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How to Be Brave-ish with Travel Expert Lisa Niver

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following. We break those rules and we find a new path to being freer, happier, sexier, and more self expressed. I'm your host Erin Keating.

In this episode, I have a great conversation with writer and travel expert Lisa Niver, whose new book, Bravish, One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After 50, tells the story of how the end of her marriage catalyzed a great adventure when she decided to do 50 brave things before she turned 50.

She actually did the bucket list thing, but there were 50 things on her list. And this is a person who's been to over a hundred countries, has had wild adventures, even [00:01:00] before she started this list. So she has seen a lot of the world. She's an expert at getting out of your comfort zone. And we had a great conversation about making unconventional life choices.

The difference between being brave and being brave-ish, which turns out is all you need to be. Where you find community and belonging in life and why scuba diving changed her life. You're going to love her story. Here it is.

Lisa Niver is an award winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. She sailed across the seas for seven years, working for every major cruise line and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Three years. I did it for like several months in my twenties. She writes about travel for places like USA Today, National Geographic, and she talks about it on KTLA Los Angeles. She has a podcast. She's very productive called make your own map about being brave [00:02:00] and stepping out of your comfort zone. Her new memoir, Brave-ish, which is wonderful. One breakup, six continents, and feeling fearless after 50 is available for pre order everywhere you buy books. Lisa, welcome to Hotter Than Ever.

Lisa: Oh my goodness. Thank you for that very kind introduction and thank you for inviting me on your show. I'm very excited to be on anything that's called Hotter Than Ever.

Erin: Yes. Well, you are the definition of Hotter Than Ever because you have reinvented your life after It's an experience that I think a lot of us can relate to. And I want to talk to you about travel and adventure and I want to hear your thoughts about courage and risk taking and your personal journey that you talk about in your book and where you are today. So you've been a traveler and a travel writer for most of your life. And it's a Um, something happened when you were 47 in your personal life that catalyzed this latest chapter of your journey and led to you writing this amazing book. Just going to jump in in the real, the real, real.

Lisa: Okay. So my book does start with the ugly end of my marriage. And I think for myself, the thing I've discovered, I often tell people getting divorced sucks. Being divorced is something totally different.

Erin: Okay. Good. It's weird. Cause I'm like. Uh, two inches away from being divorced part sucks.

Lisa: Yeah. And the se not fun at all. And I'm so sorry that you're in the weeds of it. There's no children that were in my marriage and that's obviously a very different piece, but it was still quite messy. And one of the things I noticed having grown up, you know, it's the summer of Barbie, having grown up with these unrealistic expectations of how the original Barbie looked when you and I were little. And there's this idea that we're going to find the. Only person that would ever work and it's going to be forever, no matter what. And we're staying.

Erin: It's an insane proposition. Like, when you put it that way, it sounds like [00:04:00] madness.

Lisa: Well, mine got to the point where it felt like madness and it was unsafe for me and I had to figure out how to extricate myself. And like many other times, like after I dropped out of grad school and after September 11th and my company went bankrupt, I ended up back in my childhood bedroom.

Erin: Oh, the childhood bedroom. I was just in my childhood bedroom. And even though they put different stuff in there, it still always feels like all those feelings live in that room.

Lisa: Out of pure kindness, when you're back with your parents, no matter how old you are, I remember when I first got back to America, cause I'd been in Asia and I was driving to the beach and my mom said, do you think you want to take a sweater?

Erin: For me, it shows up as tissues. When I'm driving, my mom is constantly looking at my nose and telling me I need tissues. I'm like, do I walk around in my regular life? What, boogers all over my house, or is it just you?

Lisa: I had to [00:05:00] really think through that that was her way of being caring and I wanted to look at her and be like, do you think I managed to travel with a backpack for months on end and I didn't know when I needed a sweater?

But it wasn't about that. Yeah. My parents have been so incredibly supportive, and my whole community honestly has really rallied for me. When I was first trying to decide how to get out of Thailand, and I was in my hotel room sobbing for 72 hours, I literally was on Skype. calling around the world as the sun moved, as the earth moved around the sun, I would call a different time zone.

I called my friends who were in China. I called my friends in Europe. I called my friends in America. And then it was back around. I'm like, Oh, I could call her again.

Erin: And what were you telling them? What were you talking about? Why were you in a hotel room for seven? I

Lisa: I was calling them to say that things had gone horribly wrong. And nobody knew how bad it had gotten the situation between us. Between me and my ex, the situation had really fallen apart. [00:06:00] He was drinking more and more. He was more and more violent. I had excused away a lot of bad behavior and there was a lot of apologies. As anyone who's been in that kind of situation knows, there's always a lot of apologies and there's a roller coaster of. I don't remember. It'll never happen again. I didn't mean it. You know how much I love you. And you're like, well, is this the hill where I'm going to say I'm drawing a line?

