Seriously you guys, how lucky are we to live in a time where anything is possible?
We are able to travel the world and submerg ourselves in different cultures with the intention to learn. We are able to quit the stale routine of a 9-5 job so we can find work that fuels our passions, and most importantly, we are able to overcome major obstacles that challenge our abilities by tapping into an unrecognizable force within.
Life is pretty incredible when you find the courage to live it to it’s fullest potential.
And when you find that courage it’s pretty addicting.
You start to do some crazy shit like jump out of airplanes, scale mountain tops, and swim alongside the most feared predator of the ocean. You will do anything and everything to feel the wild rush of adrenaline in your heart that makes you feel so, ALIVE.
Meet Kayleigh Burns, one of my main mermaids and a genuine soul addicted to the thrill of life.
However, before she started shooting her body up with her daily adrenaline fix of shark conservation, skydiving, and traveling the world, she was addicted to a darker drug.
I’m not going to go into detail of which substance pulled this ambitious Mermaid down into the darkest depths of her ocean, but I will tell you this — it’s a chronic poison that no one expects you to come back from.
Yet in true Kayleigh fashion, she proved to her family and friends that anything is possible and came back from the lowest point in her life, stronger than ever before.
So, without further a due, allow me to introduce you to one of my biggest inspirations and bestest of friends, Kayleigh Burns.
+ Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from just outside of Philadelphia and my adventurous spirit lead me to make the move to Hawaii. Here I work as a dive master and conservationist with a few shops on the island. In my free time I free dive, do yoga, paint, and read.
+ What made you want to move to Hawaii?
Hawaii totally chose me. I had gotten back to the Philadelphia area from four months in Nicaragua and knew I wanted to live anywhere but home. That experience made me crave change, culture, and the unknown. My list of potential places to move included Miami, San Diego, Dubai, Majorca, and Hawaii. Somehow my stars aligned and I ended up on Oahu where I planned to spend one year and head to Oz. I fell in love with these islands and the animals and people who inhabit it. I see myself as a Hawaii lifer and consider it home for the long haul.
+ How did your addiction begin?
There’s always going to be some person or situation I could blame for landing me in the circumstances I was in, but truth be told at that time in my life I was living in fear. Fear of what everyone else and society thought of me, fear of figuring out who I was, fear of becoming an adult, fear of failure. So many fears were residing deep down inside of me and I don’t even think i knew it. Drugs were an easy way out of feeling those fears and emotions.
+ At what point did you wake up and know you needed to make a change?
Throughout my whole struggle, everyone and their mother did everything possible to convince me to stop. I had lost school, family, friends, possessions, jobs and countless other tangible and intangible things. But it wasn’t until my own inner voice of reason said to me “I can’t live like this anymore” that I was motivated to make a change. This taught me that change truly comes from within and that we all have intuition guiding us in the right direction if we can quiet our minds and allow it to speak.
+ What was the hardest part overcoming your addiction?
Killing the ego. 100%.
It’s a very humbling thing to go into a room full of strangers, let your walls come down and admit that you need help. And not only doing that one time, but every day taking advice from others because you can’t successfully live your life anymore. Sure, there are a million and one things happening with your body and mind that totally suck and don’t make it easy to give up the drugs. But by far letting go of your ego and allowing yourself to be totally vulnerable no matter what that means other people may think of you or judge you was the most challenging for me. There’s a process called the 12 steps that’s been used for generations and generations in getting past addictions and afflictions of all types. I would highly recommend if you’re looking to get in touch with your true self, kill your ego a bit, become a better person, get over an addiction of any kind (drugs, food, sex, shopping) you check these steps out and find someone to help take you through them.
+ What did the entire experience teach you?
Without having been to the deepest darkest depths of my soul I do not think I would be able to be living the bright shiny life I do now. The 12 steps, being 100% sober for a period of time, reading countless books on spirituality, meditating, apologizing, volunteering, making my wrongs right, and getting humble made me forever grateful for life. Without having gone through this, there is no question in my mind I would not be as spiritual and in tune with the universe as I am now. I highly doubt I would wake up each day and be this grateful for my life. This experience made me who I am.
+ Where has your adventure for travel led you?
As far as other countries I have been lucky enough to visit, my list is:
Jamaica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Thailand, Burning Man (which ok its in the U.S. but come on its pretty much like going to another planet) and almost all of the Hawaiian islands which culturally are just so different from the mainland. And of course I’ve gotten my fair share of awesome US cities I have visited. But don’t worry this list is still growing and pretty much never-ending!
+ Why do you feel it is important to travel?
I think we live in a very unique and exciting time in which people our age are really starting to think globally and wanting to explore out of their comfort zones and bubbles. There is just a new and different type of intelligence that you can only get when you experience and come to know other cultures. For me, it’s a new type or mix of intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence in where you really come to know yourself and also relate to others deeper than ever. Anyone whose ever landed in a foreign country with foreign people and unknown languages completely dependent on themselves can tell you that you truly discover more about yourself than you ever thought possible. On the other scale, being in these places and seeing how people in other parts of the world live makes you understand humanity and our fellow-man more than ever. You start to notice the similarities more than the differences and be empathetic towards people of different cultures and places.
+ Who is your biggest inspiration?
Oh man. Everyone already knows I gotta say my girl Ocean Ramsey. Not only is she such a loving and sweet person but she shares her passion without holding back. Her aspirations are to do whatever she can to preserve our oceans which is already an amazing cause to live your life for, but she also shares that with countless people all over the globe, gives opportunity to so many, educates and inspires everyone she meets, and is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. I just think that’s what it’s all about, sharing your passion with as many people as you can and giving your gift to this world. And hopefully help others along the way. Love you Osh!
+ Any words of wisdom for fellow Mermaids?
Travel the world, take risks, dream big, step outside of your comfort zone, share your story, find your passions, fall in love, fall out of love, forgive people, forgive yourself, find yourself, create yourself, love yourself, smile, do things to make other people happy. Did I forget anything? 🙂
How did I get so lucky to call this badass babe a bestie? Shit if I know, but I’m thankful everyday because her story motivates me to overcome the negative thoughts of my mind and prove that anything is possible.
Whether it’s drugs, food, shopping or even sex, we all have addictive personalities. But Kayleigh is living proof that by channeling that energy into your passions, rather than your poisons, your life will be bursting with happiness, adventure and love for all that you do.
Now if that’s not an inspiration then I don’t know what is.
Follow Kayleigh’s inspirational story on Instagram at @Mermaid_Kayleigh and join her movement to help #SaveSharks.
xx Fins & Kisses,