We had the good fortune of connecting with Carrie Lehtonen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carrie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I consider myself a risk-averse person, but when I tell people about the trajectory of my life and career they tend to respond by calling me a risk-taker. I suppose the gap between what others see and how I view myself is in the details. I’ve taken many risks, but they were calculated.
I spent months, sometimes years, planning before acting. When I decided to move away from New Hampshire, where all of my family and friends are, and where I had a stable job, to Colorado, where I didn’t know anyone, without a job offer in hand, that might have seemed crazy. However, I had a plan. I paid off debts, saved enough money that I could get by for up to six months without a job, and I did my research. I knew the job market in the Denver area was strong, and I knew that I needed to take a drastic step to get out of the rut that I was in.
My next big calculated risk was deciding to leave my corporate Human Resources job to focus full-time on building my own business, Firefly Community LLC. My education was in HR, and I had built a successful career, but after a heart attack at 31 years old, I knew it wasn’t my calling. I studied nutrition and lifestyle coaching, and went through training to become a registered yoga teacher. I followed my passion and started health coaching and teaching yoga on the side while I was still working full-time in HR. When it was announced that the company I worked for was being acquired, I knew that was it – my opportunity to jump with faith that I would land on my own two feet. I parted ways with the corporate world to turn all of my attention to operating the business I had started. It was risky, but it was the right decision for me. I love my work, and I know that letting go was really the only choice I had.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My personal experience of surviving a heart attack ignited a desire inside me to help others live happier, healthier lives. At the time of my heart attack, I felt disconnected from myself. I was stressed out, and unsure of what I really wanted in life. I was caught up in the common belief in our society that the measure of your life is how busy you are, and how accomplished you are in your career. My near-death experience opened my eyes to the fact that I wanted my life to be full of passion, adventure, love, and laughter, and that I was failing in those areas. I embarked on a long journey that included education to become a holistic health practitioner, and training to become a yoga teacher. As an inflexible athlete, I never thought yoga would be “my thing,” but much to my surprise, it was exactly what I needed. I dove in head first, and have continued my exploration of the world of yoga well beyond that initial teacher training. My path wasn’t always easy, and I found myself slipping back into old habits time and again. Even necessary change can be hard! But, along the way I picked up tools and resources that helped me connect to myself, find my way, and stay on track. In 2018, I left my corporate job to focus full-time on operating Firefly so that I could reach more people, and stop splitting my energy. Through Firefly, I provide services and events for individuals and groups. I lead and coordinate yoga and wellness retreats internationally and domestically to ignite my clients’ inner light, and provide a supportive community and resources so they can thrive upon returning home. I do this by offering a holistic wellness coaching program, online wellbeing courses, nutrition and stress management workshops, and individual and group yoga classes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m an outdoorsy girl, which is why I love Colorado so much. I would definitely take my friend on a hike. My current favorite is the hikers-only loop at O’Fallon Park, one of Denver Mountain Parks in Indian Hills. Then we’d head to Blackbird Cafe and Tavern in Evergreen. Blackbird is one of my go-to spots for a yummy vegan-friendly brunch. In the summer, paddle boarding on either Boulder Reservoir or Evergreen Lake would be a must! I would take my friend on a tour of Denver with a leisurely bike ride along the Platte River, with a stop to enjoy a drink and some small plates on the rooftop of Linger. We would visit Red Rocks Amphitheatre for a show, or to simply enjoy the views. As a vegan, I would take my friend to my favorite restaurant, Watercourse in Denver, for dinner.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Champney, was one of the most independent, fierce people I’ve ever known. She raised five kids, divorced my grandfather, and worked full-time, all while maintaining an indomitable spirit. I spent a lot of time with her when I was growing up, and she later lived with us following a series of strokes that left her unable to live alone. She taught me that I could do and be anything that I wanted. Even though she’s been gone for years, she still comes to me whenever I’m engaged in something challenging. I can hear her voice telling me that I’m strong and I’ve got this.