6 Lessons My Free-Spirited Friend Taught Me

I just dropped my best friend at the airport shuttle in Whistler. Along with all her necessary belongings and a one-way ticket to Panama, she is leaving a place she called home for the past 11 years, and taking the plunge to start a new chapter.

I met Julie on a friend’s boat on July 1st, 2005. It was 35ºC and she wore wool leg warmers up to her mini-skirt, rocking her unique fashion style in the heat of summer. Her free-spirited nature amazed me and I knew right away a long friendship was about to begin. In the past 10 years we have adventured often, such as road tripping Hawaii to backpacking Central America and exploring the wilderness of Canada’s West Coast. Julie has always been my invaluable companion on so many escapades.

My friend is one special human being. The kind that lives unconventionally and pursues the things that make her feel alive. By following her heart, she ventured around the world, living and working in places such as Europe, Australia and now Panama. She has a collection of To-Do Lists and manages to check them off on a regular basis.

I will miss my friend. But I find comfort in the inspiration she instilled in me. I will follow her journey through life as I walk my own. And I will always be grateful for those things she taught me:

1. Don’t let the world harden you

In a world of routine, hold true to who you are. Be flexible, spontaneous, playful and independant. Take healthy risks, taste experience to the utmost and live authentically. Do not let the world take away your zest for life and your sweetness.

Julie called me early on a Sunday morning, “Any plans today? If not, grab a towel, your swimsuit and bottle of champagne and meet me there”. Little did I know we were going to fly in a heli over the icefield to the hot springs, then to an inlet by a waterfall to pop champagne and watch the sun set over the ocean. Best impromptu Sunday adventure!

2. Stop worrying about what people think

We tend to over-think what people might say about what we do or we don’t do. We act like this as a way to protect ourselves. But sometimes, putting too much energy into those thoughts prevents us from fulfilling our greatest potential and from enjoying life to its fullest. Life is too short to worry about what people think. Start living now! Express yourself, be bold, smile often, have FUN, shine brightly. Like story-teller Oriah Mountain Dreamer once said: “Look like a fool, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.”

Another spontaneous trip led us to an unplanned camping and road trip in Hawaii. Julie packed a bunch of random stuff like those glasses that sat on the noses of the people we met. Always a fun time with this lady.

3. It’s okay to be scared

Whether it is being afraid of taking a big step forward, afraid to try a new experience, afraid of the change and transition, being scared generally means opportunities for growth. As long as you don’t let the fear overpower your mind and control you. Once you overcome your fear, you feel a sense of pride and independence. You get closer to who you are and discover what you are capable of. It makes you stronger, it makes you flourish. So get out there and create new boundaries. Test the limits. Make the impossible possible. Make mistakes, make discoveries. Believe in yourself. Being scared makes life exciting: It makes you feel alive.

Julie about to conquer the raging waves of El Zonte during our trip to El Salvador.

4. Discover what you love and do it often

What is it that you ache for? What makes your heart beat? Where do you feel the most alive? Whether you follow or cultivate a passion, the idea here is to do the things you love, and go after the things you want. Whether it is a job, a hobby, or an activity, it is important to have passion infused into your life. You can have a very successful job, yet feel unfulfilled. Like explains the author Gretchen Rubin: “What you spend time doing can also tell you what you should do. Because sometimes the things we do without thinking really are things we naturally enjoy or are good at. ” It’s about finding what draws you in and what makes you shine and feel beautiful. And once you find it, embrace and cultivate it.

A thirst for life and all the beautiful things in it. That’s what Julie has. The way she lives her life to the fullest is greatly inspiring. Picture taken during another impromtu canoe camping road trip, this time in British Columbia.

5. Just Do It!

Ever wanted to learn how to surf? How to dance salsa? How to play piano? Ever dreamed of travelling the world, owning a business, living on the beach? We live in an era of many possibilities and opportunities. If we can afford the essentials in life and have the privilege of having of choice, anything is possible. And you’ll never know until you get up and try. Stay curious and keep learning. Challenge yourself. It’s never too late. Just get up and do it!

Learning the ropes in Belize. Little did she know she was about to move to Panama, buy a sailboat and run her very own charter business!

6. Be free

Being a free-spirit isn’t a trend, or something you want to be. It’s about being you. It’s about creating your own freeway and not following the conventional path. Accept and be happy with who you are while continuing to blossom into the best version of you. Be honest with yourself and lead the life YOU want to live. Take the time to explore your heart, your soul, and your goals. In doing so, you will find peace. And once you do, spread your wings and fly. The world is yours, and you are free.

Be free and happy Julie! And bon voyage ♥


If you ever make a trip to Bocas Del Toro, on the Northeast Coast of Panama, check out Julie and John’s charter business: Pretty Like Sailing.


7 thoughts on “6 Lessons My Free-Spirited Friend Taught Me

  1. Vraiment inspirant les filles, contente de vous avoir connue et bien heureuse que vous poursuiviez votre route du bonheur. Très beau texte Capucine.

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