Driven to Silence

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Photo by Anna Shvets on

Today is the day, the start of a 5-day adventure into silence. What am I doing?!?!

This crazy idea started back in May when talking to my therapist who shared with me that he had recently come back from a 7-day silent retreat out in Big Sur. He was sharing his retreat with me after I told him that there is simply too much noise in my life and it was making it hard for me to figure out what comes next. I was on the cusp of my 50th birthday and he told me to try it. What ultimately sold me was his confidence that if I removed all of the noise the answers I was looking for would appear.

I immediately BOOKED IT! I found a retreat center that was a little less “extreme” than the one my doctor had attended, one that was more approachable for someone that is just starting to explore this world. The first session they were offering was in October and I booked it before my mind had time to contemplate it.

The five months that stood between me and silence went on as “normal”. Ironically enough that normal was the build-up to a much needed break but as the months went on I barely thought about the impending retreat. As September came and went I realized that I was two weeks out from my retreat and travel plans needed to be secured. I booked a flight, then canceled, then booked another flight and then canceled. Wavering on commitments to myself is my “MO” and this retreat was proving no different. My life is full of escape hatches and as the days loomed closer I was coming up with them; work is too busy, my family needs me here, my son is coming to town that weekend, you name it, I have an escape hatch. Not this time, there would be no escape hatch because deep inside I knew I needed the retreat more than all of those reasons combined. I decided I would take the 9+ hour drive to North Carolina from Florida.

On the morning the retreat was due to start I woke at 4:00am and set out on my day long journey driving to the retreat center, driving myself to silence. My sweet, and totally opposite-of-me husband, woke early with me to help with my luggage and offer his final words of advice, “don’t join a cult”…and that my friends is what we call moral support!

The drive as it would turn out would be a journey unto itself. As I was driving from Florida to Savannah, my audiobook was playing, traffic was as expected and anticipation was mounting. At the point that I crossed the state line from Georgia into South Carolina things started to feel a bit different. I could feel a melancholy come over me and then I realized, the last time I had driven this trek was to go to my mother’s funeral in Virginia three years ago, only preceded by the many trips to Virginia during her final year. This trek had always been driven with dread, subconscious as it may have been I always knew that this drive up would always deliver heartache and the drive back was wrought in despair. As thoughts of her came flooding in, I found myself reaching for the songs that bonded she in life and now in death. I Put on one of her favorites and a car concert was in full-session, that has only been better performed when she was in the passengers seat. I was strong but lamenting singing my heart out and then searching for the next song and the next like a fiend. As the drive continued into North Carolina and up into the mountains the view became eerily familiar. Again these mountains, these homes, these roads; they are what I remember of my many trips to Virginia, only this time my arrival would not be met with her coming out on the porch to welcome me.

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View from my porch. My Mom is surely with me…breathtaking in more ways that one.

As I reached the retreat center I was in awe of the beauty. I could feel peace wash over me and immediately knew that I was where I was meant to be…today. In the present moment and ready and willing to take silence on, all-in.

The drive into silence had been a journey unto itself. It was not planned and once I was in it there was no escape hatch. As happens with feelings, when they come to the surface, shoving them back in is nearly impossible. As I park my car I feel like a champion. I have conquered half of my greatest fear; going back to her home. I did not make it up her mountain but I faced the music, literally and figuratively.

She is always “with me”, of course, and this certainly makes other people feel better to say to someone who has lost someone when they have nothing else to say…however today I am one-step closer to the place we last held hands.

As for my heart, she has always had it and still does.

Silence…so far…is not so bad.

13 hours in – 🙂

Life as I Live it – L.

Wake Up Call…

…and just like that a blog is created! I am driving home from my litany of errands this morning and Scott Stapp’s new song “Wake Up Call” comes on my radio and BOOM I am inspired.

First of all, I have to give credit where credit is due. Scott Stapp’s new album is SUPERB! I am so impressed at this mans comeback; it is all things impressive, inspiring and deserving. He had the setback, did the work and is having a kick ass comeback!!

Second, there are so many songs on this album that “do it for me” but this one inspires me and reminds me of the WHY when I simply don’t want to “adult” today. Please listen to it, the lyrics are below, and then continue reading and contemplate with me the meaning.