Erin: Right. What's a bridge too far? Right. Exactly. So this time you decided, okay, I think I need to go home by myself.

Lisa: After a lot of conversations, my best friend, I was on the phone with her and she said, If I buy you a plane ticket, will you get on the plane? And I said, why am I getting on the plane? We had the dumbest conversation round and round and round. And she said to me, if you won't get on the plane, I'm flying. to Thailand and I will [00:07:00] get on the plane home with you. I'm like, you're going to fly here to sit next to me? And there was a part of my brain that was like, wow, it's really far. This doesn't make sense. And eventually I agreed to get on the plane by myself.

Erin: What do you think that resistance was? Because you knew you were about to break a big pattern and that you were about to turn your life upside down, but maybe not consciously, right?

Lisa: Part of it was about, Something I think a lot of women can relate to that I was aggravated that I wasn't safe by myself, you know the feeling that I know a lot of women have you're walking through the dark parking lot and you have your keys threaded through your fingers like that is going

Erin: Right, like you're gonna know what to do with that.

Lisa: And so I think I felt like I can stay here in Thailand by myself at a different hotel I don't have to leave Asia. And she said, maybe you kind of do need to leave Asia. And she was also worried the longer that I stayed, the more there would be a pullback. And [00:08:00] she wanted me to have enough time and separation and to support to make my own choice. Um, was I having a break in the relationship temporarily? I had actually taken my wedding ring off and I had told my ex, I had said, our marriage is broken.

And I did know that, but I didn't know if that meant it was really enough. And there's times when I watch certain TV shows, like the original Sex and the City, when you think about all the times that Carrie and her friends are sitting around talking about Big is an asshole and they're, but she always goes back. And not that TV is the way I live my life, but you just look at what are all of these moments, all the times I've walked into a restaurant and people be like, only one?

Erin: Yeah. Only one? No one's joining you? Like how dare you walk in the world alone and want to have a nice meal? I know so many people who won't eat alone, who won't go to the movies alone, who won't just, who decide, you know what, I have to lock myself away because I'm not partnered.

Lisa: The movies to me is the fascinating one. So when I used to work on the cruise ship, one of the things that most made me feel like I was on vacation was to go to the movies. And most of my friends, when I'd be home on vacation from ships were working. And I used to go to the movies, whatever time of day, I like to go the late afternoon matinee, cause it was cheaper.

And people would say, you're going to the movies alone? And I would look at them and say, listen, in the movies, you're not supposed to talk. You go sit in the dark. You have an assigned seat now, you sit in your seat, who cares if there's people around you? When they first were reopening theaters in different parts of the COVID coaster, I went to the movies several times where it was literally 200 seat theater and there were three of us in the movies.

And I was like, well, it makes me happy.

Erin: Yeah. I agree. I believe in doing stuff by myself, but I'm an only child and I was [00:10:00] raised to be super independent and I've traveled by myself and I've done all, all kinds of things by myself. It's very lovely to have. the sweet, sexy boyfriend to do that with, but it's also totally okay to take yourself out and do what Julia Cameron says, have an artist date or one of those, whatever you want to call it. If you journal about it afterwards, maybe it makes it legitimate.

Lisa: I don't know. It is interesting though, the desire for partnering against sometimes your better interests. It's something I remember being in elementary school and girls drawing their name with someone else's last name with the crush. There was a lot of practicing about being partnered and not a lot of practicing about what does it mean to be a good partner.

Erin: Right. It's like getting the thing, achieving the thing, but then like how do you exist inside the thing and how do you set standards for yourself inside the thing and insist on the treatment that you need.

Um, in order to feel good. I totally relate to [00:11:00] that. Yeah. So we heard about this sort of catalyzing event and your friend coming and saving you with a plane ticket. You move back home to your parents house again. So how did you decide from that moment, the bottom? To take on the challenge of trying 50 new things before you turn 50, because I love a project at one point, how I met my husband originally was that I had decided I would go on 10 internet dates and then quit because I was going to fail.

This is in my 30s and I went on 10 internet dates and my now ex was number six. And we ended up getting married and having children together, but I had said it like I'm going to do this. This is my project. I'm going to execute this and we'll see what happens. You took on 50 things before 50. Was that a list that started with 50 things?

