Maria Brophy

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How Taking an Adventure can grow your Business

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Dancing with Dylan in Galveston Texas

Dancing with Dylan in Galveston Texas

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain

I have found time and time again that making a powerful decision, and being committed to it, attracts the right things and people to help make it a reality. 

But it’s a difficult concept for most people to embrace.  Often we are taught to be “practical” which goes against this idea.

In late November, my family and I returned from a 14,000 mile, 28 state road trip in our Dream Machine.

We took FIVE months to explore the great United States.  We camped out and visited friends and family.  We paddled boarded and surfed rivers, lakes and oceans.

All the while, we ran our business out of a little black file box.

On paper, it was a crazy, even stupid, thing to do.  We are not wealthy.  We are small business owners.  We need to keep the cash flowing.

But it turned out to be the best thing for our business, and our lives.

Last February when we had our annual tax meeting, our accountant looked over our 2011 financials.  Knowing that we take time every year to travel, she said sternly, “I strongly recommend that you two don’t take a big trip this year.

Drew and I glanced at each other from across the room.  Together, we burst out laughing.  Just a week before, we had decided to take our big trip.

We knew it was frivolous, and nuts, to think that we could leave town for five months and still pay our mortgage, studio rent and keep our business going while on the road.

Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

Paddleboarding Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

But we wanted a big adventure and to spend quality time with family in South Carolina.  And we wanted our 11 year old son to have an amazing experience.  And we didn’t want to wait until we were too old to do it.

A funny thing happens when you make a decision.  Things fall into place.  Opportunities pop up.  People call for your services.  When one commits, providence moves.

And that’s exactly what happened.  What started as a blank slate, not knowing where business would come from while traveling, ended up with numerous opportunities that paid for everything.

Business started to come to us after making an announcement to family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that we would be there in the summer.

Lulu’s Cafe, a downtown Myrtle Beach, South Carolina restaurant, hired Drew to paint a 61 foot mural.

We arranged for Aerial 7 to hire us to give a painting workshop at Backcountry.com headquarters in Park City, Utah.

Then another Myrtle Beach restaurant hired Drew to paint a mural.

Furman University in Greenville hired us to give a 4-day workshop and a lecture.

And along the way, Drew got several painting commissions.

I continued my artist consulting the entire trip, and I even closed a licensing deal over the phone while staring at the carved presidents at Mount Rushmore!

On our drive back home in November, Art Mundo in Fort Pierce, Florida had us give a painting workshop.  Oh, and there was one more mural painting in Cocoa Beach before driving back West.

Brophy campsite at Yuba Lake Utah

Camping at Yuba Lake, Utah

We lived more in five months than most people do in a lifetime.

The experiences were amazing; things like watching wild buffalo run in South Dakota;

Standup paddling Salmon River rapids in the Sawtooth Mountains;

Hiking around Devil’s Tower in ninety degree weather;

Surfing waves in Lake Michigan;

Exploring water caves in Lake Superior on our paddleboards.

I even got to meet my Twitter friend the “famous artist Nemo” and his artist wife Hannah, whom we spent a couple of days with in Texas.

The life-changing lesson that I learned from this experience, now that I look back, is this:

Leap, and the net will appear.

Back in the spring, as we were packing up and getting ready for our trip, I got a call from my accountant.  It was terrible news.  She was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

She is in her late forties and had always done all the right things; saved her money, avoided the frivolous.  She had dreams of taking her big vacation later, when she was older.   Now she might not have that chance.

It confirmed for me that we made the right decision.  There is no better time to do the things you dream of doing.  The time is now.

This year, go explore your world!  You don’t have to go for as long as we did, but, make a plan to do something that you have always wanted.  I promise you won’t regret it.

The creativity that comes from exploration cannot be had from reading a book or watching a video.

And if you want to learn how we have arranged our lives to be able to take big trips every year, I explain it in detail in this post:  How to Live a Life of Travel.

