Posted in Being Human, building the new world, grief, Spiritual Practices, world changes

Surviving Social Distancing

As an introvert, social distancing is one of my superpowers.  I have honed and perfected this craft, while moving through all the challenges of being apart.  In this article I share what I have learned about the loneliness, grief and anxiety that come with being apart.

 

Loneliness

I have often felt that loneliness might be the core wound of the human experience.  Rooted in that first moment of separation from the cozy and safe room in our mother’s womb, we are forever yearning for our return.  We long to feel connected with another and to feel safe within that connection.  As most have come to discover, however, even our human connections do not fulfill the depth of longing we feel to be reunited with that which cannot be named.  We are forever seeking the satisfaction to that longing.  Existential loneliness is the angst we feel in the depth of that longing.  Loneliness is the universal human emptiness that is only further compounded during times of social distancing when we don’t even have our superficial relationships to distract us.  The key to dealing with loneliness is to face it.  As I learned during a 30 day loneliness practice, our loneliness has much to teach us about ourselves.  Here is the practice I employed to arrive at a place of being comfortable in being alone without feeling lonely:

Loneliness Practice: For this practice you will need a notebook or journal to record all that your loneliness wants you to know about yourself.  Set aside 10-20 minutes each day to simply SIT with your loneliness.  While sitting, close your eyes and bring your awareness into your body.  Move your awareness until you find your loneliness.  Focus your attention on your loneliness and FEEL it.  REALLY feel it.  Dive deep into the pit of loneliness and then give it a face.  Envision your loneliness in a form (mine takes the shape of the Little Match Girl from Hans Christian Anderson’s tale).  Once your loneliness takes a form, let it speak to you.  What does your loneliness want to tell you about yourself?  Most likely, it will show you past pains and hurts that are asking to be healed and released.  It may also show you your fears.  As these pains, hurts, fears, etc. come forward, acknowledge them.  See them.  Hold them in love.  Then let the pass.  Once they have passed, they have been released from your being and you are healed.  Continue with this process until it feels complete.  Then record your experience in your journal, along with any thoughts or reflections that might surface in your writing.  Note that your loneliness may also show you hopes and dreams that you have not yet fulfilled, or parts of yourself you have rejected or not allowed to come into being.  As these come forth, they are showing you the things you are now invited to explore or begin to make a part of your life.  DO IT.

Grief

As we are collectively experiencing social distancing, our routines are changing.  The things we used to do every day are no longer available (yoga class, the YMCA for workouts, the library, etc.).  Maybe our work situation has also changed (I know mine has).  With this change in routine, it is natural to experience grief.  Sadly, our culture does not give enough credit to grief – period – let alone the grief we experience in the simple face of change.  Change = Grief.  When grieving we will experience every face of grief:  Shock. Denial. Bargaining. Depression. Anger. Sorrow. Acceptance. Angst and restlessness will also be faces of this grief in the face of a change in routine.  Similar to loneliness, the best thing we can do with our grief is to BE WITH IT.  Identify which stage of grief you are experiencing and FEEL IT deeply.  Allow yourself to be in denial – to pretend this will all soon go away.  Indulge in your bargaining (which might look like restlessness).  Pace the floor.  Wring your hands.  When feel depressed, wallow in it.  Take a nap.  Allow paralysis to take you.  When rage hits you, let it out – in a safe way!  Dance it out.  Go for a run.  Grab a swimming noodle and whack the shit out of the basement or tile floor.  When you are sad, weep.  And if you find yourself stuck in depression, find a way to get angry (I listen to heavy metal music – my favorite being the group Disturbed).  Anger pushes through the depression and allows us to get at the true issue which is our sorrow over the loss of routine.

For more on dealing with grief, please click here.

Anxiety

Fear is a big one! There is so much anxiety around the Covid-19 virus itself, not to mention the anxiety that surfaces in the face of social distancing.  I will try to limit the anxiety discussion here to that experienced in the face of social distancing.

The key to anxiety is to first uncover its cause.  What is triggering our anxiety?

Is it loneliness (which we addressed above)?

Is our anxiety related to grief?