Was it a project that started like you fully conceived it? Or was it something that evolved? Because I mean people talk about bucket lists. I don't actually know anyone [00:12:00] who has one.

Lisa: So what happened is it was very organic I did not have a list. One of the things that happened during all of the therapy when I came home and was working through my Divorce was I've always had eye problems and I was always considered very clumsy, but I never really had a diagnosis and It was just amorphous like yeah, we can't really get you to 2020, but it's okay.

So my therapist said hmm Do you think that's something you're curious about? And I went to the doctor, she recommended Dr. Alan Brodney here in Los Angeles. He's a lovely, kind man. And he diagnosed me with intermittent left esotropia, which is. Some people might call it lazy eye, but it was intermittent and anything that's intermittent is harder to accommodate.

So he said, I think that I can help you, you're going to have to do a lot of work. And I committed, I was doing all this eye therapy, I changed my travel [00:13:00] schedule so I could be in town more and go to therapy with him and work on my eyes.

Erin: Wait, so you weren't just holed up in your parents house, you were working on yourself, you were working through your divorce, you were doing therapy, you were working on your eyes, but then you were also back out on the road? Okay, you can't help it, you're an addict.

Lisa: But the thing about it was that was fascinating was I was still traveling and I ended up doing this. Orbitz web series with this amazing traveler, Richard Bangs. And he took me on this adventure. We were in Puerto Rico where I've been so many times.

I love Puerto Rico. And during the day I was pulling up my big girl pants and I was on camera and filming and every night I was in my room crying. And it was interesting to me that later on, I was on a trip in Italy with a large group of journalists and we went on a gondola ride and I had the best time.

We get off the gondola ride and on one of the other gondolas was one of our. friends and she was hysterical [00:14:00] sobbing. She was in the middle of deciding about her divorce and we took her out and we spoke all night. And in fact, she just got married to someone else from that trip that was also going through a divorce at the time.

Oh yeah. It's a beautiful story. But the funniest thing for me was I got in my bed. I was all snuggled up after the gondola and all I could think was. Wait, someone cried, but it wasn't me. I'm doing better.

Erin: Yeah. Amazing. When you see yourself in someone else.

Lisa: What happened was Dr. Brodny was helping with my eyes and he had said, you're doing so much better. Why don't you try tennis lessons? And I was like, Oh my God, that's going to be so exasperating. And in fact, my tennis teacher was quite nice, but at one point he said to me, Lisa, what is it that you're watching?

Cause it's not the ball. The work needed to happen, not just in the office. And around the [00:15:00] same time I went on this trip, there was a conference called Travel Media Showcase. Anyway, before the conference, we had a girlfriend getaway in Grapevine, Texas. And one woman on the trip, Tammy Lee, was doing this project, 40 things before she's 40.

And every time it came up, I was like, Oh my God, that's so great. I love your project. It's amazing. And every other woman on the trip, why don't you do that? And I just kept saying, I simply cannot. And finally on the third day, a woman who was older than me said, can you not do this project? Cause you're over 40.

You could do 50 things before you're 50. And I looked at her and I said, are you willing to admit to doing 60 things before you're 60? And she said, no way. And I was like, I don't want to say how old I am either. And so it became this joke between us, like, are you really going to give up this great opportunity to do this?

And I, I started researching and I read all these books. I read Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes. [00:16:00] I read Leanne Khan's book, and she did 365 things in 365 days. And so I was like, wait, if she can do 365, I could probably do 50. And it evolved very naturally after this girlfriend getaway. We were at the conference and I, you meet with different destinations and I started pitching them, Hey, if I was thinking about doing 50 things before 50, what could I come to your destination and do?

And I got some crazy ideas like go in a snake pit and Abilene, I was like, Ooh, not yet, but I'm still willing. Did you do that? I know, crazy, but why not? They're not gonna bring a journalist to do a story about something where you're pretty likely to die. That's true. I just kept a list and I kept thinking about how about this and what about that and thing I started very small.

And the main thing for anybody that's thinking about it's too overwhelming is I [00:17:00] never agreed to do the project. Every thing was a hedge. I was like, well, maybe I'll do five things and we'll see what happens. And I kept a list and. I quit so many times. I wish I had hashtagged every time I was quitting the 50 things project, and additionally, every time I was quitting the book.

Erin: Okay, so talk to me about that, because I feel like we live in a culture where it's like, no, you just set your mind to something, and you just do it. You accomplish it, and then you move on to the next goal. And I do think things are not that linear. I can get very single minded about things, but then I can have 40, 000 other ideas and think I'm going to do those things. And until I'm in deep commitment mode. Where I've really sunk into myself that it's happening. It's just an idea. It's just a thought. It's just something I'm talking about.

