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002: The Power of Risk Taking  -  Stacey Robbins

Stacey Robbins is a Renaissance woman who lives life by inspiration as a Coach, Speaker, Italian Retreat Leader. She is the Author of An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide, You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone, and Bloom Beautiful.

Her career began as a professional musician when she was 15, working as a songwriter, pianist, and vocalist in solo performance as well as with many other talented artists, but when she was 27 hit a health bump that dramatically shifted her life. After a parade of misdiagnoses, gaining 100 pounds in a year and becoming so ill that she could barely get out of bed, the doctors told her to get her affairs in order.

Stacey began pursuing her health from a deeply spiritual angle that led her to shine a flashlight down all the corridors of her life: Thoughts, Beliefs, Patterns, Relationships, Spiritual Practices, Self-Care, Food, and Exercise. Through that experience and years of research of a diagnosis with Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid and therefore every cell in your body) she has been able to speak all over the US and reach people all over the world with her healing insights that she discovered through her own sacred journey.

Now, in addition to her coaching and book writing, Stacey creates gorgeous, transformational, self-care experiences through her international retreats and workshops, empowering women to risk adventure as a way to live from what she calls their “Brave Soul Place.” Stacey resides in Southern California with her author, tech-geek, musician husband and their two amazing, curly-haired teenage sons.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Why risk-taking is important to cultivate in our lives.
  • What happens to our minds and hearts when we take risks.
  • How Stacey and her husband, Rock, cultivate risk-taking in her boys.
  • How her family sold/packed up their entire lives and headed to Italy.
  • How to start taking small risks (even if that’s not normally your thing).

Connect with Stacey Robbins:

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

J. DAVID TROTTER: I want to talk to you about risk taking, because you are a very risky person.

STACEY ROBBINS: I’m going to put that on my next business card, “I’m a very risky person.”

Don’t spell it wrong, because people might think you mean “risqué” and that would be awkward. We are not talking about risqué taking today, we are talking about risk taking. So let’s start off with a wide open question; why do you believe that risk taking is an important quality to cultivate in not only your life, I also assume you think that it’s a good quality to cultivate in most of our lives?

Yeah, I do. I think for me, I’m so committed to growing, to evolving, to ascending and to learning. So because of that and that value for growth, I see risk taking as a really important value. When you live in your comfort zone, I don’t know that we see so much that’s new about ourselves. When we step out onto the edge, the precipice of whatever it is that feels risky to us, we can encounter some new feelings or some new bravery or some new revelation about ourselves. We can find someplace where we want to have a new bravery or new experience with ourselves and this feeling gets provoked in us through risk taking. So because I value personal growth and development, I also value taking risks.

So when you think about when you were growing up and as you look back, do you go, “Yeah, I was a big risk taker,” or do you feel like you cultivated this more because you were less of a risk taker? Looking back, how do you see yourself?

I don’t know. Because when I look back I see somebody who lived just such an interesting experience of life. Was I somebody who was going to go hang gliding? Or was I going to take drugs? That seemed risky. Or was I going to do some things that were maybe dangerous? Was I going to go into the woods at night when it was dark? Those kinds of things — I don’t know that I was so risk taking in that way.

I think I had some experiences that were kind of foist upon me growing up that gave me opportunities to tap into the bravery inside of myself. That might have awakened new risk taking. For example, my parents had grown up in houses down the street from each other in New Jersey and then when they got married, they wanted to move a lot. So my life had a lot of transition. When you are moving to new schools and you are having to make new friends and you are joining new programs and you are always the new one, I think you are automatically thrust into risk taking kind of opportunities.

When you do that, you stretch and you grow and you find some things that maybe start feeling more second nature to you over time. So those things don’t seem as risky to you anymore. I think that I had some of those in my childhood. I do think I was probably a pretty conscious person, like, “Oh my gosh, we shouldn’t do that. We could get hurt.” And then I did other things that were kind of risky, like standing on top of the biggest hill in our town on my roller-skates without thinking about what it would be like to get to the bottom. I don’t know if that’s risk taking or just unconsciousness.

Did you go down?

I went down, yeah. I went down over and over and over again. I think I had some parts of me that loved the thrilling, risk taking parts but then I think I was also a little bit more cautious in other ways.

I grew up in a family where I don’t think risk taking was appreciated necessarily. Not that it wasn’t appreciated, but let’s just say, it wasn’t encouraged. One of the things that I have written about — and I think its hilarious, is that my Mom has said that I could never have white shorts. White shorts, that is probably my Mom’s ultimate risk. Like if you wear white shorts, they are going to get dirty. So I could just never have white shorts.

Let’s see, what else? It was always kind of a “be careful” kind of a deal. I see the positive intention of that — my mom wanted me to be careful, of course. But yet my parents moved our family in between my sophomore and junior year of high school from Kentucky to California. That was a huge risk. Even though my Dad had a job that transferred him, like you said, you moved a lot and this was a big risk for my family. It was forced upon me to now move into this new high school where I had an accent. Oh my gosh, it was just a nightmare, Stacey.

