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One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific , Roz Savage MBE, is a British ocean rower, environmental campaigner, and keynote speaker she holds four world records for ocean rowing, including first woman to row three oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. She has rowed over 15,000 miles, taken around 5 million oarstrokes, and spent cumulatively over 500 days of her life at sea in a 23-foot rowboat. She uses her ocean rowing adventures to inspire action on the top environmental challenges facing the world today.

An accomplished and inspiring keynote speaker, Roz has spoken to tens of thousands of people across six continents. Past engagements include the Royal Geographical Society in the UK, the National Geographic Society in the US, the TED Conference and the Vail Symposium, as well as numerous corporate speaking engagements. Roz is a United Nations Climate Hero, and an Athlete Ambassador for 350.org. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an International Fellow of the Explorer’s Club of New York, and has been listed amongst the Top 20 Great British Adventurers by the Daily Telegraph. In 2010 she was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. In 2010 she was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. In 2013 she was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Her story has been featured on CBS, ESPN, NPR, and the BBC, and in articles in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Outside Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Express and the Evening Standard. She has written for numerous magazines and websites including Forbes and the Huffington Post, and contributed a chapter to the book "Oceans" to accompany the Disney film of the same name. 

Dr. Summer Reed-Have you always been athletic?

No! Far from it. At school I was small for my age (still am!) and not at all interested in sports. I was much more into books. But then when I went to university I thought I should really do some exercise – mostly so I could eat more without getting fat. But I found I actually really enjoyed rowing – the camaraderie, the feeling of getting fitter, the peace and quiet of the river early in the morning. I still don’t regard myself as athletic. There is still an inner couch potato trying to get out!

Dr. Summer Reed-What have you learned from your adventures?

 Don’t waste mental energy asking yourself if you CAN do something. Just do it. You’ll surprise yourself. I did.  Be clear about your objectives. Ignore others, stay true to yourself and measure success only against your own criteria. I was last to finish the race – big deal. I went out there to learn about myself, and I did.  The only constant in life is change. So don’t get depressed by the bad times, and don’t get over-excited by good ones. Accept that things are exactly as they are, and even bad times have something to teach us.  Life can be magical, but magic only gets you so far. Then you need discipline, determination and dedication to see it through.  Hope can hurt. The danger is that you hope for too much and set yourself up for disappointment. Be optimistic but realistic. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as you expect it to be.  Be mindful of the link between present action and desired future outcome. Ask yourself: if I repeat today’s actions 365 times, will I be where I want to be in a year?  Decision-making: act in faith, not fear, and don’t worry about making a ‘wrong’ decision – the way you implement it is more important than the decision itself.  Be your own best friend. The more you rely on other people, the less control you have over your destiny.  Be proud of your own obituary: a few years ago I wrote two versions of my obituary, the one I wanted and the one I was heading for. They were very different. I realized I needed to make some big changes if I was going to look back and be proud of my life. I am making those changes, and now I have a life worth living.

What is your boat like, and what technology do you have on board?

An ocean rowboat has to be a self-sufficient survival pod as well as a means of transport, so although the means of movement is very simple (i.e. two oars) there is a lot more to it than that. The boat is 23 feet long by 6 feet wide, with a watertight cabin at each end, one for storage and one for sleeping. In the middle is an open area, the rowing deck, where I spend about 12 hours a day at the oars. The cabins are tiny – I can just about sit up in my sleeping cabin, and its floor is smaller than a queen size bed, tapering down almost to a point at the stern.

As for technology, I have probably far too much, especially given that seawater and technology are not a happy combination. But it’s important to me to share my adventures with people ashore, so as well as the usual essential technology (watermaker, GPS, marine radio) I also have laptops, cameras, camcorders, and phones so I can send back photos, video and blogs to my website. All the electronics are powered by a system of solar panels and batteries.

That boat has now crossed over 15,000 miles of ocean and spent 520 days at sea – as have I! – and is now in retirement at the ExplorOcean maritime museum in Newport Beach, California.

You used to be a management consultant. Why the change?

I’ve been fortunate enough to find out through personal experience that money and material possessions don’t make you happy. I used to think that they would, but instead found that the materialistic lifestyle left me feeling empty and unfulfilled.

What really convinced me that I needed to make changes was when I did what I call the obituary exercise. I imagined that I was at the end of my life, looking back and thinking about what I did with my time here on Earth. I wrote two versions – the one I wanted, and the one I was heading for if I carried on as I was.

