Courage and strength are not measured by size or stubbornness, but in wisdom, determination, and the ability to show humility in the time of need. We cannot walk alone in this life and hope for success. To stay on our paths, we must be wise enough to know when we are lost, and humble enough to embrace the hands that guide us along 🧡 Asking for help is not weakness, it is an incredible act of courage 🦋🧡
When I was ready to live in my truth, it felt like home ~ Lisa J.
I had something profound happen to me last night that seemed like the cherry on top of a lovely day. If you’ve kept up on my blog, I’m sure you’ve noticed an underlying theme. I enjoy writing about how I’m finding my way to my happiness, and now that I’ve revamped the definition of my happiness, my path to my truth. It is also my practice and my joy to inspire others to look from a different perspective, believe in who they are, and listen to their hearts and the quiet voice from within.
In an earlier post, “This is Me, This is My Why”, I gave a short summary of my crazy life, which was a small glimpse of my sometimes chaotic, rocky, dark and unsteady, but purposeful journey. During these years of my life, never did I realize I was developing awareness or learning lessons that would have led me to where I am now, and it is a common occasion when I don’t realize just how far I’ve come.
Last night, I stumbled upon a “Life List” I wrote back in 2006, and as the name implies, it is a list of 60 things I wanted to accomplish in this life. However, the profound and fascinating part to me is not necessarily the list, but that I truly don’t ever remember making this list, why I made this list, or even that it was here in this house. Last night it served as a giant reminder, sign, smack in the face, whatever you want to call it, as to how much I’ve grown and changed, but yet, not changed, in the last 12 years.
While the entire list is not completed, like visiting Australia or New York, many, many of them are, and I honestly didn’t realize I was checking them off. This is truly something extraordinary that makes me realize my true nature, even when I thought I lost it so many years ago, stayed with me through dark and light, good and bad, so when I was ready to live in that truth, it felt like home.
The entire list is lengthy, so I won’t name them all, but I will touch on the ones that are significant and eye opening to me. The truth is though, to truly understand why this is so profound, you must understand where I was in my life when I wrote it. With no question, I had no idea where, or what, my life purpose or meaning was, or even what I was doing with myself or how to live without drama or madness; however, the items on this list were as important to me then (which I didn’t realize) as they are now, and made it full circle to becoming the foundation of this blog that I only began in July of this year without consciously realizing.
The below consists of various practices I apparently had hoped to accomplish, and many achieved, and you can see, at different periods over the last 12 years, and those I did not even think to begin to practice until this past July:
Forgiveness (2018); Be more confident (ongoing); Quit smoking (2011); Positivity (2018); Meditate (2006 and then never again until 2018); Remove the negative and take control of my life (2017-18); Get my Bachelors (2020, I’ll be 41); Pray more (2018, which I neverthought I would do again); Face my fears (2018); Stop worrying about getting everyone’s approval (2018); Start running/exercise (2013); Coach (2011-2014); Volunteer (started at the animal shelter 2010); Travel to places I’ve never been (2006-present); and Inspire (hopefully, 2018). I can say without a doubt, this list got lost never to be thought of again until last night, but MOST of them happened within the last 12 years, without me even realizing.
I continue to be in awe that these items were written so many years ago and although I consciously did not see them every day, I was subconsciously checking them off one by one. That in mind, and as powerful as this is to me, I’ve decided to make a new list, but this time around, I plan to make it visible every day:
1) All the stuff from the first list that is ongoing, or I have not yet accomplished, like learning to Salsa;
2) Get married;
3) Write for a living;
4) Co-Create with one of my closest friends;
5) Own a business (this was also on list #1);
6) Practice self-care (eat better, exercise, meditate);
7) Appreciate and be grateful for everybody and everything, small and large in my life;
8) Travel, and travel more;
9) Walk with faith;
10) Love lots…
Your mind is a beautiful, mysterious and incredible thing. What we desire in this life is attainable if we desire from a place of passion, truth and love. Sit down, have the thoughts, say them out loud, make a list, plant the seeds in your subconscious, and your true nature and path will reveal itself, even if it’s 12 years later.
It was months ago when my dear friend and I had dinner and talked about this crazy idea of taking off for the weekend to experience self-discovery by way of a Women’s Work/Life Integration Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted by Jennifer Connelly of Triple W Forum. After discussing the program, the travel and all it would entail, we laughed and promised we’d investigate it, but honestly, we both knew the possibility of actually following through was slim for many reasons. However, the idea of experiencing clarity, centering and relaxation on the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the beautiful fall, continued to nag at me as the weeks passed by.
