Travel Expert Lisa Niver: Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel; 5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During This Corona Crisis
When I was teaching, I told my students if they had to choose between being smart or kind, it was more important to be kind. It would be great to be both but people will remember how you make them feel. At every opportunity, help people feel better
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Niver.
Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. Her website, We Said Go Travel, is read in 235 countries. Find her talking travel on KTLA TV and her YouTube videos with over one million two hundred thousand views. Lisa has written for AARP, American Airways, Jewish Journal, Ms. Magazine, Smithsonian and Wharton Magazine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I agree with Zig Zigler when he said: “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The best is yet to come.” This time of COVID19 has reminded me that I have had to pivot and change directions many times. I started at UCSF Medical school after my undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania but I realized that was not the right path for me. Many people told me that I was ruining my life to give up medicine. I started teaching and received a Masters in Education. I learned to Scuba dive and dreamed of traveling more. I worked for nearly seven years on cruise ships seeing the world and being paid to travel and scuba dive around the world. I loved my job. But after Sept 11, Renaissance Cruises went bankrupt quickly and I went back to teaching which I truly love. After many years of teaching, I starting traveling more as well as sharing my travels on my own website, We Said Go Travel, and for many other sites. I started making videos and my YouTube channel now has over 1.2 million views and I have been invited to share my travels on KTLA TV in Los Angeles.
I was just honored in July 2020 by being named a five time finalist for the Southern California Journalism Awards for my print, digital and broadcast TV segments. I am also nominated for Online Journalist of the Year!
If I had never risked it all, I would never have found out how much I love writing and making videos. Now with COVID, there is no traveling so I am working at home on a memoir about my past adventures.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I recently read Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein which really spoke to me. He discusses how our society believes that starting early and specializing gives a giant head start and is important which makes those of us who change careers feel behind. But he explained in reality and by looking at the research the truth is that by waiting, experimenting and finding a career that has good match quality, you life can actually be much better in the long run. I felt very relieved that I was not behind. It takes time to find the right place for yourself. It is okay if during COVID19 you discover something new that you love. You are not behind! Do not give up!
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
During COVID19, every time someone asks me, “How are you doing?” I say, “It is a rollercoaster. Some days I feel okay and some days are not so good.” I remember this saying from Budda: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
It is important to find ways to feel good about our days. I have been focused on small goals and have coped during COVID19 by
- READING: I have been reading non-stop during COVID19. I really miss traveling so I have been reading books that make me feel like I am in another place. I wrote about 8 of those books for Ms. Magazine: “8 Books That Will Transport You.” https://msmagazine.com/2020/05/17/8-books-that-will-transport-you/
- CATCH UP ON A PROJECT: During COVID19, I have been working on projects that I just did not have time for before. When we were allowed to travel, I was gone 50% of the time working on stories. I would return and focus on my videos and stories. During quarantine, I put up photos of my art. I was 18 months behind and it never seemed like I had time to catch up. https://www.instagram.com/simplyceramics2 Now my art instagram is up to date. I was able to apply for and receive a grant this month from CCI for my visual arts because I had my portfolio on Instagram to share! I also finished my Galapagos videos from December 2019 and now all of those are live on my YouTube channel which just went over 1.2 million views. https://www.youtube.com/user/WeSaidGoTravel
- LEARN A LANGUAGE: I recommended to a friend that she and her daughter study a language together during #safeathome. She said, “Why don’t you?” So I have now studied Spanish every day for 105 days on Duolingo app. That is 15 weeks.
- START SOMETHING NEW: I started a new series on my website, We Said Go Travel, called TELL ME MORE ABOUT to write about past trips because I did not have any new trips. https://www.wesaidgotravel.com/category/tell-me-more-about/ I thought it would be very easy because all of the photos, video, social and articles were already done but pulling all of it together for each trip was actually more work than I realized. I am glad I had the time to focus on it so now each journey is all on one url. I started a second new series called I REMEMBER WHEN:https://www.wesaidgotravel.com/category/i-remember-when/ so far I have I remember when we went cruising, diving and writing about travel stories.
