BRAVA THRIVE Luncheon Recap
By Shelby Deering

When Darcy Luoma, a nationally-acclaimed speaker and professional life coach, asked an audience if they’d heard of essentialism, very few hands went up. And rightfully so. It’s a relatively new term that many are unfamiliar with, but at BRAVA’s THRIVE luncheon on May 12, Luoma introduced and explained the concept to the 200-plus participants.

Inspired by the bestseller “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown, Luoma wanted to share her own experience with essentialism with the crowd.

“Essentialism has had a profound impact on my life and how I make decisions. I had such a difficult journey to even accepting this concept, and I wanted to share and spread that and increase the impact,” Luoma says.

So, what is essentialism? Luoma defines it using the following points:

  •  Determine what is most important to you. (If everything is most important, then nothing is!)
  • Do what is most important to you.
  • Let everything else fall away.

As part of BRAVA’s Personal Enrichment Series, Luoma opened her talk “Essentialism: Create Abundance by Doing Less” with a metaphor, saying, “We are all on a journey. Our life is the ultimate road trip. And when we focus on what is most essential in our journey, the road is smooth.”

She went on to share her own struggle with determining what is truly essential in her life. She admitted that she said yes to everything, leaving her with a jam-packed, unmanageable schedule. She was “should-ing” all over herself—“I  should do this,” “I should do that.”

“If I was asked to do something, I did it,” she confesses.

And then, a year and a half ago, after returning from a trip to “piles and piles of work, emails, phone calls and client meetings,” she felt immediately “overwhelmed and overworked.” It was something beyond normal stress. She used relaxation techniques and didn’t feel any better. She decided to do a month-long cleanse, and this didn’t improve her wellbeing either.

After meeting with a certified nutritionist and talking about how she was feeling, the nutritionist said that Luoma was suffering from stage three adrenal fatigue syndrome, a condition in which the adrenal glands don’t work correctly, which can be brought on by extreme stress.

That was the wake-up call Luoma needed.

After that point, she says that her whole intention “was to create more white space,” or unscheduled time in her life.

Shortly thereafter, friend and professional speaker Tina Hallis introduced her to the concept of essentialism and to McKeown’s book.

Luoma says that in the book, essentialism is defined as “the systematic discipline of discerning what is absolutely essential and eliminating everything else that’s not.” Based upon this idea, Luoma offered some homework to THRIVE participants.

The first activity, “What’s Your Busy?” asked participants to write down the things that take up the majority of their schedules and to rate the level of joy each activity produces.

Secondly, participants were asked to “Control Your Calendar” in which schedules are prioritized according to the person’s needs first.

Then, participants reflected upon their values, the things that are most important to them. They were encouraged to build their lives around these values.

Finally, the audience was instructed to “Say NO!” Luoma said that saying no is simpler than people realize, and had the entire group simply shout out “no!” as an exercise.

It seems that speaking about essentialism to an all-female audience is particularly apropos, since today’s “culture of busy” seems to be helmed by women who feel guilty if they don’t take on every responsibility that comes their way. Luoma is confident that the topic resonated with many women in the audience.

“Women are so willing to look within. They’re so willing to take a hard look at themselves and be vulnerable, to be challenged, to be authentic,” Luoma says. “Every time I speak at a BRAVA event, the level of sharing and vulnerability is amazing.”

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