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Celebrations and Digging Deep in Nature and in Life

This is what a Birthday celebration with Ronny looks like.

This is what a Birthday celebration with Ronny looks like.

So it’s my Birthday and I usually like to do something epic.
I don’t know why, but I love stretching myself completely in some sort of challenging endurance excursion on my B-Day. I guess I feel it’s a way I can honor, give gratitude, celebrate and feel being fully alive. Some people eat cake, I like to ride 100 miles or some equivalent (oh, and I eat cake too!).

So, despite where Ronny and I might be in our personal journey with one another (which has been its own epic adventure in and of itself for over the last 13 years), I can always count on Ronny to be my partner in crime on my Birthday.

Ronny is intense. When most people describe him that is the word I hear first and most often – intense. He would have been the perfect Marine Corps Drill Instructor.  Instead we co-own a business together and share a daughter.  Those two things are hard for us to do together.  I do not respond well to “drill instructing.” Where we meet as one is on the trail. It is on the trail where we also meet the deepest part of ourselves. I think that’s why we do it.

The B-day celebration starts like this. It’s summer, August 23 (my birthday is actually the 26th, but this is to be a 3 day adventure celebration).  Even though it should be a steamy August day, it is not. When we start our bike ride, it is 68 degrees and raining hard –sideways.  I would expect nothing less. After all, this is an adventure with Ronny.

We start with a climb.  There is no warm-up.

We knew it was going to be a good climb. We were wrong.  It is a phenomenal climb.

Within 20 minutes, Ronny offers his first apology.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it would be this steep.”

Me: Silence

I’m not silent because I’m pissed off that the climb is so steep. I’m not pissed off that I feel light headed and like passing out at only 20 minutes in.

I’m pissed off because Ronny has enough oxygen to speak. And he does so without it seeming to tax him further.

He is used to me not responding.  He knows I am either:

1.  Pissed at him or
2.  Digging deep

Often it is both.

One thing I really appreciate about Ronny is he is never offended by my silence.

More climbing.  The rain has let up a bit and the fog is rolling in like crazy. My quads are burning, my lungs are burning, and I’m seriously light headed. I think about my adrenals (which I’ve had some challenges with). I’ve already had 2 cups of coffee, and shared an Americano (with an extra shot –of course!) with Ronny. And I haven’t slept much the past two nights. A couple of work projects have me excited and in overdrive.

I say, “Sorry adrenals. I will treat you better after my B-day weekend. I swear!”

This climb makes the Gauntlet at the Cove (one of our favorite climbs back home) look like an active recovery day. Or maybe it’s just me. Without a doubt this is the least “trained up” summer I’ve had.  Even my summer right after having my daughter I was much stronger.  So maybe, it’s not that challenging of a climb.  Maybe, it’s me.

Ronny is not in sight. I usually hate that, but today I’m in too much pain to care. I climb. The fog is amazing. Big wet puffs keep rolling in on me. The temp has dropped 10 more degrees.  The climb is keeping me warm enough, but I’m thinking I will be freezing on the decent. The decent is worlds away.  I can’t imagine I’ll ever be descending.

Next curve….there is Ronny.  He is stopped and waiting for me.  My heart gets lighter…we must be at the top. Thank God.  Woo-hoo, what a climb! I’m ready to celebrate.

Ronny offers his second apology of the day.  “Man, I’m sorry. I had no idea it would be like this. You are a rockstar!”

My head is down. I keep pedaling and manage a quick burst of, “Are we there?”

Ronny:  “Um, I hate to say it, but we are just at the halfway point.”

Me:   “Let’s go.”

I can’t stop. It is too rough on the quads to stop and start again.  Plus, I want to do this in one fell swoop. No resting. No stopping. If I stop I will feel like I really haven’t done it.  Which is ridicoulous and not at all true.

It’s much like a road runner who switches to trail running. Road runners feel like a loser when they walk. But trail runners know you must, especially on the long runs. You hike the steeps, it conserves energy, it’s smart.

Same with adventure racing.  Often times, even if you can ride it, you don’t.  You can’t empty your tank when you have 20 hours left to race.

But that’s not what this ride is about. It’s to climb to the top. Period.