- CONNECT: While we are #AloneTogether, I have been walking every afternoon around my block. Each day, I use that time to talk to a different friend. It has helped to hear what other people are focused on and reconnect.
From your experience or research what are steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
One thing I have noticed about this time of COVID19 is that each person has to manage quarantine their own way. I love this quote from Kevin Hart from I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons:
“Life is a story. It’s full of chapters. And the beauty of life is that not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter. It determines whether it’s comedy or tragedy, fairy tale or horror story, rags-to-riches or riches-to-rags. You can’t control the events that happen to you, but you can control your interpretation of them. So why not choose the story that serves your life the best?”
For myself, I have been focused on making small progress each day. I make a list in the afternoon of what are my priorities to do next. Some of my successes during this quarantine include:
- Connect with new people: I have been a guest on 5 different podcasts during COVID including one for the University of Pennsylvania: Power of Penn Women https://pennmomentum.libsyn.com/lisa-niver-c89-travel-journalist
- Get Nominated: I am a FIVE TIME FINALIST for the Southern California Journalism Awards! I am a finalist for Online Journalist of the YEAR as well as nominated for print, digital and broadcast TV stories: https://www.wesaidgotravel.com/five-time-finalist-for-southern-california-journalism-awards-thank-you/
- Be Recognized: I was named one of the 10 Top Travel Influencers of 2020: https://afluencer.com/top-travel-influencers/
- Study: Many universities around the United States offer programs for senior scholars. At UCLA, those 50+ are invited to participate in the Senior Scholars Program at Longevity Center. https://www.semel.ucla.edu/longevity/senior-scholars-program-longevity-center I am taking two classes in the Film and TV department this summer with two fantastic professors. It is superb professional development for me and at this point of COVID19, anything new is good as well. I like showing up to our ZOOM classes, taking notes and learning!
- Ask for Help: During COVID, I have been working with a developmental editor on my book about my 50 challenges before I turned 50! I am using this time as a forced or gift of a writing retreat. I am working hard to turn all the lemons into sweet lemonade! I cannot wait to share my book with you.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Someone who is feeling anxious needs to share their feelings and get support as well as new coping strategies. I highly recommend finding a trusted professional counselor who can offer advice.
I have been listening to Oprah and Deepak’s 21 day meditation series for years. The app is called “21 Day Meditation Experience” by Chopra Enterprises. I find their series very helpful. When I used to travel all the time, I would often listen to this app when I was in the airport. Now I listen to them as I walk around the block in my neighborhood.
I think about this quote from Michelangelo that: “The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim is too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
How can you set your goals higher? At the end of quarantine, do you want to have learned a language? found a new job? discovered you love doing yoga every day? Having a big goal can help you get out of bed each day looking forward to the day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I love this quote by Christine Caine:
“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place,
you think you’ve been buried.
But you’ve actually been planted.”
I have often thought in the past that I was a derailed train. I worried that I fell off the track when I left medical school or when my company disappeared days after September 11th, I worried that I was behind and that there was no way to catch up. I felt buried in Christine Caine’s quote but in reality I was getting ready to bloom!
Each change in my life and career has built on the one before. I am only able to do what I do now because of all of the experiences good and bad that came before.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
When I was teaching, I told my students if they had to choose between being smart or kind, it was more important to be kind. It would be great to be both but people will remember how you make them feel. At every opportunity, help people feel better. Choose your words carefully and listen to the words of Henry Ford:
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
I have been working hard during COVID19 quarantine to amplify the voices of the people around me and share their tzedakah (charity) projects on my website and in my column in the Jewish Journal. I want to use my influence to make this world, our only home, a better place.
What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?
Your readers can find me on my website, We Said Go Travel, my YouTube channel and across social media including instagram, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn:
We Said Go Travel: http://wesaidgotravel.com/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/WeSaidGoTravel
Facebook WSGT: https://www.facebook.com/wesaidgotravel/
and my portfolio page: http://lisaniver.com/one-page/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!