Photo by Ashutosh Sonwani on

It has been said that “life begins when you step out of your comfort zone.” (American author Neale Donald Walsch). I have lately been thinking of this now that things have settled down from the pandemic and we move about within our lives again, getting back to work, shopping, eating out, walking the dog in a crowd, and repeating, etc.

I have been thinking for years about fire walking. From a science perspective, I know that one is unlikely to get burned, as the time of contact with the heat usually prevents this. In addition, embers are not good conductors of heat. With the right form, people survive this experience unburned, yet those who run through the embers change the position of their feet from a flat placed with a flat position and uniform surface area to a foot that is buried a little further in the embers and unevenly into the heat as a result. Sometime these people get burned. Running through the embers instead of walking slowly, taking one’s time, brings up all kinds of parallels to life and living for me as well. Most of the time the feel feel warm to the touch for a while, but do not burn. There is always a bucket of water nearby in case things go awry.

There is a certain sense of victory I imagine that one feels after walking through burning embers. However, I can only imagine that a sense of balance happens as well. How powerful the notion that another reason one doesn’t get burned from walking through hot embers is that when two bodies of different temperatures meet, the hotter body cools down, and the cooler body warms up.

I know that fire walking has been practiced for thousands of years as a spiritual ritual or is connected with some rite of healing, initiation, or faith practice in some cases. For me, the notion of fire walking means that I would step out of my comfort zone for a moment. I means that I would for a moment face the innate fear that we all have of sustaining a burn. We learn as children NOT to touch something hot or to avoid something that might hurt us. Well fire walking might not hurt us, but it instills fear on some basic primitive level somehow. I don’t need the ritual, healing, or initiation aspect of this activity, nor do I want it. I want only to shake it up by doing something out of my comfort zone.

I am toying with putting fire walking on my “bucket” list. It’s not about thrill seeking at all. Why not face my (universal) fear? Why not emerge with a greater perspective life? In my opinion, only something good can come out of it.

While I may not be able to walk on water (THAT is something ENTIRELY differentl), I CAN walk on fire. There is something about balancing the need to read quietly with a cup of herbal tea in a tiny cabin in the woods with a great view of nature that I have with pushing myself out of my comfort zone to walk on fire.  Maybe it is about Yin and Yang, after all, and finding the balance within life.

“I could walk through fire, I could feel it burning
And I could walk through fire, right back to you
And as the flames get higher, you know I’ll get stronger
Baby, I would walk through fire…”

– “Walk Through Fire” by Brian Howe/Terry Thomas sung by Bad Company

“…Filled with awesome expectation
This girl’s a fascination
And nothing in her way will keep her from her destination
‘Cause she’s fire walking, she’s fire walking…”

“She’s Fire Walking” by Tim McMorris


blackwater rafting in the Waitomo Cave

Wanderlust during the pandemic? Are you compiling your travel bucket list during the travel restrictions? Starting January 26, 2021, all air passengers aged two and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test that’s no more than 72 hours old to enter the United States. Travel abroad is possible but needs forethought. I am looking forward to the day on the horizon when we are free to easily move about the world again soon. This makes international travel a little trickier, but we still can dream about where to go once things settle down a bit during the pandemic. But that means you have some time to consider some place magical, like the wonders of Waitomo in New Zealand.

Waitomo is a village in the north Island of New Zealand. It is here that a species of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa, lives within the complex cave system there. At Waitomo Glowworm Caves, you can walk through the caves to see the magical lights emitted by the glowworms, which appear almost as though they are from Neverland and are sprinkled with pixie dust everywhere. They also remind me of Christmas lights or constellations all about the cave. These caves are amazing and are breathtaking. Imagine walking through this place, or better yet, taking a boat ride through this enchanted cave. The boat tours here last about an hour, so remember to wear comfortable shoes and wear something warm, as the caves are about sixty degrees Fahrenheit year round. Prices for adults are about $40.00 USD for the weekend price, and about $18.00 USD for children. They also offer reduced weekday prices and family tickets, which are $74.00 USD for two adults and two children (ages 4-14). They charge about $11.00 for extra children, and children under 4 are free.

Taking a boat ride sounds great to me, but it is really the blackwater rafting that catches my eye. Blackwater rafting is like white water rafting but in the dark! Imagine floating around this cave on a tube with only the lights from the glowworms and your headlight leading your journey. Here you travel about 80 meters (262 feet) below ground, jump off a waterfall with a tube, and get started. Does this sound terrifying or exhilarating? Maybe both. Maybe that’s the point? What’s better than jumping off a waterfall and floating in the dark cave on a tube? A zip line, of course! One of these experiences also includes a zip line. The company offers several options for exploration, but the blackwater tours are either three hours or five hours long. What an incredible experience for a bucket list adventure. The website claims that both tours are appropriate for all levels of fitness; it seems that one only needs a certain lust for adventure.

