Opinions​, truth and creating your new reality.



No one can make you feel inferior without your consent ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.

That is a powerful quote that struck a chord with me this week.

It is amazing how as we grow, our sense of self, changes. We get covered in layers and layers of other peoples opinions of us, that we actually let “stick”, rather than slough off or be analyzed as truth or not.

Someone else’s opinion could be totally wrong, yet you might be having a bad day and agree with them. You might let that idea adhere itself to your shining nature and block, yet a little more of your true self, shaping how you will become, act or how you let the world see you.

Maybe it’s not one person, but a group or a whole town, society or culture.

Over time we have a skewed vision of who we are and how we let people treat us. This can be a deep dark subject, with oh so many layers.

I had a friend ask me one day about one of my nuggets of truth that I had been chewing on lately.

It goes right along with that quote.

We teach people what to expect from us.

Let that one sink in.

Followed by a question from a life coach – me!

“What things about yourself have you made true over time because that’s what people always expected from you? E.g. being late, unorganized, uncommitted.

Are you really those things? Do you want to change them, or do they fit inherently with who you are?

You teach a dog what to expect from you.

You teach your kids. You react or don’t react to certain things.

You teach your friends and family what to expect.

So the big question is, how do you change this if you want to?

We see the world around us a certain way because it is colored with how we grew up, the choices we made and our unique story.

We take certain actions or react because of that story. Our actions equal certain results.

When we find ourselves frustrated with our results, and repeat the same actions over and over without changing our view of ourselves or our life, how can we ever think to make a sustainable change?

Hold close to you the people who fill you up with possibility. Create your own quiet space that you can take reflective moments and look at yourself with discovery.

Go within and really look at who you are, today. You are not the person you were yesterday.

I’ll share with you a tool I use occasionally with clients.

Write for 15 min about you. When you were born, about your youth, who you are or what your life is like.

I remember, when I did this for the first time, I really got into it. Like I was writing a grand memoir. “I was born on a sunny and beautiful day in August.”

Well, it may not have been sunny for someone else. They could have lost their wife that day, got shot or went to war.

I had long blonde hair. Not long compared to someone else, and how blonde?

Take the same amount of time and write only facts about your life. It cannot be an opinion.

Now, look at the simple bones of your existence.

You have a grand story, but what colors it in are memories, opinions, circumstance, timing, and self-perception.

How powerful would it be if we could strip off all the crap layers and keep the ones that make you who you really want to be. Peel off the ones that are not serving you or making you a better person.

What would that look like? How would you speak to yourself and others? Who would you become?

The sad thing is, this kind of deep change or looking within, often comes from a major life break. Like the death of a loved one, an illness or a divorce. A hard life lesson that stops you in your tracks and forces you to take a moment.

It is never too late to reinvent who you are and what you can become. You never know until you try and if you harness it, you have that power every single day.

Make today the beginning of a different story and do not forget that small steps still move you forward!

Hooked On Fishing


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


There is something truly humbling about learning something new at an older age.

To put on your student hat can be daunting and unfamiliar. Eating pride, laughing at the process and telling the humiliating tales after, is somehow liberating.

Case in point.

I love fishing. It’s a rather new addiction that began a few years ago on the trails of Pennsylvania.

I was often hiking with my dog and I would see these older gentlemen (Referred to in my mind as silver foxes, with all due respect.)

They would sit out back of their vehicles in the parking lot, sipping coffee in camping chairs and getting their fly fishing equipment together.

They would split up for a couple of hours, wading to their own favorite pools in the river, then end up back in their chairs with a cigar and a beer or bourbon in a tin cup.

I thought to myself, these are my people. When I retire, this will be my sport.

Last year I found myself thinking why should I wait to fly fish when I could do it now!

I have limited time on the fly rod, but I get so excited I can’t wait to get my line in the river. Inevitably I see fish rising when I am putting my gear together.

I miss eyelets, tie crap knots, and at this particular moment of the tale, I was fumbling through some brush to get to a deep, shady pool, convinced I would catch the trout of my life.