We may experience anxiety related to our finances or our everyday concerns:  How will we pay our bills if our work hours are reduced?  Who will care for my child when childcare centers have closed and I still have to work?  Where will I get toilet paper?  What if I run out of food?  What if I get sick?  Who will care for me?

We might also experience anxiety as it relates to boundaries.  If we are cooped up in our homes with our partners and children or roommates, we are bound to get on each other’s nerves.

Our anxiety may surface due to the news or social media.  There is a lot of fear out there and much of is unfounded.

We may also find that the anxiety being stirred in the face of current events is triggering old anxieties and unhealed wounds.

Talk about a can of worms.

 

The first step in managing anxiety is to understand that it is normal and biological.  This means that anxiety is not our fault.  It is simply a biological response to something triggering our fear.  Sometimes the fear is justified (being chased by zombies).  Sometimes it is a mis-fire.  (when we look more closely and discover what we thought was a snake is only a stick).  Excitement can also look like anxiety for those who are struggling with anxiety or panic disorders.

If you are being treated for anxiety or panic disorders, continue with your treatment plan, while employing some of the techniques I will share with you here.

 

            Meditation and Mindfulness Practices have time and time again proven to be effective in rewiring the part of the brain that governs anxiety and panic.  Through regular and diligent practice, the anxiety center of the brain (the amygdala) learns a new response to triggers, allowing the mind to act out of reason instead of panic in the face of non-life threatening fears.  Diligent and regular practice also builds a sturdy foundation of inner calm which reduces the incidence of being triggered by fear. To learn more about the many ways that you can practice mindfulness, take my online course Starting a Spiritual Practice which is available for FREE through the month of March.   Click on the image below to register and receive the free pricing.

If you are interested in the science behind Mindfulness and Meditation – email me your contact information with “Meditation Paper” as the subject, and I will send you a FREE copy of an academic paper I wrote on the topic which includes a list of verifiable resources.  My email is lauri@authenticfreedom.love.

Other practices that support us in managing our anxiety: yoga or any meditative movement practice, dance, exercise, eating well, creative projects, gardening, being outside, going for a walk and talking with our friends.  Since we may not have an opportunity to gather face-to-face, do the old fashioned thing of picking up the phone and giving your friend a call.  I just reached out to two of my friends for support as together we face what we do not yet know or understand.

As I am here for my friends, I am also here for you.  Watch this site for ongoing support as we move through the Covid-19 event, and please reach out for additional support if you need it.  One-on-one support.  Online classes.  Our online community. Books and more.

 

Holding you all in big love as we support each other through this life-changing event!

 

With love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauri

 

 

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, God, Mystics, Oneness with God

Lessons on Loneliness

sadwomanpixabay

I have had many conversations with fellow mystics on the topic of loneliness. As mystics we ARE different from the norm, usually pretty far-left of center. Many find it difficult to relate to or understand us. Others are hesitant to draw near because of the light we shine on the love they are, which they are perhaps not yet ready to be. We think, move, act, believe, see, differently and some find this disturbing. All this is reason enough to feel alone, set apart, even lonely. But there is an even greater source of our loneliness and it is God. More specifically, the call of the mystic, above all else, is to know God/dess, and it is through loneliness that God calls us home to ourselves and home to God. As I recent wrote to a student, fellow-mystic and spiritual sojourner:

Mystics always feel some sense of loneliness and isolation.  It is the other edge of this double-edged gift.  On one hand, we experience God more intimately and as One.  On the other hand, we long for more of this.  It is the “loneliness” that keeps us seeking God, seeking that experience of Oneness.  

Our human inclination is to believe there is something wrong with us for feeling the deep ache of this existential loneliness. We judge ourselves. We wish for this aching emptiness to go away. We seek after the remedy to this loneliness by looking for things outside of us (including other people) to fill the void. What we end up finding is simply more emptiness, for there is nothing “out there” that can fill this void. Instead, we are invited to go into the loneliness for it is here we shall find God/Self. Again, as I shared with my student:

Transformation comes when we realize that loneliness is the GIFT that compels us toward God and that it is GOD we are lonely for – nothing else (which keeps us from looking “out there” for something to fill our emptiness – and emptiness that can only be filled by God). Don’t despair of the loneliness.  Don’t chase after its remedy.  Welcome it and accept it as part of your gift.  

