I’m not sure when I lost myself, but I don’t believe I started to “find myself” until the summer of 2015. I know, how cliché. But I remember the moment vividly. I was lost. I was spiraling. I was imperfect. And I didn’t know what to do. My inner world was crumbling and as a result, my outer world was too. I had spent a lifetime as a hard wired achievement-bot. Seeking. Hustling. Perfecting. My armour was shiny, vulnerability was buried and my masks were always ready to be worn. My best relationships were always kept at an arms length and fear was always the loudest voice in my head. What was I so afraid of? Failure. Feeling. Imperfection. It was as if i had developed an auto-immune disease of the soul- I was protecting myself, from myself.
Fast forward to the summer 2015 as I stood at the top of a mountain. Eyes closed. Wind at my back and breathing in the universe. I felt so small standing on top of The Rockies and because of that, I felt freedom. I went inside. I quieted my mind. I quieted my heart. And for the first time, in maybe ever, I listened. What I heard and what I felt was the voice of my inner compass.
As you’re reading this you either have two visions dancing in your head; 1. Cheryl Strayed in Wild having just lost one boot and about to throw her other one off the cliff or 2., the photo below.
I wish I was as cool as Cheryl Strayed or my epiphany happened at the particular moment captured by a kind stranger. However, It didn’t. It did, however, occur in the session prior to the moment captured and thankfully, it is not photo-documented. Granted, I’m certain I would have been a YouTube sensation.
I was at Wanderlust aka Yoga Camp for Adults (and yes, it is as magical as everyone makes it out to be). When registering for Wanderlust I promised myself I would do something that would take me out of my comfort zone each day (meaning I couldn’t sign up for all of the running groups). I felt pretty brave and proud of myself when I signed up for Wild and Free. I didn’t know what this was but I knew it would be safer than the session called Group Hug (being mauled by a group of strangers is not my jam). As it turns out, I was wrong. Me and my water bottle headed to the meeting spot where I met up with a group of 30+ strangers and our fearless leader. I took a deep breath, checked my attitude at the entry of the forest (fear is an asshole) and I engaged.
Our instructor started us off with a meditation, grounding us in nature. As I’m breathing in pine I’m thinking “yup, totally digging this, I’m a yogi, I can do this”. She then asks us to stand up and close our eyes and choose an animal we identified with. Obviously, I chose a cat. Not only did that feel safe, I legit identify with cats. Not a badass cat like a lion or a jaguar. No, a house cat. She then told us to picture their movements, their sounds and then had us open our eyes. Perhaps you’re already onto where this is going but I was still zen’d out in my sunspot embracing my inner house-cat. The instructor ever so casually asked us to silently move around the woods, as our animal, and MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THOSE WE PASSED BY. I suddenly felt naked. Panicked. Sweaty. Like Bambi learning to walk. I immediately started planning my escape. Thankfully, I was the only stunned human because everyone else got their spirit animal on. It turns out I make one hell of a cat. And not just the sunspot-laying-lazy- house-cat. I got my alley-cat prowl on and maybe even hissed at those who passed by. Things only elevated from here and in mere minutes I was prancing and dancing and playing and laughing. I was alive, fully and completely. As the session came to an end, I caught my breath and breathed in the sunshine and out the fear. I got my soulshine on. The session ended with a message that I continue to carry with me, the goal of authenticity is not to improve our masks, the goal is to remove our masks. Truth. Bomb.
This was Day 2. My masks were off. I was exposed. My inner compass was no longer on the fritz. I didn’t need to find my true north- it was there all along. I needed to BE my true north.
I wish I could tell you that the path to being my true north was sunshine and rainbows, but to be honest, it was fucking hard sprinkled in with validation. It was treacherous; it was filled with loss and grief, change and growth, sadness and anger, joy and love, self doubt and shame. 2016 was the year of Brene Brown, she was my religion. Repeatedly, I dared greatly, I fell and then I would rise strong. I learned a lot about loss in 2016 but I learned even more about life.
So this brings me to what it is that I do and yes, I intentionally shared this on Bell Lets Talk Day. I repair inner compasses. I work with the lost and with loss. I make repairs and help you navigate. Sometimes we need a map. Sometimes we need direction. Most often, we just need to get still so our compass can be the guide. The point is, we all get lost along the way. We may go west before we go north. Sometimes, we go south. But whatever the direction, we will find our way forward. After all, we all have a compass, you just need to go inside.
Currently feeling lost and not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions to help you get your bearings.
1. Make a Calm Map
Get out some markers and literally make a map of your process for getting calm. Let me guide you through mine.
- Aware & Awake: How do I feel? What just happened?
- BREATHE: Count your breaths. Pick a number and begin counting.
- Triggers: What is at play? For me, it is usually shame, feeling stupid and/or feeling inadequate. What is it for you?
- Clarity through questions: Get more information. What is the truth versus what is the story you are telling yourself?
- Choice: I choose my reaction (Hint: There are only two choices; love or fear)
- Check in: How am I feeling? WHAT are my next steps.
- Repeat as necessary
You’ll notice a Calm Legend; those are the tasks that help me create calm on a daily basis. Do what works for you.
2. Go to Yoga
Fewer activities/ practices have allowed me to feel more in control of my mind and my body than the practice of yoga. No matter the day and no matter the situation, my mat has granted me 75-90 minutes of reprieve from the chaos of the outside world. Just me and my breath. The bonus? Yoga gives the gift of time. Our heads and our hearts may seem close together, but they are light-years apart when it comes to communication. Sometimes (always) we need time to move from the emotional to the rational. Yoga gives me that time and that space. Try it. New? Try a Foundations, Gentle or Restorative class. Looking for something in the middle? Hatha is my new favourite. And one more thing if the budget allows, try it at a studio. The instruction and the energy is what any unsettled soul needs. Not in the budget? Youtube is your new bestie!
First things first, I have actually tried this and I immediately fell in love. Sensory Deprivation is where it is at. I felt at peace and what a gift silence is. I floated for 90 minutes; somewhere between what I am sure was 10 and 15 minutes, I lost track of time. It went very quickly for me and I felt refreshed and recharged after. I have never been much for meditation (beyond what running does for me) and I suck at being calm. Floating gave me perspective and the calm that aspire towards. In the stillness of the tank and the quiet that I experienced in my mind, I feel that I now know what those who meditate experience. I want more of that. Float Clinics can be found in most major centres. If you are in Saskatoon, go to Float YXE. The owners are incredible and if you are a client of mine, I can also hook you up with a discount/ referral. Please get in touch with me if you plan to go.
4. Call your Tribe
These are your people and you need to call on them. You are not a burden and life is not meant to do alone. I have fallen down some pretty deep rabbit holes and I would likely still be down them if it weren’t for my tribe. A tribe only requires two people (three if you are including your pet); you and one other. I need you to dig deep on this one, pull out a small piece of paper and write down some names. This is not a long list; this is the call-in- the- middle- of- the- night- full- on- ugly- cry- holding- space- for- you- no- fear- of- judgement- list. If your person/ people pass that test, then add them to the list. Keep this list on you.
5. Work with Me
I cannot emphasize this final point enough, you are not alone.
Safe travels my friends and be kind to one another,
Ps. Some pretty big branding changes have started. Clarity is a core desired feeling for me and I hope I have brought this to my services. Some of what I offer is the same, and some have been changed. I encourage you to explore my website. As always, if there is something you need and don’t see or if you have questions, connect with me. I’m so excited to share my alignment and so grateful that Silver Linings Events & Therapy guided me here.