Inspirational Women

Lori Stephenson

I am an advocate for deep self-awareness, personal accountability and conscious choice.

We are active players in our lives – not bystanders. When we embrace the discomfort instead of pushing it away, when we dive into the murkiness and show up to ourselves and our choices, we transform.

In 1992 I was diagnosed with lupus. Those were pre-internet days so there was no online research to help me understand this disease. The journal articles I read were out of date and painted a grim picture. I wondered if I would be dead in five years. Medical professionals would simply tell me they don’t know the cause and the treatment could, in the end, be worse than the disease. The best advice I got was to reduce my stress. I was 24. What stress did I have?

With this harsh realization that my life might be significantly different than what I had imagined, I decided to take a few weeks off from work to reflect and decide what I would do. Many worried I was going to dwell and isolate. What I needed was perspective.

During those few weeks away from work, back at home with the support of my parents, I began my healing journey. I remember clearly acknowledging that I would embrace this diagnosis. I decided it had arrived to teach me something, if I would only pay attention. So I did.

I have always been curious. My dream job would have been archeologist, provided I could do it inside, didn’t have to do the slow, detail work and if I really only had to focus on the discovery of something significant.

While I didn’t become an archeologist by profession, this change in my health would trigger the excavation of me. I heightened my awareness to my thoughts, my emotions, my beliefs. I looked for patterns in behaviours and outcomes. I grew in awareness of myself. As the awareness grew my outer shell began to slowly crack and fall away. I sifted through the discomfort, the judgement, the shame to get closer to me. I looked at my choices and the motivators behind them. And slowly I began to change.

The Lori of today is different from the Lori of 1992.

I am fortunate that the lupus never progressed. In fact my specialist once said to me, while looking at my bloodwork, that it’s almost like the disease never existed. I smiled. I once commented that I worked very hard to make that so. She looked at me with puzzlement and said, I don’t know how you could do that. I do.

In digging into the detail of me and choosing to do it differently, I changed everything. My health was the prompt for change. I continue to analyze, reflect, modify and evolve my self-understanding and my choices in all areas of my life.

To quote Susan David, a Harvard Professor who studies emotions: Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.

So who is Lori now? I am a creator, navigator, explorer, motivator, and lifelong learner. These are the qualities I bring to my work as a coach, facilitator and speaker.

I believe that lasting change comes first from within. I believe that each of us is the critical factor in what we experience and how we see it. It is this belief that propels me in life. It is this belief that compels me to help others create their change.

Lori Stephenson