-Rachael Papa




I decided to go straight to the dictionary to find the official definition of risk (literally – I have one). Because that’s what English teachers do. And because I love words.

risk (noun):  exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance

Eeek. Sounds so negative and serious. The definition makes me wonder why anyone would even bother taking risks.

To me, risk means doing something that pushes you outside of yourself. Doing something that makes you feel. Doing something that shakes your soul.

Risk-takers are inspiring. They’re the doers, the thinkers, the make-it-happen people. They’re passionate and driven, and they don’t make excuses. They allow themselves to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, because they know that the potential reward is worth it.

So I started thinking, am I a risk taker?


scubadivingThere was the time I spent an entire summer scuba diving in Mexico with a near stranger, even though I’d always had a fascination-slash-fear of sharks (my plan was to swim directly inside the shark’s mouth so he would swallow me whole, if I encountered one).

I eventually conquered my shark phobia and fell in love with the ocean, and the world I found beneath it.

If you’ve never done it, you should.




blondebrunette And I’ve always taken risks with my hair; these dark brown tresses have seen shades of white blonde (ladies, I know you understand the risk you take with decisions involving bleach).

I feel like a new person every time I switch it up.





cubaThere was a clandestine trip to a forbidden country that everyone warned us not to attempt, but we did it anyways.

And it became an adventure I’ll never forget.




Why do we take risks?  I can only speak for myself, but I love new experiences. Things that make me feel. I can’t bear the thought of living a banal life. I’ve never been very good at sitting still…I like to stir things up.

But sometimes, life stirs things up for you.

The summer of 2014 came and smacked me upside the head when I wasn’t looking.  I started feeling really sick, and after a month of doctor appointments, was diagnosed with celiac disease. I had to change my diet and lifestyle over night, and went on medical leave from teaching. Soon after, my long time relationship fell apart and came to end.

I was overwhelmed and scared and sad. There were some days I found it hard to even breathe.

I wished I could press fast forward through all the feelings.

Admittedly, I was lost. I needed to do something to get out of the weird place I was in. After months of serious soul searching, I decided to enroll myself in business courses to learn about running my own business; something I’ve talked about doing for a long time, but never had the courage to carry out.

Maybe I had been too comfortable for too long, and this was the shake up I needed. The thought of leaving a long and stable career that I’ve loved carries a ton of risk, but the possibilities of what may lie ahead keep me up at night.

Because sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.

As for love, I’m taking a break from the L-word for a little while so I can focus on myself. But on a recent stroll though Wynwood, my favorite neighborhood in Miami, I came across a building with a massive handwritten mural:




Love is a risk. Do it anyways. 

I’m sold.

let’s be friends