What’s your next adventure? Please share in the comments!

Maria xxoo

PS:  Here’s a map of our zig-zag route across country and back!

5 Month Route Across U.S.

5 Month Route Across U.S.

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27 Comments How Taking an Adventure can grow your Business

  1. Kelly Fitzgerald

    I completely agree with you Maria and thank you for sharing this! I too just did something similar. I just got back from spending 3 months living in Hawaii. I created the most work I have ever created. I had $200 in my pocket and I survived. I sold a number of prints while I was there and was even offered a gallery space to exhibit my work. You have to put yourself out there and trust you will get through it. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

    Reply
    1. Maria

      Kelly, thanks for the comment. And congrats on spending 3 months in Hawaii! What a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Glad that it worked out great for you!

      Reply
  2. Susie Cassens

    I have a feeling that each place that you visited received a blessing in return. We enjoyed hosting you and having you share your family and artwork with all of us.

    Take care.

    Susie Cassens
    Art Mundo
    Fort Pierce,Fl

    Reply
    1. Maria

      Susie, one of our most memorable times on the trip was with you and your great people in Fort Pierce! Thank you for taking such great care of us!

      Reply
  3. Nikki

    Looks like an amazing experience! “Leap, and the net will appear!” These are powerful words of strong encouragement that I will take with me as I exhibit for the first time at the Buyers Market of American Craft later this week in Philadelphia. Next time, make a stop in WV—a haven for outdoor enthusiasts!

    Reply
  4. Jean

    So timely! I am getting ready for a “working” trip to the Bahamas with my Husband. I’m bringing all of the basic painting supplies I will need to do some fun coastal style plaques. I was debating on how I could promote this week long trip properly online. any tips?

    Reply
    1. Maria

      Jean, thanks for the question. Why don’t you paint something the represents a Bahamas landmark, or saying, etc, each day you’re there, and do one blog post on each. I’d love to see that!

      Reply
      1. Jean

        sounds great! I am looking forward to painting everyday so this is great to tie it in with my blog. Should I do daily posts or stretch these out to weekly? I’m taking my camera and flip cam for videos etc. I am developing workshops for keepsake plaques so I wanted to get as much travel footage and tips as I could. Can’t wait to do another “who that is?” plaque! 🙂

  5. Cyndi

    I MUST do something like this soon! I LOVE IT! Will look at your other post. How inspirational! I really, really love this post. I’m going to share it all over.

    Reply
  6. Nakeesa Frazier

    Maria, what an inspirational story! My husband and I plan to do the same thing very soon. We are an artist/art manager team like you and Drew and we know how important it is to take chances from time to time and the most amazing experiences or opportunities come out of them! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
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  8. Jim and Marge Springett

    HI Maria,
    Your post today is just great,ain’t it? My wife Marge and I are planning a driving trip to Alaska, and we both love wildlife, she is a photographer and I am a painter so this is a draem come true. The gray wolf is in trouble now so we’re going to the International Wolf Center to see how our art can help. Also this year Marge is entering some top regional competitions and i have a good feeling about her chances of success, her work is so dynamic and perfect in so many ways. I’m switching gears and going big with my painting, and i do not have a clue who or when they will sell, but paint them i will. This to me has a lot to do about being faithful to God and family, and to celebrate our lives every moment. Your posts are very good and we hope your business keeps getting better. Have a good day.

    Jim and Marge Springett

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Jim and Marge, thanks for the compliments! And, congrats on your decision to drive to Alaska. That sounds amazing! I wish you the best with your painting. It sounds like you have found a path to follow that has you all fired up. That’s a beautiful thing!

      Reply
  9. Jeff Dolan

    It was so cool following your adventures! Thanks for living so openly online. Your family and attitude is such a great example for others. There is so much love and gratitude there.

