Scars

Your scars are your tapestry, poetry written on your soul, each cell, each hair, each wrinkle beside the eyes, a tale to tell. How you rise, walk forward and reinvent yourself, a possibility. Cast fear to the wind, to dissipate and float like ash. Invite the sunlight in your heart, to trickle down through your bones, to let the rich earth within sprout, and grow the next story of your wondrous life. 
Believe…. Xoxox Vanessa Plimley

Turtle Wisdom

I’m so please to share my story in this wonderful compilation book of authors.

Enduring Wisdom ~ Life insights that stand the test of time.

My story is on page 176. Enjoy 🙂

Turtle Wisdom 

By Vanessa Plimley 

What gifts will this day bring? 

This is the first thought that bubbles up through my subconscious in the early dawn hour. 

With eyes still closed, I smile, hearing the cacophony of birds singing outside our tent. Many of their calls I don‘t recognize, as we are in a new part of the country that we have not explored before. 

The avian harmonies interweave the soft hoot of an owl, the gobbling of a wild turkey, and what sounds like a monster woodpecker excavating bugs out of the tree above. He is so incredibly loud that he sounds like he is chipping paint off our truck rather than digging into the bark. 

I open my eyes to my dog having a pup dream in her bed and wonder what she sees in her mind as her feet run in the air, nose twitching to unknown dream smells. Rolling over, my husband‘s big blue eyes peek out from under the covers. His laugh lines convey a big hidden smile. 

We are immediately giggling at the deflating bed, of how we froze in the night because the heater was turned to fan rather than heat. Of the massive thunderstorm lighting up the inside of our tent at midnight and the following torrent of rain adding to the grand performance. Of the dog cowering in the corner before crawling into the bed, trying to escape the wrath of the heavens. 

The first gifts of this day are simple ones. Of hearing, love, warmth, and laughter. 

It has become a ritual of mine to begin mornings with this question of curiosity, but also of deep gratitude for the small things that show up. 

Emerging from the tent, it is the morning light glistening on a spider‘s dewy web that catches my eye. A deer gazing at me as she quietly munches fresh grass. A cup of tea to warm cool hands as the light comes up and the sun on my face as it burns off the mist, unveiling a glassy lake. 

We are on time off in between work contracts and have embarked on a boating and camping trip through the South-Eastern USA. 

As Canadians, it is fascinating how each state is so unique, with its change of accents, culture, flora, and fauna. We are so fortunate to have the time and means to explore such a vast and diverse country. 

Yesterday was a logistics and workday, the inevitable tasks that need to happen when living life on the road. Managing businesses from afar and general online chores of paying bills, transferring money, and chasing down tax receipts. It is a time when technology is a blessing, to be able to sit at a campfire, pecking away at our laptops in a beautiful outdoor setting. 

With this new day ahead, I decide to go down to the water and attempt to catch a fish.

With pure excitement, I organize rods and lures. The worn fishing box my father gave me overflows with a messy tangle of line and bobbers rescued from trees or found on the ground. I make a mental note to add its cleaning to the eventual to-do list and shove it into the backpack. With rods in one hand, I happily bike through the campground feeling like a ten-year-old heading out on a grand adventure. 

Midweek in spring, the campground is empty, leaving a quiet beach to enjoy alone. My sudden arrival accidentally scares a snake into the water. He glides silkily along the shoreline, his head above and body beneath, leaving gentle ripples radiating out on the surface. 

A blue heron silently glides overhead; the majestic grey body and widespread wings make me smile and think of my mother, as it is one of her favorite birds. 

I cast a bobber and bait out into the depths and wonder what other creatures lie below. A wide smile of joy spreads across my face as the answer looks at me from beside a floating log. I see a beautiful turtle peering at me curiously. Along with her brightly colored head and mottled shell, I can see her clawed feet paddling the clear water, tail dangling in an adorable stubby point. 

She ducks below the surface to emerge a few feet in front of me, then disappears once more to emerge in a new spot. She seems to be playing a cheeky game of peekaboo. 

I brood about her eating my bait and pull it in rapidly to cast out further.

It is always the same scenario when I attempt fishing in a new spot. I am so full of hope and complete ignorant surety that I will catch fish. Unfortunately, the results are a little more far between. 

