We finally have some gorgeous weather here in the Northeast. Yesterday was 88 degrees and I was desperate to be out in nature and be near water. There is nothing like unplugging, using your body, and being in nature to nourish the soul and if you don't believe me, you should try it! I was hiking with a friend and we had a 3-4 hour window so we decided to hike a small mountain next to a local lake. This is really a gem of the community I live in as nobody would expect a hike to gorgeous views here. As expected, the path was virtually empty and we had it to ourselves.
There was a map to the trails at the parking lot but much of the connecting trails and higher levels were cut off of the map. It's a small park and we had time to risk it so we decided to wing it a bit. We took a marked trail up midway and found a second trail to the left, that seemed to go up. The other trail went back down to the lake. We took the trail to the left but discovered very soon into it that the markers fell away. Being reasonably intelligent, worldly hikers, we decided to keep winging it and figured if we kept going up, we ultimately would find a summit. To make a long story (and hike) short, we hiked in very rough terrain for about 90 minutes without any summit or any trail markers at all. Defeated, we decided to head back down and connect up with the original path. As soon as we found the original path, however, we found a new set of markers leading to the "overlook path"....This seemed promising! We only had one hour left at this point so we took this trail with a pretty aggressive pace. This trail was straight up hill, rocky, branchy and buggy! We were sweating, breathless and pretty darn tired. When you reach this point on a hike, it's easy to throw in the towel and head down hill right? Well, we persevered. We followed blue marker after blue marker and suddenly, there was a clearing ahead and it was possible to glimpse a bit of a lake in the distance. We turned a corner, climbed a final rock and BAM! there was the vista - just when we thought we couldn't go any further or that it could possibly be there. Here is what we were able to view:
PIt truly was awe inspiring. The weather was perfect, there was a slight breeze, it was completely silent and there were hawks circling right above us. This provided a perfect venue for a short but powerful meditation and honestly, I can't remember the last time I felt such gratitude.
What struck me in that moment, is that this hike was exactly a metaphor for what life feels like sometimes. You work, and work and work. You are tired, stressed, feeling like you want to give up and then suddenly, there it is - the jewel, the gift, the payoff, the vista. Please keep persevering for those payoffs in life - They are always worth it!
So I've been sick and can't believe how much it took out of me. Sorry it's been a while since I have written. While sick I finally got around to reading Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In". Sheryl and I are about the same age, she graduated Harvard Business School one year after I graduated Wharton Business School. She is COO of Facebook and I recently left as director of a company. Her concept of women needing to "lean in" rings so truthfully for me. I have been called aggressive, ambitious and out spoken and none of these were complements when said. Since I left my last company, many employees have told me that "the place hasn't made sense since I left". So interesting as my views, opinions and roles were not valued when I was an employee there. Women do need to band together, women do need to lean in to the conversation and probably most importantly, we need the men in our homes and our corporations to get on board with this concept. I have the good fortune of raising boys. These boys will enter the world wanting the balance we women crave - a rewarding career, a happy home, and the ability to make a difference in our communities and our world. This is how change happens - one person at a time. So what are you doing to "lean in"?
So many of my regular readers don't know my personal story. I left a very difficult, toxic corporate job in October of 2016 without a sense of what I was going to do to pay my mortgage or to feed my children. In hindsight, this event threw me into a journey of self discovery unlike any I have experienced in my life so far. I spent the first two months "recovering". I did little more than sleep, meditate and practice yoga. I tried to get as silent as I possibly could so that I could listen to my intuition and carve out a path that made some sense to me for my life. I have always been successful in my career so this experience had rocked me to my core. As January came, I realized my calling was to take all of my personal and professional learning and start Enliven Retreats. I feel a strong calling to help other people find the same kind of transformation and serenity that I have found in my life. I have spent considerable time developing a tried and true methodology that I use with my clients to aid them in finding sustainable transformation. I do this individually and with groups on retreats to exotic places. It is the most rewarding job I have ever had and I feel truly blessed each and every day and honored with every person that I get to help.
