Since my arrival in Camrose, Alberta over two years ago, I have often been asked what brought me here. I don’t always go into this much detail, but for you my readers, this is the longer version. I made this “life altering” decision because I felt stuck. I had a defining moment when I knew that something had to change. I had been sitting in my “stuckness” for a while, and it was no longer a comfortable place to be. For a time, I didn’t know how to go forward. I knew I couldn’t go back. I felt like I was in a birthing process, and the time came to let go of my resistance. It was time to let go of what I was trying so hard to cling to and allow the contractions of life to push me forward. Maybe there is a part of you that can relate to this feeling of stuckness.
Between 2016 and 2017 I experienced significant loss in my life. As I was emerging from my grief…from what for me was a “dark night experience,” (Thomas Merton) I knew I was not the same person. As so beautifully articulated in The Hero's Journey (Joseph Campbell), I had emotionally departed from the life I had known and entered the initiation phase, my grief work; and now I was, as coined by Campbell, returning from this journey, a hero (at least in my own eyes) …and a very different person.
I recently coached a program with individuals who are undergoing cancer treatment. We used “the Hero's Journey” in our discussions. I love the perspective of the Hero's Journey. It feels much more expansive and empowering, and denotes a “victory” at the end of something arduous and challenging. In this human experience tough stuff happens! Life throws us a curve ball that we don’t invite or welcome; and this take us out of our comfortable and familiar ways of being. Reflecting back on my life, I see these challenging times now as an invitation. A call to living into a larger and more authentic expression of myself. The choice is always…will I listen? Will I say yes to life? Will I glean the gifts, and learn the deeper meaning of what this experience came to teach me?
So, what am I in the “process” of learning? What am I seeing with more clarity? I believe there is an energy, a life force breathing all of us. This energy causes plants to break through concrete to reach toward the light. As long as I am breathing, life presents me with opportunities to evolve and grow. Opportunities to learn more about who I really am; about how guided and resourced I am; and where and how I can share my unique gifts and talents in the world.
Growth is not on the same frequency as my comfort zone; and a comfort zone is not always comfortable, it is safe; Living into what feels safe, a smaller and muted version of ourselves, also takes a kind of effort.
As I have let go and trusted life to lead me (this is the rigor of transformation), I have been guided in ways I could not have imagined.
When I decided to let go of my resistance, when I honored and listened deeply to my longing and discontent, I began to create and live a life that feels authentic for me. I life that I am loving.
Over the last couple of years, I am seeing more clearly that everything I want is on the other side of fear; and fear is nothing more than a mental construct. Think of that…feel the power in this. Fear feels SO real and BIG, and sadly it stops many people from living a life that they would love. In truth fear exists only our minds. It is based on past and limited experiences and a future which hasn’t yet happened. It takes us out of the present moment which is always where our point of power is. Life always responds to my dominant thought patterns; and this is the beauty of living from a vision. As I continue to ask and live into the question, would I love this? This is where I am placing my attention. With each action step I take to live into my vision, I feel braver and more capable.
So why Camrose? I began with what I did know. I wanted to live in a smaller city. A city with wonderful amenities, and a feeling of small-town friendliness. I wanted to be able to access and BE in nature quickly and easily…and I began with google. Camrose has amazing system of hiking trails and ski trails. It has a pretty little University campus- Augustana University which attracts youth. It has two exceptional Performing Art Centres for a city of 20,000 people. It has a vital and historic downtown area with numerous specialty shops. It is clean and beautiful, and feels so safe. And best of all are the friendships of like-minded people I have cultivated to play and enjoy nature with, frequent get-togethers to ski, hike, kayak, bike and snowshoe together.
The day after I arrived, and was exploring Camrose, I came upon the poster (opposite page) that was painted on a brick building downtown. “She took the leap and built her wings on the way down.” In that moment I knew that “something” was guiding me and had my back; it affirmed for me the meaning of Henry David Thoreau’s quote: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined (my vision), he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
It starts with a firm decision, for yourself, your dreams and your life… and then a leap of faith. If I can do it so, can you.