So whether we choose to take the risk or its kind of thrust upon us, if you wouldn’t mind just maybe break down for a minute — what’s happening in our minds and bodies when we are confronted with this risk? Because some of us don’t slow down our thought process enough to understand what’s going on, we are just either fight or flight oftentimes.

Maybe slow down for a minute what you see. You coach a lot of clients, obviously you are super self-aware and super self reflective, what do you think is going on in our minds and our hearts when we are encountering risks?

I should start this off by saying that one of the voices in my life that really spoke about the value of risking adventure was a philosopher, a Jewish rabbi, Edwin Freeman. He died in the mid 1990s and I was introduced to him around that time after his death in a video. I was so intrigued by this concept of stepping outside of our comfort zone.

He said, “Our mind can only imagine up to a certain point.” We are wired to only imagine up to maybe the point of our experience or the point of things we’ve seen or that we’ve heard of already. He said, “What happens when you take the risk is your brain opens up. New neural-pathways are created and you now have the opportunity to access different parts of your brain that were beyond your imagination.”

So for me when I heard that, it really made sense and this picture came to me of somebody thinking about standing on the edge of the inside of a plane with a parachute on and wearing all the gear. We’ve all seen movies like this, James Corden with Tom Cruise as he’s about to jump out of a plane for the first time. We have an imagination of what that would be like and what that would feel like and the thought of our stomach dropping or how loud the wind might be in our ears and that temptation not to jump. But that’s a really different experience then being the person who goes through the training and has all the gear and standing up there with the wind even louder than you imagined and hearing your heartbeat even louder than that.

There is something about the experience that exposes us to access into our brain; our fears, our bravery, that internal strength. The stories that come up in our mind about our mortality or about our vulnerability, those things get confronted in a way that our imagination can’t do. So when you ask about what our brain goes through or our body goes through, I can tell about that when I thought about going to Italy for the first time.

Growing up, I had dealt with a lifetime of a fear of flying. My Mom had been terrified to fly, her sister had been terrified to fly, their cousins had all been terrified to fly. We have these hilarious stories about these people ripping the skin off the stranger sitting next to them while they were on a plane, with their blood-red finger nails and their Italian, “Oh my God,” New Jersey voices, you know?

I mean my Aunt Nancy was crazy. Remember when the seats flipped up and you’d have to push them down? Remember when there was smoking on a plane? My Aunt Nancy stood up when there was some turbulence, she unbuckled her seat and stood up on the seat and faced everybody — she was in the first row, she faced everybody who was behind her and said, “Oh my God! We are all going to die!” She screamed this over and over. My Uncle is sitting there pretending to not know her, but the fear was really deep. So I had this kind of embedded in me. It was a real conflict. I had this real desire to travel and explore and be at my homeland in Italy where my family was from, but I had a real fear about getting there.

So as I was working through fears and traveling throughout the country and I did my work as a musician and all this stuff. I had to play at certain gigs and take contracts in other states. So I had some experiences but then I hit a health bump that kind of threw me and I kind of regressed in some of that progress. I then went five years without flying. So this fear started to mount again and by the time I wanted to activate my dream, I was like, “Oh my gosh, now I need to be brave again. I need to get on a plane.”

That fear inside of me, when I faced it, I had to create something so inspiring like going to Italy and meeting my family, like leading a retreat for other women. When I got on the plane to do those kinds of things, the inspiration lead me and the fear met me. I was able to see, “Oh my gosh, how am I reacting in the fear?” But I was also sure to recognize and experience the grace and kindness of strangers, a stranger or a flight attendant being comforting. I had the experience of being able to take a deep breath and do all these spiritual practices and apply those meditative techniques that I had used and to see how they could come into action in a moment when I really needed it.

I kept myself so focused on the vision of being there and remembering what the joy was about, that I was able to work through some of the discomforts. I was able to employ my faith and whatever prayerfulness I had. And then when I was able to land on solid ground on the other side and have these experiences that were now added to me. Experiences that no one could ever take away. That was going to be able to speak to the fears that I had next time. Because next time it wasn’t just my imagination being able to speak to the fears, it was the experience. So something was forever going to be different in me.

For me, thats an example of how I’ve worked through things and got myself to the point of taking new brave steps and facing my fears. Being in my fears, using techniques and tools to support myself. Allowing the kindness of the universe to meet me and know that I’m growing and be a supportive force towards my dreams coming true and then just getting there and building my life. Not on my worst fears, but on my best experiences. That is a really powerful place to get to.

So just to kind of break this down, you are telling the experience of going to Italy for the first time after five years of not traveling. That’s a long time if you are not a traveller. It’s amazing to me. I don’t necessarily have a fear of flying, I have a fear of crashing. But a lot of people do, that’s not an uncommon fear to have that. So you talked about that there does seem to be an acknowledgement of, “Okay, I’m taking this risk. My brain says worst case scenario,” call it rational or irrational, in that moment we are believing it. We are believing that worst case scenario in our minds. Somebody on the outside can say that it’s totally irrational and obviously that doesn’t help because your uncle probably said that to Aunt Nancy, “Sit down, this is irrational.”

So there is something going on in the brain, but you said there are practices; meditation, prayer, kindness of strangers, but also this vision that you had that got you through. It seems like that vision was a huge part of it. Is that correct?

