“Annie Crawley was born to inspire people. She lives the message she brings to the world, empowering people to use their imagination to live out of their vision of themselves, rather than their past. Annie Crawley is what the world needs now more than ever before. She is a blessing and I love her.” –Les Brown Motivational Speaker and Mentor to Annie
Sometimes, all we need is one person to believe in us, until we start believing in ourselves. Let Annie be the one person who believes in you until you start believing in yourself because after surviving and now thriving in life, Annie was born to inspire. Annie learned life’s lessons at a very young age. Despite the hardships she endured, including her father’s passing at only 8 months old, Annie used imagination as the basis of her life. Her favorite games were never bought in a store, they all involved make-believe. The basement became a hospital; a cardboard box became a train. She went on great archeology digs in her backyard and the swimming pool became an ocean. She was given a pair of rose-colored glasses at a young age and still wears them today, choosing to look at obstacles as opportunities. Annie founded a tree-climbing club and lost herself in nature. She could escape any problem by climbing to the tallest tree on her block and imagine she was exploring a rain forest in the Amazon. Annie still remembers the words her mom said while walking her to her first day of school, “Annie, if you study and learn you can do anything.” “Really? Can I even be the President?” Annie asked back. “Yes, you can even be President of the United States if you want too,” her mom continued, “All you have to do is dream.” Annie lives knowing dreams and imagination are the catalyst for the inspiration in our lives, yet hard work, goal setting, persistence and perseverance turn our dreams into reality. What dreams lie dormant inside of you waiting to be awakened? Let Annie Crawley be your inspiration!
Annie’s father died in 1969 because he needed a new heart. At the time, the only heart transplants were done on pigs because science was not advanced enough to do transplants on people. In addition, for the first 8 years of Annie’s life her Grandfather lived in a hospital bed in her Grandmother’s kitchen. He had multiple sclerosis and was unable to talk, walk or take care of himself. Annie never grew up knowing this was a weakness, as her Grandmother taught her that Grandfather still had his mind and was King of the Family. When her grandfather passed away, Annie’s Grandmother started to travel. Grandma Wanda took her first trip at 50 years old to Hawaii. This experience not only changed Grandma Wanda, but Annie as well. Every year after her first trip to Hawaii, Grandma Wanda planned one trip a year. She kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland, rode Camels in Egypt and visited the Taj Mahal. She would return to her home in Chicago, gather her grandchildren together and entertain them with stories of her experiences.
Annie spent years looking at her Grandmother’s world map and imagining traveling to all of the destinations. Somehow Annie knew from a very young age that the world was her home and she needed to discover and explore all of it. Grandma Wanda looked Annie right in the eye, shook her finger and said, “Do it while you’re young kid because when you get to be my age, you can’t climb the mountains!” As a dreamer and imagination expert, those words became Annie’s mantra and she knew she would travel and explore the world. We all have places we wish to explore, what do you dream about discovering?
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than the ones you did. So throw off the bow lines, sail away from safe harbor. Explore, Dream, Discover.” Mark Twain
After graduating from college, Annie’s travels began. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois, Annie knew she wanted to explore the world. She saved her money for a year and then bought a plane ticket to Australia. Walking down a street in Perth shortly after she arrived, she saw a sign: “Learn To Scuba Dive.” As an accomplished swimmer, she never dreamed she would be able to learn to scuba dive and she almost walked right past that sign, but something inside of her spoke to her. Annie was raised in Chicago and grew up knowing Lake Michigan, far from any sea. In an instant Annie decided to learn to scuba dive because there was nobody there to tell her she could not do it. Little did Annie know how this decision would alter the course of her life forever. She recalls the first time she breathed underwater,
“Wearing scuba equipment on land is really heavy, but when I breathed underwater for the first time, I was awakened to a life and world I never knew existed. Everything became silent all around me, even the voices in my head and every single one of my senses was tantalized by my surroundings. I remember looking at my instructor and thinking to myself, ‘I can do your job. I want to travel the world as a scuba diving instructor.’ And that is exactly what I did! The Ocean, diving, exploration became my life. I left home to explore for a few weeks and did not return for four years. I worked as a dive instructor, journalist and photographer before the internet existed. The only way I received letters was by going to the Postal Restante in each country. Technology has changed everything now, but those were amazing years in which I grew and developed into the woman I am today.”
The freedom of scuba diving, the Ocean and traveling had such a profound impact on Annie because of what she experienced during her youth. Although she was educationally advanced, graduating as the Valedictorian of her high school, she grew up dealing with many of life’s challenges. Annie does not consider herself a survivor, she considers herself an inspiration. Because of her exposure to the darker side of life, she walks with compassion and empathy. Annie looks back at the challenges she faced in life as character building experiences and is grateful for the love that has grown from a deeper understanding and meaning in life.
Upon returning to the United States, Annie Crawley worked at The Field Museum in Chicago as the training coordinator in charge of both management training and the public service department team training; later she worked in corporate sales, yet she always taught scuba diving and worked on boats part time to fulfill her passion for the Ocean. She missed the freedom she experienced from working and traveling abroad. One day she woke up and knew although she had an extremely successful position with her company, that there was something more inside of her she was born to do. Have you ever felt like there was so much more that you wanted to do? What stopped you? What prevents you from diving into your imagination and stepping into your greatness?
Ten years ago, Annie changed her life. The Ocean continued to be a part of her soul. She decided to resign from her job, sold her car, bought underwater camera housings and went to document and travel the world, this time as an underwater photographer and cinematographer. She explored the world for five years with camera in hand, and never looked back. Her favorite memories include living and working in Galapagos, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Subsequent to five years of working and traveling around the world working in the production industry and recreational dive industry, a large format film company hired her to be the Underwater Director of Cinematography on a series of ten large format, IMAX® movies. After working for the company for 1.5 years, the company lost their funding. Annie became an entrepreneur and Dive Into Your Imagination was born.
“It has been said that out of the greatest tragedies, the deepest learning happens.” What is stopping you from being the best that you can be? Most of us live in the prison of our minds with no bars or guards keeping us from our greatness.” Annie Crawley
Annie Crawley founded Dive Into Your Imagination to create entertaining and educational children’s products about the Ocean. Looking back at her life, she realized the profound impact the Ocean had on her development. Annie wished she had found the Ocean and animals when she was a child growing up because her early years were so challenging. All of her friends and family were starting to have children and Annie wanted all the children in her life to know why she was so passionate about the Ocean. “I grew up watching cartoons and after experiencing the Ocean, the animals in the sea are better than any cartoon!” Realizing there was nothing on the market to fill this niche, Annie decided to create a book and DVD about the ocean. Ocean Life A to Z book and DVD with Reader’s Digest Publishing was her first product. Since 2007, Ocean Life Book and DVD is in the hands of more than 100,000 children. Dive Into Your Imagination has grown. Annie has created an award winning website, www.DiveIntoYourImagination.com, a series of kids ocean DVDS, books and lesson plans, after receiving four grants from Save Our Seas Foundation. Annie Crawley has created a complete ocean education curriculum for pre-school and elementary schools.
A couple of years ago, Annie Crawley was invited to join the Les Brown Platinum Speaker group by her mentor, the legendary Les Brown, Mamie Brown’s Baby Boy! She has also studied under Dr. Julie VanPutten, Larry Diangi and Dr. Anthony Sweeting. Annie continues to balance life with both production and speaking opportunities, demonstrating to us that you can follow your dreams and create your greatest life.