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Bearing witness to bold living

by Tammi Leader
 ∙ Oct 16 ∙ 5 Min Read

A funny thing happened last month in the Inner Circle,* and though the Vegas rule applies to Circles (what happens there, stays there), a few campers and Rangers were so moved by their own epiphanies that they actually asked me to share, in the hope that they can inspire others.

The prompt focused on “mistakes” and lessons learned from them. The subsequent conversation was huge for one group: on education, and regret from some, for never having finished college.

The sharing began with a story by camper Lisa Omori, who got motivated by one of our experts in March 2019 during her weekend at Campowerment. In the midst of a tumultuous divorce, Lisa attended a workshop by Rebecca Zung, Divorce Attorney-turned-Transition Coach. In it, Rebecca talked about going back to law school in her late 20s with three kids at home. 

Struck by the bravery and audacity to chase a dream for a new chapter like Rebecca did, Lisa decided to go for it: to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. Now, we all know that becoming an M.D. doesn’t come easily…or quickly. Lisa’s commitment to the process meant she wouldn’t be a doctor until age 54. But she laminated her chemistry equations and lined her shower walls with them so she had no excuse not to study. And, would you believe it, she’s on her way. Lisa the MCATs, got her scores and did pretty well. She will have to take the test again, but she’s psyched and ready to do whatever it takes to get that M.D. next to her name.

Last month, Lisa’s story came up in one Inner Circle, which inspired a conversation that sparked another camper, Sunni Taylor, 56, to admit her longtime desire to go back to school…for a Master’s Degree, or even Law School. Sunni talked about meeting Lisa, who talked about her choice to aim for Med School because “time is gonna pass anyway, so I’m just gonna just do it.” That stuck with Sunni, and she shared that in the Inner Circle.  And then our very own Grandy piped in to share her story:

In Grandy’s words, “I had to drop out of the University of Alabama in 1954 because my brother wanted to go to Law School, and as a family pooling all resources, we could only afford one tuition. I was always ashamed that I never finished college. My husband knew this, and when I brought it up again at age 35, here’s what he told me: ‘If you want to go back to school, go now. In a few years we will have three kids in college – let’s not make it four.’”

She goes on, “So I went back, afraid to fail, but determined not to. By the time I was 40, I had my Master’s Degree in Reading and was ready to go teach Special Ed to elementary school students, and ultimately to teachers at the college level.  I don’t know if I have ever been more proud.”

Grandy’s story dominoed, to knock down the walls Lia Smith had built around her decision to drop out of college more than twenty years ago. Lia had heard Grandy’s story before (she shares it often), but she must have been more ready to really hear it when last Wednesday in that same Inner Circle, she came clean about her shame for never finishing school herself. Lia’s plan had been to get married and finish school and then start a family, but she got pregnant and went to work, and her plans changed. She shared that regret with her fellow campers in that Digital Circle. 

The next day, Grandy called Lia, and left her a message that told her to get to a college counselor and hunt down her transcripts from so long ago. It’s time, Grandy said, to get the ball rolling. And Lia did. 

Lia was surprised to learn her credits will make her a junior, and she is now waiting to hear how she can begin to finish this dream she didn’t even realize she had for herself. She doesn’t even know yet what she wants to major in, but she does know this: without her community and the motivation and inspiration she finds from her camp friends, she would never have found the confidence to bear witness to the incomplete life she was living, and gather the courage to step into the unknown.

To Lia and Grandy and Lisa and Sunni and all the other campers who are motivated by and unknowingly motivating the awesomely courageous women in our Campowerment tribe who are willing to boldly pursue their life’s brightest light, we honor and thank you. For showing us that we can keep lifting the bar for ourselves at any and all times throughout our lives. It’s never too late to chase that next new beginning.

Bearing witness to bold living. It’s a powerful thing.

So, this month I ask you this:

  • When someone shines the spotlight on YOUR life, are you maximum proud to announce yourself as you step onto the stage?
  • What are you NOT doing that you know you have the power to accomplish?
  • What’s one bold thing you can do this week to keep the domino effect of this community alive?

Make bold moves, then declare them here. You never know what you can inspire for someone else when you give them the gift of bearing witness to your dance into your power and potential.

Let’s grow.

From the campfire & beyond,

*Our prompt-led group videochats that go down live every month with a year-long cohort of 10 past campers, from the comfort of everybody’s own “cabin”

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Way-Fun Fact #18
When you come to Campowerment solo, we bunk you with others who do the same. Coming with bunk mates? That works too. Party on.