Finding the Beauty in Detours


Two years ago I was taking a class, “What’s Next 101,” with the hope of finding some clarity in my life.  On my way to class one morning I was filled with self-doubt, and was frankly, flailing.  I felt a hunger for “more” but had no clue what that might be.  My homework for that day was to bring a current work challenge to share with the class and receive mentorship on possible solutions.  I felt like such an impostor - I hadn’t worked in the “real world” in nearly 18 years.  I was a stay-at-home mom who volunteered regularly, but had nothing to share, or so I thought.  I stopped at the light as self-doubt, fear and frustration rose from my gut in waves.  I didn’t need to look to know that mascara was smeared down my face from my tears.  I hadn’t done my homework for class.  The mean girl in my mind was taunting me, telling me that I had no business taking the class.  My hands gripped the steering wheel as I scolded myself in the rear view mirror “WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING?!”  Just then the light flashed to green and I made the turn towards downtown Mill Valley, wondering out loud to myself “What happened to the girl who moved to New York City on a dare?”  I considered what a hot mess I was and then noticed flashing lights ahead and a large orange traffic sign that read: DETOUR AHEAD.  Now I was going to be late to class, with no time to freshen up - ugh.  I barely contained another F-bomb.  But, as I followed the detour signs and turned down the side street towards class, it all came rushing to me in that crazy hot messy state:  I was going to Dare to Detour, and take other like-minded women with me.



Sometimes detours are intentional, but more often than not, they are unexpected and met with frustration.  If you’re traveling alone, detours can even be scary.  There is one thing all detours have in common: they are disruptive.  This is the beauty of detours.

Beauty, you ask?  Yes!  By forcing you to step off your daily path, slow down, pause, consider, reframe and redirect, detours demand that you open yourself to possibility and to trust in a new direction, often revealing new and beautiful scenery along the way.  I believe that  the real beauty lies within as you accept the new path you find yourself on, perhaps shifting your perspective.

The disruptive nature of detours can evoke strong emotion.  Neuroscientists have proven that the brain is the most flexible in a heightened emotional state - that if we are able to work through the emotion and find focus, we can make dramatic shifts(1).  In that moment of hot messiness and disruption from the detour I encountered on my way to class, I experienced a rush of emotion and related thoughts and images that led to rapid concept development around Dare to Detour.  During the last 10 minutes of my drive to class, I shifted my mindset, overcame my self-doubt and reframed the homework assignment to suit me, a stay-at-home mom.  Ahhhh, the beauty of that disruption!

(1)Emotional Brain Training is one way to work through heightened stress.  Check it out here. (Note, I am not affiliated with or paid to promote EBT Connect.) 



I think about that day often.  The detour I encountered on my way to class nearly three years ago shifted my focus and recharted my course.  The Dare to Detour concept was enthusiastically received by my classmates that morning, all of them saying that a detour as I described it was exactly what each of them needed, wanted.  Interestingly, the dare behind the detour and the element of risk it implied, was particularly enticing to my classmates - women after my own heart.


With my classmates’ encouragement, I decided to test the concept, and this past September I hosted the first Dare to Detour retreat at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch in southwest Montana.  My “What’s Next 101” teachers, Linda Lesem and Laura Riordan , supported me all along the way, developed exclusive content for Dare retreats and joined me in Montana to personally teach the workshops. An impressive crew of women, each with their own inspiring story, joined Linda, Laura and me to lead workshops and support Dare to Detour guests.  Here’s what we learned:  

We learned that being immersed in nature truly makes a difference. That disconnecting from the outside world and technology and all it’s distractions frees both the mind and the soul. That giving yourself the permission to pause is tremendously empowering. That a creative practice and ritual can provide peace and support an internal sense of self. That kindness is a key tactic to help people have a transformational experience. That we need to work hard to redefine beauty throughout our life. That nearly everyone wishes they could be a cowgirl. That soft sheets and warm comforters make a difference. That every woman has the capacity to build a fire. That snow in September is possible. That limiting beliefs can be turned into affirmations. That women want to be supported in detouring every day!



After our guests left the ranch last fall, my crew and I circled the wagons, and immediately began planning for the next retreat.  We listened to feedback from every guest and are working to build upon the first retreat’s success.  We have some exciting things planned for the next Dare - I hope you can join us this September 13 - 16, 2018.  We’ll be back at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana, and I can’t wait to welcome you there!

We’ve also been working to find ways to better support a dare mindset and encourage daily detours.  Stay tuned as we shift things a bit and work to offer experiences, information and products that we believe will inspire and encourage a community of like-minded women who are embracing their truth and are willing to take on a dare every now and then, step off their daily paths and shake up their routines to keep the spark alive.

Here’s to detouring and keeping things interesting!


Sheryl Ott XO Signature Dare To Detour

P.S.  Summer is here, and if you’re like me, you’ve got at least one road trip in the works.  Check out the Dare to Detour Road Trip playlist on Spotify that my daughter and I have been working on.  We’re hoping to visit Tippet Rise [] and camp in the Beartooth Mountains, as we travel between Bozeman and Red Lodge, Montana.  We may even do one big loop and take in the Beartooth Highway, drop down into Wyoming and travel back west through Yellowstone National Park on our way back to Bozeman. Who knows?  Where will you detour this summer?  I’d love to hear where you’re headed!