Journey 259: Springfield Connections

Today’s journey was, in part, a literal one. Rising while it was still dark outside, I was on I-44 heading east toward Springfield, MO at 6:00 am. My destination was the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, which was playing host to the Heartland IMA Conference. This annual event is geared toward accountants. I am not in accounting. However, one of the guest speakers this morning at the conference was author and speaker, and my friend and mentor, Lu Ann Cahn. 


Lu Ann’s book, I Dare Me, chronicles her year long journey of doing something new every day…365 firsts. Her transparency in sharing the experiences that transformed her life inspired me to create my own year of firsts and begin the Cindy Goes Beyond Blog, which is in its second year. In January 2014 I shared a link to one of my blog posts with Lu Ann, expressing gratitude for the inspiration she had given me and appreciation for the way my life was shifting as a result of moving out of my comfort zone, daily. 

Lu Ann responded so graciously, offering encouragement and the opportunity to do a guest blog post for her. We have become friends, and I continue to view Lu Ann as my mentor as she journeys on, speaking around the country, embarking on new adventures, and encouraging people to take that leap out of the routine and into the unknown. Lu Ann visited Joplin last January and we did a first together. I visited Philadelphia in June, attending a writer’s conference with Lu Ann and experiencing a whole string of amazing firsts.   

When Lu Ann informed me she would be speaking in Springfield today, I was delighted to meet her there. We enjoyed catching up on each other’s lives over breakfast and sitting outside by the hotel pool before her session began. What a treat, later in the morning, to hear her share from her heart before an attentive audience of 500+ people. 

I’ve read Lu Ann’s book and heard her speak before. However, I was reminded today how amazing the journey is when I open myself to new experiences. And reminded as well of the many opportunities that show up when I shift to saying “Yes!” to the unknown rather than defaulting to an automatic “No”. Lu Ann shared that the keys to moving out of the ruts and comfort zones we find ourselves inhabiting are playing, having fun, and being curious. She put actions behind her words and invited the audience to open the small colorful containers in front of them and blow bubbles. There was a moment of surprise, as accountants and finance students looked at each other, and then playfulness overtook them and bubbles filled the air. I heard one older gentleman chuckle and say, “Fifteen years attending this conference and I’ve never done this before.” 

That’s what Lu Ann does, she bypasses our tendencies to play it safe and resist change by helping us to step beyond our comfort zones. By her example and her stories, she has done that for me, and my life path is forever altered. As she said today, energy around us shifts when we do, and the act of seeking and experiencing new things brings more new things to us to try. 

I am so grateful that Lu Ann’s journey brought her to Springfield. It was a pleasure to spend the morning with her, and vital to be encouraged to continue on this adventure that began last year. I love how Lu Ann, while further down this path than I am, offers guidance along the way and cheers me on, pausing with a helping hand stretched out, providing wisdom and humor for navigating the tricky parts. My desire is to, in turn, offer the same to others on the journey. I can’t wait to see where our paths next cross! 

Journey 12: Meeting My Inspiration

lu ann cahn meet and greet

Anyone who followed my journey in 2014, through my year of firsts, knows that I was inspired to undertake this huge challenge by reading the book, “I Dare Me”, by Lu Ann Cahn. My word, BEYOND, had selected me, as had my symbol and song and theme. I wanted to move beyond my comfort zone and into a more open and expansive life. As I was wondering how, exactly, to accomplish this, I came across a post on Facebook about Lu Ann. The article shared how this news reporter from Philadelphia, desiring to get unstuck and out of the rut her life was currently in, did a year of dares in 2010, experiencing something new every day.

Intrigued by what I read online, and excited by the discovery, I bought and read Lu Ann’s book. “I Dare Me” resonated with me. I KNEW this was my path for 2014 and beginning January 1, I created my own Year of Firsts. On day 40, marveling at the way my life was opening up due to this shift in attitude, I contacted Lu Ann via her Facebook Page and shared my blog with her and how amazing the year already was. I knew I still had a long way to go, however I also knew there was no turning back on this adventure.

lu ann cahn meet and greet group 2

Lu Ann graciously responded to my post, with an invitation to do a guest blog post on her blog. I was honored and so impressed by Lu Ann’s graciousness and authenticity. Thus began a correspondence between us….this author, blogger, news reporter in Phillie with this writer, blogger, realtor in Joplin. Lu Ann has been an encouragement to me, a guide who has tread this path before, and succeeded. I have continued to follow her journey via her blog and Facebook.

In December, Lu Ann contacted me about possibly meeting in January…in Joplin! I was delighted. I wondered if she was speaking nearby or passing through on the way to somewhere else. Lu Ann is experiencing another first, another dare, in a grand way. She’s traveling across the US, on an adventure. Her 30 Dares in 30 Days tour will hit 30 different cities. In each location, Lu Ann will join with a reader in experiencing a new dare. What a privilege to have her stop here in Joplin. Tomorrow we will experience a first together.

This evening, Lu Ann joined a group of people at Books-A-Million for a meet & greet time. I got to say hello to my inspiration and give her a hug. She is charming and genuine and funny. As people stopped by, chairs were pulled up and the meet & greet became a sit and chat and get to know each other. I loved that. One thing Lu Ann and I both learned from doing new things everyday is that you go with the flow, which is always exactly right. This evening wasn’t about being formal or following a schedule. It was an opportunity to get to know Lu Ann and for Lu Ann to meet some of Joplin’s dear citizens.

lu ann cahn meet and greet book signing

We had an amazing time, sharing, asking questions, and just being ourselves. Lu Ann created the space for us to do that. I heard more of the stories behind the stories in the book and enjoyed hearing of others who are experiencing dares also. This gracious lady then took the time to sign copies of her book, chatting with each person as she did so.

I look forward to spending time with Lu Ann tomorrow, sharing about our experiences while doing good for my community. And then off she will go on her continuing journey, seeking the new, opening to possibilities, embracing change and people along the way. What a way to begin the new year! I am, once again, inspired.

lu ann cahn meet and greet all in

Day 82: Leave Notes to Future Readers in My Favorite Books


Inspiration for my new experiences comes from many sources. Today’s first, going to a bookstore and leaving notes for future readers in my favorite books, came to me via a post I saw on Facebook. It was titled “20 Great Date Ideas”. I wasn’t looking for ideas for great dates BUT I am always on the lookout for great ideas for something new to do. I pulled up the article and found six or seven suggestions for firsts that I could do! This was one of them.

I spent the afternoon thinking about some of my favorite books and the impact they have had on my life. It was a long list of books that fit that category, as different books have been perfect for me at different stages of my life. I narrowed the list down to six books that have been crucial in my journey. They are:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer

Loving What Is by Byron Katie

I Dare Me by Lu Ann Cahn

Wishes Fulfilled by Dr. Wayne Dyer

I selected heavy weight parchment-like paper and wrote two or three sentences for each book. So that a customer wouldn’t think she was purchasing a used book, I started each note with the words, From one reader to another…. And ended with Enjoy this book!

It was great for me to spend time considering how each book had helped me in my journey. Doing so allowed me to look back along my life path and see how far I’ve come. The notes were brief and encouraging. I wanted the future reader to know that the book he was holding in his hands had the power to change or enhance his life.

I took six notes with me to a local bookstore, hoping to find at least three of my favorites on the shelves. I was amazed to find all six. It was fun to tuck the notes between the pages of each book. Holding the book for a moment longer, I imagined the person flipping through the pages and hoped they would be encouraged, or at least surprised, to discover a handwritten note in an unexpected place. Perhaps finding a mini review will help them to decide to buy the book and read it too. I trust their lives, like mine, will be enriched because they do.