Lisa: It was interesting. I had one friend and she was the one I called most of the time when I was quitting and I would leave these very long voicemails [00:18:00] about why it was really important that the project was over. And at some point she admitted to me when she started listening to the message and she knew it was one of those, she just deleted them. She's like, I never believed you.

Erin: She thought you were going to do it. Because she'd seen you go to Wait, I took a list of some of the places that I know you've gone to and I just want to read this because this is insane. This is such an indicator of who you are and your tolerance for risk. It's not like you go to Berlin or Hawaii. Vanuatu? Nepal, Myanmar, Cuba, Morocco, Kenya, Mongolia, Cambodia, Borneo, you've climbed ancient ruins, you've hung out with orangutans, you've done a lot of diving, which I'm really scared to do but I'm really attracted to, so I want to talk to you about that.

You've gone swimming with sharks, you've gone bobsledding. You worked at Club Med. You have done and seen and gone to [00:19:00] some of the most exotic, adventurous travel places in the world. These are not easy trips. These are things that take stick to itiveness and follow through. But you were quitting this project of 50 things before 50, even after having had all of these huge adventures that most people would take one of these trips and remember it for a lifetime, and check it off their list. It's interesting that taking on this 50 things list, that was something you quit again and again, because you didn't quit all this other stuff, which seems incredibly challenging. Adventurous, amazing, thrilling, but also hard. Travel's not easy. Not the, not backpacking.

Lisa: No, I mean, once when we were in Sri Lanka, we had gone in Sri Lanka right after the... Terrible end of the Civil War and we were in my opinion, there may be a bit too soon, [00:20:00] but we were traveling with another couple and I had unfortunately left some food in my backpack and I reached into the backpack and there were the red ants that bite in it and I was screeching and screaming and I dumped the backpack out and it was running around the courtyard and the guy from the other couple looked at me and he called me inconsistently girly.

I was like, what does that even mean? He's like, Lisa, you have not blinked an eye. The toilet's broken. The water doesn't work right. The beds are terrible. It's been a super hardship to get to this particular location. And you're freaking out about a couple of ants. I was like, I hear what you're saying, but they tried to bite me and they're in my backpack.

And I do not appreciate them being in my backpack.

Erin: No, I think Critters is where you draw the line.

Lisa: So it's funny, like you say, what do people tolerate? And for me, [00:21:00] one of the things that allowed me to keep going on the list was that I could take a break from it. And in fact, I did more than 50 things. We picked out the 50 things that worked the best for the book. It was all very small steps. And one of the things I've come to think about is that you could rest. and not quit. Like oftentimes when I was quitting, I was just exhausted or overwhelmed or I was so focused on getting it done. I hadn't gone swimming or gone to salsa dancing or seen my friends and I needed some space to think about what had happened and what I could do next.

And I think that's common among women who wear so many hats, especially women raising children, that there's almost no ability to rest. And the appeal is. Throw your hands up in there and like, I'm done. I'll quit. How do you find the space for yourself and your passions?

Erin: I couldn't find it when I was working a big corporate job and in an unhappy marriage and raising twins. I couldn't find it and I had to blow everything up [00:22:00] like in order to make some space to rebuild and figure out what the heck I'm doing next, but I think that's right. I couldn't find time for self care. I let all my friendships fall away. I really get that. I think that we push ourselves so hard.

Lisa: It's actually one of the things I learned the most doing my project is I had always believed that some people were brave and I was not one of them. And they were always brave. And then there were people like me that were mostly afraid. And through meeting people on this project, particularly when I did my skydive, the guy that worked with me on the skydive, he was afraid of sharks. But he got paid to jump out of planes, and I said to him, you throw yourself out of perfectly well maintained airplanes constantly, and sharks are your problem?

And that was really instructive to me that... That's eye opening. eye opening that this man who I would put, if there was a graph of brave, I'd be like, he's [00:23:00] brave and I'm a coward. And he thought I was brave and I thought he was brave. And that really helped me think through that we can think about bravery like a muscle.

They're small steps. Maybe the very first time I saw a shark when I was scuba diving, I wasn't so happy. Now I understand more about scuba. I understand more about myself. I've gone to shark school, in fact, and I know what to look for and this guy obviously knew a lot more about planes and harnesses. And I mean, I did love gravity. I think we all know about gravity.

Erin: He knows a lot about gravity though, like when it kicks in.