In addition to launching this business, I picked up many new hobbies and activities: I began practicing Tae Kwon Do, doing Zumba, strength training, studying "Mussar" with amazing local educators, got very active in my spiritual support group, jumped into cooking, started writing a blog and became a super present, engaged parent. I also have become very clear on my truth and who I am as a person and have been very true to this each and every day.
At Tae Kwon Do today, I was profoundly struck by the student creed that we utter each and every class: "I have dedicated my life to attaining the highest level of self awareness through knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart and strength in the body". Today I discovered that although I had, in fact, accomplished all that I mentioned above in the past few weeks, what I really have been doing is dedicating my life in this fashion. Every single pursuit I have taken on is to enhance my self awareness either through knowledge, honesty or strength. Whatever I decide to pursue next be it leading more retreats, engaging in more relationships or perhaps even working for someone else, I am super clear that this will be a life long pursuit. I look forward to continuing this pursuit and supporting others in theirs.
On the day after Mother's Day, I thought it might be nice to reflect on my Mother's Day as well as the one I observed for so many people.
So let me start by saying that Mother's Day is always a bit hard for me as I lost my mother about 3 years ago. I didn't have that kind of mother that the Hallmark cards were made for. My sister and I like to say that my mom had her own "special brand of love". That's a nice way of saying that she tried the best that she could and loved us in the only way that she knew how. It's just unfortunate that her way was not the Hallmark way. We spent Mother's Days as kids making sure we bought the perfect cards, the perfect gifts and that we behaved perfectly. I think you get the picture. Now in hindsight and in memory, I like to reflect on my mom with significant gratitude. Sometimes we learn good parenting skills by good roll modeling and sometimes we do from omission, or maybe the opposite of good. In any case, I am the mother that I am because of the mother that I had and for that, I am infinitely grateful. Also, whatever your relationship is with your mother, she did give you life, so for that, be grateful. It was beautiful to see the outpouring of love for mothers of all generations in social media all weekend - the pictures, memories and messages were awe inspiring. Mothers deserve this as we all work so hard so that was beautiful to see.
My day was quite beautiful. My children were with their father so I was able to go to a Zumba class in the am and then have coffee with a girlfriend to celebrate our motherhood. I then picked up my kids and we had a lovely brunch and a great visit to the dog park with my fur baby. They showered me with love and cards and homemade presents and we had a great time.
I delivered them back to their father and made dinner for two of my best girlfriends. We are all single moms so it was very fun to be able to celebrate together and be grateful to our exes who have to behave like moms so much of the time! We had an amazing time talking about our paths, our growth and our parenting journeys. I am so blessed by the people in my life!
I called my eldest to say goodnight and he ended the call by saying "Thanks for being the best mom ever".....and yep, my life is complete.
I hope that you had a wonderful mother's day and/or did something nice for the moms in your life. Please feel free to tell me about it :)
It's been a busy week and a somewhat stressful one at that. I am a person that makes decisions very easily and lately this has been really hard for me. I have struggled with listening to my intuition and knowing which path is the right one. I have found that when I get twisted around the axle in this way, the best thing I can do to get out of my own way is to be of service to others. This act will lift you out of a place of ego and provide a clarity that I otherwise couldn't find. There are many ways to be of service - you can volunteer, you can hold the door for people during the day, you can visit a senior citizen center and bring books or baked goods. The idea is to just stop thinking about yourself and be for other people. It's like medicine. I taught a yoga class tonight and now I have crystal clarity!!! Let me know what you end up doing!
The one constant in life is change. How we navigate that change is who we are. Creating sustainable change is a more deliberate action and gives us the life we want. This is what my practice and my life mission is all about. All of my life experiences, work history and spiritual journey have lead me to this path - to help others create transformation in their lives and live lives that they love.