The loneliness and deep sense of isolation that plagues the mystic is in fact, our greatest gift. The loneliness that society tells us to judge and which we therefore are tempted to resist is actually God calling us into an ever-deepening intimacy. It is in entering into the loneliness, welcoming it, becoming comfortable with it that we find God and in finding God we find ourselves. And if more loneliness remains, we are called to remember that it is only God calling us even deeper into the love that we are and to dare to even go there. As there is no limit to the love of God and the love that we are in God, there is likely no end to the loneliness. When we accept this truth and cease from judging, resisting, or trying to rid ourselves of this loneliness, it is here that we find peace.

For support in the journey of knowing Self and knowing the Divine that dwells within, consider the Authentic Freedom Mastery Program. Enjoy the free preview course to see if it might be for you. Click on the image below to learn more and to register:

authenticfreedommasterycourseiconmotherhouse

 

Posted in addictions, Authentic Freedom, shame, Spiritual Practices, Superheroes, world changes

Superheroes and our Relationship with Mood-Altering Substances

Superhero Report – July 28, 2014

Our Relationship with Mood-Altering Substances

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It is not something we like to admit, but the New Superheroes have often had trouble with mood-altering substances.  Whether it is caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, a whole host of illegal substances or ones that have been prescribed by our doctors for ADD, anxiety, stress, depression, or panic attack, certain ascetic meditation practices, television, video games, the internet – the New Superheroes are likely to have (or had) some sort of habitual relationship with one or several of the above.  There is a sound explanation for the attractiveness of these substances and to the way in which we are almost irresistibly drawn toward them and why they can so easily become addictive.  There are also some simple practices we can engage in which can render these substances unnecessary.  (Note: if you have an addiction, please seek out the support of your local 12-Step recovery program.)

 

The question of why we are drawn to mood-altering substances has a many-layered response:

 

1) We remember our true nature and our original home and we want to go home!

On an unconscious and often conscious level, Superheroes remember what “heaven” feels like. We also know our “true self” is not of this earth, but that we are pure, spiritual beings. Mood-altering substances stimulate the brow and crown chakras and give us an experience of being “home.”

2) We were given a vision of what the earth is supposed to be like, and this is not it.

Until we know how, we often resist this human form and are looking for ways to ESCAPE. The earth we are currently residing in is the not the vision of earth that was planted into our hearts and that we are here to make real. Again, mood-altering substances give us an experience similar to being home, thereby allowing us, at least temporarily, to escape the painful human condition.

3) The false belief that spiritual is better than human.

This is a biggie – especially among certain members of the New Age, Ascension, and Lightworker communities. We are NOT here to be spiritual, we are not here to ascend the limitations of our humanness, we are not here to sprinkle fairies and stardust upon the world singing songs of light and love and perfection, believing that if we think good thoughts all will be well and we will have everything we want. No, we are not here to do these things – not at the expense of being HUMAN anyway. WE ARE HERE TO BE HUMAN. PERIOD. We are ALREADY fully Divine. We came here to experience being human AND to bring our already perfect Divine nature fully into this experience. Rather than Ascension, the journey of the New Superhero (and the rest of the world with us), is actually INCARNATION – transcending the illusions of duality and becoming BOTH fully Divine AND fully Human. We already know the Divine part….let’s figure out how to be human! (ahem….I know a pretty cool dude who lived about 2000 years ago in and around Palestine/Israel who came here to do the same.)

4) Shame

As strangers in a strange land, we often have the experience of not fitting in, of being judged for being weird or strange. People don’t understand us, or the vision we carry in our hearts and the drive to make it real. When we feel rejected by those around us, and sometimes even by those we love, we take it personally. This rejection becomes internalized as shame. Mood-altering substances are a great way to numb the pain of this shame.

5) Loneliness

Just ask Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, being a Superhero is lonely business. Until they discovered each other and formed the Justice League, these Superheroes were out there on their own trying to make the world a better place and feeling very alone. The same is true of us. We often feel alone in the world with few who understand our unique temperaments, gifts and call. Mood altering substances help us to numb the pain of feeling alone and misunderstood.