    Reply
  10. Cory Trepanier

    Great post Maria. I’m a landscape painter, and my wife and I began doing big trips when our girls were 2 and 5 years old. A month in each season canoeing, camping, painting and filming on the coasts of Lake Superior and Georgian Bay here on Canada. Went bigger in 2006 and decided to tackle the Canadian Arctic (http://www.intothearctic.com). The first trek was 2.5 months to the western Arctic, our girls were 7 an 11 by then. I carried on in subsequent expeditions to Baffin Island for a month, then the high and south central Arctic for 2 more.
    Time flies so fast. They are now 14 and 18. We have seen how these journeys have helped shape them, and had we not done them, I can only imagine the regret I would have now watching my oldest start college this fall, and her life getting busy with her our career plans. And the bonus: because we’ve made films from our journeys, my wife and I have tons of out takes to watch when we’re in our rockers someday!

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Wow, Cory, I am amazed in awe at your story! Thanks so much for writing on my blog. Would love to meet you and your adventurous family one day. Next time I’m in Canada, I’m looking you up!

      Reply
  11. Julie and Matt Hayden

    Viva Los Suenos. What a great blog Maria – while you were living your dream so where we visiting 29 countries in a little over a year. You could not have said better, if there is something you want to do or see, get out there and do it. We are never promised tomorrow.

    Reply
  12. leahhoelscher

    Yes! Thanks for the great post on the importance of adventures. I recently returned from spending 3 1/2 months in South America, one of the most enriching experiences of my life. It was a HUGE leap for me…but it only set me up to take the next big leap, exhibiting at Surtex for the first time this spring. Doing big things sets you up to do even bigger things 🙂

    Reply
    1. Joann Loftus

      Wow, what a great post, Maria! Many of of hold back far too often from doing the things we truly want to do. We’re too afraid to step out of our comfort zone, waiting until we think we’ve “earned the right” to enjoy life. Yet, by the time we’re in that position, we’re too old, sick, or tired to do it. I love how everything seamlessly worked out for you and your family with your businesses AND you were able to take the trip of a lifetime! I plan on typing the quote out and hanging it in my studio. Thanks for the inspirational post!

      Reply
  13. Lynne Buchanan

    I wholeheartedly agree that going on a big adventure changes your life in unimaginable ways. After dropping my youngest child off at college, I made a three-month solo cross-country road trip traveling over 13,000 miles to photograph National Parks and other areas of pristine wilderness. Providence provided the whole time by showing me the way to amazing subjects to photograph, as well as by creating “chance encounters” with people who totally shifted my life. Providence also kept me safe, which was a good thing for a single woman in her mid-fiftes traveling and camping alone. A voice inside my head told me to get off the road at a closed rest area in the mountains of Utah when I was unknowingly driving with an active gas leak, thereby avoiding blowing up in an accident that occurred while I was wondering why I was sitting there. There must have been angels with me the whole time. When I co-created photographs with nature, miracles happened and my awareness expanded exponentially.

    Now I am working on processing and printing the photographs from my journey and am working on a book about my experiences. Next month, I will be giving a lecture, though now that I am home it is more challenging to see how providence will provide next. Though I had a museum show on the rivers of Florida last year and was recently awarded a subsidized artist studio, I am not an established artist yet and only began pursuing photography as my vocation and avocation in the last few years.

    Drew is fortunate that providence provided both opportunities and you, as you are obviously totally tapped into the magic of the universe while possessing a great business mind. Crossing my fingers that providence provides me with someone like you in the near future. Perhaps it would even enable me to get my message out about how connecting with nature and recognizing our place in the web of life can be healing for ourselves and the planet before it is too late. Providence showed me unimaginable beauty and receding glaciers, dried up rivers, and trees scarred by fire.

    My website (lynnebuchanan.com) and blog (lynnebuchanan.blogspot.com) contain photographs and reflections from my travels. Take your own journey while you still can. Not only does it become harder as we age, the health of the planet is also at risk. The beauty, changes, and possibilities for healing that are revealed when fully immersing ourselves in the world need to be recorded and expressed…

    Reply
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