At some point in the pain process, I drop into my own world.  I’m no longer silently cursing Ronny. I’m not aware of being light headed. I’m not aware of burning quads and lungs. I’m somewhere else. This is my meditation. I start getting awesome downloads. I’m writing in my head all the awesome things that have now been connected and beautifully downloaded to me. I’m in bliss.

The fog is so thick I can’t see 3 feet in front of me. It’s mystical. It’s peaceful and feels huge. Awe and gratitude wash over me. I get to experience this. I am fully alive.

The bliss is fading. I’m very aware of my legs and my breathing. I might throw-up. My left arm is being shredded by briars.  I see the perfect line away from the briars out to my right, but to get to it I must cross a rut. It’s not very wide or technical, but I have nothing left. I know I can’t cross and keep it together. I cling to the briars and hold my line.

The phrase, “Adventures with Ronny” keeps floating through my mind.  Terry, a previous manager at one of my fitness centers coined that phrase over a decade ago.  After hearing of one of my crazy outings with Ronny, she calmly and knowingly shook her head and said, “Adventures with Ronny.”

I can’t tell you how many times over the last decade I’ve found myself in the wilderness viewing Ronny’s backside ahead of me on some remote kick ass trail as I’ve murmured,  “Yep, Adventures with Ronny.”

Like the time I raced a 36 hour adventure race with him.  My legs were slashed (briars again) and bleeding. To cut distance, we bushwhack and Ronny takes us through a field of stinging nettles. Have you ever experienced stinging nettles? Then we waded through a pond (swamp!) that was dark, murky, stagnant and smelled like dead carcass. I chatted with other racers afterward, and interestingly at that particular race no one else experienced stinging nettles or swamps. Adventures with Ronny.

Or the time we were piecing together a race course for one of our events and were already 2 hours late picking up our daughter and we weren’t sure what state we were in — Virginia or West Virginia? Once we made it to a hard service road, we started looking for license plates on cars to clue us in.  Adventures with Ronny. (Side note: This was like 8 years ago. Before Ronny became the master navigator he is now.  This wouldn’t happen now.  I. DON’T. THINK.)

Or the time we set out to do a 50K (just for fun). At midnight. And I had a broken arm (from another “Adventure with Ronny” outing, but that’s another story). In my defense, I didn’t know it was broken at the time. Adventures with Ronny indeed.

This is what I’ve learned from my adventures:

Whether you (and I mean me + you!) are on the race course, on the bike, on the trails, or going after anything in life these 3 things can make all the difference:

  1.  Don’t try to figure it all out. Put yourself on a need to know basis. Don’t look at the whole enchilada.  Believe me, you don’t want to know everything ahead. If you do, you’ll psyche yourself out or just become completely overwhelmed. Just start and keep forward motion at all times. It’s amazing what you can handle as it comes up. 
  2.  Dig deep. Then dig deeper. If you stay the course, if you dig deep, you can do the “impossible” – you are so much stronger than you think. You really are. I promise.1269_10201008721076783_1942494006_n
  3.  Attempt more impossible things. Sometimes you just have to attempt things that are extraordinary, that seem impossible and a bit crazy just because you can!  And… because they inspire your own soul.

So I asked Ronny, after the ride if he thought it was hard.

Ronny:  “Hell yeah, that was the steepest I have ever climbed for 3 miles straight!”

Me:  (Thinking- whew! This man has done some climbs so I’ll take it!) “What was the best part?”

Ronny:  “You. At the halfway point when I asked you if you wanted to rest.  And you grinned and just said, “Good to know,” and pedaled off.

I don’t remember the grin. Or the good to know. I  just remember the pain and the let’s go.

But our company motto is “Your Pain is Our Pleasure,” so evidently it must resonate at a deep level.  For me the PAIN stands for Passionate Adventures In Nature.

I mean, what could be better than that?

Circa 2002

Circa 2002

What a gift. A tremendous gift.

And…what a pleasure.             R+H1 - Copy
xo!
H

PS. If you are an adventurous high performer, high-achiever and have considered working with a life coach, then this might be right up your alley! I mean trail. I mean mountain. 🙂 Check it out: ADVENTURE COACHING INTENSIVE

Simplify Life, Magnify Living

Well…by far the #1 Question I received in 2012, after selling my three fitness centers was: What are you going to do now?