One day the bridge is going to break
One day the world will stand still
The sky will fall the earth will shake
There’s just so much a heart can take

This is a wake up call
How many times before you lose it all
You’re like a cannon ball
Breaking walls
This is a wake up call
Before there’s no one left to catch your fall
But you can change it all
If you want to…

Sometimes life is so insane
Sometimes we don’t know what to feel
Does God help us when we pray
Or do we face it all alone, all alone

We all get the wake-up calls however they are only effective if you actually “wake-up” and do something about it; hitting snooze is not an option.

Here are some of my defining wake-up calls that completely changed my course, my journey and if it weren’t for me listening my life would not be what it is today. I hope it inspires you to listen to that wake-up call that is happening in your life right now.

  • There were so many wake-up calls that I was a part of in my first 15 years of life but they were not mine. What I will say and what I learned from “their” journey is that the wake-up call was put on snooze multiple times because the power of love drowns out that wake-up call, no matter how loud. These are times we simply have to go through it.
    • Public Service Announcement – “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s meant to be” and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” are not quotes I believe to be true…these are myths. I believe in “failing fast” and “learning from my mistakes”. Regardless, lessons were learned by all.) #Word
  • My first love (no, it was not G…he was/is my TRUE love) was my first wake-up call. I fell hard and hit my head on the way down…for sure! I decided to have a baby at 17yo, I decided to quit school five months before graduation (yes, little known fact…remember it’s not how you start it’s that you finish!) and then woke up one morning (Nov. 3rd 1991) and realized I got it all wrong. Yes I loved “him” very much, but I could not “fix him” and after many crushing blows it became apparent that it was time to listen to my wake-up call. That day would be my FIRST independence day!
  • My weight-loss journey would be 140 more wake-up calls, reset again and again and again. My mother would frequently ask when I was going to “hit bottom” (aka hear the wake-up call) with every health crisis that would emerge. She hoped that I would have a chance to get back up and that the bottom would not be the end. It was kidney failure that was the final wake-up call, there would be no snooze after that crisis. I woke the hell up from a lifetime of living in a body that was never mine. My SECOND independence day was December 15, 2015!

My wake-up calls are not always life-changers and not necessarily so dramatic. Sometimes they come in the form of a whisper or a tap on the shoulder. In the last year those whispers sometimes simply gave me permission to grieve, sit in front of a TV all day or just “be”…meeting myself where I was at that moment.

What are you wake-up calls? How many times have you hit snooze? What will it take to get you to wake the hell up in your own life and LIVE it? For me I do it every day. Not perfectly, but I do it because it’s what I have to do to TRULY LIVE. I can’t live a life of surviving I have fought too hard to live beyond that baseline. I am living my best life, where there are bumps in the road, but blessings to cushion the falls. Thank you for being a part of my blessings and forgive me if I have been your bump…Un-apologetically Lori.


As defined by Google…

Resilience means knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, or barriers, or limited resources. Resilience is a measure of how much you want something and how much you are willing, and able, to overcome obstacles to get it. It has to do with your emotional strength.

As defined by me…

I have heard many times in the last year that I am resilient as defined by friends, family and co-workers that have walked this journey with me. They say this because in short I have proven that I can “take a licking and keep on ticking” but I am not sure that resilience is the right word. The two other words that come to mind are:

  • Stubbornness as I am a Taurus and those that know me best know that I can be very bull-headed! (I am a Miami Gangster, let us not forget!) As defined this suggests that I am headstrong and willful but so many of the situations I have been faced with were not in my control therefore regardless of how headstrong, I could not have avoided these outcomes and in many cases could not have willed these comebacks.
  • Relentlessness because as defined I can be unstoppable or unceasing but then again I was stopped; my life as I knew it ceased in a moment twice in the last year.

Therefore I resolve that resilience is likely the “right” word. The experiences in my life have given me great emotional and mental strength. I get knocked down and I always get back up; I don’t know any other way. Quitting is simply not an option…EVER. My father taught me that lesson in sixth grade. I came home earlier than expected one day and he asked “don’t you have Patrols today?” and my response was “not anymore, I quit”. His disappointment was palpable, he told me “we don’t quit“. No truer words would ever be said again, from that day on I would never quit.

Life as I learned is all about stops and starts and learning, always learning. Every situation offers a lesson and when you live your life with that point of view you simply can’t “stay down”. If I fall, I learn what created the fall and with that new found knowledge I get back up. I have no choice, none of us do. Life is going to happen, it’s how you react and how you bounce back that will make all the difference.