It was a morning on my way to work when the nagging turned into a question of “why not”? Why not travel to a mountain top of serenity?; Why not take time to focus on the one person that gets lost in the hustle…Me?; Why not go to a place filled with like-minded and inspiring women?; Why not go with the intention to find clarity for my heart, my mind and my soul? Why not? I couldn’t think of a good answer, so the second I shut the car off, I sent my friend a message and our journey began. Before we knew it, and after a few clicks of the keyboard, we were off on an adventure that would change our mindset, our hearts and set us on a course of incredible change.
It was an 11-hour drive through the most gorgeous scenery, filled with the colorful paintbrush of nature, and while it rained the entire ride, we barely noticed as we were engrossed in conversation, excitement and wonder for what was to come. Upon our arrival we were in awe of the view and the facility, which spans thirty acres of mountainous forest. After check-in, we explored the gift shop located near registration, and while entranced by the calming smell of incense, I of course, could not leave empty handed, believing I could read not just one, but two, inspirational books while we were there. We were then ready to head to our room which was a short trip down the winding mountain and, just our luck, located right next door to the Shankara Ayurveda Spa. We were pleasantly surprised with our lovely newly renovated room, comfortable beds and spectacular picture window that framed the landscape. Sleep turned out to be difficult only due to the anticipation of the weekend before us.
Waking Friday with excitement, as our schedules were full of 1:1 coaching sessions with Jennifer, massages, Ayurvedic lunch, and our initial group sessions with the 18 other women who chose to ask themselves Why Not? We were ready, even though we had no idea what to expect, but what we discovered is that sometimes, that’s the best way to make beautiful changes in your life. Walk without fear through the opportunities that present themselves.
While I want to include each and every detail in order to give all the events and experience justice, it may start to look like a novel, so from here on out I thought I would touch the highlights to leave some sense of mystery, so that, next time this retreat comes around, you ask yourself, Why Not?
TRIPLE W FORUM (Jennifer Connelly)
So, who was the brilliant mind behind this inspirational weekend? While I believe she would humbly list her tribe and her people, as we cannot walk our paths without the support of an army, our MC and our guide, Jennifer Connelly, showed up as a light for us all with breathing techniques, visualizations, yoga, including at sunrise, forest bathing and the Birkman Method, teaching us information about ourselves we didn’t even realize existed within. If I tell you nothing else about Jennifer, I will tell you this, she is without a doubt living in her truth, doing exactly what she was meant to do in this life.
The concept and flow of the events allowed for the program to be engaging, relaxing, and filled with tools for your tool belt to take with you on your journey home, and to think, she did it all right there on the mountain top. Facilitating the retreat with kindness and ease by way of her company, Triple W Forum, which she founded in 2009 as a way to provide a “transformative platform for professional and personal development for individuals and organizations” she provided an experience I will carry with me always, and plan to have again next year.
As part of the retreat activities we had the pleasure of being introduced to three wonderful speakers. Each bringing something a little different to the table, they presented us with thought provoking questions and practical solutions for implementing positive change in our lives.
Our first speaker was Walter Crawford, Personal & Life Development Coach at Crawford Corner, who with his easygoing and fun personality gave us insight on how expectations show up in our lives. We explored how to recognize these expectations, if they are fairly placed, how to assess their value, and understand that communication is key in managing any expectation in your life.
We then heard from Mary Beth Sawicki, founding partner at Trilogy Effect, a boutique consulting firm that works with people to surface potential. Mary Beth was a sweet soul who gave us a plan on how to face and resolve upsets and incompletion in our lives. Through her personal story (that I will be following up on) she took us through the steps of addressing our upsets by identifying, distinguishing and assessing the situation for what it really is, and moving forward in a positive way.
Last but certainly not least Ellen Burton, Leadership Coach of EJ Burton & Associates, and now Author of “The Civility Project: How Corporate Culture Impacts Wellness, Productivity and Profit” gave us her genuine take on Reverence and how kindness increases your prosperity. In an interactive presentation, Ellen took us through the emotional side of both a negative and positive workspace and how each affect productivity and essentially profit. Wrapping with the conclusion that kindness, respect and civility are the best practices for overall performance.
While each brought a special light to the group, we were also given the opportunity to meet with them one on one for the insight and advise in what was happening in our own individual worlds.