Again, if our relationship with mood-altering substances has reached the level of addiction, then it is time to seek help.  12-Step recovery programs are a great way to get support in stopping the use of the substance and Authentic Freedom helps to identify and heal the inner fears/wounds which led us to the compulsive behavior in the first place.  If our relationship to mood-altering substances is less problematic but we still find ourselves drawn to them, the following practices may prove helpful.

 

1)Tonglen 

Tonglen is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice which incorporates visualization and breathwork for the intention of transforming painful emotions. For the Superheroes, applying Tonglen to feelings of loneliness and shame can prove effective. Here is the practice in short:

  • Identify the feeling you want to work with (shame, loneliness)
  • Call that feeling up in your body.
  • Identify where in your body you feel it.
  • Breathe INTO that place in your body, while feeling the emotion (shame, loneliness).
  • While breathing into that place, follow your breath with your mind.
  • Now breathe out love, following the love with your breath as you imagine it flowing out of you from the place of the painful emotion.
  • Continue with this practice until you feel something change – perhaps the emotion shifts to something else, maybe you begin to weep.

2) Embodiment

Embodiment is a practice that I discovered while struggling with an overactive and fretful mind.  The intention of this practice is to REMEMBER that we are here to have a HUMAN experience – no matter what we remember about our “heaven home” or our true nature as spiritual beings.  Embodiment allows us to set aside the false belief that spiritual is better than human and gives us the tools for bringing our, already perfect, Divine selves FULLY into the human experience.  When our spirit is fully incarnate in our bodies, we feel safe and secure and are less likely to be tempted to FLEE.  It is not, however, until we INCARNATE that we feel safe in our human selves, so let’s get to incarnating, shall we???

 

  • Close your eyes and draw your awareness deep into your body.
  • See if you can identify the distinction between your spiritual and human self. (Note, the spiritual self, until we are incarnate, tends to hang out in the upper chakras, especially our head, or even somewhere outside and above us.)
  • Conscious of the distinction between your spiritual and human self, bring your consciousness deep into your body.
  • Imagine the Earth beneath you as hands reaching up to hold, support, protect, and nourish you.
  • Feel the sense of safety in resting in this supportive space.
  • Imagine your HUMAN self as supported by the Earth and receiving its nourishment from the Earth.
  • As you begin to feel the safety of humanness, imagine that your human self is like a chalice – an empty vessel waiting for your Spirit to be poured into it.
  • From this place of security, observe as your Spirit willingly pours itself into the safe home of your human chalice. You are not pushing, forcing or pulling it in, it willingly enters in the knowledge that the Human form is safe.
  • Returning to the awareness of your human form, FEEL the sensation of being fully human and safe in this experience, while completely filled by your Divine Spiritual nature. Feel the wholeness and completeness of this experience. As you sit in this feeling of safety, you become aware of all illusions of separation melting away. Your Spirit and your Human natures are now one – no longer separate or distinct from each other, but ONE.

 

Embodiment eliminates the temptation to FLEE because when we INCARNATE, we find that WE ARE HOME and that there is a home for us in the human condition and that with our embodiment, it looks a whole lot like the heaven we remember and the heaven we were sent to make real upon this earth. 🙂  In this experience, we know that HEAVEN IS REAL and it is right here, within and among us.

 

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come,

Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed,

And no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘ look, there it is.’

For behold, the kingdom of God is within (and among) you.”

 

Luke 17: 20-21

 

Posted in grief, Midlife Journey

Revisiting Old Wounds

As we enter into the holiday season, it is important to be mindful that while this is a time of celebration, for many, holidays stir up old sorrow, old wounds and feelings of loneliness. This is also true of the midlife journey.  As our Soul tries to be awakened and birthed through us, it brings to the surface old wounds in search of another layer of healing.  Today’s blog presents a strategy for dealing with these old wounds when they come to call.

midlife crisis

Resurfacing

Last night, after a beautiful afternoon and evening of celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, I suddenly found myself feeling sad.  Then, as I slept, I found my dreams troubled by stories of frustration, heartache and sorrow.  Upon risinng, I realized the source of this sorrow and the troubling dreams.  A deep, and apparently as yet unhealed wound/loss had come to pay me a visit.  The resurfacing of this wound, I realized, was so that another layer of healing could take place.  My job, was to allow myself to acknowledge the wound and then to make time in which I could grieve another layer of this loss.

