As #TeamHB3 make their way home from Antarctica after a life-changing experience, we share more photos and reflections from aboard the #MVUshuaia. Stay tuned for more updates as the women return to their homes, families and lives, and apply their leadership lessons.

Last Saturday was my birthday. I turned 39, the final ‘stop’ before I turn 40, an age often considered a turning point in life. Remember, “Life begins at 40”.

I turned 39 and I’m over the moon life doesn’t begin at 40. OK, my life hasn’t always been easy and I have encountered several bumps and roadblocks on my path, but oh me oh my, life has given me so much too. I have had such amazing experiences and most importantly I have encountered so many beautiful people, places, wonders of nature,… too many wonderful encounters to sum up and I’m grateful for each and every one of them (yes, including the hard ones).

The HB3 voyage to Antarctica was the perfect scene for the most wonderful encounters I have experienced until now. This beautiful, silent, remote and magical environment has impacted me so much that even after being home for three weeks, words still fall short to describe what I’m feeling and how it impacted me. In Antarctica I had several encounters with my deep inner self, sometimes beautiful, sometimes confronting, all of them contributing to the person I’m changing into. I’m still internalizing things in the silent mode I enjoyed so much on the white continent. Notwithstanding the undeniable importance of these personal encounters, for me, the most important encounters were those with my HB sisters. 89 beautiful and courageous women from across the globe and from all ages, with whom I had the enormous privilege to share three magical, emotional, fun and so-much-more weeks.

The joyful, loving kindness of HB3 (Photo Anne Charmantier)

Together we created the most positive, supportive, empowering and trustful environment I have ever experienced, this provided all of us the opportunity to show vulnerability and to have honest and genuine encounters with ourselves and each other. It gave us the strength to rise up together, to do difficult things, to put ourselves in the front line, to stand up for our values and for what we believe in and to believe in ourselves. This togetherness, positivism and support are the most precious and amazing gifts I have ever received and I will treasure them forever.

So yes, I’m happy my life doesn’t begin at 40, because that would mean this beautiful experience and the lessons I learnt wouldn’t receive the value they merit. Let me assure you that, together with my experience as an exchange-student in Colombia, the HB3-voyage to Antarctica has been the most life-changing experience I have ever had. So maybe, instead of saying today is my 39th birthday, I could say it is my first. My first birthday post-HB-voyage, the first one to celebrate my engagement and the ‘togetherness’ of this stubborn optimistic and brave global network for women. Let’s celebrate many more together!

Header image: Me touched by the silence, beauty and magic of Danco Island. A blissful moment to internalize my belief in myself. (Photo Anne Charmantier)

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