I wrote the "fantasy obituary" first. My pen sped across the paper as I described this person who got out there and lived life to the full, who would try anything at least once, who might succeed or they might fail but they would always learn something from the experience, who really seemed to grab hold of life with both hands. That version of my life seemed so authentic to me that when I finished writing it I thought, "wow, what a great life I’ve had", and it took me a moment to recall that this was just the fantasy version. By contrast, my actual life seemed like a half-life by comparison. The fantasy life felt like the one that I had actually been born to live, free from fear, free to flourish. I realised then that I needed to make a radical change of direction if I wasn’t going to end up disappointed with my life. It was time to stop drifting, and start rowing.

Dr. Summer Reed-Your book is about your search for happiness and meaning. What is happiness for you personally?

The way I see it, there are two main kinds of happiness, and the English language doesn’t do a very good job of distinguishing between the two. The first is happiness in the moment – buying something, having a good meal, a fun evening out with friends, playing with your children. The other kind of happiness is the contentment that comes from a life well lived.

The two are not mutually exclusive, by any means – in fact, ideally you need both to have a truly happy life. But some people are dealt a harsh hand and may struggle to find much happiness on a daily basis, but may still be able to reflect on a life lived to the best of their abilities, and find happiness in that.

Conversely, in my twenties I focused too much on the daily happiness, with insufficient consideration of whether I was living a worthwhile life. It was only on that day when I wrote two versions of my own obituary that I realized that I wanted less hedonism and more meaning in my life.

Paradoxically, by focusing less on happiness and more on meaning, I’ve become much happier!

What has been an obstacle to happiness, and how have you overcome it?

For many years my own fears were an enormous obstacle to happiness. I was afraid to let go of the things that to me represented "security", even though those included a job I didn’t like and an increasingly lackluster marriage. But I was too afraid of the unknown, of what people would think of me – even afraid of failure – to let go of what was familiar. It took a crisis for me to relinquish those fears, in effect, to let go of my ego and surrender to the universe. Even though at the time it felt like I was stepping off the edge of the known world, when I woke up the next morning the sun still rose and the world was still turning – and I started to have faith that everything was going to be okay out here on the other side.

Dr. Summer Reed-What does "self-mastery" mean to you? Do you have it, and how did you get it?

When I set out across my first ocean – the Atlantic – it was a kind of crash course in self-mastery. I was so intimidated of the ocean, of the dark, of this enormous challenge I had set out to do, of the breakages and technical problems, that I nearly went under. I felt so overwhelmed by it all.

For me in that situation, self-mastery consisted of managing my thoughts, of focusing on the aspects of the situation that I could control (myself, my attitude, my emotional responses) and let be the aspects that I could not control (the weather, the waves, the speed of my progress).

I learned that when tackling a big project – be it rowing an ocean or writing a book – it’s best to keep in my mind a clear vision of my goal, and to do every day what I needed to do to get closer to that goal, but absolutely not to think about all the things that could go wrong between here and there. I would just deal with that when I got to it. One day, one rowing shift, or just one oarstroke at a time, I would eventually get there.

Dr. Summer Reed-We all have a critic’s voice, that says you’re not good enough, smart enough. How do you deal with that?

Ah yes, I know those voices well! They really came to the fore when I was on the Atlantic, when I had no entertainment after my stereo broke early on, so for most of the 103 days I was at sea I had nothing but my own thoughts to occupy my mind. It was like vipassana on steroids! That’s when I had a prolonged, pitched battle with those critical voices.

I found I had to detach myself from them. I gave them names to make them seem more like separate entities. I would even argue with them. I would think about where they came from – a parent, a teacher, former partners? – and recognize that they were not a part of me. They were echoes of other people’s words, not my own. I would interrogate whether these voices were being helpful (sometimes they can be!) or not, and if not, I would shut them out. Not always successfully, of course – I’m only human – but I could keep them under control most of the time.

What does spirituality mean to you?

I would define my spirituality as a strong sense of interconnection and interdependence, a web of life woven across the planet – and who knows, maybe across the universe.

The mental image that comes into my mind when I think about interdependence is a vast sheet of fabric with peaks in it, as if it is a huge tent with billions of tentpoles in it. Each of us is one of those peaks, a glitch in the energy field that gives us physical form. So we are utterly interconnected, and interdependent. Any time we do something, it tugs on that sheet of fabric in some way, pulling it up or down or sideways. Nothing we do is without consequences, far across space and time.