Midlife and Holidays

We have been speaking much about the midlife journey – the process through which our Soul seeks to be born and through which we have an opportunity to discovery the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to realize peace, love, joy and fulfillment in our lives and through which we are empowered to contribute to the betterment of the world. During the midlife transition, it is common for old wounds, hurts, losses, disappointments, betrayals, perceived failures to resurface.  The intention of this resurfacing is so that we can find another layer of healing and release from the pain that might otherwise hold us back from the birth of our greatest potential.  This resurfacing is especially acute during the holiday season and is not limited to those in midlife.  Again, this resurfacing is not there to harm us, but to give us another opportunity for deeper healing.  Our job is to allow the healing to take place.

Strategies for Dealing with Holiday and Midlife Pain

In a word:  GRIEVE.  When old pains, ancient losses, past betrayals resurface and we experience the memories and emotions related to these situations, we need to grieve.  And the healthiest and most effective ways we can move through this grief is to provide a space in our lives in which we can grieve, and then we must grieve.  These old wounds are here because they are ready for another layer of healing and the best way we can heal these losses is to be present to them and accept whatever face of grief shows up in the face of these losses:  sadness, depression, anger, maybe even denial and bargaining.  The greatest thing we can do for ourselves is recognize that we have been hurt, that we are grieving and then allow ourselves to stay in bed for a day, find a healthy way to channel or express our anger, or maybe even spending part of a day obsessing about the past hurt and working out plans for how is wouldda couldda shouldda been different.  Then, once we have engaged in all the external symptoms of grief, we need to make room for the real emotion of loss – sadness and we need to cry, or at the very least, allow ourselves to feel and be present to our sadness.  In this way, we are taking care of ourselves.  We are honoring our loss and we are allowing ourselves to heal.  And, if the pain becomes too great, seek outside help and support in the form of a good friend, loved one, counselor, spiritual director or Anam Cara (soul friend.).  The most important thing to know is that you do not need to bear this pain alone.  And if you are a person of prayer, always remember to turn to the God of your understanding for help and support in times of grief.

Lauri Lumby provides support for men and women moving through the midlife journey and moving through the pain of loss.  To set up a one-on-one session, call Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

Posted in Midlife Journey

Loneliness in Midlife

Confronting the pain of loneliness is a significant part of the midlife journey.  Whether feeling alone in a marriage or the loneliness of being alone, loneliness is an experience that becomes excruciating during midlife.  Accompanied by the longing for “that which cannot be named,” we attempt to satisfy loneliness by looking outside of us for “that which will make us whole” – material goods, a relationship, money, fame, etc.  If we cannot find the remedy outside of us, we frequently turn to self-medicating behaviors to numb the pain – sex, alcohol, drugs, food, etc.  In the end, we find none of these relieve us of the pain of loneliness.  The only way to remedy loneliness – is to be present with and to it.  Find out what loneliness has to say to us, what it needs from us.  Mostly, it needs attention and our presence.  When we allow ourselves to be fully present to loneliness, we discover our soul.

 

The Temple of My Aloneness

Thrust unsuspecting into the temple of my aloneness…

“Alone and single has to be better than married and alone.”

And, I can assure you, it is.

However, we must first be freed of the striving to fill the empty space;

From searching for “the one” who will be what “the other” was not;

And healed of the excruciating fear of loneliness.

Staring loneliness in the face;

Standing toe-to-toe against its threats

Learning what loneliness wants to tell us

Seeing all that hides behind its face –

Self-doubt, self-loathing, the wounds of the past, ungrieved loss and undiscovered joys.

