Be The Cairn

Have you ever been hiking and seen a “Cairn“? In ancient Japanese tradition, these stacked rocks wererocks used to mark the path, letting you know you were in the right place, that you hadn’t lost your way. A student recently told the group she has always been a rock stacker, but never knew the meaning behind them. In hindsight, she believes that the events of her life have unfolded just as they should, and her spirit has always known that, thus her interest in rock stacking.


Like a Cairn, I believe that there have been many markers on my life path. Most of these have been in the form of people, placed on the path in front of me to say or do something at just the right moment in time that altered my course and helped me get to where I am today. Some of the Cairn’s in my life are…


Mr. Barney, my 5th grade teacher. He was the first person to show me a glimpse of what it means to live a life of unlimited possibility. He spoke to 11 year olds like he was speaking to astronauts, politicians, world leaders. He called us the Game Changers and I believed him. It was 1974. I was living with an alcoholic father, an overtime working Mother, and raising my two siblings. I wanted the game to change. I wanted to venture out and make a difference in the world and he cracked that window open and let me peek out.


Doris Thews, World Famous Fitness Professional and my Schwinn Sister. I met Doris at a club training at 24 Hour Fitness in 2008. Her enthusiasm was off the charts, her knowledge deep, and her passion for the work she was doing was palpable. I attended all of her sessions that weekend and absorbed every word. At the end of the weekend, she asked me why I wasn’t a presenter. I can’t remember my response, but I do remember that I was honored that she even asked. Next thing I knew, she had recommended me to 24 Hour Fitness Corporate for a position as Master Instructor. From there, I became a Schwinn Master Trainer, and eventually developed my own Yoga Teacher Training Program, Yoga Assets. I owe every success in this area to a woman who got outside of herself and lifted another instructor up. Every day I try to find another person on my path to lift up as a THANK YOU to Doris.


The third, and most important Cairn in my life is my husband Michael. For our 21 years of marriage, and the 10 year of friendship before that, he has been my cheerleader, business advisor, my partner in crime, kids, concerts, and cancer. He is my best friend. He is also the person who can reality-check me with a look, and that happens on the daily. As I type, I’m on a plane headed for a week in China to train up a new group of master trainers. He is home heading up a home improvement project, playing hockey Dad, and ‘getting shit done’ as he would say. I feel both grateful, and humbled to have this man in my life, and by my side.


So that’s all fine and good to recognize the Cairns in our lives, but it’s only part of the story. The real question is…what have I done to pay it forward? Where have I made a difference? Where am I marking the path for someone else, where AM I MAKING a difference today? I am so fortunate to be in the business of life transformation, and to be present as people step up, find their voice, and make a difference in the world. I have watched students go back and get their GED after years of seeing themselves as a dropout. I have watched people find the courage to step away from abusive relationships, speak up for the first time in their lives. Quitting jobs they hate. Creating careers they love. Opening themselves to love again. I get to witness these miracles daily and I am deeply grateful. BUT…


Today is a new day. Who can I lift up today? Whose path will I be lead to, and once there, how can I show them a glimpse of their unlimited possibility? Who can I nudge forward to a promotion, a recognition, a new place in life? Who can I serve? Who can I support so that they can make a bigger difference?


As I answer these questions in my life, will you answer them too?

  1. Who has made a difference in your life?
  2. Where have you already made a difference?
  3. How will you make a difference TODAY?


May we be the Cairns that we seek in life.


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    About Denise Druce


    1. Denise that was inspirational, uplifting, powerful, and mind stacking amazing! Thank you so much for what you’ve done for Jessa and I in the ever so short time of our friendship! I will never forget the wonderful retreat in So. Utah and the guidance and leadership that emanates from you! I do not doubt you are a beautiful Cairn in everyone’s life that has the privilege to meet you. Thank you again and I look forward to our next fireside conversation!

    2. Nancy Gibson says:

      Wow – Denise you are such an inspiration! Michael too – (I remember him from back at the She & Company days) –

      You make a difference in my life each time you write or teach a class that I am fortunate enough to attend! Thank you!

    3. Juanita says:


    4. Mary Gist says:

      Denise, I really loved your article on carins. I had to giggle and think holy cow there are other people out there like me stacking rocks to depict balance in their lives. I’m in key west on a family vacation and found a few more pieces to balance other than rock like – coral, seat pass, and shells. As balance becomes a stronger part of me I find I’m picking out more challenging pieces. Everyday I get a little stronger, confident, peaceful, directed, and yes,balanced. Thanks Denise for inspiring ME.

    5. This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    6. I love this Denise! Thanks for the post! For sure you’ve made a difference in my life….you taught me how amazing yoga can be in my life and my favorite phrase in the world…”i can do hard things!” Thank you! I’m working on paying it forward!

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