facebook. Twitter. Google+. LinkedIn.

 

 

Values. Principles.

Share

Values. Principles.

Values. Principles.

Values. Principles.

“Principle doesn’t go away all at once, it’s a creeping erosion,” what a great line that I heard on last week’s episode of Billions. It describes how our values and principles have eroded over time. Too many of us are too willing to do anything in the name of getting what we want. Often we engage in compromised behaviors in order to justify the end result. But like it or not, after a while it takes its toll.
How many people do you know who seem to live by the creed “the ends justify the means?” Maybe you even practice this philosophy without really even knowing it or understanding it. Many seemingly good folks make excuses to justify their actions even though they know deep down that they are wrong. People are great at rationalizing bad and dishonest behavior.

Living Our Principles.

Here are some of the excuses/rationalizations you hear or maybe use:

• Everyone else does it.
• Nobody will ever know about it.
• I did it for my family.
• This is the only way I can get what I really deserve.
• I don’t have the time or resources to do it the right way.
• This is the only way to get ahead.

Of course, there are countless other excuses to not live up to your stated principles, to not walk like you talk.

It’s easy for people to justify taking “shortcuts” instead of doing the right thing because this behavior is all around us. We see it on the news every day, people in leadership positions, whether in the corporate world, entertainment industry, or politics, who abuse their power for their own personal gain. So what’s the big deal if I do the same thing?

Most of the time people begin by compromising their values on seemingly small things that “don’t hurt anybody.” However, these unprincipled actions soon become a habit and grow more and more egregious, eventually consuming you.

Trust me when I tell you that in one way or another, at some point in time, abandoning your principles catches up with you. If you are doing something illegal, chances are you will eventually get caught. If you constantly gossip about your friends, family and coworkers, it’s only a matter of time until it comes back on you. If you constantly lie to get your way and get ahead, your lies will eventually catch up to you. And even if you do “get away with it,” what price do you pay with your physically, emotionally and spiritually?

C.S. Lewis, the renowned academic, novelist and poet once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” I know it’s very easy to abandon your principles for expediency in today’s world. But I also know that being true to your principles, especially when you are tempted to stray away from them, is what ultimately leads to true happiness, satisfaction and success.

Feel free to join my conversation on Facebook, Facebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Girl Scouts. Ethics. Courage.

Share

Girl Scouts is for every girl!  Ethics. Courage.

Ethics. Values. Courage.

Ethics. Values. Courage.

Would you accept money in the form of a donation if it meant compromising your principles? Well, Megan Ferland, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Western Washington was put to the test when she received a $100,000 donation. It takes great courage to do what is right, especially when you go against the status quo. Ethics, it’s one thing to talk about ethics, and it’s another to practice it.

This seemingly generous donation to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, however, came with a condition, a condition Megan Ferland wasn’t willing to compromise on. The donor specifically asked for a guarantee that none of the money be used for transgender girls, or the money should be returned.

Ferland promptly returned the money saying “Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.” This wasn’t an easy decision because the Girl Scouts really needed that money. It was to be used to help families who couldn’t afford to pay for Girl Scouts enroll their children.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Instead of accepting that the $100,000 was gone, the Girl Scouts used the unfortunate incident as a rallying call and started an Indiegogo fundraiser (#ForEVERYGIRL) in an attempt to recoup some of the lost donation. Wouldn’t you know it, before the end of the first day of fundraising they had surpassed their goal and were close to raising $200,000!

How many people sell-out their principles every day in return for money, fame, or a career? I’m not downplaying people’s needs, they are real. That’s why it often takes courage to do the right thing. But as is the case for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, doing the right thing and living true to your principles usually pays off in the end.

So, how about you? Are you living your life in concert with your convictions and principles, or do you find yourself compromising or simply giving in?

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

 

Friendship. Courage. Friends on a Rock.

Share

Friendship. Courage.  Friends on a Rock.

Friendship. Courage.

Friendship. Courage.

Quite often life’s pleasures and great moments sprout from the little things, the things that may seem insignificant at the time.

A few weeks ago on CBS Sunday Morning, I saw a story on the news about three second grade students from Kittredge Elementary in North Andover, Massachusetts. These students created a long-lasting friendship from something as simple as a little rock sticking out of the ground in their schools playground.

Celia DiSalvo, Kyra Brown, and Alex Gamble were second graders when they began their quest to dig up this “little rock” using sticks and plastic utensils from the cafeteria. What seemed like a quick and easy task turned into a mission that lasted the course of 4 school years. Each day at recess, the three friends painstakingly dug around this rock in their mission to unearth it.

As it turns out, the little rock wasn’t so little at all, but rather a big boulder. Having followed the students unwavering quest, the school decided to bring in heavy equipment to finally bring the rock to the surface before the three friends left for middle school. Now, seven years later, the rock sits in the school’s playground, a symbol of perseverance and friendship.

As it turns out, this simple “little rock” has turned into a meeting place for the students of Kittredge Elementary. Students meet at the rock and form friendships. Some students say that the rock has become a sanctuary where students who are bullied or have few friends go to, and inevitably, find comfort and friendship. The three students who started the digging ten years ago have become school legends.

It’s the Simple Things that matter.

As is very often the case if we really take time to notice, great things often grow out of simple little things. One little good deed, act of kindness or generosity, or even a kind word can sometimes alter the direction of a person’s life – change their life!  Meeting friends on a rock.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover.

Another lesson this story can teach us is that it is never wise to judge something simply by what you can see from the outside – this goes for people as well as potential opportunities. What’s important is what lies beneath the surface, the unseen potential.

All of this from something as simple as a little rock sticking out of the ground? You bet!

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.