When I had my "lightbulb moment" and decided to row across oceans to raise environmental awareness, it felt as if the idea came out of that collective energy field. Although I can see ingredients in my life around that time that might have inspired the idea, the idea itself was so audacious and yet so perfect that it felt as if it had come from outside of myself – a most amazing feeling.

And when I committed to that plan, it was as if circumstances conspired to help make it happen. Despite my occasional doubts and panics as I prepared for my first ocean crossing, the reinforcement I received through serendipitous meetings and fortuitous events made me believe that this was in some way "meant to be", and whether true or not, that belief helped keep me on track.

Dr. Summer Reed-You are a huge inspiration to people and an important role model for young girls, how does that feel?

I think the majority of people are really looking for inspiration, that they want to believe that it’s possible to realize your dreams. I didn’t deliberately set out to be inspiring – I just found something that I passionately wanted to do, for a greater cause, and that sense of purpose helped me to overcome my fears and step up to the challenge. There’s really nothing exceptional about me, other than the fact that when I put my mind to something, I just won’t give up!

My one message would be: let go of your fears, particularly your fear of what other people think of you. It doesn’t matter what they think about how you should live your life, or what clothes you wear, or what "should" make you happy. Only you can decide that. Think about what will make you proud of your life when your time here is done, and remind yourself of that every single day. You have one life – live it!

There is still discrimination between women and men. In this context, where did you get this extraordinary courage?

Throughout history, women have been at least as brave as men. Courage is not dependent on gender. As to where I got my courage, I firmly believe that courage can be learned. It is not something you have to be born with. I did not used to have courage – I used to be afraid of all sorts of things. I was afraid of the dark, afraid to be different, afraid to be myself, and afraid of the ocean – in fact, I still am! The first two weeks on the Atlantic, especially at night, I was terrified. But after a while you get tired of being afraid, you find a way to come to terms with your own fear. There were so many times that I thought I had hit my absolute limit – of fear, frustration, boredom, pain – but when you have no choice, because you’re in the middle of an ocean and there is only one way to get to the other side, you just push on through it, and you realize that your limit was just a mirage, a figment that existed only in your mind, not in reality.

Dr. Summer Reed-You’ve given many speeches around the world. What do you hope to impart upon your audience during those talks?

There are several things. One is that if you want to be a doer, not just a dreamer, make a To Do list. Write down absolutely everything you would need to buy, learn, read, build, etc to make your dream come true. If anything on there looks too daunting, you haven’t broken the task down far enough. Break it down to a lower level of detail until you can look at the list and, no matter how long it is, you know you can do everything on there. Then start.

Second is to have faith in yourself. I learned that I’m capable of a lot more than I used to believe, that most of my limitations were figments of my imagination. The fears that held me back in my old life (as a management consultant) for so long were all in my mind. Believing you can do it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will, but not believing you can do it almost certainly means that you won’t!

Third is that if you find yourself at a fork in the road, have the courage to explore the road (or ocean) less travelled. It’s often the harder path that gives the greatest rewards.

Dr. Summer Reed-How do you find the motivation to keep going?

My environmental mission, my sense of gratitude and duty towards all the thousands of people who have supported my voyages, and an intense desire never to go back to working in an office!

Delayed but not defeated!

LIfe is full of disappointments, guard yourself against medical misinformation, reporters get paid for being dramatic. Pressure to produce an exciting story leads them to make studies sound more conclusive than they actually are, and bad news is inherently more compelling than good news. To judge by the media, virtually everything puts us at risk of some dread disease. Statistics lend an air of suthority to any health-related story. But what do the numbers really mean and refer to? Where did they come from? Here is a example: It has been widely reported that condoms have a "16% failure rate" The figure came from a 1990 survery in which people were asked whether their birth control method had ever failed. Though 16 in 100 condom users surveyed said that condoms had failed, that does not mean that condoms fail 16% of the time. Here is another example: Most of us have heard that that "one in eight women will develop breast caner", This figure is for lifetime incidence, it fails to take into account that a women risk increases with age. In fact fewer than one 20 year women in 200 will develop breast cancer by the time she reaches 45 years of age and only one in 25 will develop cancer between ages 45 to 60. This sounds a bit less terrifying when you consider that much of the rise can only be attributed to widespread screening, which has brought more cases to light. News reports often omit the context that gives meaning to stattistics. Ten people with advanced cancer receive a drug and have a dramatic remission? It may have been the drug, it may have been their diet, or they might have gotten better anyway. Here is my final example: When a talk show host guest blamed his wife's fatal brain cancer on her cellular phone, that caused mass panoc among cellular phone users--and evn sparked a decline in cellular phone stocks. About 15 million people use cellular phones, and the overall brain cancer rate is less than 6 per 100,000 users. When you are given bad news about your health say to yourself "I am only being delayed, not defeated". Recognize your tendency to jump to conclusions, keep a positive mental attitude, do not make any judgements until you gather all of the facts. It's okay to get a second and even third opionion. HHM 2013

