Live Life On Your Terms: With Stephanie Lisa Kelly

Each week I have the absolute honour of introducing you to another incredible woman who is lighting up the world, and each and every week, I could not be more excited! It's a giant love fest over here, and today? I've got mad love for Stephanie Lisa Kelly.

Stephanie is a Retreat Leader, Facilitator & Coach who helps women live more embodied, empowered and delicious lives - through re-connecting women with their wholeness, wildness, playfulness, and wildness.

Openness. Authenticity. Transparency. Wholeness. Elegant, eloquent truth. Passionate, purpose-soaked words. An undeniable desire to seek and evolve. Sounds utterly divine, doesn't it?

That's what Stephanie's all about - alongside a deep belief in a quiet revolution, and in her own words, it's a revolution that is arising and emerging from individual impulses to do things differently, to find different ways of being in and with the world.

Yep, I'm damn thrilled to have her here on the blog today! Dig in and be inspired...

Tell us more about you: who are you and what are you all about? (Your story, your truth)

I’m a Retreat Leader, Facilitator and Coach and currently I focus on helping women live more embodied, empowered and delicious lives. I took the leap into being a full time solopreneur last October, ran my first retreat two weeks later and haven’t looked back since. Before that I was an on and off corporate girl (international headhunting interspersed with months of travel) for many years, after my initial impulse to study Gestalt therapy after my BSc. in Psychology deserted me at the crucial moment. 

A whole lot of soul-searching, travel and training later, everything began to fall into place. Yes, obviously I was meant to be helping people deepen their connection to themselves and to the divine (insert whatever word you’re comfortable with there; God/Spirit/Universe/Big picture all work). Clearly the contact with nature and adventure are part of the process. And the underlying desire to shift culture into a more healthy, balanced system in which the feminine has as much say in the conversation as the masculine - that also didn’t come as a surprise. 

So now I coach women and help them step into ever bolder self-expression, facilitate at emergent corporate and lifestyle events, and host residential and adventure retreats that foster deep connection to Self, the sacred, each other and nature (currently only for women but stay tuned for mixed events coming in 2017!). 

Basically I want to live in a world where everyone has a sparkle in their eye, where our global culture is ecocentric rather than egocentric and exists in a synergetic collaboration with our environment, and where all decisions are taken with a seven-generational perspective of potential impact.

I care about awkward things like environmental degradation due to corporate interests, animal rights, politics with integrity (I know), and feminism. I care about helping nurture our society to evolve from its current adolescent stage of development into full maturity; to have inclusive, self-sustaining communities; to rekindle the inherent awe, wonder and majesty of existence and make space for honouring the fact that we are, inherently, a spiritual species.

I believe in the importance of fun, irreverence and humour, great red wine (few things make me happier), dancing madly, eating outside (it just tastes better!), spontaneity, playfulness and beauty. 

I also believe H.H. the Dalai Lama was right when he said he thinks he world will be saved by the western woman. Bring on the revolution of the feminine!


What does living life on your own terms mean to you?

When I was 11 I decided I wanted an interesting life filled with adventure, and promised myself I wouldn’t let my fears hold me back. From then on I developed the habit of pushing myself out of my comfort zone on a consistent basis. 

To me, living life on my own terms means freedom - internal freedom as well as external. We can create external freedom but unless we feel free, we’re not. I’ve spent my entire life working on becoming more free - free to act in spite of my fear, free to express myself in every context, free to love unconditionally, free to follow the directives of my soul, and most recently, free to live wherever I want (I’m location independent since April 1st!).

Share with us a personal challenge that you’ve had to overcome and what limiting beliefs you had to break down along the way.

I’ve always had an anxious nature - I overthink, I’m highly sensitive and I’ve been in a perpetual existential crisis since I was 10 - and had suffered repeated bouts of depression during my twenties, but in 2010 after a life-shattering breakup, living in a country I didn’t feel good in and doing a job that provided me with no meaning whatsoever I cracked. Recurrent panic attacks, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and extreme mental distress finally brought me to the emergency room where I got drugged up and sent to a therapist. 

Faced with the fact that I couldn’t (physically) go on the way I had been, I quit my job (the panic attacks stopped immediately), packed up my stuff, and (just before Christmas and happily dodging the snowstorms), drove home to Belgium. The immense peace of not being in an intensely unhappy situation anymore was overwhelming and heaven-sent, and over the next few months I travelled round Europe visiting friends and family and opening up again to life.
The process that I’d been struggling with so much back in Switzerland - letting go all the dreams I’d had with my ex and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, and believing that I couldn’t be happy until I had everything figured out - melted gently into complete surrender. 
Meditating, doing yoga and running in the forest every day, reading ACIM and accepting (finally) my longing to give myself to my spiritual yearning, and spending time with old friends and family (and my cats:)) healed me and set me free.

