“Moving on the floor now babe you’re a bird of paradise
Cherry ice cream smile I suppose it’s very nice
With a step to your left and a flick to the right you catch that mirror way out west
You know you’re something special and you look like you’re the best”
What if “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” were your new normal?
What if, instead of feeling skeptical, unrealistic or even arrogant about that, you felt opulent, powerful, and ripe with love and creativity?
On a sailboat to Capri, Italy last week, I decided with all of my heart that “once-in-a-lifetime” is my new normal.
It’s my new normal until I die softly under an umbrella, in a chaise lounge, in Ravello, overlooking the sea with a slice of lemon cake and glass of champagne on the table next to me.
“Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grande”
To me, “once-in-a-lifetime” often connotes: “this is all you get.” You can only witness that beauty, feel that joy, be with those people and feel that the world is that wide open and receptive for a prescribed amount of time.
And making once-in-a-lifetime your normal doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go back to the same places and do the same exact things.
You might do that, but you’ll always see something new that is a revelation. You’ll meet new people who impact you profoundly. You’ll see yourself and your place in the world differently.
You don’t even have to go on a trip to know that once-in-a-lifetime feeling. I have them all of the time here in Louisville, Kentucky while I’m padding around my house in my fuzzy socks, working in my office and listening to music.
The once-in-a-lifetime moments come in a particularly hilarious or heartfelt exchange in one of my text threads with my close friends.
The moments come when I’m hearing the tears of recognition of my client on the phone when she discovers a revelation about herself.
They come when I search and search for a (wait for it…) once-in-a-lifetime property in Hawaii for a retreat where I will guide women to create their new normal — and I don’t just “find it,” I magnetize that shit into my realm of my magical business.
You might read that and say, “yeah, yeah, yeah — another life coach telling me that if I think it, it could become real.”
You bet your ass I am.
Come along … there’s more.
“I’ve seen you on the beach and I’ve seen you on TV
Two of a billion stars it means so much to me
Like a birthday or a pretty view
But then I’m sure that you know it’s just for you”
Back to that boat in the Mediterranean last week … not only did I embrace the truth that my passion for my travels is my new normal, I also had a strike-of-lightning moment where I realized that I always knew this was going to be my life.
In 1984, I was 13 years old and madly in love with music and music videos — most of all a British group with five strikingly beautiful men called Duran Duran.
I was obsessed, really — as in the walls of my bedroom covered with posters and magazine photos. Worn out cassettes all over my floor. Records (yep, LPs) stacked with extended versions and B-sides.
I would cry and long to meet them, know them, and be in their light. I figured I might as well have sex with them, too. And be on their arm going to fabulous parties where Andy Warhol would take my Polaroid while I was wearing an Azzedine Alaia dress.
None of that is made up or an exaggeration. That was my inner life, and that’s the beauty of a vivid, teenage girl mind.
This was the era waaaay before being able to call up a video immediately on YouTube; if I wanted to see the Durans, I had to stay close to the TV and wait for them to rotate through the MTV cycle of videos again.
Or, I’d stay up reeaallllly late on Friday and Saturday nights and watch a show made up of all videos called Night Tracks (does anyone remember this besides me?). I’d wait for hours to see my loves show up on the screen.
Duran Duran was known in the 80s for creating these luxurious, over-the-top, glamorous videos to accompany the songs on their albums; they really made them an artform.
One of the videos that most exemplified this was for one of their best known singles, “Rio.” You should watch it — even if — especially if — you’ve seen it many, many times:
The video is this fantasy of the band on a luxury boating excursion where they’re wearing silk and linen suits and singing into the sweeping ocean wind.
It was a mini-movie of them alternately searching for and being haunted and taunted by this supermodel-sea-siren called Rio.
I loved it; it was (and still is) one of my favorites by the band. It has a sexy and mysterious backstory, and it’s really playful and fun — I’m about all of that : ) .
I can remember being there in the dark family room of my parent’s house with the glow of that video on the television set and not just thinking, “I wish I was her; I wish I could be there someday,”
“I could be like her. I could be on a boat like that singing and laughing. That life feels like me. I could feel beautiful and glamorous. I don’t know how I’ll do it or how I’ll get there, but I see me. That could be my real life.”