Now, this is a famous trout river in the eastern US, and there are anglers arriving moment by moment.

Instead of chatting and getting to know some locals, I was so hell-bent on getting my line wet, I caught it on a tree and lost a fly before it was even in the water.

Bumbling like an idiot, I tried an awkward cast among a bunch of shrubs, my rod separated apart and my glasses snagged on a branch.

As I was cursing and trying to contain my frustration, I felt a tug in a weird place.

On my lip!

I think, “No! Oh, no. Oh no, no, no!”

I reached up and touched my lip, as a line twinkled in my peripheral vision and felt, with chilled fingers, that I had somehow buried my brand new nymph, deep in my lip!

Insert more cursing.

I gently laid down my rod and followed the line to the spot. I did not feel it go in, it was so sharp. “WHAT AN IDIOT!” I thought to myself.

I was mortified as I looked around and tried to fumble for my cell to take a photo, to see how bad it was.

Like I said; buried.

I tried to yank on it, yet I felt my lip swelling around the hook. I thought, “Please God, let me have remembered to crimp the barb!”

It was not coming out, so I hastily gathered my things and rushed back to the car. I pretended like I had to be somewhere and avoided people eyes as the color rose in my cheeks.

I flung open the door, tossed in my gear and backed out and down the road, where I could assess the damage with a hair of privacy.

I muttered furiously, “There is no way in hell I am going to a US hospital to have a fly removed from my lip!”

As I kept tugging, I wondered with increasing detachment, how bad it would tear if the barb was still on it.

I pulled out my pliers, yanked as my lip stretched and thought, “Screw it, I’ll have a torn lip. I’ll buy Crazy Glue and put it back together when I’m home.”

I took a deep breath, judged the angle as if I was pulling it out of a fish and bloop, it popped out!

I assessed the damage in the rearview mirror. To my humiliated relief, it looked like I just had a fat lip, served with a side of very bruised ego.

It crossed my mind how fish feel, and I thought, “Well it sure did not hurt going in! I would probably do it for a good snack.”

Mortified, I could have put the truck in reverse and limped on out of there, with my tail between my legs. The forecast was calling for upcoming rain and snow and before me glinted a beautiful river, shimmering in the sunlight.

So I shoved my pride in my pocket and while I sucked the hole in my lip, I returned to a grassy glade on the riverbank.

I sat down and came up with a new mantra. “Breathe. Tie good knots, take my time, crimp my hooks.”

So I retied my set up and with the first cast, promptly got it snagged in another tree.

Breathe some more.

As I cracked my neck side to side with an increasing level of agitation, I contemplated climbing the flimsy tree before me. No point in having a broken leg to go with my torn lip.

I sat once more on the grass and truly appreciated the sun on the river. Dappled patches of light lay over the ever-changing features of water.  In perfect timing a huge bald eagle soared into my line of vision, hunting for her own fish below.

I breathed out once again, this becoming a new meditation of patience. I inspected the river in front of me and saw a big trout, lazily swimming above a pebbled, light brown bottom.

One more try.

I attempted a side cast. To my shock, it quietly whipped over the water, landed where I wanted it to and floated downstream.

I tried that a few times and felt, for the first time, had a glimmer of what this coveted sport was supposed to feel like.

I slowly shifted my location to a big rock off the bank, saw a fish rise, splash its tail and return to the shifting depths. I got so excited, I stepped back into a deep mud hole that soaked me up to mid-shin.

The fumbling never ended it seemed. I vowed to buy waders as soon as I could.

I finally began to relax. So pleased with myself as I managed a few more casts and distracted by the eagle above me, I was shocked to feel a strike.

Hopping up and down on my rock, with hoots of joy, I reeled in my fish.

I slowly brought it close enough to slide my hand behind the gills to give it a firm squeeze.  I had caught my first Pennsylvania wild brown trout. Only 7 inches long, but absolutely beautiful.

Its perfect yellow body shimmered with big brown spots along its back. I thanked my fish, licked my own lip and wished I could have tossed a worm down his throat for the trouble.

The hook pulled out way easier than mine, I might add, and it lazily swam away into the deep.

