It takes quite a lot to leave my speechless. To stop the words forming, flowing and crafting them out of my mind. Yet today something happened that did leave me speechless. A thing that shook me to the core and left me crying. The world lost one bright red headed beauty – Paula from Contented Traveller. A woman who truly embodied the term influencer in a positive way and was a sassy, heart warming and fantastically fun & fierce woman. The travel community around the world is shaken at this loss and many of us send our love to Gordon and their families.
Rather then wallow in self pity at the loss of a great friend I wanted to pay tribute to Paula.
Who even was Paula?
Other then amazing? If you didn’t get to meet Paula in real life then I’m sadden for your lose and that you’ll never get to experience that joy. Paula was a great friend to so many of us within the content creation community. However she was foremost a phenomenal business woman who took the time to share her knowledge and craft her skills across the community. No matter where in the world someone was from. She was a no bulldust kinda lady, who called it how she saw it. Which it intimidated a lot of people and I loved her for it.
I couldn’t even tell you how old Paula was, as age was no barrier to the things her and Gordon did. It was something that she was proud of as a woman. The years of experiences, the years of friendship and the ability to enjoy both. If you ever met Paula at a conference or an event then you’ll know that she was most likely out drinking the younger folks and dancing the night away. Yet there she was at 9am ready to roll again and start the working day. Always the professional.
Contented Traveller is Paula and Gordon, it is us…and we are nice. Seriously we are. We are consummate professionals because we are passionate about what we do.
The things that Paula taught me.
I had been friends with Paula & Gordy, as you don’t get one without the other, for what seems like forever. At first we were internet friends thanks to the joy of Twitter and then when we all ended up on a press trip to Raja Ampat Paula literally saved me from being a lost soul and helped me find the group, as the tourism board had forgotten to tell me where to meet people at the airport when I arrived. There’s no way I would’ve considered leaving the airport and going to the local fried chicken takeaway. And so our real life friendship began.
Over the years we had kept in contact no matter where in the world we both were. Again the positive side of the internet made keeping on contact really easy. And there were many tough travel days, awful & emotionally draining family situations that we spoke about, drank through and enjoyed laughing about. Then there was the many, many professional minded conversations about jerk PR companies that wanted us to work for free. Though nothing would ever tops sitting back and watching a Paula & Gordy conversation as they actively disagreed over a ridiculous topic, resulting in laughter and Paula telling Gordy that she was right and he just had to accept that.
Age is no barrier to travel
Like I mentioned I have no idea what age Paula was when we first met. Age was no barrier to the fantastic things that they did. Or the people that she partied with or the business deals that she did. Paula did hate being called a seniorprenuer or a grey nomad. If you ever saw her bright red hair on the dancefloor you’ll know what I mean. There was nothing grey or senior about Paula.
Know you’re worth
And don’t be afraid to charge for it! Champagne doesn’t come for free y’all and after years of being me I’m worth paying for. Paula was constantly telling me, and other content creators, that we are valuable. That we shouldn’t be afraid to charge for the service we provide. BUT that we needed to provide a fan-friggen-tastic service. Under commit, over deliver and offer a service that your client will never forget.
Now is the best time to drink that bottle of champagne
Life is short. Too short for bad wine. Stuff the haters, drink the champagne and love it. Which is a motto I live by a lot.
Generosity knows no boundaries
Paula (and Gordy) were so unbelievably generous. There was that one time, when I flew Tigerair, that my flight home was cancelled. From a Friday afternoon to the Sunday afternoon. I’d barely been home in Australia for 3 days before I had flown to Sydney for a Travel Massive event. And now I was stranded, with a dog about to go into hospital and a very bare bones bank account. Before I knew it Paula had messaged me, given me the train time table and there I was on the train to their home. Where they hosted me for 24 hours, showed me the sites and best cafes. Which was performed far better then any press trip or 5 star hotel I’ve ever stayed with.
Friendship knows no boundaries
Age, distance, coffee styles. Paula showed me and oh so many people that great friendship knows no physical boundaries. There’s quite a few of you in my life who I regularly chat to even though we are on different continents, time zones and sometimes even food requirements. Olives are the devil.
Knowledge is best shared between friends
When Paula could help someone she did. She was the admin of more Facebook groups then I can fathom and if she didn’t know the answer she had no fear in asking. I can’t remember how many times I’d post something in a Facebook group and moments later a private message would pop up with Paula asking for a better explanation. Or challenging my thought process and demanding a better level of content from me. She wasn’t afraid to call me, and other people, out for their poor behaviour or if she disagreed with you.
Boundaries and rules are meant to be broken.
Never one content with the status quo, Paula was always one to test the boundaries. To push the limits. A kindred soul, we both had issues with authority and none more so evident then on our trip to Raja Ampat. Where we snuck off the boat, down the world’s longest wooden jetty and snuck into a village. Have you ever truly lived life unless you have been chased by a government official on a tropical island paradise?
I could go on for another million words on what my friendship with Paula meant to me. How she influenced those around her to be better people, better writers and make the world a better place one post at a time. To explore the world, locally and far away, to just do things and not be stagnant. This is just a snippet into the world that was our oddly bizarre and beautiful friendship. I’ll never forget what we experienced together and will always carry you in my heart. No matter where in the world I am.
To her most beautiful husband Gordon, and the family that she leaves behind. My heart breaks for you and just know that there is an entire community out there who benefitted from knowing this beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing her with us.
The one thing I wish everyone would learn from Paula its the true meaning of life;
It is all about serendipity and embracing the travel experiences.
Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker
Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.