The first answer that always popped into my head (but was rarely shared) was “recovering my sanity.” Yep, that’s what I was up to… sanity recovery.  I was President and CEO.  I usually framed my response in a lighter and more inspiring way like the title of this writing, Simplify Life, Magnify Living.  Sounds beautiful right?  Don’t get me wrong, I love Simplify Life, Magnify Living. It was my 2012 mantra. It was beautiful, it was powerful, and the results so worth it. It was also exhausting and honestly, a few times, it was “knocked to my knees” painful.

 Simplify Life, Magnify Living could have just as easily been named: The Smackdown of 2012.  

 

Regardless of what I called it, what was driving it all behind the scenes was a call, a force, a cry (a surrender), and a deep soul level desire to dismantle everything I had built and start over. I needed to recover my sanity, my peace, my happiness, and a different kind of freedom. Soul freedom.

It all started like this:
I woke up one day and was done. I mean SO done.  Done with the life I had created. Uh-oh. This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced this feeling, this knowing.  It doesn’t feel like a decision, it feels more like being compelled forward or drawn into something bigger than myself.

I knew I was going to make some radical changes. It was already in motion. The words and desires that floated through every cell in my body were: Clean sweep.  Less is More. Simplify Life, Magnify living. 

It was no longer about the freedom to do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. It was about the freedom and space to do ONLY a few things (very few things) that were deeply important.  My definition of freedom had profoundly shifted under my feet.  Freedom was now about simplicity, meaning, space, creativity, and an aliveness and engagement at the soul level. It was about much less. It was about having less. Doing less.

Crap. I had a lot of work to do before I could do less. The journey ahead felt overwhelming, heavy, and long.

I had built way too much. I had too much. I did too much.  Six businesses, two homes, and far too many things to manage, hire out, delegate, clean, keep up with, dust, fix, insure, and remember. Too much.

And there was more: relationships that drained, resentment and non-acceptance in one area, information overload, and way too many distractions. Too much.

I made a commitment to let go of EVERYTHING that no longer served me or my life to its highest potential.

So it began….The Smackdown of 2012.
It required getting really honest and really clear on what truly mattered to me, what was meaningful, what filled me with joy, what made my soul come alive. There were very few things that made the cuts. I decided to keep:  1) My daughter (her Grandma is so relieved!); 2) My home is Salem which had been my sanctuary and my absolute favorite place on the planet for 12 years; 3) My company Wellness Spark, Inc. which was the only business that allowed me to create, share, and inspire with the greatest alignment and integrity; and 4) my favorite mountain bike.  5) My cats, Yin and Yang. Everything else was up for grabs.

My goal was to clear as much physical, mental, and energetic space as I could before the close of 2012.

First, I decided to sell my 3 fitness centers. It was 6 months of hell (and that’s the positive spin) to close the deal. It wasn’t easy or lucrative, but it was done. I also let go of any remaining dreams I had with a 4th business venture and allowed acceptance and peace that divesting out of it was 100% right for me.  I put my vacation home on the market which was also a 5th business (happy to report it is currently under contract!).  I sold or gave away computers, bikes, clothes, books, and “extra” everything. I purged photos, letters, and jewelry from past loves. I drew a line in the sand with a relationship that drained and let go of others that I had outgrown. I cut what I allowed into my inbox by 95%. I cleaned computer files. Organized years of writings. Declined invitations. Emailed less. Reduced social media to 20 minutes a week. Closed every account not absolutely essential. I was passionate in my pursuit to simplify life to magnify living.

Along the way, I experienced challenges, setbacks, sleepless nights, unknowns, and a few meltdowns.  One thing is for sure…. this simplicity business is no joke.  And it’s probably safe to say I delved into a little more insanity before being free of it.

It is insane, right?  What we think we can get done in a day, a week, a year.  The amount we allow into our lives (even the good stuff). How we define success. Where we spend our time. The amount of information we allow into our minds.  This is your life, my life…our time is precious…our energy is precious…our lives and loved ones are precious. Every breath, every minute, every sweet moment…we don’t get back.  What are we exchanging our lives for?  Is it worth it? Or is it insane?

Right now, close your eyes and let the words “soul freedom” gently wash over you. What would allow you to feel more free?  What does your soul really desire? How do you really want to spend your time and your energy?  Don’t edit yourself.  Honestly, what do you desire?

