When is the last time you truly felt inspired?
Last Friday, needing some inspiration at the end of a long week, my friend Merit Lee and I had planned a morning of paddle boarding. Nothing like being on the water, with just the breeze and the gentle sounds of the water in your ears, to clear the cobwebs and make way for new inspiration.
But alas… our morning was not going as planned. A small craft advisory had us staying off the water. Disheartened, we made the best of it and took a walk on the beach, adding in a little nature therapy to help us release some of the week’s tensions.
Knowing we were nearby, Merit’s dear friend Lynn Kehoe invited us to visit her for a bit, and she gave us a leisurely tour of her stunning back garden. To say it was a delight is definitely an understatement. There were surprises around every corner — a labyrinth here, a gorgeous metal sculpture there, a whimsical seating area with giant aqua hands growing up out of the ground, just waiting for you to sit and linger for a bit. All snuggly tucked in by subtropical plants and a home-cultivated bamboo forest, click-clacking away in the salty ocean breeze.
Lynn and I had only just begun our friendship, through Merit, a few weeks before. Today we were congratulating Lynn on recently completing the St. Johns County/University of Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Educational Program, and I couldn’t help but marvel at this woman’s many accomplishments. Only weeks before, we had been chatting about her second career as a racecar driver. Before that, she had conquered the world of finance and real estate. Most would need several lifetimes to do what this one woman has put her mind to do, and that morning I had to pause and reflect, inspired by the human spirit’s potential.
“To everyone who dreams, who has tried and failed, and strives to conquer overwhelming obstacles. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Dreams can come true.”
This is the dedication at the beginning of her book Drive to the 25!, co-authored by Karen Salvaggio, Ed.D. Karen and Lynn led an all-female driving team to the 25 Hours of Thunderhill – arguably America’s most iconic endurance race in motorsports.
Lynn’s second career came to her in a rather unusual way: A winning bid at a real estate auction would put her in a race car for a day, and there was no turning back. Lynn would master the sport earning a competition license, and together with Karen Salvaggio, build a team of all-female drivers that would make their presence known at the 25 – even making it to the podium for an incredible moment of accomplishment. But it didn’t end there. While striving for their own professional goals, these women began a unique female empowerment movement in the racing world.
In 2016, Lynn founded Shift Up Now, an organization that empowers other female drivers in the world of motorsports. They provide an environment where young female racers can experience community and can access resources and a fan base invested in female drivers. She has passed this organization into the capable hands of the next generation of drivers, who are doing a spectacular job.
With all that Lynn has accomplished, you’d think she’s a buzzing ball of energy ready to bounce off the walls if not given something to accomplish. But this is not how Lynn comes off. In the few weeks I’ve known her, I am struck with how grounded, relaxed, and content she is with herself and her environment. This is not someone seeking relevance and a place in this world – no, she’s simply enjoying herself. And one can’t help but catch this enjoyment of life – this joie de vivre – when in her presence.
So on that windy Friday morning, I unexpectedly discovered inspiration in this one woman’s garden. I wondered how much of Lynn’s groundedness could be contributed to the hours spent in her garden, creating a masterpiece? Both creativity and time in nature are known to relieve stress, balance the brain, and bring a sense of peace and harmony to the human spirit. Lynn is instinctively drawn to this work of gardening, just as she was to the world of motorsport.
Lynn is a wise woman. She has strong instincts about what is right for her life journey, and she leans into them. She’s a woman who knows how to make decisions from her gut: “As racecar drivers, you learn to roll with the things that can, will, and do go wrong. We learn to adapt to problems mid-race, especially in endurance racing.”
As I returned home from my morning with Coco and Lynn, I found myself picking up a few plants for my sad little under-inspired backyard, and envisioning what it could be, rather that what I was seeing now. And the two-part lesson honed in on me:
1. See what could be, no matter what you see now.
Friend, as you reflect on your own work as the week winds down, take your inspiration from pro racer Lynn Kehoe. You are on an endurance race. Things can and will go wrong. But you can learn to adapt. You can make it to the podium at the 25 of your own life, wherever that may be. There are many watching, inspired by your determination, your joy, your tenacity, your spirit. Go get it.
Roll with the punches. Go ahead and build that empire. You are leaving a legacy for others to follow, whether through your professional work, your family, your personal passions.
2. Lean into joy and rest in the present.
You will burn out in your striving if you’re not careful. Relax in who you are and what you are bringing to the world. Learn to rest in what you see “in the now”, even as you see what it could be. Rest in your moments of ease, knowing that the work that flows from your own tenacious spirit will bring a lasting, valuable return.
Gardening. Travel. A day in a racecar. Jump into your senses, and find JOY in the moment.
Time with family and friends. Faith. An evening of fellowship and camaraderie. A cup of tea on the porch. A leisurely walk by water. Jump into your senses, and find REST in the moment.
I hope you can take some inspiration from my friend Lynn today.
Be well, friends.