6 Lessons My Free-Spirited Friend Taught Me

I just dropped my best girlfriend at the airport. 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 with the love of her life.

She met her now-fiancé while on a surf trip in Panama a couple of years ago. What seemed to be a simple vacation fling soon turned into a flaming romance. She spent the last year with him, living on their sailboat and running charters. She returned home for a few months, to make money and sell all her stuff. Now she is back to a simple life: She realized that she didn’t need much to be happy and satisfied.

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 summer heat. Her free-spirited nature amazed me and I knew right away a long friendship was about to begin. In those 10 years we have adventured often, such as road tripping Hawaii, 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 doesn’t follow the mold, but instead chases her dreams. 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 “Dreams-To-Do Lists” and manages to check off most dreams realized and goals achieved on a regular basis.

I will miss my best friend, indeed. But the inspiration she leaves behind is greater than any sorrow. I will follow her journey through life as I walk my own. And I will always be grateful her for those things she taught me:

1. Embrace Reckless Abandon

Life is too short to reminisce too much in the past, or live too far in the future. The moment is here, ready to be fully lived. Anything you want to do, at this right moment, do it. Taste experience to the utmost. Do what makes you feel alive. Be with the ones that fulfill you. Embrace your life and the people in it. And when you meet the moment, live it. Sometimes the little things are the big things. Be present to meet it.

2. Don’t Care What People Think

We tend to over-think what people might say by 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.”

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 grow. 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.

4. Discover And Do What You Love

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.

5. Just Do It!

Ever wanted to learn how to surf? How to dance salsa? How to play tuba? Ever dreamed of travelling the world, owning a business, living on the beach? We live in an era of many possibilities and opportunities available for us to choose how to make the most of our lives. It’s easy to be lazy and dream of how things could be. But really, for most people that can afford the essentials in life, everything 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!

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. 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.


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


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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