Fun became Shannon’s Secret Weapon

The pictures from the first Into the Fire struck something inside me. The sunshine, the waves, the smiles, the fun that occurred that day was evident and I could tell something deeper had happened. I wanted to experience the magic I witnessed for myself.


It was 3:30 pm on Friday afternoon. The retreat began early the next morning in Malibu. I was in San Francisco General Hospital with the rest of my family receiving the unexpected news that my dad had late-stage pancreatic cancer. Time stopped. Soon came the questions. Now what? What to do? Do I cancel the surfing plans I’ve had for months? Do I begin now putting off my life as a result of the jarring diagnosis that smacked my family? And if I do choose to go, can I even manage to enjoy myself, let alone have fun, with all that had changed that afternoon?

Into the Fire was a pivotal experience that profoundly changed the course of my year and continues to impact me. Receiving the diagnosis of my father’s late-stage cancer the day before the Surf Retreat set a powerful context to what I thought was going to be an easy day at the beach. The chance to have fun, play, relax and take a break from the sad and difficult news I had just received the day before was the best soothing balm imaginable. It re-jiggered my whole strategy on life. When I connect to this — even in the most challenging moments — I see opportunities for more fun and adventure.

Fun changes me for the better. Fun allows me to show up powerfully different for the challenges that life throws at me. Fun transforms the way I interact with family, friends, overwhelm and everything else. Fun became my secret weapon (with some good doses of gratitude) to making my way through my family’s journey with cancer over the next six months. Even with the realization that my world was taking twists and turns that I knew would not end the way I wanted them to, more than ever I needed the sweet break of fun. Most importantly, I realized that no matter what life dealt me, it was still possible to have fun.

Shannon Ratay, Professional Business & Life Coach


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