What should I do when my elderly relative is being scammed?

Is your relative sending money to people every month? Are they playing the lottery to much? Are they always asking you for money? The lottery scam involves fake notices of lottery wins. The winner is usually asked to send sensitive information such as name, residential address, occupation/position, lottery number etc. to a free email account which is at times untraceable or without any link. The scammer then notifies the victim that releasing the funds requires some small fee (insurance, registration, or shipping). Once the victim sends the fee, the scammer invents another fee. Much like the various forms of overpayment fraud detailed above, a new variant of the lottery scam involves fake or stolen checks being sent to the 'winner' of the lottery (these checks representing a part payment of the winnings). The winner is more likely to assume the win is legitimate, and thus more likely to send the fee (which he does not realize is an advance fee). The check and associated funds are flagged by the bank when the fraud is discovered, and debited from the victim's account. In 2004 a variant of the lottery scam appeared in the United States. Fraud artists using the scheme call victims on telephones; a scammer tells a victim that a government has given them a grant and that they must pay an advance fee, usually around $250, to receive the grant Sometimes, victims are invited to a country to meet government officials, an associate of the scammer, or the scammer themselves. Some victims who do travel are instead held for ransom. Scammers may tell a victim that he or she does not need to get a visa or that the scammers will provide the visa. If the victim does this, the scammers have the power to extort money from the victim. The elderly will read information if you provide it. Simply state, "I found something I would like for you to read about a lottery". Search for information to show them. Speak up and ask them, "did you get any good news today"? Your smiling! The scammer does everything to put a divide between you and them. They always ask the elderly not to mention the money to anyone. The list of the vulnerable with names numbers and addresses are sold daily to the highest bidder.

The lottery check.

Fraudulent checks and money orders are key elements in many advance-fee scams, such as auction/classified listing overpayment, lottery scams, inheritance scams, etc., and can be used in almost any scam when a "payment" to the victim is required to gain, regain or further solidify the victim's trust and confidence in the validity of the scheme. he use of cheques in a scam hinges on a US law (and common practice in other countries) concerning cheques: when an account holder presents a cheque for deposit or to cash, the bank must (or in other countries, usually) make the funds available to the account holder within 1–5 business days, regardless of how long it actually takes for the cheque to clear and funds to be transferred from the issuing bank. The cheques clearing process normally takes 7–10 days and can in fact take up to a month when dealing with foreign banks. The time between the funds appearing as available to the account holder and the cheque clearing is known as the "float", during which time the bank could technically be said to have floated a loan to the account holder to be covered with the funds from the bank clearing the cheque. The cheque given to the victim is typically counterfeit but drawn on a real account with real funds in it. With a piece of software like QuickBooks and/or pre-printed blank cheque stock, using the correct banking information, the scammer can easily print a cheque that is absolutely genuine-looking, passes all counterfeit tests, and may even clear the paying account if the account information is accurate and the funds are available. However, whether it clears or not, it eventually becomes apparent either to the bank or the account holder that the cheque is a forgery. This can be as little as three days after the funds are available if the bank supposedly covering the cheque discovers the cheque information is invalid, or it could take months for a business or individual to notice the fraudulent draft on their account. It has been suggested that in some cases the cheque is genuine — however the fraudster has a friend (or bribes an official) at the paying bank to claim it is a fake weeks or even months later when the physical cheque arrives back at the paying bank. Regardless of the amount of time involved, once the cashing bank is alerted that the cheque is fraudulent, the transaction is reversed and the money removed from the victim's account. In many cases, this puts victims in debt to their banks as the victim has usually sent a large portion of the cheque by some non-reversible 'wire transfer' means (typically Western Union) to the scammer and, since more uncollected funds have been sent than funds otherwise present in the victim's account, an overdraft. Visit our contact page to subscribe, and read the full article.