Lorca Smetana knows about coming back stronger and richer inside after living through crisis. She was born into a mountaineering community and started early thinking about mortality and the choices that we make if life were to be short. At the age of sixteen she was a survivor of the Mt. Hood climbing tragedy that took the lives of nine students and teachers. The awareness of mortality and its impact on how we live our lives remain a powerful thread through her work. (On the grace and tyranny of mortality)
Lorca touches and changes the lives of her students and her listeners, giving voice to the fragility of life and inspiring newfound purpose and strength to those who are coping with life’s difficult challenges. She emboldens them to live a life with resilient intelligence, one that enflames and inspires. She remains a climber, a sea kayaker, and a rider.
Lorca teaches vibrant life and develops programs through the application of ecological and contemplative principles and values to organizational life. Her work with individuals, schools and organizations includes stress-reduction, compassionate relations, leadership development, communication and vision expansion all through the lens of contemplative and imaginative practice in action. At Montana State University she teaches resilience and leadership through the Leadership Fellows Program.
She is an expert in building holistic resiliency skills, helping parents and professionals in high-stress or trauma work embrace radical self-care in recommitting to vibrant, sustainable and creative lives.
She holds a Masters degree in International Studies from the University of Washington with concentrations in history and monasticism. She speaks French, Czech and submerged Spanish. She lived and studied in Avignon, France and in Prague, Czech Republic, traveling from Europe through Asia.
In 1997 she founded a regional association of volunteer private pilots that merged with and became Angel Flight West, who fly medical patients and their families for non-emergency treatment. She worked closely with families struggling with cancer and other life-threatening conditions. She raises and trains white homing pigeons, doing therapeutic and ceremonial dove hand releases with people and families in transition. She marries people, and helps families bury those they loved.
Lorca and her husband, international outdoor photographer Dusan Smetana, live on a small sustainable farm in Montana mountains, raising two free-range children, homing pigeons, dogs, Icelandic sheep and a diversity of other birds and creatures for sustenance, humility and delight.