I promptly squealed, jumped around on the grass and hugged myself with hard-won achievement.

I reflect now that it was like any learning day in a sport, be it climbing, surfing, skiing or golf.

You can be fumbling and horrible one moment, then one wave, one drive comes together and all the frustration and angst, flutters away and you don’t feel like a total moron after all.

That until I glanced in the rear view mirror and it looked like someone punched me in the mouth.

Trout 1: Canadian 1.


The turn of the wheel

By the hand of time

Tiny notches clicking forward

The circle of life

Forever renewing

Birth and death and brilliance between


Here we cling

With hands and tears

Loss of a love

Dagger in heart

Memories whisper

Unknown future

New reality, unknown path


Through strength of family

Friendships unfolding

Savoring brilliant

Moments unknown

Courage blooms like sprouts unfolding

Walking forward, listening to the wind.


Vanessa P. 27/09/18

Northern Nicaragua Fitness Holiday!


Sometimes people want a holiday where they can do absolutely nothing. Eat, drink, sleep with a book on the face. Sometimes that leads to extra pounds added to the extra you were trying to get rid of anyway. Stress fades a bit and life seems more tolerable. It’s great!

But it could be oh so much better! What we are offering you is a recalibration week that feeds the soul, mind and the cells. Come adventure with us in the wild and rustic Northern Nicaragua. This is a perfect retreat to loose weight, slow down, get reconnected with your body, reflect on where your at and have some fun adventure. Plus hang out with some stoked individuals who are there to support your personal journey.

I spend a good chunk of the year in my southern home. Playing in the sea, surfing, fishing, eating from the local abundance and working as a life coach and fitness instructor with my company Stoke Your Fire. I am so grateful to have an amazing community here and I am pumped to be working with the talented and rad human – Grace Van Berkum of the Gracious Living Oasis.  It’s such a gift to meet people like myself; living their dream and sharing it with others.

March 10-17/ 2018, we are offering a fun filled week of Yoga Fitness Fusion. Daily fitness and yoga classes, plant based menu for optimal cell health, life coaching and lots of laughs! We have tonnes of additional activities available. Surfing, SUP, massage, horseback riding and so much more! This is a Co-ed retreat for all levels of fitness. Check out all the details here and book your trip!


Summer of YES.

find the fish

There are many times in life when we ride the crest and the fall of waves and tides. From utter bliss to complete devastation. As I grow older, I see more and more that there are deep troughs of challenge, peaks of ecstasy and the sigh of reprieve before it all begins again.

I can say I’ve had a few shit years of health. No, it was not cancer, war, world atrocity, injustice or slavery. So who the hell am I to talk. Yet we all have our challenges depending on where we live, culture, age, and country. Highs and lows, ebb and flow.

But you know what? I just had my summer of YES.

What can I say? I was a hooligan. This last summer, I turned 43 and maybe had the best summer of my life. I don’t recall saying no, sleeping in much and definitely pushed the responsibility envelope.

After almost 3 years of a disabling back injury, topped off with a .01% case of Zika that turned into a mad case of encephalitis and migraine brain change, I was finally pain free and illness free. Able to work again in all my industries and play like a kid.

I realized early on in the summer that I had the inherent potential to overdo it physically. It was the hottest summer in the Canadian Rockies in years, I was healthy, working, no kids, had a super active dog and a stoked husband.

Finally, I embraced a bunch of life lessons and chose to not climb, bike and over hike, as I would normally do. I learned to fly fish, to ride paved or gravel trails in town, to wander with my pup. And it felt amazing to be pain free and have my brain back.

I took a lesson in a soccer field how to cast and put my rod together, and marched into the woods searching for quiet mountain pools dappled in sunlight. Oh I caught fish! The joke is – none of them were more that 5 inches long! “Kiss and release,” a fellow female angler calls it. Did it ever bring me Joy.

I remember one day biking trails around town, fishing rod in the backpack, tunes on my mobile speaker blasting and a beer in my water bottle holder, thinking “This is living!”

I tell you I was worn out by October, exclaiming, “Thank god I can have a break!” when the rain and snow rolled in.

