Erica with one of her lion buddies in Zimbabwe

The adventure bug bit me at a really young age, after our family friends moved into the wilds of northern Ontario. The first time we drove up to visit them, I remember arriving at night, when fog blanketed the undulating gravel road so thickly that each dip in the road looked like a bottomless white crevasse in the headlights.

When I was six we moved there too, to live on a farm with a well for water, a wood-burning stove and furnace, and an outhouse. My brother and I would chop wood, walk to school in a one-room building, and play amid nature. We were 30 miles from the nearest grocery store over bumpy roads, so trips to town were big monthly occasions. After I had a tonsillectomy, I couldn’t go one month, so my brother brought me back a book about all the different places in the world, and I was fascinated by the descriptions of exotic jungles, India rubber balls, Mexican jumping beans. I vowed then and there that I would visit those places some day.

We all have defining moments in our lives, those moments that shape who we become. That book was probably my first — it helped me decide where I wanted to go.

The second one took place when I was sixteen. That summer I got hired for a weekend job selling refreshments at a concession stand at an air show at our local small airport. I fell in love with the planes, and met another girl who shared my infatuation. When our booth — the farthest one out — was shut down for the second day of the air show due to lack of business, we used our employee passes to get back in for free and actually cadged a ride on one of the small twin-engine planes. It was the most exciting day of my young life, and that moment helped me understand that anything was possible if you want it badly enough to go after it.

Luckily I fell in love with a fellow adventurer, and he and I experienced my most profound moment together, on our first safari to Africa. That trip transformed our lives, so much so that it was hard to go back to normal life. I needed to find some way to integrate that magic experience into the rest of my life, and eventually decided to help other people find that same type of magic, an antidote to all our cares and troubles, to all the big and small things that wear us down and make us forget the wonder of life we carried when we were children. I blame it all on the magic of holding a lion’s tail on a bush walk — but that’s a story best told in the book I’m working on.

In the meantime, I hope to inspire you to decide what will give your life meaning and purpose, and then to go out and live it!

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