When you have dreams like that as a 13 year old middle class girl living in Kentucky, it’s hard to know what to do with them.
Who could you tell? Wouldn’t people laugh at you and your earnestness and tell you what’s realistic and what’s not? Probably.
I didn’t want to find out; my inner world was too precious to me.
So I kept those visions and dreams in the secret pockets of my heart; I kept growing up, but I never let go.
And here’s what happens when you don’t let go of your vision of what your 13 year old self imagines:
You live your life.
You sculpt your career.
You fall in love.
Your heart gets broken, and hopefully mended and glowing again.
You give birth to your babies.
You get crushed by your losses.
You get stronger.
You remember how smart you really are.
You know all of the things you’re “supposed to do” and maybe you follow suit, but …
You remember that you never let go of the spirit that is within you.
And so, for me, that has meant progressively growing into and creating a bigger and bolder life year after year since I was around 40 years old.
That inner life is no longer a secret. It’s out there on full display and on my terms.
“Hey now woo, look at that, did she nearly run you down
At the end of the drive the lawmen arrive
You make me feel alive, alive alive
I’ll take my chance cause luck is on my side or something
I know what you’re thinking I tell you something I know what you’re thinking
When we’re living right with ourselves, I believe the world gives us a mirror to see that again and again.
Sometimes, it takes your breath away when those moments come. That day on the boat to Capri was one of those for me.
There I sat, lounging in the afternoon sun with a glass of prosecco, a group of beautiful and interesting companions and so comfortable within my skin and my soul.
A snapshot of that Duran Duran video flashed in my mind; it took me SO by surprise, but also felt so familiar at the same time.
My once-in-a-lifetime moment was my new normal; it wasn’t just a bygone video that meant nothing.
This was my real life. I wasn’t just imitating “the girl on the boat” from the video — I was me on that boat: blonde bombshell, 45 years old, married, mother of two, life coach, body loving, whip smart, joyful, articulate and wanderlusting.
I’m living the once-in-a-lifetime life all of the time.
That day exemplified what I believe about a question we can ask ourselves when we’re adult women trying to remember or figure out who we are and what we want out of life.
“What did your 13 year old self want out her life when she was growing up?”
Did you dream big like me and tuck it away because life happened and you got busy making other plans?
Just because you built your career, got fired, got married, got divorced, had kids, decided not to have kids, rented an apartment, got a mortgage, went gluten free, bought a minivan … doesn’t mean the part of you that thought that life could be adventurous and full of wonder had to die.
It doesn’t mean that superstar moments are not gonna happen … off limits … unrealistic or … once-in-a-lifetime.
If yourself think back to what you wanted before the world told you what you should want, what would that be?
I did that.
I listened to myself and my answers.
And I didn’t come out of the gate right away by cutting off my hair and going platinum, deciding to use my most authentic and vulnerable voice when I write or speak, hopping on planes to European countries.
I staked my claim on how I wanted to feel in my life, and that’s where that 13 year old girl tapped me on my shoulder and said, remember, Laura — you are:
Creator of my own miracles
When I claimed that, I made a conscious commitment to create simple and significant thoughts and actions to be. that. girl.
I still sort my laundry. I scrub the bathtub. My desk can be a mess. I’m still learning how to make perfect scrambled eggs. I just cleaned out my entire refrigerator top-to-bottom with Clorox Wipes …
And I also have elegant dinner parties to express my love for my closest friends.
I don’t save champagne for “special” days; I count many, many days as special.
If I go to an event, I dress like I’m walking a runway — because I am; my life is my runway.
I sing and dance and move in front of mirrors like I was born to do it — because I was. We are all born to move.
I navigate my way through crazy border control scenarios in international airports and spend nights alone in cities that are completely new to me.
That’s how you touch the flame of your young spirit and inhabit her in your grown-ass woman body and life.
Step by step. Choice by choice. And then someday, you find yourself being your own wildest dream.
Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twists across a dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grand
Her name is Rio she don’t need to understand
And I might find her if I’m looking like I can
Oh Rio, Rio hear them shout across the land
From mountains in the north down to the Rio Grande