For me there was something deeply resonant in reading the words that open the ITF mission: “We believe there is a better way to live life.”
I didn’t decide to attend ITF until the Monday before. That’s kind of how I roll – making last minute decisions (big and small), following instinct or intuition. In this instance, the events of the preceding few days (more likely weeks and months, right?) had unraveled a chunk of my personal life – leaving me reeling and, perhaps most importantly – standing in the question: how can I show up differently in my life?
I have deep values of adventure, risk-taking, ‘reaching’ for life, and ‘letting things be easy’. But like for many of us, as time and life moved forward for me these sparkly, exciting [vitally important] values had become tarnished. I’d stopped honoring them. As life had gotten ‘hard’ I’d abandoned the pieces of me that were most likely to offer inspiration, connection and healing – and a deeply needed perspective shift. I’d stopped seeing the gold in me – really, I’d seemingly pawned it off in exchange for the promise of some fairy dust and unicorn horns. And I hadn’t even noticed.
So that Monday I called Karen from my Minnesota gym in the heart of a hot and humid Midwest summer and asked if there was room for one more. “Of course”, she said. Delta airlines was equally accommodating. Lodging, too, was easy. In simply making the decision to “jump” Into the Fire I was immediately aligned with my values – I was already moving into my own “better way to live life”
Geologists have long known that veins of gold form when minerals from hot fluids flowing through cracks deep in Earth’s crust are deposited over many, many [many] years. Like the earth, our values and experiences collect in us over time, leaving behind veins of deep richness, wisdom and knowing – ever available to us to tap into. New research suggests, however, that the process – creating veins of gold – can occur almost instantaneously — possibly within a few tenths of a second – like during an earthquake.
ITF became a much needed earthquake – at once both creating deep veins of gold (through the experience of learning to surf, connecting with a diverse collection of leaders and requiring me to ‘loosen my grip’ on life a bit) and by creating a compelling shake-a-girl-to-her-core case for being courageous in choosing how to live more fully into every day.
In the months since the retreat my life has undertaken a complete remodel. A renovation. A demolition and rebuild might be more appropriate. I found the love of my life and we are going to be married on the shores of Lake Superior almost a year to the day of that beautiful surfing adventure in Malibu. I left my job and sold my house so that I could launch my own business. But most importantly, I think, I have found a better way to live life.
Do this. Your future self is depending on it. [Really.]