We spend so much time trying to select cool nature backgrounds for Zoom and far less time exploring nature. The hustle and bustle of everyday lives, smartphone scrolling and everything in-between can get in the way of us, as the overused phrase goes, “living our best lives.” Last month, I was able to break from the norm a bit, and live life to the fullest – in a country I never thought I’d ever visit.
For a whirlwind 5 days in October, I was grateful and proud to have been selected as one of 48 advisers (out of approximately 750) to attend ASCEND 2022, a Connections event by American Portfolio Financial Services, Inc. The event, which took place in Reykjavik, Iceland, was a gathering of advisors and their guests for some incredible experiences and exploring plus a series of sessions with experts in various financial fields. I was chosen for my efforts in evolving in my field to meet the times for my clients.
I knew very little about Iceland going into this trip. I welcomed the opportunity to experience, and especially after the pandemic, an opportunity to travel outside of the country. I hadn’t traveled outside of the US in 25 years aside from some stops on a few Caribbean cruises. This trip was a big deal for many reasons.
Iceland is truly a magical place (yes they do believe in elves there too!). In the weeks I’ve been back, I can reflect and know I learned a lot about the country, the world, our planet and myself. I’ve also been inspired by the sessions I attended, which were engaging and educational. It was also a “trip” to spend time with and network with peers with American Portfolios. And let’s be honest, the backdrop of Iceland – dining under the stars and the Northern Lights, eating like Vikings, and snowmobiling on a glacier is a pretty spectacular way to bond! The sights, the culture, the food, the ever changing history…
This trip hit different. It helped me see some things from a different perspective — such as the power of living within nature and not trying to live above it. It’s so clear how small we really are on this earth and how short our time here is so we must make good use of it. I read and hear about climate change, but to visit a place on this earth that’s being so dramatically affected by it was something to behold.
I learned a tremendous amount of startling and interesting facts. The landscape is constantly changing there. They have over 30 active volcanoes and many dormant ones. I learned how volcanoes are formed. It is believed they have around 500 earthquakes per week! It’s the size of Kentucky but the population is only 380,000 people. Much of the island is not livable. I was fortunate to be amongst the people for a week and experience first hand the power of Iceland. The people there truly live within the land - not on it.
It’s hard to find a period in this story, because I could go on. But, I’ll stop by just saying I’m grateful to American Portfolios for their generosity and for including me in this adventure of a lifetime.