He’s the kind of guy who calls women ‘baby’ and men ‘big guy.’ Like someone from another era. A survivalist. A tracker. I’m pretty sure that if I ever found myself in a deserted island situation, this would be my one phone call.

This weekend, I had the honor of taking part in a sweat lodge. For any of you who don’t know what that is, here’s a brief download. Not entirely my first rodeo–I experienced a temescal in Tulum, Mexico (you can hear more about that adventure on this podcast). But as we all know, in life–no two experiences are the same.

The first kiss is different than the second–not better or worse, just different.

The first run, the first kid, the first time stepping on brand new soil or visit a new country. It’s just different.

This sweat lodge experience was led by a man by the name of Bill Howard. I wish I could tell you his whole story, he’s certainly the type of person who has traveled many miles and I’m sure has many stories himself. I can’t tell you much because I didn’t learn much about him, he’s a mentor of a friend of mine. But the point is, there are some people who come into our lives that we don’t need to know the whole story about them. Just crossing paths makes a difference to your life having met them.

Bill guided us in constructing the sweat lodge (did I mention this was happening in my backyard?), he educated us on the traditions that he was trained in, and explained the symbolism of practices that have existed long before I ever walked this planet.

The sweat lodge was built from all local pine and bamboo. The fire was constructed from local found wood, pinecones, brush, and leaves. The community came together to build something that didn’t previously exist in the space. Think–a pack of barefoot muddy feral children ranging in age from 4 to 12, a couple of curious parents, and my adorable retired neighbors.

To say that it was cool to take part in this sweat lodge is an understatement. It was an honor, a privilege, a blessing of sorts. 

I learned so much more about the land, about people, about what it looks like when kids get out from behind their screens and get creative with a couple of pieces of bamboo and string.

Here’s the thing–the whole experience was a departure from my every day. Sure, I could tell you about the temperature inside the lodge or how dark it was inside or the glow of the rocks that has sat under fire for hours. But what I want you to take away from this story is the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone.

When we step out of our every day routine to try something new–we have the opportunity to meet new people, do new things, and thereby upgrade the trajectory of your life. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

By no means does this trying of something new mean that it has to be something you do forever. It’s unlikely that I will spend all of my future weekends foraging for pinecones and hosting regular sweat lodges. But I met new people, heard new stories, and had the opportunity to get outside myself to experience the world from a whole different perspective. And isn’t that what life is all about.