While I am beyond grateful for each of the events and people I have discussed above, the most incredible part of the retreat were the connections made with each and every individual who attended, participants and coaches alike. Getting to know the courageous women, and man, who showed up as their vulnerable, true selves is an experience that I will not forget. Inspired by their lives, their reasons, their passions, and their openness, my heart will forever be changed. Each of us there for our own personal reason, each of us there with very different stories, but all of us there to better ourselves so we can live as the best versions of us.
THE ART OF LIVING RETREAT CENTER
In addition to the Triple W retreat activities we also found plenty to do around the Center itself. Not the traditional cabin in the woods, The Art of Living Retreat Center practices and encourages the practice of Ayruveda, which in Sanskrit means “The Science of Life.” Ayruveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.
Specifically, you will not only find traditional American massage offered at the spa but the Ayruvedic massage therapy as well, which incorporates oils and rhythmic soft tissue massage that not only nourishes your muscles but also your nervous system.
Additionally, their food is an Ayurvedic diet, which is fresh (without pesticides, additives and other chemicals), seasonal, and as often as possible local. I was nervous about this part because I’m such a picky eater, but it turned out, the food was delicious, and it was even better to know I was eating clean.
Now, if you weren’t enjoying a massage or eating in the large beautiful dining room overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, you could choose to attend one of the Center’s yoga or meditation classes, a guided tour of the grounds including a look inside the grand meditation hall, or make an appointment to create pottery (check out this post for info on Karen, who re-kickstarted her beautiful craft on one of these retreats), or hike the paths within the surrounding 30 acres of nature.
I really didn’t think there would be words to describe my weekend of self-discovery, but I sure did find them. To say the least, this trip was worth every cent spent, every schedule changed and every hour in the car. The experience was one I will carry with me as I walk in the version of me I like best, and I look forward to the next time. I cannot thank the coaches, Jennifer, Triple W and all the amazing connections I made on this journey as I was finding my truth on the mountain top.
As we walk through the journey of life we will experience the presence of many different people who will touch our hearts in numerous ways. Some are with us from birth and some enter our story in different chapters, however each of them can bring a kaleidoscope of inspiration, disappointment, joy, heartache, happiness and pain. Those who bring us joy, those who show us happiness, are those that allow this journey toward purpose and peace simple and effortless. However, realistically, there will be disappointment and we will feel pain, and the source may be from those we love.
The pain that they may bring, the heartache they may cause and the disappointment you may feel can bring you to your knees, question your faith and, at times, destroy your hope. It is our most human trait to believe in the purity of love. We are wired to believe that if one loves another, they will not cause the other harm. When that trust is shattered, to believe again seems like a pointless endeavor. I know this, I’ve felt this, and I’ve wanted to pretend that the pain was a figment of my imagination. In response, my heart hardened, and my world may have been darker, but the path was smoother, risk-free with no cliffs, no valleys and no chance of falling again. The loneliness and the pain that came when the center of my being shut down was something I never expected.
The pain of shutting off and closing my heart to just walk this earth without really living was a pain I didn’t realize I was feeling, but when I did, I knew it was not a path I wanted to travel. For so long I didn’t want to believe that those who happened to enter my life were imperfectly human, yet they are human. They are breathing, feeling, heart-pumping humans with battles within themselves that we are unaware, and we are not to judge. It was difficult for me to accept that each one of us is an imperfect soul that strives to piece together this puzzle of life, and that while the choice of crossing paths may not be ours, the choice to love them anyway, whether we choose to stay, or to walk away is ours to make.
I recently heard an interview where the author spoke of a conversation she had had with her priest. She asked him if he felt people do the best that they can in this life. His response led me to reassess my entire outlook on those who cross our paths. He asked, if God were to come down and tell you that these people that have hurt us, disappointed us or caused us heartache were truly doing the best they could, they were living their life the best they were capable, would your perspective change? It was a powerful concept that has been difficult for me to shake, and I have used in my process of understanding and forgiving. What if they are doing the best that they can, and while understanding may be difficult to ask, love them anyway, even if it must be from afar.
When your parents shatter the perfect image, you have carried in your mind since you were a child, love them anyway;
When your children don’t act like the perfect angels you wish them to be, love them anyway;
When your spouse/friend/partner disappoints, betrays or hurts you, love them anyway;
When family doesn’t treat you like family, love them anyway;
When the random stranger shows you nothing but angst, love them anyway;
When you cross paths with someone who emits hate, hurt and sadness, love them anyway; and
When you feel like you are not worth the effort or feel alone, love you anyway;
…because honestly, we need more love in this world.
The more love we emit, the more love we will receive. We don’t have to agree with the actions or surround ourselves with those who are blind to the beauty of this life, but we can wish them love in their hearts, and love them anyway.