The toll it took on me.

If you know me, you know that I love to travel.  Flying to new places away from home and immersing myself in new cultures has been a wonderfully enriching experience, one that has given me perspective, growth and inspired not just creativity, but understanding, patience and flexibility as I engage with people across geographic boundaries.   For the last year, I found myself not home, but ELSEWHERE almost 2 weeks out of every month.  Looking back, that was a lot of time, but  I was blessed with the opportunity to return to Europe for the first time since studying abroad seven years ago, take my first trip to Africa, make extended stays at home in Minneapolis with my family.  I also sprinkled in visits to New Orleans(thrice), Chicago (twice), Los Angeles (thrice), Florida, New York (twice), Las Vegas, DC, the Virgin Islands and Honolulu in there as well.

However, after I returned home from Dakar last December, I was just tired.  Tired of security lines, red eyes, hotel rooms, delays, airport food and schlepping 75-pounds of luggage for two weeks at a time.  And more than tired, I felt unrooted, disconnected and out of balance.  Turns out when I made my home an airplane, my REAL home–the one in San Francisco where I sleep in my big pink bed, host my beloved dinner parties, eat with roommates and shoot the shit with neighbors on my stoop–had become as foreign as the places to which I was jetting.  Coming home to hibernate away from the world only to leave six days later is no way to maintain a home, friendships or personal sense of equilibrium.

I haven’t been on a plane since December 4th, 2012 and that’s the longest span of time I’ve been on the ground in the past two years!  Don’t get me wrong, I know that I am very fortunate to be able to travel so much.  But now that I’ve been home, I’ve realized the the toll it took on the things I truly value that make me a whole person. In a way, it became easier to be away than home; now that I’ve nestled back into my routines, committed to community (hell-O Team In Training!) and re-established focus on my work, I very much appreciate the stability that a non-flying routine affords.  In a word, I just feel mentally and spiritually healthier and it shows: my skin is clear and I’ve lost 20 pounds!  

Aside from a trip to Chicago in early March, I’m going to be keeping my wheels on the ground for the next few months and I’m looking forward to rebalancing, refocusing and recharging.  What it means in terms of NaturalSelectionBlog is that I HAVE A LOT OF EXCITING STUFF ON THE HORIZON!!!!  All of the travel time (read: no WiFi and just a journal) have left me with a lot of ideas that are starting to sprout and come to life!  So trust, you ain’t seen nothing yet.


Now that said, you can take the girl off the plane, but you can’t take the plane off the girl.  No really, you can’t because I’ve got one tattooed on my arm.


I definitely still have my eyes set on those distant far off horizons.  But for now, I’m going to zip my desires to experience the rhythms of Brasil, flavors of India and  vibrant metropolises of Morocco safely into my suitcase and pack them away until later.


My Path to Clarity, Commitment & Community: a Life Consultation with Cornelia Shipley (and WIN your very own!)

Have you ever questioned what you’re doing, where you’re going, how you’re getting there, who you’re getting there with?

Of course you have. I certainly have. I’m only human and so are you.

It’s the answers to these questions that inform and inspire our biggest life decisions. But what if it wasn’t a matter of waiting for an answer like most people do, but instead DESIGNING a response.

That’s the approach of Executive Coach and Life Strategist Cornelia Shipley who works with people from all walks of life to help them live their lives by their own design. From her experience in corporate America, Cornelia learned about the relationship between commitment and clarity. “When you can align commitment and clarity,” Cornelia explained, “it can be a transformative life experience. You can’t make a commitment to something you don’t have clarity about and there’s no sense in committing to a gray area. When you gain clarity, you can design your future outcomes and commit to your actions.”

This strategic approach to proactively creating a plan for life and work is the corner stone of Cornelia’s 9-month “By Design Club” and “Design Your Life” event coming up in Atlanta on March 21-23rd (see details below!).


I recently had the opportunity have  a one-on-one life and career consultation with Cornelia. Naturally, I was wondering how a phone call could help me dig more deeply into the existential quandaries that consistently plague my late 20’s. Before we even got on our call, Cornelia sent over a worksheet that asked me to reflect on the status quo of my relationships, work, personal growth, finances and fun/joy/recreation (an area in which I am admittedly doing VERY well) to give her a sense of my balance and priorities.

Now when one thinks “life coach”, you, like me, might imagine some sort of person who stands on the sidelines and tells you what to do, what plays to make and which proverbial player to tackle. Well, toss that image aside because that was not at all what happened during my session with Cornelia.

Instead of her swooping in and giving me her expert opinion, she asked a LOT of questions, did a lot of listening, and the most valuable part was that she did a fantastic job of paraphrasing of what I was saying myself. As she asked deep, probing questions, I found myself stumbling over answers in an attempt to verbalize what were half-formed thoughts in my mind. Cornelia then followed up by providing me with a succinct summary of what I was trying to say.  Although it was me talking, it  seemed like it was easier to hear her talk than listen to myself in a way because she was able to provide distance and perspective in a way I can’t on my own.


Cornelia’s approach taught me that deep down I already know many of the answers to the questions I have, but she helped me draw them out and see them more clearly. I ended my session with a wonderful new thinking strategy that will help me DESIGN my actions to achieve my desired outcome of building a community.

It felt really awesome to hang up the phone with clarity and an action plan I could commit to where there wasn’t one before!

Are you curious to try a Strategy Session on for size?

Well one lucky NaturalSelectionBlog reader will win a complimentary session of their own!  Here’s how you can enter to win:

1. Follow @naturalsblog and @CorneliaShipley on Twitter
2. Tweet the following: “I just entered the Design Your Life giveaway for a 30 min strategy session with @CorneliaShipley and @naturalsblog. #DYLevent #change”
3. Follow #DYLevent for updates and tips on Designing Your Life
Winners will be announced on Twitter 2/27 at 6 PM EST.

If you don’t want to wait to start designing your life, tomorrow, Thursday 2/21 Cornelia will be doing a Twitter chat at 7pm EST/4pm PST using the hashtag #DYLevent. Be sure to tweet your questions about how YOU can design your life in the areas of:

  • Work/Life Balance
  • Career advancement
  • Finances
  • Love
  • Brand management



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