Setbacks…I have had many…so what…

  • Five procedures and thirteen incisions in the last six months…yep…that is real and every single one of these procedures was unexpected, the ultimate definition of a setback. Resilience they say…but what was the choice? I had to get back up, I had to fight on.
  • Losing my mom…yep…that sucked! Resilient, well not easily. This was a heck of a setback but I carry-on because that is what she would expect and I would like to believe I have never let her down.
  • 30 years of failing at weight-loss…yep…but I never quit! I failed at hundreds of diets but learned something with every one. Ultimately it was the experience of failing and learning (falling down and getting back up) that finally led me to the solution.

I could go on with many more examples as everyone’s life, including mine, has been a series of setbacks but as Tim Storey says, “I believe that while you are feeling the sting of your setback God is preparing your comeback”. Resilience is the ultimate comeback story, it’s the before and the after, it’s the up to the down, it’s the hero’s journey. It is truly about triumph over adversity.

The opposite of resilience is fragility, vulnerability and weakness. These are equally powerful words and have their place and time in our lives. I have experienced each of these in the rawest forms both emotionally and physically. It is when you are in these states that resilience will pull you out. It is the WANT to be better, feel better and do better that makes sure that fragility, vulnerability and weakness are not our end-story.

In conclusion, I am on a journey and most of mine has not been on well worn paths; my journey is truly as my favorite poet writes, “

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is life as I am living it RESILIENTLY – L. (Dedicated to my Aunt Judith)

Why Always Starting…

Last night I launched my official site, my blog and then today, just now I put it out in MY world. The world of my friends, family, colleagues, onlookers, stalkers…ha!…I could only hope I am interesting enough to stalk!

This idea is part of a bigger cause/project as I have finally decided to write. The reality is that I have been writing for YEARS but I have not shared any of my writing, thoughts, journals and sometimes f’d up streams of consciousness until now. This is a big step, tonight feels monumental.

My journey thus far has been long and varied but in the last year it has been the very side of life that I try to avoid at all costs…the darker, sadder times that we all experience whether we want to or not but typically not in ten short months! I have picked up on many themes in the last ten months as I try to find some form of “normal” through what has been abnormal in every way. I would hear myself saying “I just wish I could get back to normal” and then with that I would attempt to start again with whatever “normal” was defined as in that moment. in these stops and starts I have started many new phases, albeit most short-lived due to circumstances beyond my control. Some of those phases of new starts included running. walking, eating (yes, eating, can you believe I ever stopped!), working, journaling, reading and many, many more. The fact is not that I have to restart because I stop or God forbid quit but because life has had other plans. I have learned a lot about plans as the old Yiddish adage goes “Man plans and God laughs”!

I texted my Aunt Susie last night who has been my biggest supporter and the one to get me started on this writing journey and said, “I think I am going to name the blog “Always Starting” and she came back with “add ‘The Art of Never Giving Up” and that is how two great minds come together to get it right. The reality is that I “always start” because I “never give up”. I am a doer, a fighter, disciplined to a fault and will try anything but more importantly won’t stop until it’s done. This resolve has served me well in my life but it hasn’t been all positive; sometimes succeeding is knowing when to give up; this too has been a lesson.

I hope that you will take this journey with me. As noted above it will be varied as I have a lot of thoughts that I hope to explore with you my follower, my critic and for now as invited the “loves of my life”. Always Starting…yet again…let’s do this! #Word

Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up

Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Here we go…it’s official, I am writing. Well the truth is I have been writing for a very long time but this is pulling back the curtain and sharing what I have otherwise hidden inside the archives of Google Docs for years. Today is the second best day of the year to start; it’s officially the first day of the second half of the year. There could not be a better day to start; poignant.

Well in this case the best way to start is to introduce myself and offer my “take” on why I choose “Always Starting” as my blog name.

  • My name is Lori Kiel and I am a 48-year old mother of three, grandmother of 2 and wife of 1…glad I got that out of the way! Ha!
  • I am a “Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer” by day and a “Super Soul” searching for the meaning of life, theories and matters of the universe the rest of my waking hours.
  • In the last year I have been through a heart-breaking journey that along the way has helped me to understand the “why” behind every lesson I have learned in my 48-years.
  • This blog is my way of making the MESS that has been my year my MESSage.

I invite you to follow me and I assure you I will be transparent, honest and revealing in sharing my journey with you.

I am always starting and I have never given up…yet. Start this journey with me; it’s sure to be a ride!