There is so much to learn depending on what kind of fish you want to catch, different bodies of water, change of depth, and bottom. Of salt or freshwater, and countries where fishing methods and varieties of fish found are completely different. 

After a short time without success, I pull in my line, change my set up, and cast out again with renewed anticipation, the turtle quietly watching me. As time passes without a nibble, I realize I am probably rushing things and settle into a quiet pondering on a rock. 

How content I am in nature. It‘s times like these I feel a part of my environment rather than just a visitor. 

I worked many years as a hiking guide in the Canadian Rockies, spending summers outside, sharing the beauty of the wilderness with clients. After seasons of walking through the mountains, I began to sense a deep rhythm of the woods and its animals. The incredible system of life in balance from the smallest of bugs to the largest of beasts. 

What an honor to witness such creatures in a protected habitat. The magnificent grizzly bear gorging on buffalo berries. Her massive head sweeping side to side, stripping entire branches of leaves and fruit. Her cubs nearby, romping and tussling in a fuzzy pile. 

One season I was stunned to see a lone wolf padding down a deserted back road in the early dawn hour. His piercing yellow eyes resting on me as he passed by, his lanky steady gait taking him on a hidden mission to an unknown destination. 

I would visit an osprey nest full of chicks, their fluffy heads protruding just above the woven rim. 

Or crest an alpine meadow to see a lone mountain goat high on a barren slope, towering peaks and glacier behind, creating a breathtaking vision. 

It would still be the height of summer, and I could sense the land preparing for Fall. Subtle hints like fading summer blooms and grasses subtly changing shade. Squirrels nibbling on mushrooms and transporting them away for their winter cache. Different smells in the air would accent cooler mornings. 

In what seemed only weeks, the rapid transformation of the land was in all its glory. Reverberating bugles of elk in rut, creating a fall soundtrack to the symphony of color that would paint the mountainsides shades of gold, persimmon, and saffron. 

I have always loved to be outdoors, my head to the sky and feet in the dirt. The dirtier my feet, the more fun I‘m having. 

I would spend hours in the woods as a kid. Attempting to make bow and arrow, mixing secret salves of my imagination from berries and mashed up leaves. Building forts to play in and spending hours under the protective branches of wise old trees. I felt more comfortable and safe there than anywhere else.  

I am a Heinz 57 breed of human. I thought a blend of English and Scottish, yet on a quiet afternoon stroll with my grandmother, she wove more colored threads into the tapestry of my family tree. 

Quietly speaking, as her knotted hands gripped her walker, she told me that on one side of the family, my great-great-grandfather was Irish, and his wife was Native American Indian from the Plains Ojibwe or Saulteaux. 

I could not find much information on their story, yet the knowledge struck a chord deep within me, like a different vibration of self. Perhaps it was confirmation of the connection I have always felt with the earth. 

Growing up on the West Coast of Canada, I sought the deep woods, mountaintops, and the ocean for wisdom and answers. 

With all my life challenges or difficult moments, I would escape to the wilderness. With desperate eyes streaming, I would wail to the wind or swim below the surface of the sea for the clicking reassurance of the creatures below. 

This would not change with miles and time. 

During many years of travel, I found myself on a far off shore running beside a growling storm out at sea. The wind rushing around and through me, adding to the turbulent questions of my purpose and life direction. 

Or wandering through ancient woods in the fading afternoon light, fire gilding the edges of the leafy canopy above, and the wonderful feeling of spongy moss below my toes like a fragrant carpet. It reminded me to tread lightly on this fragile earth and respect and love her creatures.

Crossing oceans by sailboat, sitting under a full moon, its light dancing on the sea, filled me with such a deep connection to God or a higher power. The buzzing energy of life crackling over all the cells in my body, leaving such a sweet agony gripping my heart. 

With nature, I can breathe deeply and remind myself of my inner wisdom without all the chatter or opinions of others. I can ask questions and navigate with my inner compass. 

It reminds me to live deeply in the current moment. Not in the past or the unknown road ahead. To not dream away days or weeks or months, even when in a challenging chapter of life. 

During this trip, I reached out to some people in my life to ask what wisdom meant to them. The answers were as vast as the variety of people themselves. 

For some, it is external study, the gathering of information, applying it and sharing it with the world. For others, it is to be open to the inevitable changes life brings. Or allowing views to change over time with additional information gathered. 

