Last week, I returned from a Canadian adventure.
It’s a journey I’ve wanted to take for over a decade; I fell in love with the country as a teen and lived there for a year when I was 18. Ever since, I’ve been yearning to go back to feel the power and majesty of the mountains and have a proper catch up with my friends.
For me, Canada is a very special place. It represents the first time I took control of my own life; the first time I dared to dream about doing something out of the ordinary, and the first time I went against the grain to achieve what I wanted. A week before I was due to leave the UK to live in Canada, 9/11 happened – the job and accommodation I’d lined up were rescinded, the friend who was coming with me dropped out, and I was advised it was unlikely I’d find a job due to mass cancellations of holidays and flights.
Still, even at that tender age, I knew I needed to go. And so I went. Alone, terrified, yet empowered.
It turned out to be one of the best years of my life.
The motivation for this trip came upon me one cool afternoon in March. I was feeling particularly lost that day, and as is my custom, I’d trekked out to the ancient oak grove just outside my parents’ farm in the New Forest.
Whilst leaning against a solid trunk, amongst the rustling leaves and the birds, I heard a small, still voice inside.
“Email her”, it said.
As soon as I saw her photos of the view from her lodge, I knew I was destined to see it with my own eyes.
And so, as I sat underneath that oak, Spring nibbling at my toes and my mind, I emailed her…
I asked if she’d be open to exchanging photography for time at the ranch in a way that felt good, equal and mutually beneficial.
I still remember hesitating with my finger poised over the send button. A louder, more aggressive, belittling voice in my head had begun to shout louder, drowning out the smaller one:
- “This is stupid – why would she do this for you?”
- “What if she gets these requests all the time, and yours is soooo far down the list she doesn’t even bother replying?”
- “What if she laughs at the idea and thinks exchanges are for idiots?”
Yet, something inside me went ahead and pressed that send button.
Within a few hours, I had her response.
It was a ‘yes’.
After that, everything fell into place easily and without issue. Hillary and I drew up contracts, agreed dates.
I found a return flight for £320 (they’re usually £650+).
Both my Canadian best friends were able to take time off to hang out, and one even planned us a five day trip touring Vancouver Island.
I was unexpectedly gifted some money a couple of days before leaving, which more than covered my spending costs.
My schedule took on a life of its own, and the 10 days I was going to be away decluttered of their own accord, with no effort or pushing on my part.
And still, that strident voice inside berated and bullied me.
- “Who do you think you are, swanning off on a holiday?!”
- “You know you haven’t earned this!”
- “You really should be focusing on building a business right now – you can’t afford to take time off!”
- “You’re SO selfish going on your own – what about Sam and your family?? They deserve a holiday too!”
- “What do you think you’re really going to achieve, doing this?”
On and on it went. There were a few times where I genuinely thought I’d have to cancel my flights because I “simply didn’t deserve it”.
But something inside kept me going, moving forwards, onwards, and up those steps to the plane. (I’ve been doing a lot of incredible work recently with Elloa, Ollie and Mr Tolle about recognising and releasing the ego… if not for them, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it).
Once I touched down, I realised why I had come.
As I saw the beaming faces of my friends greeting me at the airport, my soul skipped with delight.
As I gazed out over the misty mountains of Tofino watching grey whales swimming with their babies, my heart remembered.
As the long grass tickled my hands as I walked with Hillary’s herd of healing horses through the wooded valleys, I knew I was meant to be there.
And as I allowed myself to be broken open by the incredible people I met and the soaring beauty of that deep, green, wild place, I knew without question it was all worth it.
When I boarded the plane back home, I felt complete. The part of myself I’d left behind 15 years before had reintegrated, and I realised the ‘home’ I’d been searching for all that time was, in fact, inside me all along.
It’s an incredible feeling – knowing you honour yourself and your needs. Knowing you back yourself. Valuing yourself, and listening to the tiny whispers of your heart, even when they don’t seem logical and you have no idea where they’ll lead.
I’m so glad I listened to that small, still voice.
And today I ask you, lovely – is there something you’ve been seeking permission to do? Is there a trip, an idea, a business, a baby, a relationship, a decision you’ve been waiting to make?
For those things that scare us most are usually the things our soul most wants.
So, what are you afraid of? Let me know in the comments below…