Yes, and that is one of the things that has to lead us in our being willing to take risk in our life. I think of risk taking as inviting chaos via inspiration. Rather than waiting for life to come and slap us across the face, when I take a risk, what I’m saying is, “What inspires me is worth having in my life.” It’s worth going through the difficulty of facing my worst fears about it.

Say that last part — you are inviting chaos in the face of inspiration or in spite of inspiration? Say that again.

I’m inviting chaos via inspiration. Through the inspiration, I’m inviting chaos into my life. I know that the inspiration will get me there and what will happen is it will create an opportunity for me to face my fears, my stories, my issues, my stuck places. The inspiration will be the greater vision that I have that will allow me to get to work through those fears and issues and stories so that I can live a life that’s at a higher level and a deeper joy and more aliveness.

So really, there is no reason to take a risk unless there is an inspiration? Unless there is a vision? Unless there is something that you are wanting to experience or have on the other side? Is that true?

I think that when you are choosing it, yeah. You have choices because its like you are in the luxury space of choices. But you know, the choices are weird. I wrote about in my book An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide. I wrote a chapter called the ‘Veil of Fire’ and it’s about a story that I had read after 9–1. It was about one of the towers and one of the businesses that was in the tower.

This man and woman who had seen each other in this office of several hundred people — it was a huge office so they didn’t cross paths often, but they saw each other and they knew each other by smiling but didn’t know each others names. They ended up being caught in this situation of, “Oh my God, we’ve gotta get out of here. There is flames. The building is shaking. What is going on? There are explosion sounds.” What happened is they found themselves at the elevator filled with people, the doors open and they are ready to go down.

They get themselves on the elevator with all these people and they are trying to get to safety on the bottom floor. As they are standing there, the doors close and they go down a couple of floors and then the doors suddenly open again. There are flames right outside of the elevator door. People are screaming, banging on the buttons, grabbing the door trying to close it. This man and woman who didn’t know each other, they were like, “We’ve got to get out of here.” The man then said to the woman, “Sometimes it’s just a veil of fire and there is really oxygen on the other side.” So he’s like, “You want to try?” So in those brief seconds where they had this intense exchange, they grabbed hands and they went out of the elevator and they jumped through the flames. They found themselves on the other side and it was as he said, a veil. It wasn’t a wall, it was a veil of fire. They were able to run down the stairs, some 50 fights or so and go to safety. Whereas everybody who thought they were safe on the elevator died.

Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of one great choice or another; of staying in the comfort of our Lazy Boy chair or flying to Italy and taking a risk. Sometimes it’s really intense situations. Sometimes it’s the unexpected news that your job is lost. Sometimes it’s the unexpected news that someone you love has passed. You find yourself confronted with the opportunity to take a risk.

At that point you’ve got to kind of figure it out, what is the inspiration? What do I want in the midst of this?

Yeah, and that’s a really hard thought to have sometimes when you are in the middle of grief or pain or surprise. So choosing risk taking via adventure, even though it kind of sets you up for feeling out of control in some ways, you are actually in a really powerful place of being in control.

“What do I want to do?”

“Where do I want to go?”

“Nothing is chasing me, I’m not going to be eaten by a bear. I’m not making this decision under duress. I’m making it by the power of wanting to have something really cool in my life or take my life to the next level.”

I keep hearing this other voice that says, “Responsibility.” I’ve got a family. I’ve got kids. I don’t know what’s on the other side of those flames, maybe it’s just more flames.

There is that fear or not wanting to take that next step. How do you balance — maybe balance isn’t even the right word. How do you sift through risk versus responsibility?

That’s a good question. I’m trying to think of my husband — I’m remembering years ago when the boys were little. We had a very established reputations in Southern California of playing music and performing. We had a huge following. We had a great income and we were living the California dream as professional musicians with young kids. And then I was approached by somebody to go and do music in a small town in upstate New York in a village with two prisons. I was excited about it because I’m just weird. But my husband asked good questions from a sane and sound place.

That wasn’t just to go and perform and come back, that was to move there.

Well, I had wanted to do a minimum of two years. And the person who was bringing us out wanted to do two years. That can feel like a lifetime when it’s scary. When something is scary it can seem like forever. So Rock, my husband said to me, “Oh my God, but what if we don’t like it there?” And I just said, “Well, there is a revolving door in California. It’s not just one way. You can go and you can actually come back.”

So that was kind of the thing in my mind. I moved a lot as a kid and even though he moved a lot with his single mom, it was all within Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. It was all really close. We did bigger moves and had to have more daring risks and adventures. So for me it was like, “Oh yeah, lets go do it! We can come back if it doesn’t work.”

I think within myself because I’ve had so many risk taking experiences that were brought to my door, not just ones that I’d taken, I have an inner trust. I have an inner sense of my resilience and I think that’s part of what’s required for risk taking and it gets cultivated by risk taking.

You mentioned you have two sons. If you don’t mind, how old are they how have you sought to cultivate this quality of risk taking in their lives? How have you invited them into it or exposed them into it?

