I was in awe and disbelief that I was actually there. I’d endured 14 hours of travel to get there (though I’d gladly have endured 24), and even though I only spoke a few words of French, I felt like I was right at home.
Immediately after checking into our apartment, we (Violet, my partner and I) decided to run the streets of Paris (literally). We ran the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysees and up to the Arc De Triomphe, and honestly, there are no words to express how I was feeling. But now every time I think back on the streets, the history, the culture, the people … I smile to myself.
And the ironic part … I never really desired to go to Paris.
See, where I come from we never dream of such things, let alone actually live them out. But last year I enrolled in an International Business and Coaching Certification program and one of the Live Intensive Events was in Paris. Again, it wasn’t something that I’d been “dreaming” about, but the closer it got and the more the other program members started talking about it, the more I realized that….I wanted to go!
For me, the past few years have been a time of massive growth and this was the next step … so I stopped thinking about it and I made this trip a non-negotiable! Not only was it about going to Paris, it was about doing business in Paris. And that meant up-leveling and an opportunity to further inspire other women just like me who live with fabricated limitations and who are ready to break through them.
See, there’s something that naturally happens with women when we reach 27-35—the need to defy time, bordering on a state of rebellion. It was there that I found myself, kicking and screaming internally for the life I wanted to live. But no one was going to make this life happen for me, I had to make it happen for myself.
Then someone taught me a very simple life secret … “It’s all between the temples.” And in that moment, it hit me. I could have whatever I wanted if I just reached for it and got out of my own head and stopped saying, “I can’t!” The problem was I never trusted myself enough. I always lived in the world that if you don't hope for much, you will never be disappointed. That was the safe place I resided. The upcoming trip to Paris was the first time I would acknowledge I wanted something big!
The next step was telling others, that is when the fear came again. I’d start to tell others about it and then follow it up with … “I know, it’s a crazy idea. I know, it’s too expensive.” Doubting myself and what I could have again.
Then I realized something, I didn’t just want Paris, I needed it.
While there, I became enamored with the city, the people, the food, the music … the Crème Brule and Falafels (the most amazing Falafels I have ever had). We enjoyed very long days that carried into long nights as we shopped and ate until the early morning hours. And each morning we were greeted with the scent of fresh baked goods and coffee. And each night we’d walk back to our apartment with crepes we’d purchased at a quaint little café that remained busy until 3 AM doling out the most delectable creations you can imagine!
We managed to fit in as much of the Paris experience as we could in the short time we were there. However, none of those things were the highlight of my trip.
You see, the main purpose of my excursion to Paris was to participate in a Live Intensive training as part of a yearlong business and coaching course. During the first day's session I stood up to ask a question of my mentor, Gina DeVee. Gina, being the masterful coach that she is, realized very quickly that there was much more behind my question. So instead of just answering my “business” question, Gina started to ask her own very inquisitive questions. In that moment my heart stopped and I stood there ... Everything I said and everything I felt and every way I wanted to feel moving forward would depend on my willingness to dig deep and be awoken to my truths. This was my moment to decide to be completely visible, vulnerable and have no expectations of whatever was to unfold.
It wasn't so much the question: Do you want to explore this further? It was: Are you open to being visible and taking the time needed and give this the honor it deserves? No one had ever asked me that, and I knew that the core of what had been keeping me stuck in life was ready to be unraveled.
Did I want to be visible? In front of the 200 women? My heart beat faster and faster, my palms got sweaty, my throat dry, and I started shaking inside. I stood there ready to take notes and just wait for the answer of my next move to be handed to me … but that’s not what happened. It wasn’t meant to be that easy.
I looked around at all the beautiful women waiting with anticipation, and I started thinking how was what I had to say was going to affect or help them. I quickly dismissed those thoughts and decided then to appreciate the gift I was being given. I had to not only be open to being visible, I had to be fully open to receive and this is what I have been getting clear on--I am worthy of receiving!
I realized I cannot help others on the highest level I strive to until I step up and take it to the next levelmyself.
As I got quiet in that moment and looked deep inside for answers, it wasn't my voice that I heard. It was however, a very familiar voice, that of little Lauren or Lola as I am affectionately called. I had become so disconnected from her and had shut her out for so long. But in that moment, that brave little girl asked for permission to be heard and so did I.
Prior to this event I was terrified to be seen, I mean really seen with all of my stuff. I knew that being fully visible could open so many doors for me but is was a little scary. However, this warm, intuitive, kind, caring, bold, fierce and nothing less than a powerful woman, my mentor Gina DeVee didn't see just her student, Lauren White standing there in that moment, she was able to discern cute, little Lola raising her hand and asking for consent to be free. Free to express and free to feel all the emotions she’d suppressed for so long. Most of all to be free of all the guilt, blame, shame, fear and judgement.
I soon forget the 200 women in the room, and I was fully present with Gina and the process that was unfolding. And I learned for the first time how my past experiences were showing up in my current life and business. The question I took the stage to ask evolved into a full blown intensive one-on-one coaching session and from it, I walked away a better woman, a better business owner and a better coach. This is the most valuable piece of my Paris experience I brought back with me.
Funny thing is, when I started this journey I had a dream of being on stage with a green curtain in the background sharing my story and feeling overjoyed to be connected to so many women from around the world. And that’s exactly what I had created. Ah, the power of our thoughts!
Being a part of this community of strong, beautiful, diverse women has allowed me to see and recognize my strength to become the woman I desire to be. I am not trying to be someone or something else. I am stepping up to be the woman I truly was meant to be, the BEST version of me. This experience and all of my experiences have made me even more qualified to help others. To help them see what they are made of and to see how transformation is possible for them, if they too are ready to do the work and receive the support.
Later that evening, I wanted shout to shout from the rooftops; “I am Lola White and I dreamed of being in Paris and here I am!”
Standing on the bridge facing the Eiffel tower as the wind blew through my hair was more than a dream, that dream was now my reality. No one could ever take that moment from me. It was forever mine, and it was a sense of undeniable freedom as I stood there watching the sun set.
Last September I turned 30 and I was at a crossroads of who I wanted to be and who I was going to become. I knew
deep down this was my year. So January 1st at 12 AM I started my year with a three mile run. As fireworks went off, I ran. While everyone celebrated around me, I was anticipating my future goals. I was setting myself up mentally for success. I continued this run 2x a week. Every time I ran these 3 miles I would cross a bridge and when I would reach the halfway point I would visualize Paris. The cobble stone pavement, the Arc, the bridges over the deep dark reflected rivers (where I would see pictures of all the beautiful ferries and Parisian architecture). Every time I hit that bridge (for 3 months in South Florida with the extreme humidity), I’d imagine my open arms embracing the Paris air and fulfilling one of the many dreams I now allowed myself to have.
Because I continue to defy the odds, break down barriers, speak my truth and become an unmovable force for others who want to shine bright, I forge ahead (wearing my Ivanka Trump pumps) on to my next adventure … stay tuned.