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One Brave Thing

From my place of personal retreat (June 2012)

This morning I awoke to my body’s own alarm clock for the sixth day in a row – no buzzing cell phones, alarms or blaring radio. Turns out, my body functions quite well on 6 to 7 hours a sleep as long as I get that sleep consistently. From my big beautiful King bed with a view of the ocean, I listened to the gentle pitter-patter of the soft rain on the roof top.

I breathed deeply and concentrated on the sound of my breathe releasing from my body. And then I eased out of bed thinking about how cool it is that I have seen a butterfly every day of this week-long personal retreat – a butterfly the symbol of transformation!

As I made my morning coffee and took in the expansive view of gorgeous Penobscot Bay at near high tide, I smiled at how fortunate I am to be greeted by this view each morning. I love to watch the tide roll in and out – it is so calming and centering. Honestly, I could watch the tide roll in and out all day.

It fills me up as the tide rises to fill the ocean bed, giving the sea creatures new life and places to explore. And when the tide descends out to expose the ocean floor, I feel my challenges or perceived problems flowing out with the tide creating fresh space in my heart and mind for what comes next. Low tide is perfect because it gives us fertile ground to explore and we always discover something new and interesting. Low tide brings tide pools that foster that new life and discovery and we always have the certainty that just as the tide rolled out and exposed something, it will come back in to high tide and fill us up. Perhaps our most important lesson from the tide is to learn to go with the flow. To experience the beauty both as the tide rolls in to fill up the basin and as it rolls out to expose new life and opportunities and things yet to be discovered.

I love that thought. I love this day! I am a lucky girl! Today, like the tide, I will go with the flow. (Kind of a new concept for me!)

be-braveWhat’s the point? 
I came to Maine on personal retreat. And none of these things I just described appreciating in full would have happened had I been back in Minnesota in my day to day life. So I am celebrating that. I am celebrating ME today.

This retreat didn’t start out as such. In fact, it started out as a business planning expedition and I had hoped that a friend might accompany me here over a long weekend to climb some big mountains, celebrate my transformation, and ponder how we might help thousands of people transform their lives. In my mind, it was to be a trip of big and bold discoveries answering the question: What next? All, while climbing the big and bold mountains of Acadia National Park.

When it became clear that this business planning exploration wasn’t going to work out, I decided to come to Maine anyway. I immediately and enthusiastically recruited friends and colleagues to join me for all or part of the trip now deemed part vacation and part business planning. I was determined to have a climbing partner so as to climb some really big mountains in Acadia in my new, fit body and spirit. I was a woman on a mission.

About the same time the trip neared on the calendar and none of my friends and colleagues were able to make it happen, my life started to get a bit crazy. My sleep slipped to 4-5 hours instead of the needed 6-7; my work life started to feel a bit out of control and it was clear my growing business needed me to solve some big challenges; and I began to struggle again with emotional and compulsive eating issues – out of the blue after 1 ½ years of plan success. It occurred to me that all of these things were signs that I was slipping out of the center of the equation of my life, and I wasn’t sure how to live in this new body and new life sans 200 lbs. I needed a time out. A place of personal retreat, all alone, to refocus my energy around Lori in the equation, chapter 2.

What does life look like, feel like and need to “be” like sans the 200+ pounds I have been hiding behind for most of my adult life? How do I maintain this record weight loss as the fanfare surrounding my success dies down and it is just me standing in the kitchen? And, perhaps most importantly, how do I make certain that when life’s challenges and opportunities come my way I remain in the center of my life open to the possibilities before me? How do I ensure that, just like I was open to the opportunities when I met O’Neal Hampton and Leif Anderson who guided me on this transformation journey, I can see the new opportunities (perhaps a romance, a new business, a new partner…) and am ready to grab hold and take the leap? How do I stay true to myself and my values when relationships test my love, fortitude, boundaries, and my ability to let go and let God? These are the questions that fill my heart. My very happy heart. But nonetheless, it occurs to me that I don’t yet have the answers. They lie within me and it is time to explore. This, is my Chapter 2.