These are the lessons of the highs and lows of life.

I am very thankful I can celebrate life. Make decisions consciously. I had all intentions to work on my business, work more in all modalities, write, and be focused with the new return to health.

Then the sun rose again. It swept the stars twinkling over mountaintops and the morning alpine air called me to a new day. Get outside. Be a kid, explore, and that was that. It was worth every moment.

Boat dancing was my other sport. Thankfully we have great friends with fast boats and massive speakers. Being a personal trainer, all the crew wanted me to put them through workouts or join them in stair runs before the day’s shenanigans on the lake got started. My standard reply this year was, “ I will tell you what to do from the hot tub with a mimosa in hand.”

I swam hard, danced, surfed, and hugged myself with glee under a blazing star filled sky,  feet in the lake and not a sole around. I hiked a few peaks, mountain biked a bit, floated in the lake on my floaty chair by myself many a day, sun on my face and heart full.

Now I reflect on health, after having it for almost a year. I am baffled at the incredible amount of brain space and energy that pain and illness consumes. I am in wonder at all the things I can achieve with a clear mind and healthy body. But then again, how does it get any better than just taking time to really live and enjoy our life in all moments? Perhaps those are the greatest lessons and gifts.

The Art Of Reinvention

Chrysalis Emerging 5

Cartwheeling over one of life’s inevitable speed bumps and landing in a ditch, is the perfect time to hone the art of personal reinvention. We lick our wounds, shake our head and hopefully keep moving forward with a few curses streaming in the wind behind us.

Some people will continue trudging, head down, feet dragging, oblivious to the lessons at hand. The wise will stop, assess the scene and adjust for variables. Most of the time this is done with some foot stomping and a growl or two, but “Oh that moment!” when you surrender, adapt and look for new qualities within to reveal.

This is a beautiful rite of passage that comes with the human journey. The incredible fact that we can always become something else and find joy or satisfaction in new ways. What an amazing moment to savor, emerging from one form of yourself, shaking your wings and taking your first breathe from within the new you.

This is the time for new eyes, new opportunity and endless pathways ahead. Who will you be now?

I am always inspired by those souls who can be in a chrysalis of suffering, pain or loss, and emerge with new understanding or a new plan. To be the athlete turned painter, the builder turned angler, the scientist turned gardener. To see the possibilities spiraling out within any circumstance is true power.

How will you approach this new horizon? How will you reinvent and rediscover other aspects of yourself for the joy of moving forward and thriving in a new way?

Your Pirate Coach & Inner Peeps.

pirate arr



Many people ask me what kind of coach I am. I can say life coach, business, relationship or communication facilitator; all those are true.

My latest response is, I’m the Pirate coach. Here to stir up the pot, climb around your spars and rigging and sniff out the treasures. To inspire you to take charge, sail your own ship and make your life an adventure. (Not the cutting off limbs and walk the plank kindJ) I’m unconventional, authentic in all my wildness and a relentless seeker of joy.

When living my dream in Northern Nicaragua, I may show up for coaching in shorts, sun bleached and salty tangled hair, tank top, and my dog. While coaching in other parts of the world and in my Canadian home of Canmore Alberta, I can be in anything from jeans to active wear and a toque (wool hat for those of you outside of our boarders). Or dressed up all fancy if I feel like it.

I’m a meat eating beach bum, surfer, rum drinker and angler, bumping around in my sand filled truck. I eat healthy most of the time, but love beer and a burger after surfing two sessions in the am. I suck at Yoga and traditional meditation but that’s ok. It’s not me. I dance to the sunset blasting my IPod, I walk under the stars at 4:30 am, breathe; ponder my life and the world. I stretch what’s tight, train when the waves are flat or just lay in a hammock and bet on what gecko is going to get the big bug first.

We are all such individual universes. Ones crazy is another’s sane.

We each have our own rituals that heal us and guide us, if we allow ourselves to be all that we are, both light and dark. We continually reinvent ourselves throughout our lives, we change, we grow, and we lick our wounds after hitting the rough sections and hopefully celebrate with utter abandon when we are standing on the hilltops.