The water temperature in the cave is around fifty degrees Fahrenheit, so the Waitomo Cave provides helmets with headlights, a thick wetsuit, and rubber boots with admission. The Black Labyrinth Tour adult prices are $109. USD and children’s (ages 12-15) prices are $93.00 USD. Week day admission prices are less. Showers are available after the trip, but bring your own shampoo, towel, and soap. Participants on this three hour tour must be at least 12 years old for this three hour tour.

The five hour Black Abyss Tour, which is more intense, requires participants to be at least 16 years old. This tour offers the zipline and costs $190 USD, although week day prices are also reduced.

Why not get out of your comfort zone to experience something really different soon? The website for the Waitomo is below for more information:

“Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer
Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love’s sweet voice is calling yonder

Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer
Hey, there don’t get dimmer, dimmer
Light the path below, above
And lead us on to love”

-from “The Glowworm” song by the Mills Brothers, 1953

Life is good; dream big. Take that trip in the near future. Go where you always have wanted to go SOON. Carpe diem, friends……….

*photos courtesy of the Waitomo Caves Facebook page


photo courtesy of


Life moves pretty fast, it’s been said. These five minutes of your life may be radically different than the next five minutes of your life. Things happen unexpectedly, and you find yourself walking down another path than you were just five minutes before. The only answer to this certain situation is to live for the moment. Find each and every single thing that helps you to live fully and with intention and purpose that you can find. Find a reason to try something new and laugh.

“A day without laughter is a day wasted” – Charlie Chaplin

Okay, who would NOT laugh while paddling a giant pumpkin? The very thought of it makes me laugh. For the entire month of October this year, I’ve had one of my “pipedreams”….that is, I can’t help but wonder how much fun it would to take part in a giant pumpkin regatta. I just LOVE the sound of this kind of race, where one hollows out an 800 pound pumpkin and paddles it on a lake while wearing a costume.

Evidently this is a thing in the United States. Somewhere in Maine, Nova Scotia, Utah, and Oregon this is done on an annual basis each October. Oregon gets my vote for next year maybe, once the travel restrictions are lifted. Why Oregon? Because I have never been there, and it is one of the remaining twelve states I have yet to visit in order to visit all fifty states in my lifetime. About a half hour from Portland, Oregon, in the town of Tualatin, farmers grow giant pumpkins in preparation for the race. Growers enter the race and after the first heat of the race, they allow spectators to paddle the pumpkins after giving them a life jacket and paddles to borrow. Participants must be in costume, too! Again, count me IN! There was no race this year because of the pandemic, but the race is already scheduled for October 16 next year. Again, count me IN!

Life is short; carpe diem, friends…..find something new to make you laugh and stretch yourself to do something you haven’t done before.

UPDATE: 10/26/22

I entered the lottery in September 2022 to be chosen as a paddler for the Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Tualatin, Oregon on October 16. I was thrilled to learn that I was chosen as one of approximately 20 paddlers out of 200 applicants to race in the regatta. I quickly accepted and made my travel arrangements to Tualatin, Oregon, which is near Portland.

On the day of the race, I got into my pumpkin, which was grown and donated by the Giant Pacific Pumpkin Growers, for my race (one of five) and tipped over in the water! It was both silly and fun. After adjusting my seating in the pumpkin, I paddled like crazy and actually WON my heat in the race! I was told that choosing the pumpkin is 60% of the win, as larger pumpkins tend to have more drag and be difficult to win. My pumpkin was NOT favored to win. When I won with a pumpkin that had not been a “winner” in the previous 4 races of the day, a Giant Pacific Pumpkin Grower said he didn’t know how I won the race and it had to be “superhuman strength or willpower”. I said it was DEFINITELY NOT superhuman strength and must have been willpower OR magic, as I was dressed as Cinderella’s fairy godmother.

The event was fun, and the festival brings in about 20,000 – 25,000 people a year and felt safe. The pumpkin race was held in a circular pond, around which spectators watched and cheered. It was great to hear strangers cheering for me, telling me I could do it when I got tired. It was an amazing day, in an amazing town with some amazing people that I will never forget.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Life is good; enjoy something whimsical today if you can. Carpe diem, friends…