When you hear the words, “Simplify Life, Magnify Living”, what do they mean to you?  What areas, things, relationships could you let go of to create more space, more time, more money?  What experiences and feeling do you want more of?

Is it Smackdown time?  Is it time to simplify so you can truly live?

Kate Northrup says, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.”

My 2012 mantra Simplify Life, Magnify Living was necessary to unload the unnecessary. I heard the call. I answered.

As this year comes to a close, I feel grace and gratitude. I feel free.  And I’m already hearing clearly what my soul is calling in for 2013. I am listening. I am answering. I am ready.

Do you hear your call?  Are you listening? Will you answer?  I hope you will.
Please know it is so worth it. You are so worth it.

A toast to you:  Here’s to simplicity, soul freedom, and magnificent living!  And a crazy amount of love! From my soul to yours…. Happy New Year Dear Friends!

xo!
Hollie

Morning Confessions: My HOT New Year’s Date and What I Did That I’ve NEVER Done Before! Don’t Judge! For Women Only!

The Secret

OK my lady friends, I’m going to let you in on a secret that if you dare to try it on, you will be more confident, happier, sexier, and more in love than e-v-e-r!   Whether you are single and want to attract more men into your life or you are in a relationship and simply want more zing, you must master this tantalizing tidbit!

Oh, and this has nothing to do with sexy lingerie, a stripper pole, or a skill set in bed!  (OK good, the guys just clicked away!)  😉

My dear sister friend, if you want a HOT date with a man, including your own husband or significant other you must first BE a hot date!

Yep, that’s right!  So exactly how do you know if you are hot date material?  I’m going to give you a little test in a minute so you may get an idea of where you rate, but first let me explain a little about last night and why it was amazing!

The Decision

New Year’s Eve is a big night, right? You want to do something big, or at least special, and I think we all want to spend it with that special someone and have that magical, full of hope and promise New Year’s Eve kiss at the stroke of midnight.  After all, it seems that is what everyone else in the world is up to.

The evening started off perfect. My daughter was staying the night with my folks, and I had several juicy invites and options to consider…the excitement was definitely in the air. But something was off…CRAP…yep here it comes. I could hear and feel my truth bubbling up.

A thought occurred to me. I had never EVER spent a New Year’s Eve alone.  Nope, not one. Now, I do spend a lot of evenings alone and I love those nights, but not a New Year’s Eve!  As a child I was always with my parents, then with friends, at a party, with a significant other, or with my daughter.  And yes, I have even opted on some New Year’s to spend it with someone or in a way that wasn’t all that great just to have someone or something to do on that special of special nights!

I realized that what I was desiring more than anything was to be my own smashing, hot date!  I felt I wanted to give space to honor 2011, to honor myself in a deep, fulfilling way, and to be fully present in welcoming in 2012.  That was it. My decision was to be home alone on New Year’s Eve. I did have a bit of a wobble….I was a teensy bit afraid that as the evening unfolded I might regret my decision and my own private New Year party might turn into a pity party!  Yikes, I didn’t like that possibility. But what kept coming up stronger and stronger was that partying with myself was the right thing to do and the absolute best way for me to experience what I truly wanted out of the evening…a rich, fulfilling night and an aliveness and excitement at the core level.

So I had no other choice, the party was on. I agreed to be my own hot date!

Are You A Hot Date?

I want you to contemplate the following questions.  Your answers will reveal how comfortable you are with yourself, how much lovin’ is really going on, and if you need to spice things up a bit!

When was the last time you spent an evening alone?  A Friday or Saturday night completely alone and had a fabulous time?  Do you always have the radio on? The TV on?  Do you check emails, texts, Facebook often to avoid being, “Oh my God! Alone!”  Do feel sad and lonely if you don’t have plans “out there” with someone special, either a girlfriend or with a guy?  Do you feel lost, fearful, anxious at the thought of spending hours by yourself, especially in the evenings?

Here’s the deal. When you love yourself you can have a freaking great time with yourself.  And when you feel that and practice it you radiate confidence (a.k.a. hotness!), beauty, and a playful spirit. Now, that my friend is mighty attractive. You will only be without a date or relationship if that is what you choose, it won’t be ’cause there aren’t’ any takers!  But the best part is how this fills you up and spills over to every area of your life.  It’s the secret to everything. You will no longer chase circumstances, money, things, or people on the outside to fill up what is missing on the inside. Only you can do that. Anything else is temporary and you will always operate with an under belly of fear to hang on tightly or to chase something which isn’t real in the first place. Holy Moly, when you love yourself and find YOU are fabulous company all on your own…the energy, time, and heartache saved is nothing short of life-changing.

