The Meaning of Success – Riding the Swell

Yesterday I was having a wonderful discussion with my friend Dawna about success and what it means to each of us. In an email, Dawna wrote a beautiful narrative about what success meant to her on one specific occasion and how it began to change her thinking about success, living in the moment and filling the void in life.

She graciously allowed me to reprint her email and share her “ah ha” moment with you while out night kayaking near Titusville, Florida. Her husband, Ron, was leading the group to see the night time bio luminescence. Thank you lovely Dawna for your heartfelt words.

My question to Dawna was, “What does success mean to you?” And she replied…


I guess it all depends on how you define success. 

We went out kayaking Monday night – there was a group of 25 – Ron was lead so he was in front with his blinking light leading everyone into the dark.  I hung back and was taking a slower pace – enjoying not having to be in charge or having to count everyone and making sure they were all doing what they were supposed to.

It was one of those occasions where you feel like you are on the outside watching – the dark allows some cover where you can be on the edge looking in and folks don’t see you or know who you are. 

It made me think about how we were all reduced (for lack of a better term) to some sameness.  Meaning – color was taken away (in the dark everyone looks the same from their skin to the clothing), we were all in a kayak, we were all in the same area on the river, we were all following the same person in search of the same experience.

It was obvious how seeing the bio luminescence was forefront in everyone’s mind and that they were not seeing anything else around them.  That night there was very little bio luminescence so the remarks like “I don’t see it”, “ Where is it”, “My butt’s getting sore” etc. were the most common. 

So sitting out there on the edge it was just so clear to me how we truly are in control of how we feel each and every moment in our lives.  I know I hear and read it often but sometimes the lesson makes it through more clearly – and this was one of those times.  Maybe because you and I spoke that morning.

We have the choice of hanging on to expectations or living in the moment.

I turned my eyes skyward to see the “sparkles” that folks were looking for in the water.  Millions of stars, shining , blinking, 2 falling stars, a satellite, the Milky Way, clouds changing the ‘skyscape’.  I closed my eyes and felt the breeze on my face – scents of the river, something blooming, someone’s bug spray… I listened to the leaves in the breeze – how the mangroves have a different sound than the Australian pines and how the cicadas became louder around certain areas. I put my fingers in the water and felt how warm it was and saw how the movement around each finger left a tiny trail that created swirls at the end.  

I felt very connected.  I liked who I was and where I was. I felt appreciative to be there/here. It was a calming, peaceful and rewarding approach to the same experience that 20 other people around me were having. 

My artistic eye was seeing them in vibrations – you know, wave lengths that were spiky and close together – where I felt like a long smooth swell on the ocean.

So, my friend, I thought of you and our discussion on life and that search for the void.  I know we hear it from the gurus all the time – “Live in the Moment”, “Be here now”, etc. – but it’s hard to cut through the crap that surrounds us to get there sometimes. 

So I was thinking – I’m the creator of that ‘crap’ most times– I’m the one that’s looking around and have the “I want because I don’t have” and changing the “I want” part often before I obtain the other thing I wanted!  So no wonder there’s a void – I keep creating one! 

I want more of that ‘pocket’ of the peaceful, calm swell I felt on the river.  I get it now and again so I know what it feels, smells, looks like.  I know it while I’m in it and when I get out of it because I want back there!  I think the lesson to learn is how to align yourself constantly to be there.  To recognize things that won’t get you there and don’t spend time and energy on them. 

So, back to the original question – about being successful.  I was successful Monday night by riding the swell of peace, calm, being connected.  Of appreciation, of liking who I am and where I was.

I’m shifting my goals in life, my definition of success.  To me the more times I can live in that pocket, ride the swell, feel it with my eyes closed – that’s success – to me. 

And you know where I find it often – watching the birds in the birdbath out my office window; listening to our cat Minnie snore as she is so completely relaxed and feels so safe in a space that we have provided her, going out each day and looking at the buds on the jasmine tree and knowing it’s getting closer to blooming, hearing Ron’s truck pull in the driveway, laughing with my sister, the taste of fresh juice I just made – these are all touch points that snap me out of my head and into the moment.

To some it may sound mundane – to me it’s connecting to vibrating life that’s right in front of me.

Ride the swell, Dawna

the adventure couple

What does success mean to you?



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