SylviaEarle

A bucket list kind of day

Although I’ve often joked about how my life has gone in unexpected directions as a result of bad timing, this week timing was on my side. I bounce around a bit these days, but realized about a month ago I was going to be in Ottawa the same time as Dr. Sylvia Earle. She doesn’t make many appearance in Canada, so I wasn’t about to miss her.

This is a woman I’ve admired for many years. A true living legend, she’s a trailblazer who’s devoted her life to exploring and researching the ocean.

She’s Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet, a National Geographic Explorer in Residence and founder of Mission Blue.

Seriously, take a look at her bio. There are enough honours and accomplishments for two or three people.

7,000 hours underwater

Having spent more than 7,000 hours underwater, Dr. Earle’s in a better position than most to talk about the impact we’re having on the ocean. She’s been a witness to it. At 78, she’s been diving for more than 50 years (and still does) and says she’s alarmed by the changes she’s seen beneath the surface in such a short time.

She’s worried by what we’re doing to the very liquid that allows every one of us to breathe. When speaking about the blue heart of the planet, she makes no bones about the urgency in needing to act to help it. But what I love about her is that the message she brings is one of hope. Although technology has helped us do incredible harm at an unprecedented rate, it’s also given us the ability to explore, to measure and to document the damage that’s being done. If we didn’t know, we couldn’t act. But we do, so we should.

“If you like to breathe, now is the time to listen.”

As soon as she said it, I knew I had the lead for my story.

I had the chance to spend more than half an hour interviewing ‘Her Deepness’ on Monday and despite sitting at the table with ocean royalty, managed to keep it professional…until it was time to go. Knowing I’d kick myself if I didn’t snag a photo, she graciously agreed to have one taken.

Force of Nature

Dr. Earle has a calm, serene presence about her. She’s a sweet lady and were her profile not what it is, she could easily be mistaken for your grandmother. But despite the diminutive package it comes in, you know you’re in the company of a force of nature. I confessed I was a longtime admirer as I packed up to leave. Walking out, we chatted about Newfoundland’s cod and how everyone should scuba dive to have a glimpse into this other world.

Or, she said, at least set foot on a water taxi or submarine.

As I stepped on the elevator, she winked and waved.

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Apologies for another sharp & stellar iPhone shot.

Later that night, at an event organized by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, she spoke to a sold-out crowd at the National Gallery. It was wonderful to see a full house; so many people who share a passion for the ocean, despite the fact we were in Ottawa, miles and miles from a coast line. But of course, that’s just her point.

As she wrote in The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One: “Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.”

Sitting in the front row as she spoke, so eloquently and passionately about a place I love as well, I couldn’t help but be awed. And moved. And inspired.

It was definitely a bucket list kind of day. Those don’t come around often enough.

***

Dr. Earle’s documentary Mission Blue is on Netflix and worth taking the time to watch.

And if you haven’t seen her award-winning TED talk, I’ve plopped it here for you. It’s 18 minutes well-spent.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve got high hopes for you, 40

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How cute is this fellow?

I spent the last hours of my 39th year thinking back on the last decade.

And without a doubt, it’s been a great one. My favourite one yet.

Your 30s don’t have a word like ‘fabulous’ attached to them as your 40s do, but they should. I’m just not sure what it should be: If we’re sticking with alliteration, ‘terrific’ lacks a certain something. As does tremendous. And thunderous? Not quite.

Regardless, the last 10 years have been a hell of a ride. I’m a bit sad to leave my 30s behind. Not because I have any problem with moving onto my 40s — though for the record, this feels more like it should be birthday 32 — it’s just that there’s been so many wonderful things that have happened along the way, the bar is high for the coming decade. I’m all about learning new things, making discoveries and collecting experiences — good and bad. On the ‘firsts’ front, my 30s didn’t disappoint. They’ve been filled with them:

  • First newspaper awards…years of paying my journalistic dues finally paid off
  • First dives…the highlight is still a night dive with manta rays
  • First motorcycle…my fine beast, Margie
  • First solo trips…everyone should do this
  • First time owning my own property. And then another…
  • First time as a landlord
  • First time volunteering at a Christmas dinner for the disadvantaged. And then again. Wonderful experience.
  • First repeated appearances on national television…do something every day that scares you, right?
  • First MRI, CT scan and mammogram…a real highlight, amirite ladies?
  • First job loss…which turned out to be an incredibly liberating blessing
  • First furry…who wasn’t a family pet. Ernie has been by my little wingman for nine years…
  • First turtle encounters…helping them across the road
  • First time snowboarding in the Rockies
  • First time at hot yoga…where myself and Stimpy very much failed to ‘respect the silence of the room’
  • First time witnessing a human come into the world
  • First time watching a loved one draw their last breath and leave this world
  • First double whale breach…the most magical of days
  • First go at zip lining…with Roo!
  • First attempt at making pottery…and a damn good one!
  • First mountain climbed…who knew I could drag my ass that high?
  • First photography classes…to learn a smidge of what my fabulous photojournalist colleagues knew about making magic with a camera
  • First time a question I asked of a doctor I was interviewing sparked research that completely shifted thinking on asthma
  • First time online dating…oh the stories!
  • First time being self-employed…I never want a 9-5 job again!
  • First visits to Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Hawaii, New York, Chicago, California…Those that weren’t solo were with my favourite Lovely League ladies. Sheri…we must return to the Emerald Isle.
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Lovely League in Barcelona

 

Of course there are more….not all of which are fit to print :) But in the spirit of holding on to what’s been great in my 30s, I’ve made myself a little fabulist to ring in the first year of my 40s in fitting fashion.

LetterFIt’s brought to you by the letter ‘F’…

  • Freeze my rump off in Iceland & dive between two tectonic plates
  • Dive the famous Blue Hole in Belize
  • Visit Old Faithful
  • Dive with sharks in Fakarava, French Polynesia
  • Become (somewhat) fluent in Spanish – thanks for the book Cathy!
  • Take in an NFL game…just for the experience. I don’t actually like football!
  • Face the fiercest finned friends: great white sharks off Cape Town…from a cage
  • Fly first class on a long haul flight…preferably via a free upgrade
  • Snorkel with the biggest of fishes: a whale shark
  • Drive a very fast car….Formula One, baby!
  • Explore a rainforest
  • Fly in a fighter jet….I’ve sat in a CF-18…solid first step
  • Visit France….the battlefields have been on my to-visit list for some time
  • Visit Finland…if there’s time
  • Watch sea turtles hatch in Fethiye, Turkey
  • Peek into the future with a psychic
  • Find out what it’s like to fly….OUT of a plane…
  • Freewheeling fun in Amsterdam!
  • Floss more…tho let’s be honest, this probably isn’t going to happen
  • Take in a taping of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
  • Finally buckle down and finish the book I’ve mulled writing for years
  • Not drop the ‘effin ball and post to this blog more than once a month

The given here is that there’s also plenty of foolishness with my incredible family and friends. I figure at this point that goes without saying.

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Stuffed fools at Raymond’s

 

 

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With Stimpy at Cape Spear

 

I’ve got high hopes for this decade and I figure if I knock off more than a few of these, it will kick things off on the right foot. This is hardly a comprehensive list – or set in stone – so if you’ve got a good idea that involves the letter ‘F’ in some way, I’m all ears.

And try to keep it somewhat clean, peeps…I know how some of you think!

If you make lists like this, I’d love to hear what’s on yours.

And if there’s something on this one you’re game to help me check off, holler! Stimpy’s already stepped up to sort out the skydiving. God help us….!