Lisa: Yes. I highly recommend it. I loved it, but I can't say I've rushed back and a lot of people go once and it changes their whole life. That's all they do. That's how I felt about scuba, but we have different interests and that's great.

Erin: Yeah. I want to really dig into this notion of being brave because [00:24:00] your book is not called brave. No. Your book is called Brave-ish. Yes. And I hear you defining that for us. So brave isn't a constant state, right? It sounds to me like courage. Courage is something you don't have all the time. Courage is something you conjure in a moment when you need it. What do you think you're brave about? What do you think you're not brave about in your life today?

Lisa: I like the idea of Brave-ish because we're all evolving. And we can all be more. And the thing for me is about taking those little tiny steps. I read a lot during my divorce. And one of the images I love is about planting seeds. And so we plant seeds and then we water them and then we wait. And a lot of us dig up the seeds and yell at them. Why aren't you growing?

Erin: Yeah, yell at them. [00:25:00] Grow! But you're right. We don't water the ground, trust they're coming, know that when you plant a seed it grows. Maybe not all of them grow, maybe plant a bunch of seeds. But then you see those little sprouts come up and that's hope, right?

Lisa: It's a lot about hope and creating the space like seeds need things. They need water. They need soil. They need sun and people need community. I've been very fortunate. There's a lot of stuff about long term marriage. But for me, the more important thing is long term friendship.

This summer is the 40th anniversary of my teen tour to Israel. And we were there in Israel nine weeks. We were one of the largest L. A. Olpans ever. And a lot of those people are still my very closest friends. And that trip planted the seeds for a lot of my life. I had gone to Israel with my family. I went on this summer trip.

And that was why... I studied in Israel in college, and when I was dropping out of grad school trying to decide what am I going to do with [00:26:00] my life, I was like, Oh, I just really loved this. And I couldn't go back to study abroad, but that's a lot of how I picked Club Med.

Erin: Mm. Talk to me about Club Med. Talk to me about cruise ship life.

Talk to me about hooking up, because it's a very hookup culture, right?

Lisa: I don't think I was that person then, but I think now I probably would take I was living in

San Francisco. I was working as a teacher. There were some changes in my life. financial situation and one of my schools was closing. Anyway, a friend of mine had just taken her third year old to Club Med and she offhandedly was like, those people seem like they're having a great time. And this is back in the days when we used to send actual letters in the mail.

And there were these green return receipt postcards that you would send to know that someone received your mail, they would send the postcard back. Anyway, I sent my information to Club Med to request an interview and they called [00:27:00] me for the interview before the postcard made it back to my house. I was like, Ooh, these, these people are interested in me.

And a family friend had a friend who worked there. So I spoke with him and he gave me some tips about how to get the interview and what to do. And they only do group interviews. They never offer you a job. You have to fly out there. It's a live interview. So I fly to Florida. I go to Sandpiper and I'm ready and they call me and only me and I was like, no, no, I'm here for the group interview.

No, Lisa, we work here and you're not the boss of us actually. So go. So I have this one on one interview with the woman. We're talking about teaching. At that point, I had my master's in education. She says, well, I really need your help. I'm interested in you. I said, okay. I was a new scuba diver. I was like, well, I'm very excited to go to the islands because no, no, no.

I need your help. I need you to go to Colorado. I'm like, there's no scuba diving in Colorado. She said, no, it's a ski village. I can see on your resume. You have a NASTAR bronze medal. You've been skiing all your life. This is what I need for you to do this. I need you to go [00:28:00] to Colorado. And I was like, I'm not going to Colorado. She said, I'm offering you a job. And I basically looked at her and I was like, you can't offer me a job. They don't offer jobs in the interview. I got told that she's like, do you work here? Not yet.

Erin: It sounds like it was natural that you would work there because you were already acting like you.

Lisa: So anyway, she said listen, I really need this favor go to Colorado in the next village I'm going to send you somewhere where you can scuba dive and I was indignant.

I was like Scuba diving is for me and she said think about it for the weekend and call me. So I fly back to San Francisco and it was going on my very first live aboard ever, which was in Monterey. And unfortunately for me, what's a live aboard? Good question. So when you go scuba diving, sometimes you shore dive, you just get on your gear and you walk in the water.

Sometimes you go on a boat and then there's live aboard. So live aboard is a boat that you sleep on. And so you can often get on the night, like Friday night, you get on the boat, they motor out and Saturday morning, you're somewhere great to go scuba diving [00:29:00] and you jump in the water. Okay. Amazing. Unfortunately for me, it had been quite rough and I woke up already seasick.

Erin: Nothing worse than that feeling.