Wisdom for some people is a culmination of personal lessons learned, to be shared and passed down through generations, culture, or society. For others, it‘s the spiritual journey one discovers or lives during a lifetime. 

A wonderful friend wrote ~ Wisdom is enjoying life! Amen to that. 

I have deep respect for people who dedicate their lives to study. Whatever their focus, their search for and addition of knowledge for humankind is impressive. I have respect for those that pledge their life to God or a spiritual existence. Of people who choose to devote their time to raising a family. 

At middle age, I realize, the more I know, the less I know, I know. We all walk such unique paths in our own personal universe, with an individual calling, purpose, reality, and perspective. How boundless is the human experience, how varied are the ways we traverse this earth, and the lessons we gather along the way. 

When I reflect on my own idea of wisdom, it is living deeply and enjoying a full life. Of learning, celebration, and connection. Of a life filled with love and adventure. 

Of living my purpose; to share joy and inspire others to find theirs. 

Wisdom to me is appreciating and honoring others‘ individuality. Of loving and respecting myself with all the light and dark, with the intention to grow and change like the tide washes a beach, shifting sand and rocks leaving it new each day. 

To have the courage to keep an open heart and mind so that I might recognize the beautiful people who enter my life, to teach me, and help me grow. To listen and learn. 

Or the wisdom of being present enough to savor a morning on a lake, with a turtle. 

I look for her and she has pulled herself up onto a log to sun herself. I realized a few days ago that I have seen turtles almost every day of our trip. Paddling across the secluded cove where we have anchored our boat, sitting in the grass in our campsite, or crossing the roads after a night of rain. 

My husband and I had a book about spirit animals or totems. Often we would look up the meaning or significance when a creature kept showing up in our lives. 

It seems every year I have had a different animal that would continually appear in dreams, in books, in art or conversation. I adopt them as my theme, their meaning or symbolism always a direct correlation of what I am learning or experiencing at the time. 

My last few years have been of orca, owl, and fox. This year it seems that turtle is swimming into my life. 

Turtle wisdom or significance is different for each culture, in history or spirituality. For some Native American tribes, it represents the connection to mother earth and the creation of North America called Turtle Island. When I looked up ―Turtle Wisdom‖ online, the first few lines I read were so fitting. They read, when the turtle shows up in your life, it is to remind you to slow down and investigate the wonder around you. To stay true to your path and be at peace with your choices. 

I smile and think of how we are like a turtle these days, traveling with our home on our back. Of feeling content where we are in this moment. Having time to go inward and take stock or reflect. Of how our lives are moving at a slower pace, so we can enjoy all the gifts that show up in our day.  

Turtle reminds me, that with a slower pace, we can observe the world more closely. Not only does she remind me of this in nature but in people. 

So often we are rushing, emerged in our own busy lives, we lose touch with those around us. By slowing down, connecting and listening to others, we can witness the small changes or shifts within them and read between the lines for unspoken longing or desire. 

We can have a conversation with a stranger to find out their wonderful life story. You never know who you will meet or what wisdom they hide beneath the exterior shell they let the world see. 

Turtle wisdom may be for this year, but the lessons gathered, I will carry with me into the future unknown. For today, this turtle reminder is such an expansive gift. What else will this day bring I can‘t imagine. 

I am jerked out of my philosophizing on the shoreline when I feel my rod bounce. 

The line begins to spool out, setting my reel buzzing. I am surprised to feel there is a good-sized fish on the end. I am squealing with delight as I reel it in, and discover a big ol‘ catfish with its thick dripping whiskers and bulbous eyes. 

I keep him in the water as I gently pull out the crimped hook. After telling him how beautiful he is and apologizing for the mouth puncture, I quickly set him free back to the deep where he disappears with such speed, his perfect coloring hiding him from above. 

I am rather proud of myself and grinning stupidly on the shore.  

With eyes shining, I look at the turtle. ~Did you see that? 

I am almost hugging myself, I am so happy. Gazing around, I nod my head. 

The line in a song by Ray Wylie Hubbard comes to me: 

~And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well I have really good days.

Connection

I started beading when traveling through Mexico on annual surf trips, in my twenties.

I would drag around a bag of beads, pulling them out at a table in a restaurant, knowing that within a short period of time, local women would begin to hover at a distance, to check out all the pretty colors.

I would invite them to sit and make something. It was such a great way to meet people and learn Spanish at the time.