Caleb is sixteen years old and then his brother Seth, my youngest is fourteen. So how have I cultivated risk taking in them? I think by normalizing risk is how you cultivate it. So when you are on the playground and you are feeling alone and there is someone else standing over there and you are not sure if they want to be their friend, walking over with your kid or encouraging them to go do that. Or encouraging them to walk away if a kids being a challenge. Go be by yourself even in the face of other people thinking you shouldn’t be. Go be your own best friend. I think I’ve always kind of given those words of encouragement to them. I’ve lived as a risk taker with them.

We did something — I was following my inspiration to take care of my health at a new level. I couldn’t figure out why I was experiencing dizziness, so I thought, “Let me do this. Let me turn off all the breakers in our house except for the refrigerator and the washer and dryer. Let’s live an indoor camping experience for 30 days.” So I sat the boys down, I sat my boys down and I’m like, “Okay guys, I had this inspiration. What if we just turn off all the breakers and we live by candlelight, the light of day and candlelight by night. We’ll go to bed and we’ll kind of just be with each other in new ways.”

I think the boys were 7 and 9 or 5 and 7, something like that. The boys were like, “Yah!”, and I said, “We’ll finish this experiment in 30 days and we’ll go to the redwoods and we’ll go be in the forest in the trees and we’ll go be out in nature in a really groovy way and have an actual camping experience.” They were like, “Yay!” My husband is looking at me like, “It’s August. I like air-conditioning. I like eating hot cooked meals.”

I’m just like, “Okay, I know there is things that are maybe going to be uncomfortable,” I didn’t really think about it. But I said, “You know, I was thinking about the benefits so much,” and that’s why I shared the idea with them. But he was thinking, “Oh my gosh, I want to be comfortable. I don’t want to be uncomfortable.” That’s the hard thing when you are always engaging a group of other people. You have the vision, so you are willing to take the risk. But they weren’t signing up for this.

For those who aren’t aware, it’s not the light that you were concerned about impacting your body — it was actually the electricity, right?

Yes, the electromagnetic frequencies, I was finding myself reactive to the EMFs. I’d walk into Target or one of these other big box stores and suddenly my brain would feel like it’s sizzling. I was like, “What am I going to do? What can I do to help?” I was trying food, nutrition, spiritual practice, meditation.

I was trying all these different things and I was like, “What if — what if I just reduce the EMF load in our home and try that and see if it helps?” Because every time I would go camping, I felt groovy. If I was out in the middle of the woods or at the ocean, I felt good. So that was part of the impetus.

So ironically it wasn’t that risky externally, but in terms of relationships it was risky. Your husband could be have said, “Yeah, no. We’re done. I’m going to live in the car and at least I’m going to have electricity. I’ll plug into the battery.” So it was relationship risky. Just as a side note, what happened?What was the experience of that?

I do want to say this before I tell you about the experience. It was also risky, because if you have any sense of pride or ego in you, you could risk feeling like a failure if on day two you are like, “Screw it, I’m uncomfortable too. I don’t want to do this. Candles cost more than electricity, I don’t want to pay that. This is uncomfortable.” By day three I had stepped on about a million Legos that I forgot to pick up during the day or we had nearly lit our hair on fire. We all have long hair in our house and I put a candle on the back of the toilet, the first time you go to sit down to go poop, you nearly light yourself on fire and you are thinking, “Maybe this isn’t such a great idea.” She’s not going to die by EMF, she’s going to die by fire with her pants around her ankles.

Those were the realities of our experience. And the other realities were we got to learn some of those lessons, “Hey, if there is a mess, clean up during the day.” Or if there is something you want to do in full light, prioritize your time. And then really respect the nighttime and let yourself be quiet. I noticed if we had had our computers plugged in, nighttime would have been — just start the artificial lighting, turn on all the lights, open the computer and create almost a second a day instead of having a true experience of night. One of the things we ended up encountering was that the night has its own energy. It has its own beauty. It has its own message for you and gift to you. I think we bypass that very often because we are so busy extending our day and trying to add more hours to it, instead of seeing what nature holds for us in its natural rhythm of darkness.

It was super funny, we’d look out at everybody’s houses on the block and everybody had the screens and the lights and the this and the that and our house was dark every day. It was really cool. I learned so many good things and I felt more peacefulness inside of myself. There were times of boredom and you have to ask yourself, what do you do when you are bored? Am I going to go back and revert to something? Am I going to sneak some technology? But if you let yourself give into it, then you get to experience the benefits of it.

Well, we ended up after 30 days going to see the redwoods and having a really profound experience. What was cool was we walked into the hotel room and none of us thought to turn on the lights because we are walking in and we are in the dark. Seth was seven, my youngest was seven and he needed to take a shower after walking in the woods and I said, “Sethy, it’s okay if you want to turn on the light,” because I knew we were in a new place and I didn’t want to freak him out or anything. The light was coming through the window and he said, “No mama, I see the moon through the window and that’s enough. I’d like to take my shower by the moonlight.” It was just really special to see what some of those results were. We voted and the kids chose to keep going, so we did it for four more years.

Four more years, how did you deal with charging phones or using the computer or internet? How did you deal with that? I know people are thinking that in their heads.

