“There is an entire world waiting for you on the other side of fear.” It’s been a winding road and a brave adventure for Laurie Benson up to this point, sitting next to the Arkansas River, over a steaming cup of coffee, telling me about the past 25 years. The common vein rolling through all the changes- Perspective, passion, and a willingness to step out of comfort and into fear.
Laurie spent her 20s like many of us did, or many of us who were lucky enough to do. The traveling spirit grabbed ahold, and she spent her time living in different towns in the west, exploring different ways of life through her interactions with sceneries and people. Never really pinpointing a home, she embraced travel and change. What came out of this time was the self-knowledge that it’s a big world, and it will always need a helping hand.
Into her 30s, Laurie began her work at the Savory Institute, which focuses on holistic management of natural resources by providing tools and insights needed to make informed decisions that will balance the social, environmental, and financial worlds. She wanted to bring her worldview and subsequent experiences to the local playing field, and she aimed to go big. Driven by her passion for the environment, Laurie spent a good chunk of this decade implementing marketing strategies for the Savory Institute, and getting her feet wet in all corners of the world. Her perspective was widely scaled, and life began to give her hints that the focus should be narrowed, and the result more deep.
Laurie’s work at the Savory Institute paved a way for her to realize her true passion, empowering women. With this in mind, Laurie founded 1% for Women, a company that works with businesses that commit 1% of their net profit to microcredit loans for women in agriculture around the world. According to Laurie “these loans uplift and empower women whose work is creating positive change for their families, communities, and the land.” The idea of bringing local changes to a global level really took root here. The big question of how to support women across the globe with local businesses was a maze with such a simple answer. Laurie traveled speaking at conferences and networking to spread this powerful idea, and the impact was a ripple effect that changed the lives of women all over the world.
Through her work at the Savory Institute and 1% for Women, Laurie was very focused on the big picture, power moves with big results. Even as she began to narrow her focus on empowering women, she had an intuitive thorn in her side that said she wasn’t quite fulfilling her purpose. As she looked at her own life, she began to realize that while focusing outwardly, she was doing good, but at what expense to herself? You can’t change the world without watering your own garden, and you can’t water your garden with an empty cup. After five years of running 1% for Women, Laurie closed the company to focus on herself and cultivate strength from within. The hypothesis: by focusing on self-power and self-care, one can make a bigger difference locally and globally. By slowing down, taking a step back, a certain peace can be found in Laurie’s smile.
This branch of Laurie’s trek through life began with intensive yoga studies, and today she is certified in both Hatha and Yin yoga. You can find her at Buena Vista’s local yoga studio, “Jala Blu” and giving private sessions in her home studio. The final cumulating idea that brought Laurie to her one true purpose is her “Awakened Woman” programs at Inward Bound Women. By passing through the often-difficult process of leaving behind all things not serving her true self, Laurie brings her life work and experiences to the table to help women, individually, step towards their true purpose and awaken their intuition. This is not the general path that society pushes us towards today, and while juggling work, families, and responsibilities, we often put ourselves last.
Laurie believes that “in order to show up for others, we must first show up for ourselves.” This distinctive shift in the way Laurie sees her life’s purpose allows her not to measure her success tied to big results. Her release and recognition of this unique way to pursue positive change focus on one-on-one and small group interactions, unleashing a powerful domino-effect that can and will surely change the world, one awakened woman at a time.
Where Inward Bound exists to address what is one of the greatest issues of our lifetime, disconnection, (her projects, events, and offerings are all created with the intent of allowing us all to become more aware of our inner landscape, and through this awareness remember that we are all connected) Laurie’s latest endeavor ‘A Hundred Voices’ project is a story-sharing campaign through videos that are broken into themes that she hopes will become a tipping point for reconnection with ourselves, each other, and the planet.
Laurie practices what she preaches, and won’t start the day without her daily practice, so her guiding of others remains focused on integrity and strength. You can find her living life in Buena Vista, CO with her husband and daughter.
By Anna Sitton, The Buena Viking
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