Decades later not much has changed. I love to pull out the bead bag and make a little something for me, that I inevitably seem to give away, but watch what other’s create as we chat around a table.

Summer at the lake has stepped it up a notch. Every week I now stock up the bracelet stash, with the hope I will meet someone lovely to give one to.

It is a way for me to give a random joyful gift that might make someone feel happy or special. They are conversation starters and small twinkling reminders of time well spent laughing, having heart talks, or being present to the special moments together.

With each bracelet I make, I wonder who will claim it, who I made it for? What future conversations will come from it?

It is a way for me to share connection, friendship and love.

You never know who will come into your life at any given moment. If you come into mine, know I’m ready and waiting with anticipation.

Xoxox V

The random FaceTime

Covid was an interesting time for some and devastating for others, but some gifts came out of it too. More time with loved ones, changes of routine and ways of working and communicating. And thank goodness for FaceTime.

My husband and I would have such great FaceTime coffee or happy hour chats with friends all over the world. And this has become a wonderful way of connecting still.

It puts such a huge smile on my face when random friends video call out of the blue. The planet seems smaller and friendships and family connections thrive.

I know I can be a big part of my family’s life, to see what they are doing and share their life even though we are countries away.

Who will you FaceTime this weekend?

Xoxox Vanessa

The Contrast

The perception versus reality.

We all have life challenges. In times of social media, sometimes we forget that below all the pictures of people doing fun things or looking healthy, there is another story unfolding.

Sometimes they are small speed bumps, other times a complete shift of reality.

Severe chronic migraines are my current life challenge, that remind me to always have empathy for what other people are going through.

This winter was one of the hardest in my life with 75% of my days in bed due to crazy weather.

With more stable weather in the summer months, I have some reprieve, to play and do the things I love.

My life has changed significantly of the things I can and cannot do.

For all of you out there going through a hard time, I’m sending a massive hug and a gentle reminder that this too shall pass and if it does not, you have to power to adapt and make the new reality one that fills your heart and soul.

Thankfully, life is full of wonderful surprises waiting for us just around the corner.

Xoxox Vanessa

Fog Rising Off Water

Pg 240 out of the compilation book Ordinary Oneness ~ The Simplicity Of Everyday Love, Grace & Hope

getbook.at/OrdinaryOneness

By nature, I’m that bounce out of bed, irritatingly happy morning person. So when my husband or family see me stagger to the freezer for another icepack, puffy-eyed and hair in disarray, they know I am deep in the migraine hole. It is a hazy landscape filled with the murmur of missed audiobook chapters, toast for nausea, and long hours of zero thought, with my head in a vice.

Severe chronic migraines are the legacy of a case of the mosquito disease Zika gone awry, giving me encephalitis. Now with weather pressure changes, I am curled up in a dark room. Winters in North America are tough.

Yet, as I slowly climb out of a multi-day attack, I feel reborn to the world. My senses return, the cobwebs in my mind slowly dissipate like fog rising off water. I blink like an owlet, gazing around in wonder, rolling wrists and ankles, each creaky joint stiff from lying in bed so long.

Seeking comfort, my hand reaches out for my dog’s rump to lay in a perfect divot on her thigh. She studies me with concerned eyes and a wagging tail. Is it time? She seems to ask with hope brimming in her gaze. “Yes my pup, it’s time.” Tea first, then walk and sniff the wind, listen to music and feel the sun on our faces.

She can sense my energy. A burble, rising like a geyser, the need to burst out into the world after days entangled in a cotton sheet cocoon.

Her full name is Coquita Muneca Flores Mendes (Coco for short.) Our Nicaraguan beach mutt, born under a satellite dish, at a surf spot. She was a gift from the caretaker and perhaps one of the most important gifts I have ever received. I dreamt her to me at the perfect time in my life.

She was two when I fell sick and incredibly smart. After working with a service dog trainer to teach her to alert me when a migraine is pending, she has become my constant companion, my extra limb. Coco is forever nosing me to put down the phone, close the computer and be present in the moment. She is my reminder to get outside and play, to savor moments, and go look at the world with curiosity.

Grinning at me with her tongue lolling, we leave the house, walking across our yard to the shorn cornfields, winter smells upon the wind. We follow a farmer’s dirt track and wind our way up a rolling hill. Poking our noses in large burrows of unseen forest creatures, their homes built in tree and rock islands floating in a sea of grass.