Lori in the equation — Chapter #2 
And so here I am. Alone. On personal retreat in one of my favorite places on earth – my friend’s gorgeous coastal home overlooking Penobscot Bay less than an hour from Acadia National Park. I am edged between the sea that I love so much and the mountains that I have grown to love for all they represent about this journey to put myself in the center of the equation. I am in a life transition and in a place of endless opportunity! And while I could in no way have predicted this life transition 1 ½ or 2 years ago, I am thrilled to embrace it and ponder what next? My goal is to love the questions themselves and to live into the answers – as one of my favorite writers and poets Rilke so eloquently said.

Rather unexpectedly and perfectly I am doing it for Lori. It is about only Lori. And it is providing me the time, opportunity and space to look deep into my heart and soul and determine what I want, what I need, and where I go from here. It is perfect. It is exactly how it is meant to be…and where it is meant to be.

What will happen for me this week and beyond is yet to be determined. But, I have embarked on this “One Brave Thing” experiment to encourage myself to do one brave thing a day while here and to blog about the experience in an effort to challenge myself and continue to push my limits. But more importantly, because I CAN! It is fun for me now to do new things, try new things, be open to new things. Frankly, it’s all I want to do.

This newly transformed Lori LOVES life right now and is empowered by a new belief and guiding principle that she can do anything, absolutely anything, she sets her mind to. The opportunities are endless. I now live from a wholehearted, passionate and connected place, living and loving with my whole heart, my whole self exposed sans 200 pounds. It is scary at times. This is new territory for sure. But it is from here – from this place of total and complete authenticity and vulnerability – that I will blossom and thrive and hope. I also believe it is from here that I will inspire others and change lives – including my own.

So here I go. Exploring my next chapter and determining how best to be true to myself and hold myself in the center of my own life, while doing all the things that I want to do and help all of the people I want to help. It is from this place that I expect to fall in love, change the world, and who knows how or when or where. That’s the exciting part! And yes, perhaps, the scary part. But remember, “I’ve got this!” “We’ve got this!” #bravegirl #onebravething #healthygirl #happygirl

Peace by piece 
Just before I got on the plane this past week, I read a blog that touched me deeply. It was titled, Peace by Piece, by Chris Assaad, and the opening paragraphs captured my attention as if it were speaking directly to me and just the right moment. It read:

“Life is a journey, a process that unfolds one moment at a time. One of the greatest challenges that we as twenty-first-century human beings face is living in this world of doing and striving, while at the same time honoring the here and now, the moment that we’re living in at present.

We all have sky-high dreams and ambition to reach the top of the mountain, but so often we forget that it is the quality of every step we take along the way that will determine not only if and how quickly we reach our destination, but also what our experience of the path that takes us there will be like.

As has been said many times before, it is not the goal itself we are really after, but how we will FEEL when we get there. It is not the soul mate that we really want, but the experience of love, connection, and intimacy that we will be able to share with them. It is not the job itself that we are after, but the sense of accomplishment and security that will come with it. It is not the shiny award that we really desire, but the feeling of being enough and the validation of our ability that it represents. And the great mystery of life and the spiritual path is that all of those feelings are available to us RIGHT NOW, not out there but deep within us.”

#bravegirl

And so it is. I go exploring, seeing, being, experiencing and listening to my heart. Ah yes, mountains will be climbed (big ones conquered solo), and there is something so perfect and so powerful in that! I am exactly where I should be. And you know what else? I am enough. I am all that I need. And wow, does that feel incredible to say, write and believe for the first time in my life. I am indeed enough.

*Special thanks to Brene Brown, author, researcher and national speaker for helping me to better understand and articulate my internal transformation to happiness. You research and your words helped me realize that at the center of my transformation was the realization that I love myself just as I am today. I am enough. Check out Brene Brown’s incredible work and her TED Talk that inspired me, here.

*Stay tuned for my one brave thing a day blogs coming soon.

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