Lake Norman & Mooresville

Program encourages pursuit of dreams

In the middle of a stubborn recession, many Lake Norman residents have adapted to a life of economic worry and tight budgets.

Forget about exploring your passions or spending quality time with loved ones. For many residents, life is consumed with just making do and getting by.

Next month, the town of Davidson will offer a class that hopes to breathe new life and passion into people.

"I'mpossible with Carla BeDell," encourages residents to identify what they're truly passionate about and then go after it.

"I'm trying to show them that there is a way to follow your dreams," said BeDell."That there are so many things we're capable of when we start listening to our heart and stop listening to the people who tell us what we can't do."

BeDell knows what she's talking about.

In 2007, the former Cornelius resident who lived in The Peninsula quit her job as senior vice president at Wachovia Securities and sold her home in the Peninsula neighborhood to travel the world with her husband and two children.

"We had the All American Dream, but there was something lacking in our lives. We weren't really living as much as we were going through the motions," said the 48-year-old. "The more I did it, the more I felt like I was suffocating. We just felt like we couldn't do it anymore."

So for four years, BeDell - along with husband Dan, 54; son Tristan, 14; and Daughter Tessa, 11 - traveled to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela.

They also extensively traveled throughout the United States, from Chicago to San Francisco and many places in-between.

During their travels, BeDell homeschooled her children.

BeDell recalled one point when the family tied up their boat to go shopping in a South American village.

As they carried their groceries about a mile back to their boat in the blazing sun, BeDell said she felt rich for the first time in her life.

"To me, being rich is the freedom to do what you want to with whom you want to do it," she said. "I chose that moment and how I was going to spend it. I want other people to find that moment in life and live their life the way they want to."

She said the trip permanently changed her family's outlook on life. Gone were the days of putting so much emphasis on material comforts or over-packed schedules.

"We didn't want anything to do with that lifestyle," she said.

Upon their return, BeDell's family bought a home in downtown Davidson and her children enrolled in Community School of Davidson. BeDell started teaching laughter yoga in the area.

During laughter yoga, participants force themselves to laugh - with the idea that your brain can't tell the difference between fake and real laughter.

Laughter has been known to reduce stress, depression and other ailments.

BeDell hopes her "I'mpossible" series will also help spread her message.

She stressed that she doesn't intend for participants to follow exactly what she did. Instead, she just wants residents to follow their dreams, whether it's finding a new career, writing a book or something else.

During the four classes, BeDell said, residents will address why they're not living the lives they want to live. Then they'll explore what they're passionate about and determine what they would rather be doing with their lives.

From there, BeDell said, participants will create a plan of action to help make their dream a reality.

BeDell said she plans to start a newsletter between all the participants to inspire and update each other on their progress.

"When I came back, I realized there were a lot of people who were in the same situation I was. They wanted to do something different with their lives but didn't know how," she said.

Colleen Whalen, a spokeswoman for Davidson Parks and Recreation, said she's excited about the unique program BeDell is offering.

"We try to offer programs that aren't standard run-of-the-mill," said Whalen "This program will help people to maybe get the nerve to live their dreams before it's too late. To step off the curb and do the things they've always wanted to do."