Love Bubble. Yep.

Last Wednesday I got on a plane for Boise, ID for the first Brave Girl Symposium.  Last Friday, I got on a plane to journey home, but this time was traveling with a new mindset, a vastly more open heart, filled with love, and filled with inspiration to DO.

Being new to the Brave Girls Club concept, before I left I wasn’t sure what to expect from this experience; but I felt so strongly drawn to their mission:  Life Changing Fun for Women.  I knew this was going to be important.  From their website:

Brave Girls Club is a worldwide community of women (of every age!) who want to live the best, happiest, most productive and fabulously brave life they can possibly live…and that means something different to every single one of us.

I was blown away from the moment I arrived at the airport in Boise — my first sight coming out of baggage claim was a gigantic, turquoise bus decorated with painted flowers and Brave Girl messages. Other Brave Girls were also arriving and we took turns taking pictures of each other outside and inside the bus.  It didn’t matter that we’d never met before, we already had the bond of wanting to be Brave Girls!  And this experience was a far cry from a traditional hotel shuttle transport, once we were underway it was more like a party vibe with friends chatting and identifying commonalities (or as we learned that evening, we were finding places “where our petals touch” — thank you Kallie Maughan for sharing your book’s beautiful concept with us).  And that was just the beginning.

The theme of the Brave Girl Symposium was “What can love do?” and the entire event and its participants were suffused by experiences of love, by stories of hope, and by opening our hearts to the possibilities of what we might do and how our love might change the world.  We sang.  We danced.  We made prayer flags.  We decorated paint stirring sticks with our own versions of “… and she did it anyway!”  We were a group of women connecting at a soul level; our conversations were often incredibly deep given that we’d just met one another.  Honestly, I can’t recall even one that was centered around the usual cocktail party superficialities.  Glennon Melton of Momastery, who was one of our speakers, gave me the perfect description when she said that we were all in a “love bubble.”

The speakers at Brave Girl Symposium were obviously chosen with exquisite care.  What an amazing line-up of amazing women who are giving their love to the world by DOING.  Many of these “gorgeous geniuses” (thanks for that one, Lisa Sonora, I’ll be using it often!!) had experienced soul-crushing challenges at some point in their lives.  And each and every woman who spoke to us shared not only their stories, but also how they found healing and love, and how they are helping others find their own paths to healing and love. From them, we learned what it means to really “sister” one another as women and how vitally important it is for us to do this; important for ourselves and for others.   As we listened to these brilliant women we cried, we laughed hysterically, we took it all in, and then we reflected back to share our thoughts with our new soul sisters.

I’m super shy and introverted, especially when I’m surrounded by strangers, yet I attended Brave Girl Symposium by myself (something I am rarely brave enough to do).  From the minute I boarded that big, blue Brave Girl bus I knew I would not regret my decision to go this symposium solo (it was truly a case of I did it anyway).  I never once felt like an outsider, never once felt like I was alone.  Whether it was the beautiful friendship and love extended from those sisters I got to know well or the equally beautiful friendship and love extended from those with whom I simply had an interaction — I felt accepted and I felt loved.  More than this, I felt empowered.  If there were this many like-minded women who felt the call to come to Brave Girl Symposium, then I know there are many, many more out in the world.  And there are even more women who need the message of love, hope, healing, and learning that they, too, can be brave.  It is my fondest hope that I grow and learn how I can be someone who shares that message.  Knowing that I have so many Brave Girls rooting for me and this goal, how can I fail?

Do you think you might wanna be a Brave Girl?  Do you wanna know more?  If so, click the links below and check out the Love Bubble!

Brave Girls Club

Brave Girls University

Brave Girl Symposium 2016

 

 

SUP?

Yesterday I was the bravest girl ever.  Seriously.  And that’s what I kept telling myself for the first 45 minutes of my very first stand-up paddle boarding lesson.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a first attempt: the weather was sunny, but not too warm; the water was practically as smooth as glass; there were no daredevil-piloted speedboats zipping around making big, disruptive wakes.  But I was still really scared about the whole thing.  First off, those paddle boards are BIG and HEAVY and I have spaghetti arms.  Second off, when you see those pictures or videos of people leisurely paddling around without a care in the world what you’re not seeing is that they’re using every single muscle in their bodies.  Okay, I might be exaggerating — a little — but it’s a WHOLE BODY workout.  I work out, but I know full well I’m only using maybe 1/8th of my muscles and feel pretty uncertain about the competency of the rest of them.  Finally, I know how to swim so I’m not sure why the idea of falling off the board into calm, not very deep water freaked me out since drowning wasn’t a risk, but it did.  Thank goodness the first things the instructor talked about were: 1) how to fall; 2) it’s a sure thing at some point you’re gonna fall; and 3) when you fall and attempt to get back on the board, there is no graceful way to do it and everyone looks like a beached whale.

While we walked on the beach with our instructor, I wondered again why I was venturing so far out of my comfort zone and whether it would really bum my husband out if I just sat on the beach and worked on my tan while he did the lesson.  Then I remembered my big realization — that I like to forget — that living big and sparkling usually starts with being uncomfortable.  I really LIKE comfortable.  I’ve also recognized, though, that I can only hibernate on the couch watching Bravo for about 36 hours and then I gotta get up and be brave again.  Paddle boarding is something I’d always thought I’d enjoy.  I wanted to be one of those calm, peaceful women competently paddling.  Achieving that vision, however, would require some discomfort and work.  So, I didn’t sit on the beach.  I wo-manned up, grabbed my board and hauled it into the water.

I’ll spare you the details of my learning how to paddle, then kneeling on the board and paddling, then being super scared about it, but finally standing up and paddling.  I had to go through it, it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.  Every time I was scared, I repeated my mantra to myself about being the bravest girl EVER.  Believe it or not, it helped!  I even learned how to turn myself around by paddling backwards. Booyah!

Once I was standing up and paddling around looking kind of /sort of like that calm, peaceful woman I visualized, I realized how mindful this experience was.  When you’re learning something new, you are fully present in the moment.  Especially if you’re terrified of getting hurt/looking like a moron (equally terrifying in my world).  I paid a lot of attention to our instructor and was continuously checking what I was doing against how he was telling me to do it.  When I was standing up and paddling it wasn’t the end of the mindfulness, either. Being aware of my surroundings, being aware of the wind direction, paying attention to whether I needed to paddle more on the left side or right side, keeping my vision on the horizon so that I could maintain my balance … all of these required me to be focused and in the moment.  All those niggling thoughts that had been cluttering my mind or annoyances I couldn’t let go of disappeared for the three hours I was on the water.  I couldn’t spare any of my attention for inconsequentials.  Not surprisingly, on the way home I realized that not thinking about those things had no negative impact.  My worries and annoyances didn’t get any better or any worse for my not letting them junk up my mind.  Lesson noted and learned.

 

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