With the way the breakers were wired in our home at the time, they were so funky. But what happened was one breaker actually connected the refrigerator and the washer and dryer — which was funny. And another breaker left my husband’s computer on in his office. He worked on call, so we had to honor that for the nights that he was on call for his tech job. So that office had a computer and lights. So that’s how we did it. So that office was just kind of like off quarters except to do that. But there were a couple of plugs that were working.

We were on Yahoo’s Top 10 list for a long time and then someone switched us to the weird Yahoo list and people are like, “You are going to kill yourselves. You are going to light your children on fire with those candles, you idiot.” ABC News came out, The Orange County Register did a big, huge story on us. And what I got in addition to some really trolly people, were people who were like, “I’m going to try this, I’m really inspired.” I got follow up of great experiences other people had afterwards. It was groovy. It was a groovy time.

So that’s one of the examples of risk taking with my kids. That’s how I’ve shown them. I want to share this because this is really valuable. We had the kids in a private school for a little while and my oldest son went through some bullying when he was there. It was pretty traumatic and he ended up pulling himself out of school. It took me about four months to heal him. It was kind of a crazy time. While he was going through that healing, my husband ended up losing his job. The division was sold because they were the most profitable division and every person lost their job. I then pulled my other son out of that school and we ended up trying a new school. My younger son was bullied there.

In the middle of all of that, our landlord came to us and said, “Hey, the construction is done on the property and I’m going to raise the rent — ,” it was like 30% or something ridiculous for Southern California. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, so much — .” Oh, and my youngest son got hurt playing soccer and he ended up in a wheelchair for a couple of months. It was just like a crazy part of our year. So I said, “You know what you guys? Sometimes when life changes, it’s inviting you to change your life.” I sat everybody down and I said, “What if we just leave? What if we decide to give up this place and not rent it anymore and we sell a bunch of stuff and put the rest in storage? And what if we go on something called a ‘Magical Healing Adventure’? What if we go on a book tour across the US and we’ll meet with people who read my books and then we’ll buy one way tickets to Italy and we are going to go heal with gelato and just be gone for however long that makes sense?”

What people don’t know about this is that we had tried to do a product launch during that time that my husband was out of work. I was trying to make things happen and heal my kids and we had all of this stuff going on, taking care of a kid in a wheelchair and another kid with bullying. What they don’t know is that I had come back from an event and my husband told me there was $1000 left to our name. So I had to dream all of this, not with the cushy plush kind of background of, “Well, I’ve got my retirement that I can splurge and throw everything on black 21 in Vegas.” It wasn’t like that. It was like, “Oh my gosh, we are going to have to build this from the ground up and go on inspiration alone.” So in those kinds of ways, I think I’ve cultivated adventure in my kids. Through experience and showing them how to do it.

I kind of walked with you through that process, so I know the details. We don’t necessarily need to get into the details of how you made that happen, but you did end up selling tons of stuff. You put your remaining stuff in storage and you drove all across the country. You started doing these events all over the place. People started just showing up. You are selling books…

Coaching and leading workshops.

So this is a major risk. How many weeks were you on the road in the US and then how many weeks did you spend in Italy before you came back to the United States?

We left on February 29, a leap year — that was really kind of a groovy departure date. We took six weeks to go across the country. We did 9 to 12 events in our time going across the country, I can’t remember. We bought one way tickets to England and spent a week there. Then we flew down from England to Italy. We spent the amount there that you can stay legally, so 90 days. We stayed for three months.

During the time we were there, because of one of the books I’d written, I got asked to be in a documentary that was happening in New York. And then because my husband had written a book while we were in Italy, he got invited to be on that same documentary. So we flew everybody back and hung out on the East Coast and we were part of this documentary. We took another week or so, a week and a half to come back.

We were gone a total of maybe 7 months or so. Then we came back and we didn’t have any money to start over. We didn’t have a home. All of our stuff was in storage. We were just like, “Okay, where can we house sit?” So we did house sitting for a couple of months. We just kind of made it work. I think where you have an intention to make something work, you just do the work and you can just create this magic to have that thing come about.

You called it a ‘Magical Healing Adventure’; your life, your family’s life, your kids lives will never, ever be the same because you were willing to take that risk. You are on the far end of the spectrum of risk. I know very few families who would do that, but you have opened my eyes to a lot more crazy, weird people like you that do that kind of stuff. I’ll put those resources in the show notes, but I know you are part of a group calledWorld Schooling, maybe just tell people just briefly about that. In case they want to kind of dip their toe in this world, they can kind of lurk from a distance before they jump in.

Yeah, it’s a really brave place, filled with brave people who I think either get tired of settling for a life that feels comfortable or maybe the rigors of trying to work a two family income and still be scraping by. Or having kids disconnected because of technology. Whatever it is that they are bummed out about, that life is this way — there are those people.

And then there are the true adventurers who started off like, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to follow my heart and now I’m following my heart with kids.” So I think you have the cross section of those groups of people. They’ve come together in this place. World Schooler’s are all about people using traveling as a means of learning. So its saying, the classroom really isn’t confined to four walls. It is as far as the corners of the earth. So that is what they do.