With the sun upon my face and arms wide with palms to the sky, I take in the light and clean crisp air, open space to unfurl my heart and mind. I close my eyes, as one of my favorite songs begins to play in my earbuds. I feel blessed to have the ability to travel in my mind through music, especially when challenged by current health circumstances, a pandemic, and an unknown future.

The song is one I listen to almost every day in our heart home of Nicaragua, the chosen country we spend our time in, between work contracts. While my body stands in a field in central Pennsylvania, my mind is instantly standing on our beach.

My heart wrenches, but a wide smile spreads across my face. I imagine my feet in the cool morning sand, the warm tide washing up around my ankles, as my feet sink deeper. I taste the salt on my tongue, the salt and pepper smells of the tropics fill the humid air, a hint of flowers mixed with the smoke of burning cane fields.

I do a slow twirl, and I can see the glassy molten colors of dawn on the sea. A flock of pelicans skim in flight only a meter above the waves, wingtips almost graze the water as they glide so silently, searching for breakfast just below the surface.

I look down once more at the beautiful ripples in the sand at low tide, colorful ribbons of light and shadow. Hidden sand dollars bubble from just beneath, sunken just out of sight from hunting egrets and sandpipers. Artistic patterns cover the beach as the small crabs have excavated balls of sand from their holes, pushed out in spreading swirls to create endless unique designs.

Coco runs gleefully, chasing the small fish stuck in the tide pools, her tail whipping back and forth, triangle ears so erect, her concentration focused. Her dog pack of friends rush down the beach to gather her for a chase of the horses feeding in the neighbors’ field, they run and leap, rolling and tussling as they chase each other back through the shoreline. A perfect symphony of colors and sounds wrap me in the beginning of a new day. Tears run down my cheeks, as my soul longs desperately for the sea.

I open my eyes, somewhat shocked to know we are back standing in the field, winter chill ca-ressing my face. With a deep breath and slow sigh, I acknowledge the heaviness and grief for the fight I will be up against this winter, never knowing when multiple days will be lost in a week. My body feels rather haggard and beat up as the migraine hangover still clings.

Gone are the pain-free summer days filled with exploding energy and a clear mind. Once a year I allow myself a good ugly cry and cling to Coco. This year it was sobbing in a parking lot and then over dinner where my incredible and steadfast husband held my hands, love brimming in his eyes, while he gave me a good old pep talk. A new day dawned, I pulled up my big girl pants and very quickly counted all the blessings in my life, with the new motto of two words. Just try.

With that thought, we continue our walk as a red-tailed hawk leaps silently from a branch above. We study her flight path, as she glides out to circle over the field. I wonder what she sees with her luminous sharp eyes, what she hears creeping in the grass below?

Coco snuffles in holes and tears by me at top speed, with a stick she throws excitedly in the air. She wears her bright orange vest, as deer hunting rifle season is in full swing. It matches the or-ange wool hat of mine, to make sure we are seen from hidden tree stands in the bordering woods.

As we return home, I play catch up on life. Laundry and house cleaning, working on a writing project and the steps to return to online coaching work. I realize creativity and patience will be needed to somehow execute these with the challenges of this current reality.

I have begun a practice of “fluid discipline.” A list of things to get done in a day, week, or month, sits on my table to peck away at, when possible. Today, however, there is a deep need within me to play hooky from it all and go fly fishing.

With gear quickly thrown in the truck, Coco assumes her co-pilot position in the front seat. As thoughts roll by with the passing landscape, I reflect on how much our current life is a vast change from our ice and rock climbing days of living in the Canadian Rockies. After beating up my body in both work and play, I sought new ways to get outside, with fewer injuries.

Our first year in Pennsylvania, Coco and I were exploring a hiking trail near a beautiful stream. Two gentlemen sat behind their vehicles in the parking lot, chatting in camp chairs while sipping a morning coffee. After assembling their fly fishing gear, they split up to their own secret pools on the water. When we returned to my truck a few hours later, they were back in their chairs sporting wide grins and a beer in hand. I thought to myself, when I retire, this will be my sport.

Very quickly that changed to, why wait? My body pleaded for a new activity that would lead me into the outdoors, to explore new terrain and water, without the expense of hurting my body.