While leading group coaching workshops, as well as with private clients, a common theme that almost always arises, is the war with the inner self. The insecurity or the lack of self-worth, the inner negative dialogue, the discontent that sometimes rules our lives. Sometimes it’s the ignoring the dark that bubbles just beneath the surface.

We all have inner voices, an inner team if you will. Call them angel and devil, assign them a color, a name, we have parts of ourselves that make up the whole. Oh how they speak, act, and push you in crazy ways!

This subject has a few names in clinical psychology known as Voice Dialogue, Voice work, or Parts Work. During my first foray into this topic, I found the conversation utterly profound. It has given me tools for governing not only my inner world but I also continually introduce the concept with coaching clients, resulting in very cool self awareness and insight.

Who are your inner people? Do they come to mind right away or does the question make you pause and wonder?

I immediately knew that I have 4 inner people that sail my ship. (This may make you laugh, as I am a 42-year-old woman.) At the head of the helm, for random periods of time, is the Pirate. As you can imagine he can cause a bit of a ruckus. He’s wild and loud, says inappropriate things, and gets me into the occasional pickle. He does not like rules.

Yet he is also the adventurer, the fighter, the inner voice that drives what I call my male “grrrr”. He stood by me through many crazy world travels; he provides raw mental strength, passion and is a risk taker.

I used to be ashamed sometimes of when he was sailing my ship, yet when I looked at all he brings to the table I would never try to push him down, just have a different conversation or utilize him in a different way.

Shoulder to shoulder, I have the 18-year old boy. Needless to say they both get into trouble. This hooligan keeps me youthful, adventurous, a decent surfer and athletic accomplishments come from this part of me.

I have the soul on a holiday, a 5-year-old girl. Life is grand and she is here to savor it all and celebrate every day. Not wanting a plan to follow, just needing to play her life away. Not wanting to tidy up, wash her feet or brush her hair. She is the master de-motivator when work is to be done, as she just wants to have fun. But does she ever bring joy and absolute stoke with everything she does.

Last, I have the wise woman. She brings me quiet grace (although that does not seem to come over me much, as she is usually busy wrangling the other three). She can be vulnerable, self-judging, she is calm and reflective. She is intuitive, has her hands in the earth and is filled with nature and sunlight, but can also be a pain in the ass matron when the rest want to get out or she can be the only tether for acting properly in public. Sometimes she is face down in the dirt with the other three sitting on her back, yowling and cackling and planning an adventure.

My point is this. If we can reflect on our own inner light and dark, accept with love the voices that govern us, feed them or don’t, celebrate all that they bring or take away and then learn to harness what you need from them, so makes the inner war easier.

I have had a few times in my life when the Pirate and 18 year old were taking over. Then I realized I needed more ground, grace, and stability. So I mentally asked them to be my crew, as hey – they are great at that. I put the soul on a holiday and the wise woman at the helm. This helped me reel in a bit of the wild and harness the positive qualities to achieve certain goals in my life.

When I ride my short board surfing and its overhead high, I take the 18-year-old boy and pirate with me. When I ride my long board on a small wave and sunny afternoon, I take the wise woman or the soul. My body moves differently, my language changes, my cloths change. This results in a different experience in my world and in interactions with others.

Leading up to a tough conversation at work or with a loved one, I may take the pirate and the wise woman, for they bring different strengths to the table. One calm and reasonable, one with a strength and fire, who is not going to be pushed around.

Loving and accepting everything within you does not mean you have to accept and never change the dark parts of your personality or never toss the things you want to get rid of, but harness all parts of you, to live a more balanced and self-governed life.

I love hearing what comes up with clients when they ponder their people. Who needs to drive the bus for a while? Who needs some quiet time?

I had my own epiphany recently when a client asked me what the inner people were doing now? I realized for perhaps the first time in my life they all had one hand on the helm and are having a quiet rum together, balanced and all taking part.

Who are your inner people and what strengths or challenges do they bring? How can you use them differently, or put a different one in the drivers seat? What would change for you?