They come together and they share, “Hey, this is how we make money on the road.”

“Hey, this is the best place to be if you are going to go into Malaysia for six weeks.”

“What if you want to do slow travel?”

“What if you want to do fast travel?”

“What if you don’t want to change your life that dramatically but you really want to change the way you travel for those two weeks of vacation from your regular job every year and you want to bring your kids?”

All those kind of groovy, great questions — thats a place to ask them.

Laney Liberty was a huge inspiration for me, what she did by leaving and taking off from her marketing job and her staff of people. When the economy turned, she just saw the writing on the wall and it gave her a new opportunity to ask, “What do I want?” She had her son with her and I think he was 9 years old at the time and she pulled him out of school and she just did this big, grand adventure. She’s been traveling ever since and inspiring others about it too.

I think one of the things that you have opened my eyes to is that I assume life is supposed to be a certain way. Whether its education or a job or the foods that we eat or the things that we do with our time and whether we have the lights on or not. You probably have like a whole closet of white shorts for your kids, right?

There is an assumption probably more based on your home of origin and what you grew up with becomes what is appropriate and normal. And yet, our normal is only what we’ve grown up with. Other people around the globe have totally different normals. I think what can be risky for one person is just normal for another.

Absolutely.

I think by opening our eyes to what other people do, it’s just mind blowing. Because I can almost live a little vicariously — just a little bit, through other people and go, “Man, I wouldn’t have even thought of doing that. I wouldn’t have thought about putting all that stuff in storage and going to Italy.” That blows my mind. That is amazing. Now, I don’t get the payoff of doing it — I don’t get all the benefits, but I can still have my mind opened to the possibility by being exposed to how you did it.

When we close ourselves off from risk, when we mitigate risk, when we avoid risk, when we don’t look at other perspectives or ideas in the world, what would you say we are missing out on? I’m wanting you to speak to the person who’s listened thus far probably because they are going, “I wish I could be that person. I wish I could do that.” A lot of people say that, “I wish I could just be that person.”

What would you say to them? You’ve been very compelling of what you get out of it but what are you missing out on? What are you missing out on if you don’t move towards some sort of risk? Even if its small?

You know, I just heard Dr. Christiane Northrup talking this week and she said, “It’s not the things that we don’t know, that we regret. It’s the things that we do know and how to sense that we were supposed to do and we didn’t listen to that voice. We didn’t do it.”

So what I think we miss out on by not risking is we miss out on encountering us and we are really remarkable. I don’t know that we really encounter our full amazingness and awesomeness when we are sitting in the seat of comfort. I think we miss out on encountering us at deeper levels, with deeper joy, with greater self expression. This is what makes us feel so alive, to be able to have a thought and to be able to say that thought. And then to have that thought make a positive difference in the world and take an action based on inspiration and have that make a difference in the world. I think we miss out on the reciprocity and the exchange and the flow of what’s really electrifying in life, the stuff that makes us feel that sense of aliveness.

I remember when I was sitting with Melody Green, she was the wife to Keith Green, who was a famous musician and he died in a plane crash — of all things ironically. This is a great story in my book too, but I had the encounter of listening to his music when I was 12 years old. I was so moved by his music and I said, “One day, I’m going to meet him and I’m going to say, ‘Thank you’. I’m going to be able to be his friend.” A twelve year old’s dream because she’s so touched by this artist. Later that year, I heard that he had died in a plane crash and I was crushed because I was like, “Okay, I’m not going to be able to meet him.” After that I made a new intention, “One day, I’m going to meet his wife and she’s going to be my friend.”

Twenty years later, I’m recording on a CD project that is benefiting South Sudan and I’m sitting in this hotel auditorium in Los Angeles, in a room with 700 people and I’m singing this song, making this presentation. After I’m done singing and speaking, I walk out and this woman with this strong nose and big smile and crooked tooth — she comes up to me and goes, “Oh my God, you are on fire!” And she wraps her arms around me. I have no idea who this stranger is, but she’s just like, “I think we are related. I love you.” She’s just being so adorable and I stand back out of the hug and I put my hand out to shake and I said, “Hi, I don’t know you, I’m Stacey Robbins.” She puts her hand in mine and says, “Hi, I’m Melody Green.”

Keith’s wife, the person I had intended to meet and be friends with 20 years before is standing in front of me and just a moment before she had her arms wrapped around me. Well, we ended up becoming friends and I ended up traveling to her home and sitting at Keith’s piano with his album covers behind me, crazy, right? While I was sitting there I said, “Mel, I feel like I want to make a change in my life. I feel like I want to leave music for a while and I really want to go speak and encourage women and write books.” She listened to me and I thought she was going to say that I was crazy because I had success in this area that most people would die to have success in. I had had a nice career and good following and she just said, “Stacey, you have to do what’s alive to you.”

So I’ve had these seeds of inspiration to do what’s alive to me and to take that risk out of the comfort of what I already know and enter a world that I don’t know. You know the interesting thing that we know about our brain is we are the only species that can worry. Birds don’t worry and animals don’t worry. Because we are the only species that can imagine.