Daring to invite loneliness in,

Discovering nothing less than our Soul

Knowing here, we are never alone.

copyright 2013  Lauri Ann Lumby

Posted in Being Human, Freedom, Inspiration, Lessons, Spiritual Practices

Loneliness

Today’s blog explores loneliness – the addictions and compulsions we indulge to either run from or avoid the spiritual pain of loneliness – the ultimate spiritual purpose of loneliness and how we can find its cure. (hint….the cure is in listening to what loneliness REALLY has to say to us!)

loneliness

Loneliness – the scourge of Western society

I sometimes think loneliness is the greatest scourge of Western society.  Having lost our tribal connections, often separated from family and friends, we feel alone and adrift.  Even more problematic, however, is our loss of connection with OURSELVES.  This sense of separation from self (and others) is then experienced as a deep ache, an excruciating longing – often described as a “hole in the soul” that says, “I feel like there is something missing. Unaware of the true source and purpose of this aching loneliness, we seek outside ourselves for “the thing” that will fill this empty hole – or at the very least, ease the pain of longing.  It is the outward search for the remedy to this pain which is the cause of all our compulsive, addictive, unhealthy behaviors and all the “isms” that plague our society.  We drink, drug, eat, shop, consume, waste, abuse, acquire, collect, hoard, manipulate, control – all in an effort to avoid or numb the pang of loneliness.  What would happen if instead of running from or trying to medicate our loneliness we stopped and listened to what our loneliness is trying to say to us?  If we were brave enough to endure the pain of loneliness, for just a moment, and let our loneliness speak, what would s/he say?

Lauri Lumby provides support for your search for meaning, purpose and connection.  To set up a one-on-one, private session, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com

Loneliness Speaks:

Why do you run from me?  Why do you hide from my presence?  Why do you grasp after fleeting and temporary things like food, drink, drugs, meaningless sex, empty relationships, material possessions, wealth, status and power as a way to avoid my calling or silence the sound of my voice?  My task is not to harm.  My mission is not to cause pain.  My job is not to imprison.  Rather, my cause is to heal.  My hope to liberate.  My vocation, you see,  is only in compassionate and loving service to your SOUL.  The loneliness that you feel is none other than the voice of your soul CALLING YOU HOME – calling you home to all the places within yourself where you feel separate – most importantly from yourself – your true self – the person God made you to be with all your gifts and passions SHINING and EMPLOYED for your fulfillment and for the benefit of humankind. 

When you run from me, you are running from yourself.  When you numb or silence me, you are imprisoning yourself.  But….the Soul is persistent and will continue to seek your presence through loneliness, restlessness, impatience and pain until you PAY ATTENTION.  So, next time you feel the pang of loneliness, I implore you not to run or numb but STOP.  Pause for a moment and FEEL THE PAIN of loneliness.  Then, give me your attention.  Listen to where I am calling you.  Seek the guidance of my voice.  And say yes to your Soul CALLING YOU HOME.  In giving me your attention, by listening to my voice you will hear your truth as it reveals your gifts, stirs up your passions and compels you to nurture and cultivate these gifts so that you will one day be empowered to make these gifts a priority in your life giving you the fulfillment you long for and in the meantime, benefitting the world.  You were made for this purpose and your Soul will not rest until you fulfill its call….or forever be plagued with the pain of longing, loneliness, restlessness and discontent.

 

How will you respond to your loneliness?

Lauri Lumby provides support for your search for meaning, purpose and connection.  To set up a one-on-one, private session, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com. 

 

Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, Inspiration

Loneliness and Longing

Flipping through my journal yesterday, I came upon a poem I wrote that was inspired by a line from Rilke, “You are the partner to her loneliness.”  The “You” to which Rilke is referring is God.  Here is my poem as it speaks to my own longing and the longing known by every mystic and contemplative in their spiritual search.

excalibur

Partner to My Loneliness

You are the partner to my loneliness.

Loneliness like the red-draped Excalibur eviscerating my soul in excruciating emptiness and pain.

Loneliness that is the longing that cannot be fulfilled

neither by coin, nor task, nor present company.

A longing that drives me to seek

beneath every shrub

under every pew

up on every shelf

around every corner

and through every door

. . . all for naught.

For the remedy to this loneliness is not to be found in the world of men,

neither is it to be found in my bed

nor in my mind

nor in the fleeting approval of others.

This longing is only fulfilled in you.

in the quiet recesses of my soul where life has cut a trail

made of the pain

of my unfulfilled hopes

and unsatisfied dreams.

It is only here, when wedded to you that I find my bliss

and know that I am home.

– 2013  Lauri Lumby