So what if you’re not there yet?  You can begin this journey to finding your true love (you!) by simply being aware. Begin to give yourself the opportunity to experience space and time alone to see what comes up for you. You may notice you are completely relaxed, joyous, and easily feel your fabulous self.  It’s OK, if you don’t feel all those good things. Just acknowledge what you are feeling without judgment. Notice what is coming up and make it a point to start practicing more time alone. You can start with short amounts of time and work to extend this as you go. Start buying gifts for yourself instead of waiting for someone else to buy them. Allow more self care because you deserve it. Take care of your appearance. It drives me nuts when I hear a woman say that she’s not putting on make up, dressing well, or fixing her hair because no one is going to see her.  YOU are someone. You are going to see you and you are the one that matters. Come on, don’t you feel more radiant, confident, and alive when you look in the mirror and see a sexy hot mamma looking back at ya?!  Start tapping into your passions and allow yourself more creativity and pleasure in your time alone. In my opinion there is nothing more attractive and hot than a woman (or a man!) who is living her passions with passion. Before long you will begin to notice a feeling of centeredness at your core, you will notice people find you more interesting….heck, you find you more interesting.

Face it, at this point, you’re unbelievably lovable and hot!

Party On!

Now, I did work the party last night and mingle with others. I sent out some love and well wishes via email and text. I received love and well wishes via Facebook. I hung out with Jenny McCarthy, Ryan Seacrest, and Dick Clark for a bit. But I always couldn’t wait to back to my own hot self!  We had champagne, ate hot buttery popcorn, did some writing and visioning, and at the stroke of midnight we blew a kiss and a blessing out into the world and felt it’s sweet return.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Here’s to True Love and a Hot 2012!

Hollie

Birthday Note: My Love Affair with the Number 4 and how it gets me in TROUBLE

My love affair with the number 4 and how it gets me in TROUBLE. (Not much different from my real love affairs, but that’s another note.)

I LOVE the number 4.  Oooohhhh, and 8.  And to see 4 and 8 next to each other. Wowzer!  Does something to me. Crazy, I know.

Like my personal email is hflynn448.  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!

My Birthday is 8-26-71.  Add the numbers and you have 8-8-8 (what does that mean astrologers?)

Most of the time when I look at my watch it happens to be 4:48.  Makes me oh-so-happy.

Today is my 40th Birthday!  As you can imagine, entering the decade of the “4” has me over the top excited! This will be a powerful decade for sure.

Oh, and my gal pals….you know how I drool over each new arrival of the Athleta catalog?  Yep, this time I did more than drool. I mean, it is my Birthday after all.  I had to place an order and I had to stick with the “4” theme.  Well, even with the great sales, $40 just wouldn’t do it. So, I had to bump it to the next “4 category”…and purchase $464 of awesome girly clothes and accessories. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?  My Grandma would be proud.

Right now, I’m planning my epic outdoor challenge for the day. Yep, it must come in at 40 miles. Road biking 40 miles isn’t epic enough unless the elevation is crazy. I wish I could run a 40 mile ultra today, but my training isn’t there. So back to the bike. I could mountain bike 40 miles…with the right terrain and elevation this would be mighty challenging. Or I could run 20 miles and bike 20 miles. It must be so challenging I’ll think about losing my lunch at least 4 times!  I wish I could let the 4 theme go on this one…and just ride or run whatever…but I am obsessed with nailing a powerful “4” figure and challenge in some way. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

My favorite 4 things….biking, running, food, and LIVING my passions….sometimes they are easy, sometimes they are just plain yummy, sometimes they inspire others, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they are really hard, but they are always mine.

So, here’s to celebrating our passions & our quirks!  And here’s to celebrating the act of celebrating!

And mostly, here’s to YOU. This is what I celebrate the most. Friends, family, love & laughter (4 things! Imagine that!)…those are what Birthdays & celebrations are all about. What life is all about.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you for being in my life!

With love, gratitude, birthday cake, and blessings!

Hollie