Pulling up the truck to my first choice of river access, we find the parking lot empty. Giving Coco a scratch and the stay command, she curls up in a sunbeam on the front seat, as she casts me a rather unimpressed look. Fishing is her favorite sport, but at this particular spot she will scare the fish away with her energetic minnow hunting on the edge of the stream.

Setting up my gear is intentionally slow, as I smirk to myself chanting my fishing mantra. Take your time, tie good knots, crimp your hooks, breathe. An impish grin spreads across my face as I pull on waders and boots, what I call my fun pants, as they remind me of being a kid, pulling on a snowsuit to roll around in a fresh snowfall. Wading into the stream brings equally calm and anticipation.

A landscape shimmers with possibility and the gifts of nature. A doe stares from between the trees on the far shore, flicking her tail, before silently vanishing into the woods. An eagle circles high above in the searing blue sky as tiny midges flit in sunbeams, a hint of how I may entice the sleek shadowy creatures below. I sing to the fish, send prayers down the river to my friends across the sea, it is river meditation at its finest.

Yet as any angler knows, the zen moments on a river are finite. It is a roller coaster of emotions mixed with the exasperation of tangled lines, of sneaky trees that snag line and fly, and the utter frustration of seeing fish appear just below the surface and the lack of the correct fly or knowledge to land it.

All my vexation is worth it in the glorious moment it all comes together. To set the hook, let it play, and bring it close enough to scoop the most beautiful fish in the world into my net. With wet hands, I quickly take out the hook to admire its stunning colors. Each fish so incredibly unique in color and pattern. From sunset-colored streaked sides to leopard spots, or skin swathed in orange and green. What a gift to watch it powerfully swim back into the shadows, immediately hidden by its perfectly shaded body.

Anyone within hearing distance will know when I have landed a fish, my loud hooting and happy dance on the river is inevitable.

Content with a day outside, Coco and I make our way home smelling of the wild and water. I ponder the gifts that an illness or injury can bring. The inevitable life balance of light and dark, of struggle and peace.

For this effervescent woman, I am forced to rest my body. To make the absolute most of my days when not in bed. To have deep empathy for others dealing with their own struggle, and feeling so blessed with a warm house, bed, supportive husband, and furry companion. Such deep gratitude fills my heart for the love of friends and family.

We arrive home for a quiet dinner with my husband and some cards. This simple day leaves me content, full of prayers for clear skies, and with patience and diligence we will find a cure sometime in the future.

For now, I can dream of beautiful trout, the sun on the water, the quiet forest, and birds soaring above in a wide and open sky. 

getbook.at/OrdinaryOneness

Ordinary Oneness – The simplicity of everyday love, grace and hope.

2 days until launch day for a new book collaboration I am in – Ordinary Oneness – The simplicity of everyday love, grace, and hope. I feel so honored to be a part of these books sharing stories of life in all its craziness. My story is on page 240- “Fog Rising Off Water”

Check it out 🙂xoxoxogetbook.at/OrdinaryOneness

Just Try.

My mantra of 2021 is “Just Try.”

We all go through the wild ride of life with unforeseen ups and downs, which can be short bumps in the road or life changing ones.

I  have returned to the coaching and personal training world, with a new challenge.

4 years ago, a mosquito disease took an unforeseen turn in my system, giving me encephalitis and leaving me with severe chronic migraines with weather pressure changes. Normally we are running to our southern home of Nicaragua, for sunshine and warm seas in between work contracts, during winter months.

There, I feel in my power with a clear mind and fired up pain-free body. North American winters are tough for me, with 50-75 % of my days and months in bed.

Yet when I rise out of the migraine fog, I am so excited for everything life has to offer. I want so deeply to move, connect, share, to write, work and to go fly fishing.

I have a list of things I want to get done in a day, week or month. Sometimes I can do one and not the five others. I cycle through them, focusing on ticking off what I can, rather than not. Somehow, it all keeps moving forward, albeit slowly.

With Covid, we are hunkered down and feeling very thankful for my husband’s work. For myself, it was the first year I thought, “Just Try.” The pull to return to my career specialties as well as writing, were tugging on my soul.

For most of my adult life I worked for myself, creating my brand and voice. When younger, I thought I had to conform to the mold dictated by society. As the years passed, I realized that I had the amazing ability and choice to do things my way. With heart, authenticity, and pure stoke.

