Lifestyle Wellness

Living Intentionally: What Makes You Come Alive?

Renée Trudeau. Photo by Sheila Mraz

By Renee Trudeau

I went to a local brewery last night to have a beer with a new friend. I loved her openness, honesty and how we were able to connect around what matters most to us. These days, my favorite question to ask people (whether I’ve known them for 20 years or 20 minutes) is: What makes you come alive? I love watching faces soften, open and light up. Often, just pondering this question infuses them with youthful vitality.

In 2020, after my husband and I became empty-nesters, we made a bold change—one that had been in the works for years. We left Austin, TX where we had lived for 30 years and found a permanent home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I fell in love with this region in 2014 when I came to Asheville to do a book signing. The ancient, healing, deeply feminine mountains, powerful waterfalls and rivers, and endless towering trees make me feel on fire creatively and more “me” than anywhere else I’ve lived.

What makes you come alive? What makes your body vibrate and quiver with life? It doesn’t have to be a big life change like mine; it could be small (one of the things that most lights me up here is hearing owls in the middle of the night) or it could be daring to envision a lifestyle you’ve never imagined.

At the retreats I lead around the country, I consistently hear women leaders share that they often fluctuate between overwhelm and exhaustion. Others share that their lives feel rote and they often feel joyless. When I check in with my brother—an overworked father and self-employed management consultant—on how he’s doing, he often texts back: “Groundhog Day.” I understand. And I’m a big believer that when we change our environment (and our routine), we change our perspective.

Ready to feel more wild and less “safe”? Try:
• saying “yes” more than you say “no” to new opportunities (or at least pausing before you say “no!”)
• taking risks and trying things you wouldn’t normally do (swim with friends under a full moon or learn to rock climb)
• doing things differently: walk a new route to work, change your morning routine, try a new dance class
• challenging yourself to stretch, learn something new and get out of your comfort zone (I started a new business at 55!)
• living in the present as much as you can; when we can “be here now” and access all of our senses, we feel more awake and alive!

Every day I make it a priority to keep choosing things that make me feel alive: dancing, exploring new trails, singing, cold plunges in the Davidson River, speaking my truth in the moment and not holding back creatively.

My friend Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK), one of the foremost teachers on living a creative life and author of Make Your Creative Dreams Real, says, “Being tame is what we’re taught: put the crayons back, stay in line, don’t talk too loud, keep your knees together, nice girls don’t. As you might know, nice girls DO, and they like to feel wild and alive. Being tame feels safe; being wild, unsafe. Yet safety is an illusion anyway. We are not in control. No matter how dry and tame and nice we live, we will die. And we will suffer along the way. Living wild is its own reward.”

This month I challenge you to reflect: what makes you come alive? And then full-heartedly go and do that.

Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally known author/speaker, catalyst and retreat facilitator. She lives in Brevard where she leads weekly Wild Souls Authentic Movement and women’s circles/retreats, and helps people find balance through self-care. Join her this fall for Cultivating Grace, Power & Intuition in Your 50’s: A Women’s Self-Renewal Group and Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat, October 13-15 at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Learn more at

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