Lisa: The worst feeling and being a real novice and looking gray, people offered me drugs, you know, Bonine, Dramamine, whatever they had. And not being savvy enough, not feeling well, I basically took everything and then I was worse. So I didn't get to scuba dive. I just threw up. Oh no. And on the way back when we were motoring back, it was even worse. And I was literally leaning over the side of the boat, throwing up, screaming into the ocean. I am moving to the mountains.

Erin: Well, sometimes the universe gives you a very clear sign. Sounds to me like that was, uh, that was in the works for you.

Lisa: It was the most fun. I always talk about Club Med and cruise ships as basically living in a college dorm, but no one has any homework.

Erin: Heaven. [00:30:00] Heaven. College was the best. Just the homework.

Lisa: Oh my gosh. It was so much fun. I loved Club Med. It did take me a while to get into it. I was confused about all the interactions and the behind the scenes.

My very favorite moment of Club Med ever was being in a staff meeting and it's from France. So you have the chef de village, the chief of the village is talking to the team and he looks out at everybody and he says, Next week, a lot of single women will be here. I want them. To be happy. And I thought...

Erin: So he's literally like, everyone fuck the single women. Yes! Yes! That is amazing. Ladies, go to Club Med. Is really the recommendation. I don't know if it's like that today. Probably everything is more conservative, so probably not.

Lisa: They called it Club Bed for a reason. Then the next person that spoke was the nurse. And she said, I refill the first aid [00:31:00] kits every month. There's condoms in there. Use them. And I thought to myself, when I was at that school meeting last month, this is not how it sounded at school.

Erin: No. No, you had entered an alternate universe of fun, adventure, and sex. It was awesome.

Lisa: I skied all day after I got over an altitude sickness for a while. That was a problem, but I got better, and I made friends, and they did send me to the Bahamas. I was in Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Club Med, for anyone that hasn't been, is a great time.

Erin: That sounds like such an incredible... Adventure to happen. So you were making super unconventional choices of what to do with your life. When you were younger, I mean, it's interesting, a lot of people put themselves on a path. Were you in medical school? Did you go to medical school?

Lisa: Yes. This is in fact, so I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and I went to medical school. I was at UCSF in San Francisco, which. at the time I believe was a top five med school [00:32:00] and now is a top three med school. And a series of things happened which made it clear it wasn't quite right and I took a leave of absence.

The dean of the school was very kind and met with me and I met with the school psychiatrist and we talked and they said why don't you take a year out and think about your choices. And I spent that year teaching and working at Planned Parenthood. So I had some front and back of the house at Planned Parenthood, which I loved.

And at the end of the time, I just thought, I'm not sure this is the right choice for me. And I kept teaching and then this opportunity came up with Club Med. I thought, let's go.

Erin: But you could have come home to LA, hung out with your friends from your Israel teen tour, found a nice Jewish boy, got married, have kids, done the whole conventional thing, but your life took such a different path.

And I can't imagine you were raised for that path. Or those were the expectations that were set [00:33:00] for you.

Lisa: The other thing that happened was, I signed up for scuba diving. And I was the worst scuba student ever. In fact, I was so bad, when we went to Monterey Bay for our first time scuba diving, he brought an extra instructor.

That person was just for fun. So you didn't drown? Well, I was so much trouble in the pool. I could not understand or follow the directions that he was worried to have me in the open ocean with other people that he had to worry about. So we had a hysterical conversation at the end of the first open water dive.

He looked at me said, What do you think is going on here? Because You're like the best one today. You've been awful, in honesty. And I said, well, I think it's because I never almost drowned in the ocean. I almost drowned in the pool. And he's like, how did you never tell me this before? I said, well, you, you didn't actually ask me.

And he's like, oh, Lisa. Cause I had a lot of problems with [00:34:00] directions. All related to not understanding. In hindsight, after working with, shout out to Dr. Brodney, after fixing stuff, it became clear there were instructions, and I listened to them, but I just couldn't figure it out. I couldn't figure it out.

And it happened to me in dance, too. If the instructor was standing in front of me in a circle, I could dance. When the instructor went across, and I had to translate right and left, there was nothing.

Erin: So something spatial about the way that you learn having to do with your eyesight, having to do with perspective, also maybe having to do with care, special care that you needed, focused attention. It's interesting how we learn, as we get older, the best way for us to learn. So do you think that contributed to your unconventional life choices?