So if you can imagine, then you project your worry forward. But what if we chose to bring our intention forward and we didn’t live our life in a place of safety and comfort? And instead what we did was we ended up risking and finding that internal trust within ourselves? I think that’s the thing we experience. I think that’s the thing we are missing out on. We create so many external comforts which we equate with safety, we miss experiencing the internal trust we have with being safe with ourselves no matter what the circumstances. That’s what I think we are missing out on.

Beautiful, I love how you said — you encapsulated a lot of stuff, but I love how you said, “We are missing out on us.” Missing out on the depth of who we are if we don’t engage with some sort of risk.

So you are now taking women on these healing retreats to Italy. You are Italian. You grew up with that as a huge part of your culture. So there is something about this country that calls you of course, because that’s part of your heritage. Tell me about how risk taking integral to those retreats that you are taking with women. How is that part of the whole experience?

Well, built into the intention of the retreat — it’s a Tuscan healing retreat or a Tuscan self-care retreat, but within, my intention is about transformation.

So when women have an idea about what Italy is, whether it’s romanticized from movies that they saw when they were younger or people who they’ve read about taking adventures over to Italy, they have within their imagination or their thought ideas of, “Oh my gosh, I would love to paint watercolor of the hills of Tuscany and to sip wine from the Chianti region while I’m noshing on sheep’s milk from Umbria and eating olives from Pozzuoli, they already have these ideas of what it is. So when they encounter the opportunity that I present to them of going to Italy and having a personal chef and going to ancient thermal waters and having mud massages, going to beautiful villages and learning about the history and seeing where St. Francis walked, or doing art or energy healing over there, women are just like, “Oh my gosh, this would be my dreams coming true.”

Yoga, don’t forget yoga.

Yes, yoga thank you.

So they hear about this and they go, “This is exactly what I’ve been wanting and even more.” So they sign up for it.

Here is the thing, as soon as we put an inspired “Yes” out in the universe and we put that energy out there along with the energy of money and the commitment that we are making; all of a sudden the women who signed up experience the realities of cold water hitting them.

They are like, “Oh my gosh, I am so selfish. I am leaving my children for 9 days. I’m such a selfish mom.”

“Oh my gosh, I could have used that money on a million other things that were more sensible and reasonable.”

“Oh, I’ve never flown before, I’m terrified to fly.”

“I’ve never flown out of the country before.”

“I don’t speak that language.”

“What if the other women don’t like me?”

There is all this confrontation that comes as soon as we commit to something via inspiration. And that’s where the risk meets the road. That’s where you get to experience what’s inside of you. You made a risk taking commitment and you get to experience what’s inside of you.

Then what you discover — this is before you’ve ever called the airline. This is before you’ve ever booked the ticket to go out there. This is even before you probably have all the information. You’ve followed your inspiration so strongly and now that you’ve committed, this is when the reality hits of, “I made a decision and there are other things I didn’t consider.”

But that’s what risk taking does, it gives you the opportunity. Remember your brain? You are standing on the edge of the inside of the plane, your brain does different things because now you are experiencing commitment to your dreams.

So they call me, “Oh my God, Stacey. I’m afraid to fly.” You know what I get to tell them, “I was there. I remember being there, lets talk.” The coaching and the transformation and all these years of experience that I have of supporting women because I had to journey myself to support me and learn and love me, I get to use in that moment. So the retreat doesn’t really start when you land on the Italian soil. It starts with the moment that you say “Yes” and put that energy of resource behind it. And then when you are confronted with the, “Oh my gosh, but what if my parents who are aging die while I’m gone?” These were real life situations that women were asking me about.

So that’s where the transformation and the risk taking take place. What happens is these women get their hand held by me and I help introduce them to themselves. I say, “You can do this.” Because I’m not getting on the plane with them. At some point, even though I held their hand to make the airline reservation, they have to get on that plane. And you know what they get by taking that risk? They get to encounter their bravery and the grace of the universe and the kindness of strangers and all of those things that now add to their experience. So that by the time they get to me, they’ve already experienced a transformation that their soul has been longing for. And then we get to retreat together and it’s so powerful. It’s so beautiful.

Yeah, I kind of get off on that because it’s my jam.

It’s amazing and each women then is experiencing a different outcome. Because even though they are experiencing the same thing on the outside, they are going through these individual experiences. There is always something different happening on the inside, whatever that transformation is.

Sure, because every woman has something inside of them that has been drawing for some kind of release or some kind of new perspective or new trust and that’s different for every woman.

Like you said, risk is different for different people and as a result, there is going to be a different provocation for each person. For some people, it might be spending the money. For another person, it might be traveling internationally. For another person it might be being with a group of women that they are a peer to and they are normally a leader of a bunch of men in their business.Something is going to get provoked differently for each woman.

On the first night of the retreat, I have each one of them set the intention of, “Why are you here? What is the result that you want to have by the end of the week?” They write it in their journal on the first night and then I do guided journaling all throughout the week. We do stream of consciousness journaling all week. It’s so amazing that even though women got there in a different way, they all met their intention. By the time we get to the end of that week, they’ve met their intention.

