Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Significant Risk

By Susie Crossland-Dwyer

Today as fall started to turn into winter, I felt myself once again getting itchy--itchy for a new challenge, for something that will help me remember why I'm here and what it's all about. This isn't your typical, "Hey, Susie! Stay busy!" itch, that I've begun to recognize as the internal unhelpful monkey on my back asking for "more, more, more." This itch is deeper, much deeper. It is more the gentle, repeated elbow nudge of the Universe softly and calmly reminding me, "It's time, my dear."

As I look toward 2013 and envision my year, it's not necessarily the long training hours, the will power that it will take to follow through, or any of the other step-by-step parts of the process that I look forward to. It is the lessons within and on the other side of all those elements that draws me in and beckons me to pick something risky.

As I explored the streets of my neighborhood today, I uttered the question aloud, "What is it? What's it going to be? What is waiting for me?" You see, when I make decisions about my upcoming year, I find it's one part Susie and one part Universe. I cannot make the decision on my own. I have to look to what's calling me.

I hope it doesn't sound egotistical to say that any significant goal I've ever set, I have accomplished. I don't credit this to my own self will or even to good fortune. I strongly believe it's turned out this way because with any big decision, I've first listened and only then when my excitement matches what I "hear," do I go for it.

Many of the goals I've set have been big risks and many of those risks have been laced with loneliness. When you take a risk you are by definition on the edge and the edge doesn't attract very many. 

In college, against the advice of more than a few people in my life, I decided to study Comparative Religion. Most people I told had never even heard of such a degree, let alone approved of its pursuit because they had conquered practical studies. Even though I knew it was a choice that felt right, it also felt like no one else in the world could possibly understand why. 

It wouldn't be until later in life that I would fully comprehend why I needed this degree. At the time, I didn't know that a big part of my work and life's mission would be to understand what motivated individuals. Religion is at the very base of how people shape their worldview. All of this would be information I would have to understand to be the best physical and life coach possible. I would also need to understand the world on this essential level in order to make choices about my own religion and path.  

When my heart was telling me to move to Spain, I was reluctantly excited. I craved this type of adventure but thinking of leaving my home and my family, learning a new language, and being completely outside of my comfort zone felt unthinkable. I would be leaving everything that felt safe and trading it for a foreign land. I distinctly remember my first night in Valencia. As I crawled into bed the only words playing in my head were, "What the hell have you done?!" It would take me a solid month to unwind those thoughts, accept my move and fully embrace the experience.

To this day, Spain plays such a big role in who I am. The culture taught me so much about the type of life I wanted--how to slow down, how to enjoy simple pleasures and how important family is to a meaningful existence. It influenced how my brain sees/hears language and even what type of music I select for my Spinning classes. More than anything, Spain taught me that there is more than one way to do things in this world and our American version is just a slice of the pie. 

Living in the realm of ultra-endurance sports also feels, at times, like an alien existence. I receive a lot questions and sometimes scornful looks about why someone would want to spend so much time training to do an Ironman, run 50 miles or climb a mountain. There are very few who truly "get it" at it's deepest level (see this blog).

Yet, I thrive in this alien landscape. This lifestyle provides me with healthy structure and the space in my crazy busy life to be creative, to process my world and to notice the beauty all around me. Extreme sports teach me that I am a capable of ANYTHING I have a passion for and set my mind on doing. 

Being an entrepeneur can also be lonely and is, by definition, highly risky. Only a small percentage of the population knows how all-consuming this type of work is. Add on the fact that I'm a FEMALE business owner and I'm down to only a few people (if that) I can call to mind who understand my struggles/triumphs.  
But, in 2010, with very few dollars in the bank, no business degree to speak of and only limited resources to call upon, I took the biggest leap to date. I opened studio s. It is a risk that is also my biggest source of joy and strength. The magic that happens in my life because of studio s is a recipe I can't imagine living withoutThrough interactions and connections with many everyday incredible people, I see immense hope in an often-harsh world. I see how much we are all connected. I see that most of us are just doing the best we can with what we've been given. I see that we ALL have great wells of strength just waiting to be tapped. Most of all, I see that we all simply desire to love and to be loved.

So I can't, for even one second, imagine my life without any of these (among other) self-imposed challenging choices. The gift within each has always been greater than the risk, loneliness and struggle. In fact, the gift has been because I was willing to take the risk. I know some of us are more cut out for taking risks than others. But, what we fail to see is that playing it safe is also a risk--and one that more often than not results in disatisfaction.

Each year, at the time I set my goals, the reasons aren't always completely clear on why I need to do them or what I will learn from them. But if I feel the steady nudge from a voice deep inside as well as from something even deeper in the ether, I must at least attempt it. 

And so with history and my own trust in the Universe on my side, I renew my vow for another year. I vow to take our limited time on earth seriously, to risk again and, in the end, to hope for a better me and a brighter world as a result. 

Here are the choices/goals I'm risking in 2013:
-Leadville Marathon in the Colorado Rockies (topping out at over 13,000 feet)/ delve deeper into trail running and ultra-marathoning.
-Meet at least two of my heroes (to remain unnamed).
-Spend time in nature every day (at a minimum a few rays of sunshine on my skin).

-Practice all I teach about wellness (sleep, food that is life-giving, daily movement, connection, mental health).  
-Hike one of the natural wonders of the world. 
-Make my food source ultra-local=grow it in my yard or be related to the person that it comes from (Matti Dwyer). 
-Learn to surf and to ride a horse.  
-Read, read, read. 
I would love to hear/help with yours! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life is Colorful

By Susie Crossland-Dwyer

A collection of my Fall 2012. I'm a visual learner and very affected by my surroundings.This fall I found such simple beauty in my everyday world.

Oscar keeps me laughing and feeling like we all have a fresh chance at life.

Noticing all the amazing ways life takes form.

My husband knows my favorite thing and takes care of me while I'm sick. It's the small things in life.
Bro-in-law Mike conquers his first race like a veteran. Pure joy watching someone embrace the sport I so love.

Celebrating the life of cyclist Andrew Gast with a memorial ride. May we be always vigilant.

This was a particularly hard day. Walking through the trees did give me hope.
My middle son, Jaden. The best cuddler in the whole world.

Young life in both of these men.

Oh, whoops. But, it provided a spot for a beautiful sunset with the love of my life.
Cincinnati proud-- a necklace of the city.  A surprise from Christopher.

Emmett picking tomatoes from his garden. Every child should have this relationship with nature & food.

Running on the trails continues to be my favorite part of any day.


Our "nephew" Brady whom I've written about before.  Amazing strength can be found at any age.
Many fall weddings require that I change out of my lululemon and into "real people" clothes.
What a privilege to live freely.

Reds clencher.

Life changes right in front of my eyes.