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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Ross

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

I am fortunate enough to have been able to travel to many different places around the globe. From the mountains of Austria for a wrestling tournament, to the fjords of Norway to coach a team of female athletes or the beaches of the Philippines just to get away. Besides the breathtaking scenery, tropical climate and ancient architecture, travel can have a profound and lasting impact on a person. The biggest is the effect culture shock has on a traveller, and the growth and adaptation one can experience from being uncomfortable in a new place.

“Holy uncomfortable batman! Last night we took a 6-hour van ride to El Nido without knowing if we had any accommodations when we arrived. The whole town was booked up, our cell phones didn’t work and the topsy turvy highway left us a little too queezy to think straight. The only place we could find in the dark, had one room left, just for us. This room was something special. There were no windows. When the air conditioning was on, it was so cold that our paper-thin blanket could not stop us from shivering. When the air conditioning was off, the room produced a smell so unique and offensive that it kept us awake. As I lay there, unable to sleep for a single second, I plotted. I plotted ways to get back to Canada by first light. I plotted all of the money we should have wasted on an ultra-luxury hotel room. I plotted. My sleep is sacred to me and the lack of it made me so incredible uncomfortable.”

Next time you go to book a trip to a place where you do not speak the language, you do not have easy access to Google, or you are travelling solo, look for those moments that you can work through an uncomfortable situation. Celebrate staying fairly calm and trouble-shooting your way to a solution. Recognize the knowledge that has been gained. Culture shock can be fun guys (well maybe not fun, but definitely exciting).

Athlete Inspired

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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Ross

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Just this past weekend, I was able to visit my sister and my niece on the island. My niece is such a cool little cat. Without any fear, she climbs the furniture, jumps off the stairs, and hangs on the big kid monkey bars. Even though she is a bundle of freaking joy, she’s still only two, and that age range can come with some wild mood swings and a lot of meltdowns on the floors of various public places.

Toddlers seem to thrive with routine. Doing the same things over and over. It’s safe and familiar. They have their bottle they always drink from, their stuffed animal friend that comes with them everywhere, and their warm and cozy safety blanket that tucks them in at night. But then, the time comes when their bottle needs to turn into a cup, their stuffed animal friend is hanging on by a literal thread, and the cozy safety blanket is still there but does not cover the whole surface area of their new big kid bed.

My niece fights it at first, flailing on the floor of the local coffee shop because she wants her bubba. Shrieking at a pitch that is deafening to all mammals, insects and invertebrates over having to drink from a cup. You feel like the worst Auntie in the whole world (mainly because you hand the screaming child back to her mother and walk away, pretending as if you don’t know them). One day though, out of nowhere, she’ll be asking for more juju in a cup and the bottle has been long forgotten.


Just like a toddler who detests being uncomfortable with change, we adults don’t react to it much better. We do everything in our power to avoid it. To stay in the safe zone. The monotonous environment that holds little to no surprises. And….little to no room for any sort of growth; physical, emotional, social, etc.

Discomfort is essential to growth.

My sister, like many others, is painfully afraid of heights. She thinks what I do for a living is insane because I am constantly putting myself outside of my comfort zone to learn new things, to overcome fears, to adapt. Well she surprised me on my last visit with a trip to the local climbing gym. She was determined to work through this uncomfortable feeling of believing she was going to fall to her death if she got on that climbing wall. The sister in me, found this irrational fear hilarious.


She made it to the very top of the wall her first time and didn’t stop trying new problems until our hour session was up. I was really proud of her. Knowing her daughter, who was already eyeing up the 5.11 problems on the wall, she’ll need to do lots of these things to keep up.

It’s so easy to revert back to what is safe and painless.

  1. To go back to the couch and watch Netflix instead of the gym because your muscles still ache from that inaugural workout

  2. To avoid going to that new Meet-up group alone for fear of having to strike up a conversation with some stranger (who could end up being your next new friend)

  3. To only jog or bike as your form of physical activity because the learning curve for rowing, climbing or cross-country skiing is just too intimidating

If we fail to work through these moments of fragility, we will fail to ever come close to our potential. Adapt or die is a thing. Our brains need new challenges to grow and build new synapses. Our muscles need new stimuli to keep from atrophying and to protect our joints from injury.

So next time, you find yourself experiencing that impulse to reach for your ‘safety blanket’, consider riding that wave of discomfort to the other side. It may take you to a new place. A place which you will never want to return from.

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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Ross

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

You do not have to be an extreme sports junkie, an Olympic athlete or a technology entrepreneur to be living your fierce. I truly believe that there is something in everyone that lights a fire, that floats their boat, that can encompass every part of one’s being.

I have friends who have left their careers as architects to write one of hopefully many  beautiful children’s books. That’s living your fierce. Another friend started a small business after having a child because work and creation is what drives her to be a wonderful mother. Other’s chase 50 kilometer trails, closing that big account at their firm, or learning a new language so they can experience more of the culture when they travel. These are all ways others have found to live their fierce.

Before any of these individuals could begin living their fierce, they all took some hard time to figure out who they really are, what they really want to do and why they really want to do what they chose to go after. This requires a level of self-reflection that we are all capable of, but may just need that reminder every now and again to do.


Maria Stenvenkel wrote about “7 Things You Need to Know to Live Your Best Life and Make a Better World” in one of her latest blog posts. She touches on a handful of really powerful themes to explore that may help you figure out how you can begin, or continue, to live your life fiercely. For the full article, click here.

You’re 100 percent responsible for your life.

The thing that annoys you about others is a reflection of you.

What you admire about others is a quality you long to express.

You can’t drive out darkness with darkness.

People are always doing the best they can.

You have to accept what you don’t like about your life to move forward.

You matter immensely.


So take some time to yourself or chat with a friend, just make sure you do it because your life is waiting for you to start living it fiercely!

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