But you know what is super cool too? The retreat doesn’t end in just the same way it didn’t start when they landed in Italy. It doesn’t end when they get back on the plane to go home. The commitment to their transformation now has new momentum. They have new rhythms and have a new space of honoring who they are inside. You continue evolving way long after you’ve left.

If somebody can’t necessarily imagine what those types of intentions would be, the transformation that somebody would want — what are some sample intentions that you have heard people say at the beginning of their retreat that they then experience? Obviously without breaking confidence, just open our minds to the possibility of that type of intention.

So some people really have the intention of really caring for themselves and unplugging for a week and learning what it is to honor themselves, because they’ve been taking care of their kids non stop or whatever else there is.

Some people have the intention of releasing pain from relationship. Some people have the intention of being brave going forward, having to take care of some new diagnoses in their life that they were confronted with and they are looking for a place to reflect and kind of access their bravest self as they have to step forward into some unknown territory.

There are women who come and say, “I want to bond with other women, that’s my greatest intention.” Some say, “I want to be a different version of myself. A version that I can’t be because everybody knows me the way that I usually am at home and I want to practice being a part of myself that I haven’t explored yet.”

Those are just a sampling of some of the intentions.

I know you’ve got a couple of retreats coming up at the time of this recording in 2019; you’ve got a couple of retreats coming up that we want to make sure that people are aware of. We’ll link to those in the show notes but is there a particular URL or dates that you wanted to share with people right now?

If they go to www.staceyrobbins.com and they click on travel and retreat, they get the option between a Country Girl Retreat and a City Girl Retreat for this year.

We have the Tuscan hillside, where you get to be out in the country in a gorgeous villa. And then we have a city girl retreat in Florence, where you get to experience whats its like to live like a local, live like a tourist and experience the art, music, culture, massages and beautiful history of the renaissance area of Florence.

Out in the country, you are going to know what it is to be out in those thermal waters and be in the hillside and to have a different peace and experience of what grows in those different regions that we’ll be exploring. So it’s just — I’m smiling and looking out in a faraway place right now, for those of you who can’t see me. I’ve kind of wandered off to Italy right now, because it’s really special.

I’m still waiting for the City Guy retreat.

Okay, I’ll keep you posted. Hey, you never know what 2019 holds.

Okay, so one last question for you — if somebody is listening to this and going, “Okay, I want to start taking risk, I don’t know where to start. I want to be responsible. I’m kind of that responsible person. Going to Italy or a foreign country on a retreat, that is really overwhelming.” Help me with some suggestions, Stacey.

What would you suggest I start with?

As we talked about a couple of times, risk isn’t the same for everyone. I’m not telling you to take everything out of your retirement and go to Vegas in one big roulette spin. That’s not what I’m suggesting. It’s not about adding stress to your life. Risk taking inherently adds stress to your life, but it’s really about adding value to your life. The things that are valuable are the things that matter to you and that are inspiring to you.

So I would say the best place to start with is your intention. “I am willing to experience more of myself. I’m willing to know me better. I’m willing to be more connected to me through some adventurous channels.” I think when you set that intention, opportunities open up to you. Or your eyes open up to the opportunities that are already there. Opportunities that you just haven’t seen because your intention didn’t put the lens on you to see it. So I think the first step is creating intention.

Then the second thing that I would offer if it were a coaching client is take out a piece of paper and write on it in your handwriting, don’t type it — there is something visceral about sitting down and writing and being connected. Write on the top, “My inspiration is…” and then start making a list. Allow yourself to get inspired and ask yourself, “What inspires me?”

Sit in those awkward moments of saying to yourself “I don’t even know if I’ve asked myself that before. I’ve been so busy asking myself, ‘What is the responsible thing to do? What does my family need of me? What am I supposed to do to set myself up for my future and my retirement?” We’ve been asking questions from so many different angles, we haven’t asked ourselves in a long time sometimes, “What do I want? What makes me happy? What makes me feel more of me?”

Anything that falls into that category would fall under what inspiration is. So make a list and allow yourself to be present. Commit yourself to being open to it. I would start with those kind of explorations. An intention first and then making a list of what inspires you. Once that’s done, I would then look for the themes. What are the themes in there that inspire me?

Is it engagement with people?

Have I isolated myself?

Or have I stayed within one culture group so much that I haven’t expanded?

Is the theme that I want to be around people?

Is the theme that I want to do more daring physical things?

Is it that I want to take my health to the next level?

Does it inspire me to think about dancing with my children or meeting my grandchildren one day?

Then I want to make decisions that foster and support that. Maybe I’ll have to eat differently. Maybe my big risk is eating differently at the company luncheons. But it’s a goal. So when you make that list and you have that intention, you’ve set your eye on inspiration. Within that, that’s when you can decide what amount of risk would be involved to activate that inspiration.

I know that you’ve got a couple of retreats coming up. You also do coaching of women and couples around the globe, so if people are interested in that, they can go to your website www.staceyrobbins.com.You are on all the social medias so people can find you there also.

Thank you Stacey for sharing some amazing risk taking women and we’ll do this again with another topic.

I’d love that. Thank you David for what you are doing. This is awesome.


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