Lisa: So the scuba diving, once I learned to scuba dive, I wanted to do more [00:35:00] once I wasn't the worst student in class, and I loved Monterey Bay's... incredible world class diving with the kelp and the otters and the sea lions and everything to see but it's really cold and you have to wear a big wetsuit and all these weights and people were talking about this magical Caribbean diving.

Less weight, 100 foot visibility, and then I looked at the price. I was like, Oh my God, I could work six jobs teaching. I was a part time assistant to the assistant in the preschool. So then I was like, how could I make this work? And when my friend dangled the carrot for me of what do you think these people at Club Med, they're having a great time.

I was like, Oh, I bet I could scuba dive on my day off. Not realizing at the time at Club Med, we worked every single day. There was no such thing as a day off, but the need to go underwater. And be scuba diving, and the inability to pay for it, [00:36:00] that's what led to the unconventional choice.

Erin: It put you on that path.But you stayed on that path. It's not like you were like, I'm going to sow my wild oats, I'm going to have my adventure years, and then I'm going to come back and be conventional Lisa. You really let yourself follow your bliss, which I think most people don't do. Honestly, I think for me, what happened was I wanted kids and that changed the trajectory of my life because you have to fundamentally be more conservative on some level.

And maybe if I had had one, I would have been able to make it work. But I had twins and I was like, Oh, well my entire life now has to revolve around making enough money. to support us and to give them the kind of life that I grew up with. And so I have to make totally different choices. I can't be this bohemian actor, artist person that I was in New York.

I had to really choose a different way to go. But maybe because you didn't choose to have kids, your life had more [00:37:00] opportunity for freedom and adventure, which you've taken full fucking advantage of. So good on you. Thanks for doing it for all of us. So we can read about it in your book.

Lisa: The other thing that I think is important, and maybe this is one of the things you do with your twins, is I really talk to people a lot. Having had We Said Go Travel, which 2010, and I have run... 12 or 13 different writing and photo competitions. People say to me, they want to be a writer or they want to be a traveler. And I always say to people, listen, what's in your backyard? That you don't have to travel 14 or 30 hours on a plane to find an adventure.

For me, the dream was definitely getting back underwater and that caused a lot of choices. And you're right. I could have done one year at Club Med and come back, but for Club Med, then I went. I went to Sonora and I met some cruise ship people and there was always the allure. Like I always was very kind with the [00:38:00] office when I worked for Princess.

I was like, Oh my gosh, I'm having the best time in the Caribbean. Do you think I could go to Alaska? And they're like, yeah, you can go to Alaska. And then we'll go to Alaska. I was like, Hey, I think it'd be really great if I went to Australia. And they're like, we don't really have a spot for you in Australia. How about the Baltic? And I was like, Oh. Maybe that's better. And it was hard to think about leaving. I always thought about leaving, kind of like I was always quitting my project. I was like, maybe this is the last one. I was like, I don't think I'm coming back. And they're like, you don't think you're coming back?

What if we sent you To Asia. Would you like to go through the Suez Canal? I was like, uh, yeah. Yeah, I can hang for that. Mm hmm. I think I would. You're gonna pay me, and my house is gonna move. The other thing that happened was I was used to being out and about, right? You work on the cruise ship, you have no chores.

You eat in the restaurant. I had a room store that cleaned my cabin, my clothes got done in the laundry, basically if I was working, I was working and if I wasn't [00:39:00] working, I was having fun. I did not have chores like adults. Yeah. Amazing. Super amazing. And so then I would come back to home, we'd work four months and come back for six weeks and I would be home and I'm like, Hey, who wants to go do something? Uh, we got stuff to do. And so every time I came back, I'm like, this isn't that fun.

Erin: Normal work a day life is not oriented around fun and adventure.

Lisa: This is why they call it work. And then at night people are like, well, today I must go to the supermarket and tomorrow night after work I must do the laundry and I have a parent teacher conference and my kid needs to be going to tutoring. It didn't make me think, wow, I should quit this job and come home.

Erin: Yeah. I hear that. I hear that. Lisa, one of the unconscious rules that I think a lot of women might face is this notion of. needing to put down roots. And when you live a life of travel and adventure, and you're stopping at different ports of call, and you're backpacking across Asia, [00:40:00] and you're doing all the things that you have done, that is not a rooted existence in a conventional sense. So, What's your experience with that? Did you feel any pressure to put down roots? And how have you handled response to that?

Lisa: I think that's a really interesting, good question. I think there's a lot of societal stigma about there's pieces about Who owns a house, and who's married, and it's our 10 year wedding anniversary. It was just my parents 60th wedding anniversary, and there's a lot of feelings about will I ever have that, but the thing for me that I've realized since my divorce is that although there's all this pressure, 29 turning 30, people getting married, having kids, and 39 turning 40, like what's wrong with you?

