Things change when you veer West. The vibrations shift from busy and isolated to cozy and community. We were welcomed to Banff with open arms. Enjoyed a to die for vegetarian meal at a place called Nourished that inspired our intention of the day. We chose to love ourselves today, to nourish ourselves. It has officially been one week on the road and so much has happened. We have laughed, cried and even bruised our thighs (thank you mechanical bull in Calgary). We have had some of the toughest, most intense and inspiring conversations you could imagine with each other and the people we have met en route. Despite our desperate attempt to stay healthy (yes, we have done yoga every day, and eat healthy foods) we have all softened up a little (both literally and figuratively) and our bodies and minds were aching for some big time rest and rejuvenation.
We spent our first night in Banff at the top of mountain in the sulphur-scented warmth of the Upper Banff Hot Springs. Spending a day “off” proved to be the most important thing we could do for our own personal growth and business development. Rather than planning courses, editing videos and writing blog posts, we spent the day coaching each other on the future of our businesses. We asked the really hard questions…. The “what do you really want?” “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “What are you afraid of” and “what is your business called?” and we patiently supported and listened to one another. What a gift!!!! The greatest gift you could ask for!
I sat in deep indecision about my own “future” in the hot springs, debating with the girls where I should live, who I should love, when I should travel and whether I should spend the next month writing my novel, short stories or building my yoga business. A woman had been politely eavesdropping and swam over towards us.
“Excuse me, I hate to interrupt, but I have been overhearing your conversation and it sounds like you have a big decision to make… I am a life coach and if you are up for it, I would love to do an envisioning exercise with you”. We all glowed and smiled and I sent Shannon and Jordana away so I could “envision” (whatever this meant) with my new life coach.
“Now, sit down, get comfortable, and start to think about what your greatest stressor or indecision is right now” her voice was so soft it muted the sounds of the hundreds of tourists soaking around us.
“Career” I replied. “I want to write, I love to write, but I’m terrified and I want to do yoga online but I hate technology and I just feel overwhelmed, I don’t want to waste anymore time. And I want to make money. But still be creative.” I spoke so fast I could feel how flustered and disoriented my mind was on this idea of career.
“Ok, great, now think about why you want to write, what is your purpose, why do you want to teach yoga, what is your purpose?”
“I don’t know”. I was stuck. Stuck in a weird quicksand I had not been stuck in before. I always knew my purpose. I was always clear on what my end goal was. But in the last year, an intense breakup with my partner of three years and the dismantling of our businesses we ran together had left me feeling quite hopeless and incredible disconnected from my purpose. Why did I do the work that I did? What did I come here for in the first place? I remembered my past life as a grad student in International Development. I remembered my travels around the world helping people, and then it hit me.
“I do all this work to help people… to help women like myself, women who go through trauma and feel alone, feel stuck, feel hopeless. I write and teach yoga to remind them there is hope, that we all suffer and struggle and that we have the power to overcome the heartache of life” I shocked myself by simply remembering, at the core, why I did what I did.
“This is good, now if you go to BC and write short stories for women, and teach yoga, are you fulfilling that goal?”
It was so clear. “Yes, yes, I am”.
Together we sat, in this place far from indecision (which Eleanor Rosevelt calls a fatal place) and began to do visioning exercises of my future if I follow this path. No, I probably won’t be a millionaire, but I will work and live with passion and zest and PURPOSE. I smiled and swam back to the girls excitedly recounting my coaching session to them in the warmth of the Banff Hot Springs beneath a sky packed with shooting stars.
These are the moments that I am eternally grateful for.
We gifted our bodies and minds a little more healing the next morning as we hiked Tunnel Mountain in Banff. With the sun rising above us, we realized just how out of shape we had gotten but also saw, quite quickly, how easily we could get back in shape. This is the balance. Sometimes we fall off track, sometimes we burn out, sometimes we break up and quit and need to travel or take a day off. Sometimes we need to cry. And everytime, maybe not instantly, but eventually, everything falls back into place.
Travel, adventure, personal development work and talking to strangers certainly helps, so does reading books about other women who have gone on the wild ride themselves. I’ll leave you today with a quote from an author Jordana is reading on this trip… and look forward to sharing tales of Kelowna tomorrow.
“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar