A gift for you?


Finding a personal coach is like finding a hairdresser or massage therapist that rocks your world. It is an individual fit. I am certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but those that can appreciate whacky humor, a lively spirit, and shoot from the hip communication, might be a good match.

Well, I have a gift for two motivated individuals.

2020 has been quite a year so far.

I love the cartoon that is floating around the internet, of a group of people hiding behind a corner, and trying to use a broom to open the door to July.  What the heck will be next? What if you could use this time as a pivot point into the best year of your life?

Many people are experiencing deep personal change or upheaval in their lives. Perhaps you have realized it’s time to take a new direction, but are not sure where to start? Maybe it’s time to add more thought to leadership or how to shift your business to adapt to this blooming change of society? 

I have two spots available for bi-monthly coaching that I want to offer someone in need, that is seeking growth in personal, business, or relationship development. I want to offer these free of charge as a gift for up to 4 sessions. I know so many people are financially strained during this pandemic and it is my way to give back. The only catch is you have to be somewhat flexible with meeting times as I deal with severe chronic migraines, and get hit at random times. If you think you are ready to do the work, fire me an email and tell me what you are looking for. Not ready but know someone that is? Please share. For more about me or what the heck is life coaching – www.stokeyourfire.com

Please note: I am currently EST zone for booking sessions and most weekends away with limited cell service. I will get back to you as soon as I am in range 🙂

A Toast To Three-Legged Dogs

A Toast To Three-Legged Dogs By Vanessa Plimley 

From the book – The Grateful Soul.


I fumble into my bikini in the dark, feeling for the tags, so I don’t wear it inside out again. Quietly, so as not to wake my husband, I fill my shoulder bag with a laptop and a phone, draping a long-sleeved shirt around the strap before adjusting my crutches. I clop out into the twinkling dark. 

Hop, clop, hop, clop. I light some candles and cautiously inspect my shirt for scorpions. 

I grin at the quickly fading stars, climb into my rocking chair with one foot propped on a stack of pillows and enjoy my tea, as night recedes and the quick tropical change to a new day begins. 

Dawn is my favorite hour, especially in our heart-home of northern Nicaragua. 

Life can be a bit wild here in the campo, and it’s certainly not for everyone. We live in a place that is open-air except for the bedrooms. Bats sleep in the palm-frond roof, a resident skunk occasionally cruises through the kitchen, and opossums race each other in the ceiling of our spare room. 

As dawn light sweeps across the sky, I see my dog finishing her perimeter check of our property. She stops and spends a moment hanging out with the rooster, Bartolito, and the cat, Mousing. They must have called a truce for the morning. 

A swath of ants moves their eggs to a new location. Normally, this would not be weird, but they’re coming from under our couch, moving through the kitchen and out beneath a rock by the BBQ. I cheer them on and snort at how stupid I must look, my mouth agape at the wonder of their efficiency. An industrial half-hour of work and they are gone without a trace. 

My attention is drawn outward, and I notice our neighbors’ pig as she ambles down to the water’s edge and rolls around happily in the tropical sea. A herd of escaped horses cruise the beach. 

From the field behind us, grackles and turtledoves stop on the edge of our pool to wash their peanuts or worms. They fluff their feathers and bathe thoroughly before taking off to their secret home. 

I notice and cherish all of these things. I’ve achieved one of my biggest life goals: to live in the tropics for chunks of the year. A simple life of flip flops, few clothes, and time to enjoy the special moments that are sometimes missed when living a busy life elsewhere. 

This year, that lifestyle is somewhat different than expected. Three weeks ago, I badly sprained my ankle and have been in a cast ever since. Rehab will take months. My intention this trip was to build a new website, write more, and learn more songs on my ukulele, but the surf has been exceptionally good, and knowing myself, I would have let my goals slide if the Universe didn’t have such an ironic sense of humor. Now I turn my focus to non-sport activities and shift my life into a more balanced rhythm. 

My husband recently called me “Lucky.” I’ve been plagued by health issues over the years, both illness and injury. I’m partially deaf, I’ve spent years on the floor with back injuries, I suffer from severe chronic migraines, and now there’s a cast up to my knee. He jokingly describes me as his old one-eyed, ripped-ear blue heeler. 

If I could describe myself, I’m like that truly stoked three-legged dog. Playing with her toys, hopping around, and still pumped about everything life has to offer: cheese, play, cuddles, repeat. 

Our place is on a cliff, overlooking a beach where I can spy on everyone from my chair. A friend asked if I was losing my mind, watching everyone surf below me. 

I replied with a contemplative no. Every morning, I list all the things I am thankful for: my supportive husband who’s off work, and makes me belly-laugh often, to be in a country where I can get cheap healthcare, to live in a one-level house, and to have friends who stop by to draw on my cast, play music, and drink beer. I focus on only the things I can do and not let anything else in. 

There’s a Native American legend of the two wolves within: one light, one dark, good and evil. They fight in every person, every day. The question, “Which one will win?” is answered, “The one you feed.” 

Like yoga or meditation, running, or playing an instrument, choosing which wolf will win is a great practice. With every choice, you decide which way to turn. Feed the light or feed the dark. 

I still have a good cry on occasion as I watch the future I’d planned vaporize in front of me. I feel blessed that my reactions are increasingly rare or short-lived. I quickly reassess and come up with a new plan. 

I got into life coaching to help others find perspective while facing deep challenges, to help them create a space where they can take a good look at their current situation, and hopefully clarify the steps that will move them in a direction that excites them and feels attainable. 

I encourage my clients to create a practice of joy. Perhaps it’s taking an extra five minutes in the morning, sipping coffee as the world wakens around them. Maybe it’s a long walk in the fresh air with a dog trotting alongside. Maybe it’s listing things to be thankful for, as they embark on their daily commute. It’s amazing how one’s perspective can shift toward the light with little time or effort. 

So, as I rock happily in my chair, I honor this learned philosophy. I wiggle my toes, decorate my cast with paint pens, and with twinkling eyes and a glowing heart, I wonder what other gifts this new day will bring. 


Vanessa Plimley is a surfer, angler, and soul on a holiday. When not playing in the outdoors, she is a life coach, writer, and personal trainer specializing in post-rehab exercise. She splits her time between North America and Nicaragua. http://www.stokeyourfire.com. 


GS pic

I am so thankful to be a part of this book collaboration compiled by Kyra Schaefer and As You Wish Publishing, especially during times like these.

Available now!



Pink Hour


Its “Pink Hour” at the beach, one of my favorite times of the day.

I sit in the silent pre-dawn, listening to the bugs buzz and the watch the bats swoop the last meal before sunrise.

Within the deep twinkling dark, seeps pale light like an oncoming tide. Greys begin to wash the landscape, as greens of the land slowly come into focus. The turtle doves coo good morning, along with the occasional rooster.

Peach, pale blue and rose of a smoky horizon reflect off the sea, creating an opalescent gunmetal shimmer of beach, ocean, and sky.

My heart contracts with the beauty as I smile, feeling a puff of cool offshore breeze. As the land sighs, I wonder what gifts this day will bring?

Hello! The REMINDER you may have needed today!

The Gea Vane laugh extravaganza


I want this to serve as a “gentle poke reminder,” or a “trip and fall on your face one.” Whatever has the most impact at this point.

A reminder to BE RELENTLESS, in creating the life you want.

About holding true to the ever-changing facets that are the self and to reassess always. To keep your finger on the pulse of you, your life, your relationships, your goals, and your people.

To forgive.

To allow.

To learn.

To celebrate.

To be curious.

In this day and age, so many people get caught in the massive sweeping tide of what is thought to be the right way, the family or communities way, the way it’s done. People trapped in the voluminous nets of others expectation, in a societies expectation of how to live well.

I read an article the other day asking, “If you could implement one thing in school for kids to learn, what would it be?”

Without a breath of hesitation, I thought, “Meditation, and self-exploration.”

Meditation can be anything from walking to listening to music or the purest form. Whatever! A time to focus inward and listen to the wisdom that bubbles up. Or time to just be.

For how are we to live well, solve our problems and make good decisions for our lives if we do not know who we are? To listen to that tiny voice inside, with each passing day, season and year. Through tragedy, heartbreak, love or success. Through all the challenges life will throw at you, if you have not been paying attention and listening deeply, how do you stay true to all that you are?

I wish you the path of joy, of deep and heartfelt living. Of celebration with each breath you take. A reminder that you create the life you live and no one else.

– Hugs, high fives, and finger guns blazing. Vanessa

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


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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?