And the table for one kind of thing we talked about earlier. And for me, what I've really leaned into is that I am very fortunate [00:41:00] to have these long term friends. I have one friend I still know since I'm five. So we've been friends 50 years and my Ulpon friends are 40 years. I was just in a story in women's day with my friend.

I met the first day of college. We were friends. 38 years. And for me, one of the things I've done in terms of being feeling rooted is that I have these people that really see me and know me and believe in me and love me. And part of the process for me after completely feeling broken and a failure in my divorce and starting over and doing these 50 things is like, what does matter to me?

Being involved in a faith community, being at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, that really matters to me. I grew up there. I am a regular, I'm there every Friday night that I'm not. Out of town, that's where I am. And you have to find the things that make you feel rooted. That there are things, some people, maybe they're in the groundlings and they love [00:42:00] comedy and that's their community.

Those people look out for them. I think one of the things someone said was... You know you're important in a place when they notice when you're gone. So one of the things when we were growing up, everyone was watching Cheers, and it was a bar where everyone knew your name. That was the tagline. And I think that's what we really want.

And we've made this idea that if you have a house, that solves it. And looking at the loneliness epidemic in the United States and the staggering, staggering suicides in the United States, I don't think that having more money or a bigger house or being married to the wrong person solves that.

Erin: Amen, sister. I love that answer. And community is something I struggle with. It's something I crave. I don't know how to go get it. I always find myself sort of peripheral on the edge of a lot of things. And one thing I admire about you is that you throw yourself into the group. I'm just hearing that again and again in your stories.

And that is a way to create roots to say you know what I'm part of. I'm [00:43:00] part of this and I choose this. That's really beautiful. Lisa, your story is so amazing and I have loved this conversation. I traveled a lot in my 20s and I want to get back on the road the second I have the freedom to do that, which is probably when my kids go to college.

I ask everyone on this podcast if there are any deal terms in your life that you've made with yourself or with the universe that you're ready to renegotiate.

Lisa: I love the way you phrase that. I think for myself when I was getting divorced was when I was renegotiating all the deals. That, I think the best way I ever described it was that in my marriage, we were both on his team, and neither one of us was on my team.

Ugh, I hear that. And I think the deal I've renegotiated is that my side needs to at least be 50%. Zero is not good, and [00:44:00] I've greatly enjoyed having a hundred percent of the choices and not compromising. I felt like I was always compromising to make things work, and that that was okay because the marriage and the community that we were creating was worth it.

And I wasn't aware how completely we were both living on his side of the street. I had this fantasy, I used to talk about when we were traveling and I was working on the website, that we were doing it. And when I was getting divorced, I was so worried, like, how's it gonna be? I have to do everything. And then when he was gone, I was like, wait, this is so easy, because I'm already was doing everything and he was upset about it.

Erin: Right. It's like that lifting off the layer of resistance makes all the stuff that you're already doing a hundred times easier. And then you realize who is actually carrying the weight.

Lisa: Yeah, so I think that being more clear and honest about who's doing the work [00:45:00] and what does it serve. Towards the end of traveling with him in Asia, I really wanted to slow down the travel and stay somewhere and have more friends and have community.

And I wanted to go back to temple. I missed going to Shabbat services. I missed my people. And so coming home. I was worried that I would never travel again, and I did have to give up traveling that way, which has turned out great. The last place I stayed was Dorado Beach, the Ritz Carlton Reserve. Yeah, it's basically, it's basically maybe one of the top five nicest places I've ever stayed.

I had my own private pool, because he was always like, Oh, this will never work out for you. I'm like, Yeah, I think it's working out just great. Thanks.

Erin: I think that is a beautiful way to end, Lisa, you're inspiring. Thank you so much for writing this book. Thank you for being on this podcast. Everyone can learn more about you in the show notes and hopefully go out and buy [00:46:00] Brave-ish. Enjoy it, read it and tell your friends. Thank you so much.

Lisa: Thank you. So much for having me on your show. I'm so honored to be here.

Erin: Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. I'm so glad you're here. If you like this show and you've been telling your friends about it, please follow us on whatever platform you're listening to right now and go to Apple podcasts and rate and review us.

That really helps other people to find the show. Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Girard and PodKit Productions. Our interim associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez.

Have I told you recently how fucking hot you are? You are just on fire. Keep up the good work and have a great end to your summer.

We'll see you back here next week. See you? Hear you? I'll be here next week, will you? I hope so.


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