Erin’s “there are no accidents” view of life and Five Rules for the Journey can bring a new sense of mystery, spirituality, and purpose to any woman’s life.
Breaking away from our day-to-day lives can shift us into a new gear that makes all the difference. In her twenty-five years of running women’s travel adventures around the world, Erin Leider-Pariser has created life-changing experiences for women who courageously came along with an open mind and only two pairs of shoes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re out front, in the middle, or at the back of the trail, because the journey is about how alive and grateful you are in every step.
One of my friends got me invited on the trip to Tasmania, but a few months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Deciding whether to back out or not was a challenging decision, but I wasn’t stage four or anything. I was just wrapping my head around the cancer word. My doctor said, “Go. I can’t see you for a month anyway, so calm down and have a good time.” It was the best decision ever. I definitely was not the healthiest person on the trip because I’d also had a knee replacement the previous year. And at home, raising my family, I was always the planner, always in charge, so letting somebody else plan this trip, feed me and shelter me, was an interesting experience in letting go of control and of needing to lead and be first. I decided to follow way behind and soak up the nature. I knew I was not in control of the trip and not in control of this stupid cancer. I let things go and got calm about it. I think that new calm was big. It helped me heal when I went through chemo. Lying on the couch, I let it go.
Live With Integrity.
As the saying goes, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” To have integrity is to walk life with honesty, sincerity, truthfulness, humility, and a sense of responsibility—not just toward others, but also yourself.
In Cambodia we had guides with machetes cutting through the jungle wearing flip flops and smoking cigarettes. I looked down and saw blood on my socks because I’d been bitten by leeches. Just part of the experience. These trips push me out of my shell a little bit. We’re a team, and that’s part of the beauty of it. There’s no whining allowed; you just go with it. It is what it is, and you make the best of it and go forward. That’s such a good life lesson. When you come home and you have issues, you think back about how you climbed that craggy rock and know you can do this other thing, you can figure it out.
Judging another doesn’t define them, but you. You can never walk someone else’s path, so drop your assumptions, avoid gossip, and meet others with an open heart.
I was having such a negative emotional reaction to this one woman, and later, on another trip, I learned that she had a past that hadn’t always been pleasant, like many of us. In reality she is an amazing, lovely, caring person who I came to respect and admire. I learned that when you delve deep, listen, and open up you become non-judgmental, which creates a bigger community for you filled with very interesting people. I am now able to listen openly and judge less quickly.
Start With Effort. Finish By Grace.
Once you’ve prepared all you can for something, relax and leave the rest to the universe. Grace is the ultimate “doing” that takes no action on our part—it just comes. When we get out of the way and invite grace, things fall into place and amazing connections and “coincidences” appear.
Excerpt from Erin’s email to her clients in March 2020 explaining that her decision to not schedule any trips for 2020 “coincidentally” turned out to be the perfect plan, since the coronavirus pandemic would prevent travel: Six months ago, I decided to take 2020 as a sabbatical “clarity year” off from travel. Little did I know, the world would join me. . . . Like we’ve reminded each other at countless STAT ceremonies, though we have tough times, they always are the times that teach us how to connect with deeper meaning and purpose in our own lives. We learn. We grow. We heal. And eventually, we thrive. This too will pass. Be patient. Let’s manifest our intentions together to heal the world.“
Mark Your Words.
Begin each day breathing in your power words, pulling them up through the center of your body until the last one hovers above your head: clarity, consciousness, equilibrium, effort, grace, intention, integrity, love. When you set positive intentions for yourself, you’re ready for anything!
One of the most physically challenging trips was in the Canadian Rockies, where we were in our crampons and all roped in, climbing very high. I was scared. I was in the second group, and at one point a girl in the first group slid down a bit. Erin looked back at me and tears were coming to my eyes. I thought, I’m not doing this. I stayed behind, looking out at the tree line, basically contemplating my navel while the girls went ahead. For me that was the right move at the right time. All the things we learned on the climbs became a metaphor for life: when you’re on a ridge, you look out, not down. In life, you look forward.