Living Life Rather Than Watching Life

Family with a Bonfire and Full Moon
Niagara Falls as Viewed from Maid of the Mist, May 3, 2015
Niagara Falls as Viewed from Maid of the Mist, May 3, 2015

Another weekend is winding down and the reality of the events over the last couple of days are sinking in. “That’s a long way to go for a short amount of time,” my seat neighbor said to me as the flight landed.

“Yeah,” I replied, “But worth it.”

A Surprise Weekend
Friday morning, on an hour’s night of sleep, I took a vacation day and departed Southwest Florida at o’dark-thirty to head to Buffalo, N.Y., to surprise my dad. It was my birthday but last month was my dad’s 70th birthday and since I couldn’t make it up then, my siblings and I decided to surprise my parents with a party this past weekend. Long story short, the surprise was a success.

In addition to the Saturday party, my parents took me out exploring Friday afternoon including in their woods and downtown Buffalo. Saturday, my friend AH, who has always been there for me, was part of the surprise planning team. and picked me up. As usual when I visit, she chauffeured me around Western New York not only to accomplish our part of the party (picking up the adult beverages) but to do a little sightseeing. Thanks to her, I finally experienced the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls!

Family with a Bonfire and Full Moon
Family with a Bonfire and Full Moon

During the party, over and over people told me how they enjoy following my adventures – either on Facebook or this blog – and are amazed and impressed as to what I’ve accomplished and what I do and tell me how lucky I am. I often hear this in my day-to-day life, too.

Alligator wrestling? Pft. Yeah. I did  that.

Eat insects? Tasted like earthy nuts.

What’s next? A float trip on the Buffalo National River in Arkansas.

Doing these things is my way of living life rather than watching life.

I don’t think I’m more capable than anyone else in doing the things I do. Heck, I wish I was doing more and wish I had the stones to grab more out of life. The cliche of life is short is constantly with me and drives many of my decisions. Basic survival motivates more actions and being a party of one spurs the rest.

Flying up to Buffalo for a weekend is a long way to go for a party but this trip was more than that. It was a way to show my love and express my appreciation for my family. It was the first time my siblings and I have been together in at least a couple of years. The party was a blast and for most of the weekend I was on a giddy high living in the moment and forgetting the realities waiting back home.

Rest in Peace, My Friend
Saturday, I learned a friend with a brain tumor passed away earlier in the day. I knew her from my days of working for the Sarasota tourism office and she eventually became my realtor. Because of her, she helped me achieve my dream of owning my first home. I didn’t know the details of her illness and was following posts on Facebook. She called me a couple of weeks ago to say hello. I hoped this meant she was on the upswing but I knew the reality was, she was calling to say goodbye.

Are You Living or Watching?
Maybe you have a crystal ball as to how your life will play out but for me, it’s still one big unknown. I take charge of what I can control and am getting better in leaving the rest to the Universe. I don’t want to wake up one day and say, “I wish I woulda, coulda, shoulda” but say, “I did.” Slowly, with time and courage, I’m tackling the wouldas, couldas, and shouldas and am choosing to living life rather than sitting back, watching and wishing I was doing that.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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