Some of you know that I recently went on a solitude retreat; five days by myself to read, ride and write. I have been encouraged to do so for years, not because anything is wrong, but simply to allow time to find the essence of the soul and develop clarity of purpose. While there in the hills and meadows of the Meramec River, I came away with some important insights about what it takes to live a meaningful life. For the next five blogs I will share excerpts from my journal. What follows is what I discovered, and I urge you to take a similar journey. Until you do, maybe some of my learning will help. Happy Trails!
Part V: Life Lessons from a Cabin in Burbourn, Missouri
As I reflect back on this week of solitude, I wonder if I accomplished what I was supposed to. With no tv or internet, and few other souls around, one has no choice but to think and ponder. I also realized that part of the process is to release the “shoulds”—all the things we do because it is expected of us. So if I wanted to do nothing but gorge myself and sleep, well, that’s an option, right? I think so. It is not, however, the option I chose.
I followed the general outline suggested to me of reading three books: The Power of Purpose by Richard J. Leider, The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt, and the Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dwyer (although I couldn’t force myself to finish that one). All three had some provocative points to make, the kind that make you wonder how you drifted off course from what you had intended to do or be.
Here are some of the self-discoveries I made while I pondered:
- I really am the person I thought I was. My values are unchanged and well forged. There is little that I do that is not genuine, one of the virtues of being self-employed.
- My purpose in life is to help people and organizations get unstuck, challenge themselves to be more, and help them find the way. Whether it is volunteering with orphans in Haiti, counseling my kids, mentoring young business people or working with clients, that is pretty much what I do.
- My gift is wisdom, being able to decipher things I read or learn, seeing problems and solutions holistically and being able to project how things will evolve.
- I have been joyfully reminded that the natural world is my spiritual teacher and I feel so much more connected with God, the Universe, infinity and even those I love even though they aren’t here.
- Gratitude is the root of happiness and fortunately I feel tremendous gratitude for so many, many things. I am blessed with a wonderful family, I have amazing friends—especially my women friends, I feel so very grateful to the friend who encouraged me to get back into riding which I am enjoying beyond description—what a door that has opened in my life, my health is stronger than it has been for a decade, and I try to remember to appreciate each and every day. Between my bout with cancer and the passing of a good friend and mentor, David Thomson, this week, it is a reminder that each day is precious and not to be wasted.
- I need to remember to value my relationships and do a better job letting people know how much they mean to me! I also need to feel ok asking people for help which I am always reluctant to do out of pride or stubbornness or something! It is ok to ask people to mentor me, send me referrals or just give me feedback. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me. And allow me to help you in return if you think I am able.
- In the future, I plan to push myself out of my comfort zone more often—to stretch myself—so that I may continue to grow. Often that will mean trying new things or doing things a new way. My bucket list has expanded!
- I need to overcome my furious independent streak and be willing to give up (talk about uncomfortable) some of my need to win, be right, and be in control. Yikes, that is a tall order!
- I will never stop pushing the envelope to learn that which I don’t know, to improve my understanding of things that make me curious, challenge thoughts I don’t agree with and to try new things that intrigue me.
- Being trumps doing.
- A new goal is to see God in everyone’s face.
Life is too short. There are always too many things to do. Figure out what matters to your soul and focus on that!