10 Lois Kelly

I dare you to take more field trips.

I went to an elementary school high on a hill overlooking the city of Boston. The windows were big and the classrooms bright. Miss Moran, the principal, ran a tight ship and preached the value of order, predictability, and discipline.

My favorite part of Brackett School was the annual end-of-school field trip where we walked down the hill and went into Menotomy Rocks Park where it was dark among the trees, easy to get lost, and full of scary stories about what may or may not have happened in that 36-acre urban patch of forest. It was so not Miss Moran-like.

This adventure set my imagination wild, and filled me with anticipation. Something different from the norm where who knows what could happen. I don’t remember anything noteworthy happening in the woods, but the sense of adventure and possibilities seemed to fuel my soul in some important way.

Throughout my life I’ve only had the discipline to consistently do three things: love my family, learn one scary thing a year, and take lots of field trips.

As the president of a company, I one day asked one of the creative people if she was free for a couple of hours for a “special project.” We left the office and went to see Madonna’s movie “Truth or Dare.” Work isn’t just what goes on in the office, I told her. Sometimes the “work before the work” is doing something unusual, like sneaking out to the movies. When I see Laura all these years later she still talks about how much this field trip changed her notions of leadership.

When John Lennon died I was a young professional living in Manhattan. I was awestruck by how his death affected so many. I went on a field trip one night to a support group in Greenwich Village for teenagers who were trying to deal with their grief over a man they never met. I learned how lonely and abused so many kids were, and that a pop star’s songs were the lullabies that no parents ever sang to them. I walked away with a profound sense of gratefulness for my family. Though I had grown up poor, we always felt safe and loved.

Last month while in Memphis for business, I carved out a morning and went on a field trip to the American Civil Rights Museum, set in the original Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. I tagged behind two elderly African American women and listened to their conversation about how their lives were changed by the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King’s death. As the three of us squeezed into the small bathroom where James Earl Ray allegedly pulled the trigger, we talked quietly together about the shame of the Memphis Police Department calling off the police detail guarding Dr. King just an hour before he was shot. We talked about how far America has come, and how much still needs to change. Those elderly women graciously allowed me to tag along with them, and taught me much.

Many field trips are far simpler and uneventful. Riding the downtown Los Angeles city busses for two hours to get a sense for the city. Cycling down the West Side Highway bike path in NY. Driving 45 minutes to Newport, RI for a lunchtime walk along the ocean. Meeting up with a long-ago mentor to thank him for how he helped me in ways he never realized.

Regardless of its nature, field trips wake me up and help me see something new.

And it’s in that wide-awake newness that I find the energy and creativity that makes my work richer and my soul more alive and peaceful.

Head down the hill to the woods. I dare say you’ll come away recharged.

Lois Kelly
International marketing strategist, organizational change facilitator,
successful author and dynamic speaker who ignites organizations to see new
ways to accomplish important goals

4 thoughts on “10

  1. Cara, Maralyn,
    Can’t wait to hear where your field trips take you! It’s such an easy (and fun) way to discover, learn and feed one’s soul. Sometimes people tell me that they wish they had a life as “interesting” as mine. It’s always been the field trips that have made it so interesting. Saying “yes” to adventuring in small ways.

  2. Lois! This is great! This reminds me of Julia Cameron’s Artist Dates – something I’ve known would make a huge impact and that I’ve resisted. Thank you for the dare to do it! I’m going to plan one right NOW!

  3. Love this reminder to create spaces that nurture the “sense of adventure and possibilities which fuel my soul” in the important way they do.

    Those younger inner parts of myself are excited – hmmm, I wonder where this’ll take us?!

    Thanks Lois and Lissa!

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