Sugar Lake Blog

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Time Alone Up North – Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I’m so excited to say that I’m writing my first book. But I keep getting distracted! So, I decided to be brave and take a fellow author’s advice to get away from it all and go somewhere to write. I love the comforts of home. And I love hanging out with my husband 24/7. So, I knew this would be a big stretch for me! It would have to be a place where I felt completely comfortable and safe. There was no question in my mind—it had to be Sugar Lake Lodge.

A couple years in a row, I led women’s retreats there with a colleague. I’ll never forget how everyone at our retreats felt uplifted, supported, nurtured, and renewed… not only because of the peaceful and beautiful environment, but also because of the warm hospitality they experienced.

So, I made the leap and drove up north. The moment I arrived at Sugar Lake, I felt like I was “home.” The staff welcomed me like family, which was a big deal to me because I don’t often travel alone, and I know my husband appreciated hearing that, too.

I had planned to stay three nights, but after the first night, I immediately added a fourth!

During my stay, I did get some great work done in my cabin while simultaneously enjoying a beautiful view of the lake. But more importantly—I ended up experiencing so many moments that took my breath away.

I had peaceful solo meals on my cabin deck. I reveled in quiet moments while sitting in an Adirondack chair on the dock. I hosted my own personal happy hour on my deck each day. I marveled at the stars before bedtime (wow!). I stared at the lake. I enjoyed a couple meals on the patio at Otis’s Grill & Bar. I relaxed on the comfy couches in the lodge lobby.

I literally relished in every moment up at Sugar Lake. As a life coach, I encourage my clients to spend time alone and get quiet. Because life is full of ‘noise’ and when you can remove that noise and the distractions… aha moments show up, clarity abounds, and your soul is simply happier. Self-care is the #1 topic that comes up in my coaching with women. It reminds me of what a flight attendant routinely says before take-off: In the event of cabin pressure loss, secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. What a brilliant metaphor for all of us. When we take care of ourselves first, we can only be of better service to others. In a similar vein, I left Sugar Lake Lodge feeling completely taken care of and filled up… ready to get back out there and shine my light and embrace my spirit of giving.

The most memorable moment of my week was one evening when no one else was on the lake. I grabbed a kayak and paddled way out into the middle of the lake and then stopped and just floated. I felt like I was in a soundproof chamber—there were NO sounds other than my own breath! The water around me was like smooth glass. Then, three loons appeared and came within a few feet of my red kayak and hung out with me for several minutes. I didn’t move! I don’t even know if I blinked while I watched them float next to me. I was in complete awe. What a cool communal encounter with these vivid black & white, sleek beauties. After they went on their way, I hung out in that spot another hour just taking everything in, so grateful for the gift of that moment. Nature is the perfect reminder of life’s awesomeness, and it made me think of this powerful quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel:

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Sugar Lake Lodge was the perfect backdrop for extreme self-care and immersing myself in pure amazement. I won’t ever forget my special time there and will surely be back again soon.

Michelle Stimpson is a life coach, lover of life, and front-row concert enthusiast. As the CEO of her company, LifeShine®, she recently celebrated 15 years in business helping women live with more purpose and joy.