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Life and Work with Cara Sadira

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cara Sadira.

Cara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I founded Rising Up Adventures to transform the lives of trauma survivors through motivational bike rides and paddle adventures. I use a combination of my mayo clinic motivational coaching training and my PaddleFit training to curate special adventures that enhance the confidence of my participants, while they are immersed in a stunningly beautiful experience. Often this includes paddling over the water while the sun sets or rises and interacting with wildlife or moving confidently through waves.

While I was in college, I was violently attacked by a stranger. I was chased for several blocks and had to fight for my life. After rounds of fighting and running, a car that was passing by drove near me and the back door flew open.  While being pursued by my attacker, I jumped through that open door, and was driven to safety.  It was incredibly traumatizing as my attacker was not caught, and I didn’t know who it was or if he’d be back. I was scared everywhere I went.

At the time, I felt better when I was rock climbing. I just left my former life as I knew it, and started traveling around the country rock climbing, camping at the climbers’ campgrounds. I felt so much better when I was climbing. I found that my body would shake on the rocks, simply by body mechanics and then pull through with confidence while my fellow climbers cheered. Months turned into years, and I spent 2.5 years traveling around rock climbing and working as an outdoor guide in the summers.

I saw so many beautiful places; Yosemite, Smith Rocks, Tahoe, Joshua Tree, Hueco Tanks, Bishop. I listened to coyotes at night and climbed during the day. I eventually settled in Hawaii, finished my Bachelor’s and got a Master’s in Nonprofit Management. I founded several programs in Hawaii that incorporated some form of motivational coaching or outdoor leadership challenge. I worked with hospitals, clinics, social service family centers, foster youth, former foster youth, and family violence programs. I spent my weekends paddle boarding the rivers and bays of Hawaii with my daughter. We often paddled with dolphins, to waterfalls, and to remote, beautiful areas.

After I had relocated to Miami and discovered how beautiful the Biscayne Bay became at sunset, with the colors dancing off of the water, I filed the paperwork to incorporate Rising Up and began taking people to paddle boarding and cycling along the Bay. As a nonprofit social enterprise, Rising Up has taken over 1,000 adventurers on a curated bike and paddle adventures and provided therapeutic paddle groups to survivors of trauma. We work in partnership with Shake a Leg Miami to take the women survivors of trauma on special paddle routes in which they can explore nature, move through challenges into confidence, and emerge as resilient and confident survivors. Dr. James Pann of EvalNetwork consults with us to help us to measure the impact of our program.  My adventurers feel excited that they are becoming part of a global movement that is making a lasting change in the lives of survivors.

Has it been a smooth road?
It is overcoming obstacles and challenges that our true nature of resilience, wisdom, and empowerment emerges. It’s like in paddle boarding; if you take a wave sideways, it will likely knock you over. If you see a wave coming, and face it, and paddle straight towards it, you will be able to move right over. The celebration after moving over a wave is exhilarating. With life’s challenges, we eventually learn to embrace the challenge and view ourselves as that resilient champion who will keep moving forward, one paddle at a time to eventually crest the wave.

It’s the same as rock climbing. Every time we fall, it’s because we stretched ourselves beyond the limits we formerly knew. After falling, we have more knowledge, more wisdom, and we get back on that climb, and we eventually learn how to master it. There’s nothing wrong with failure. It’s all learning, it’s part of the incredible journey towards a more authentic life. I love bringing first-time paddlers out and seeing them Rise Up after falling and celebrate becoming stronger (as the sun sets of course!)

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Rising Up Adventures – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as an organization and what sets you apart from others.
Rising Up Adventures celebrates that part of each person that longs for connection, for support, for growth. We use this beautiful natural environment to create a safe and beautiful place for others to heal, scream, get scared, fall, laugh, and let go of whatever horrible things may have happened, if even only for a moment. When, for a moment, they are not experiencing traumatic thoughts, they can look around and find themselves in the beautiful water as the sun sets and reflects off of all of the rippling waves. They build friendships, feel the support of others without having to engage in small talk. There is a knowing that happens, that together, we are moving over life’s waves and emerging victorious surrounded by something so incredibly beautiful.

As a new organization, we are very thankful that Shake a Leg Miami works with us to offer their facilities, volunteers, and staff, and Dr. Pann is consulting with us to develop a strong evaluations system to measure our impact.  We feel a part of a committed team that is working to impact survivors and compliment the great work of the shelters and transitional housing agencies in Miami. We are beginning to look for grant funding and donations that will help us increase our capacity and use outdoor adventure to increase resiliency for survivors of violence. Resiliency is one of the traits that catalyzes the healing process.  What’s exciting about what we are building is that after seed funding, our social enterprise model will generate our own income in perpetuity.   In other words, we won’t need continued funding or donations, our programs will be paid for by adventurers who are paddling and biking with us to benefit communities.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
It’s an old book, but Flow the Psychology of Optimal Experience perfectly outlines how certain activities can put the participant in a state of mindfulness, in which everything else disappears and the person is immersed in the right action. This creates a harmony in which the person feels more centered and confident after the activity.

I would say that The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell is a fantastic book about the perseverance of the human spirit, and the use of trauma as a catalyst for empowerment. It compares various religions and how their stories use similar themes of overcoming adversity as a path to empowerment.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.risingupadventures.org
  • Phone: (786) 535-5444
  • Email: cara@risingupadventures.org
  • Instagram: @risingup_adventures
  • Facebook: Rising Up Adventures

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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