That Autumn I got the word “Gratitude” tattooed on my left forearm; it serves to remind me of that time, of how grateful I am to have come through it, and to slow down and be grateful for every moment.

When life gets hectic and overwhelming, what do you do to feel more grounded and balanced?

I breathe. Intentionally and possibly kneeling on the floor with my forehead on the ground (best. position. ever). Then I start creating space - cutting things out of my agenda that aren’t completely crucial (this might mean canceling events, and “letting people down”; my well being comes first. Always). The space I create is then available for me to do things that help me slow down and feel connected again; I spend some time every day in nature (more distress —> more medicine; silent morning coffees under the trees and long evening walks). 

If there’s a strong emotional aspect I make space for being with that; I create (daily, usually in the morning) a sacred space with candles, crystals and sage, breathe with whatever is there and allow the emotion to surface and move through me.

“I am my most important resource” is my mantra in these situations, so I try to catch stress and overwhelm the second it begins to accumulate and take corrective measures. Another thing I do if I notice I’m not taking full breaths is to set a desktop timer to go off every hour (my favourite is Howler Timer), at which point I’ll close my eyes, check in with my body and breath, and hold the intention to relax and breathe slowly for a minute or two.

When it comes to creating change in your life, what does putting it into action look like for you? (And how do you handle when/ if resistance pops up?)

I begin by using intention to get things rolling - I often create a small piece of art with the prompt for the desired change on it or just write it on some paper, and stick that somewhere I’ll see it repeatedly. I believe in easeful rather than forceful change (where possible!), and I’ve found that simply by holding the intention, things begin to shift at a deep level. 

If it’s something that relates to something external I will make a deadline/set a date as soon as possible and share my commitment with a friend (I have several accountability buddies on call :)). I can be quite radical and once I’ve made a decision I often take action immediately without giving more space for deliberation (my decisions - all of them nowadays - come from my gut and I trust them implicitly and wholeheartedly). 

When resistance shows up it usually comes in the form of procrastination, but has become so sneaky that it can sometimes fool me for a while before I see what’s actually going on. Then it’s a question of getting still and probing for the fear behind the resistance. Once I’ve identified it I take time to be with it, acknowledge it fully, thank it, and hold it in my heart. 
Often I’ll do a reframing exercise where I take stock of my entire state of being (in the fear mindset) and do a full 180 take on alternative (energized and joyful) alternative states. This helps to shift me back into my power and places the focus on joy and desire and away from fear and contraction.

What are the top two nuggets of wisdom or advice you would give to someone?

Consistently place your attention on feeling good and loving yourself. Everything else will unfold perfectly when your system is relaxed, your mind peaceful and your heart full.

Live with devotion. Honour and worship every day, every minute, every moment. From deep presence comes love, wisdom and clarity.

What is one quote that really resonates with you, or that you choose to live life by?

This has been my favourite for years; it still gives me goosebumps!

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

― William Hutchison Murray


I can’t go a day without…being in contact with nature in some way (even if it’s just sniffing flowers and admiring the trees in the neighborhood!).

Following the trail of my curiosities means…being open to the unexpected! It means always keeping one ear listening within…and then following the impulses.

When I feel fear…I breathe. Long and slow, until I come into steady contact with the ever-present stillness in myself. And then I connect to the desire behind the fear.

I feel joyful when…When I’m totally present.

I’m most grateful for…my family and friends *heartburstsalittle*

Want to know more? 

Steph will be co-hosting the Wild Radiance Retreat in Tuscany this June, a deep dive into bold self-expression, sensuality and freedom, as well as Into The Wild, a hiking adventure for women in the form of a quest about Self and meaning, womanhood and sisterhood, and the vast possibility of our lives. Email her to find out more!

{Creds: Psychologist + Certified Coach, Facilitator & Way of Council Practitioner + Flower Essence Therapist}


Stephanie Lisa Kelly is a Retreat Leader, Facilitator & Coach who helps women live more embodied, empowered and delicious lives. She’s also a restless creative, passionate instigator, bold adventurer, wild-hearted dreamer, free spirit, urban shaman, tribe weaver and international vagabond. She hosts workshops and retreats on self-expression, power and freedom, and facilitates transformational containers at meetings, conferences and other events. She believes that the world will be saved by women who dare to become powerful agents of change, that surrender leads to magic (always), that goofiness is medicine, and that campfires and mountain tops are sacred.


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