Celebrate Your Life
After I attended the 2017 International Women’s Summit, I was buzzing for weeks. It may have been one of the highlights of the whole year. The electricity was palpable. Everyone there felt it, like a drum pounding inside each of us, as if to say, we’re part of something! And it’s big!
This time, coming home from my second annual Celebrate Your Life conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, I wasn’t left with the high-vibe-can’t-calm-myself-down, or the unable-to-sleep feeling of last year’s conference. It was subtler, perhaps even quiet. I initially doubted the impact of this experience until I reflected, and realized that it had soaked into me nonetheless.
We do that, don’t we? If it doesn’t smack us upside the head then we may not even notice it. I’ve heard many stories of true love that started as, “I wasn’t sure about him, but there was something in me saying, go on a second date.” What I’ve learned is, sometimes whispers become the loudest, most important messages in our lives.
There they were, Martha freaking Beck, everyone! Author of Finding Your True North Star and, Diana Herself. She was on stage with her BFF, Elizabeth fucking Gilbert! (Eat, Pray, Love; Committed.) Books that directly shaped my life in the direction of my dreams. An existence full of fun adventures, deep love, sex in exotic places, relishing food, meaningful friendships, far-off travel, and endurance through life’s great challenges.
Liz talked about writing, the lessons she’s collected from living life all in, with her whole heart. Many of them flavored—initially anyways—by adversity which then sprouted a deeper sense of living.
I think many of us were surprised by how candid she was about the loss of her best friend and partner, Raaya. After Raaya was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Liz explained how she left her husband of 20+ years to marry “the love of my life.” I heard her say something to the effect of I didn’t want my friend leaving this world without us experiencing the fullness of our relationship.
When Martha took the stage, she spoke about her fascination with mysticism, and how a vivid dream of living on a ranch led her to googling properties, finding said ranch, and spending her life savings on it. She cheered us on with, “Guess how much it cost me?” and then surprised us with, “Only all my monies!” It’s one thing to spend your life savings when you’re twenty. The catch here, as Martha explained, was that she’d spent her career diligently putting money aside for her son, who has Down Syndrome and would be financially dependent on her for the rest of his life.
Martha and Liz made it clear that we not romanticize what it looks like to spend all your life savings on a dream, or to leave one life partner for another. What I took away is that both these extraordinary women listened above all to their intuition, to that whisper, even if it meant blowing up their lives to stay true to themselves. To explore what is possible.
To drive this point home, on the last morning of my trip, I felt torn between going to the gym before the conference started or going for a swim. I spent 30 minutes deliberating while gabbing with my roomie, before finally tuning in to what my body wanted. That was, to feel the Arizona sunshine and glide through clear water.
As I pressed the elevator button en route to the pool, I heard a voice say, “Good morning.” I looked over at the tall blond with a sassy ‘do and bright red dress, and replied, “Good morning, Liz Gilbert!”
She was as gracious and divine as I imagined her to be. We spoke about the weather, the conference, and then I totally fan-girled her.
“Do you mind if I dry off in the lounge chair next to you while you write? I won’t say a word … I promise.”
She extended an invitation and there we were, two women simply enjoying a brief, blissful moment under the sun.
We may not all get callings to leave our marriage, or to spend our savings account on a ranch we saw in a dream. Or do we? I don’t know. What’s important is that we pay attention to those whispers. They may be guiding us towards a path, perhaps unimaginable, that calls us somewhere, calls us to someone, calls us into ourselves. If we pay attention, it happens one whisper at a time. Who knows, those things that sound completely irrational may be the ones that break us open to the most honest and fulfilling experience possible.