With speaking my current health challenge, having a clear conversation of expectations, and giving my 100% when at full capacity, I have had glowing support. What I thought would deter clients, has instead shown them that we all have stumbling blocks. How we navigate them and create a new path, is what counts.

So here I am showing up with a fueled heart, ready to share the joy. I am so thankful that it still overflows through tough times.

Big love to you all going through mega life challenges. The sun will rise, the seasons will change, and a new horizon is waiting. Just try.

Mexican road trips & Goals

Driving a 1000 miles of Mexican coastline surfing and looking for land was a pretty cool memory of why I really began goal setting.

My husband had joined a real estate network that was a mentoring group on how to buy and manage rental properties. When he originally got into it, I was uninterested, and thought “Your thing not mine.” So he quietly went to meetings once a month. He went to a weekend seminar where you learn all the basics and as he jokingly said to “Drink their “Kool-aid.” He bought his first property and I had no idea where it was.

During one of our trips south we found ourselves driving long and dusty miles. With content, surfed-out bodies, he would put in CD’s that were a recording of the weekend seminar he had originally taken. Some of it was boring, other subjects got my attention so much that I had to pause and talk about it.

By the time we returned to Canada I joined the real estate group and we bought two more properties.

One of the best practices I got out of it was you had to write down what you needed for the month, what you wanted to accomplish in a doable and attainable list. Then you had an accountability partner that would check-in and keep you on track.

My husband and I began to use the same practice in our marriage. We would have awesome hot tub meetings, drinking wine, and ask each other “What do you need this month?” It might be simple things like needing a night out with the girls or to work more hours on a writing project. It might be a boys trip or to finish repairs on a property.

The lesson was this. We became very, very productive at attaining our goals. This grew and grew, and we are currently living a crazy life that we could have never dreamed up. It has morphed from the original vision and always is evolving, but we keep our fingers on the pulse of our lives and it works.

Of course goal setting is a huge part of the coaching I do in my career now. How do you know what to do, if you don’t know what you want?

Clarify what it is and how you might get there. Maybe you know exactly what you want but get stuck in the overwhelming list of things to do.  A coach can create a space for you to figure out your priorities, hone in on the exact path, and keep you accountable for small actions; the baby steps that move you forward every single day.

Maybe a coach is not right for you, and that’s ok, but I beg you to be relentless in creating what you want. Some people get caught on the treadmill of reacting to life coming their way, rather than purposefully and methodically designing it.

Whatever the dream is, it’s desperatly calling you to live it!

Masked hugs and elbow bumps, Vanessa

Of rain and re-birth.

~ This one is for the Migraine Warriors.

Oh, how I used to adore the rain. 

Lush, northern, west-coast rainforest. Cloaked in mist and deep peaty smells. Fiddleheads and towering Douglas Fir. Raincoats and boots, exploring and sniffing.

Topical downpours gushing down massive canopies, rivulets off banana leaves, and flower petals. Warm and wet, filling flip-flops, as we squealed into a restaurant, hand in hand, to watch old movies on a wall and drink warm beer.

Torrential sheets, streaming from a towering thunderhead, washing over my upturned face, pouring down arms and out-turned hands. Standing on the bow of a sailboat, adrift on the equator, covered in soap and tears, screaming and dancing, for a deluge from the heavens.

Hurricane rain, slashing sideways on the windows, and running down the walls from window-seams, as we giggle at midnight. Throwing towels on the floor to stop our bedroom from flooding, as the dog barks and chases her tail on the bed, in sheer joy.

Quiet sprinkles on fall leaves, eyes twinkling, waist-deep in a river. Singing made up songs to entice the trout to my fly.

Howling and heckling with you, as massive drops bounce off the surface of the sea. We surf with close friends as warm waves roll in, ocean warmer than air, hazy mist in our own dream.

The first rain in 6 months, massive tears from heaven hitting the gasping land, hidden plants shuddering with joy. Running naked in the dark, to dance on the beach, celebrating the break of the drought. The land drinking feverishly.

These days I sigh, as I check the forecast, rain looming on the horizon. 

My spirit collapses inward, as the vice grows tighter. Heart pulsing in my throat, stomach heaving. Long restless nights, ice pack deliveries, blurry eyes, and low light movies, half-watched, with one eye open. 

Murmuring in my ear, books on repeat, as I miss chapters. Mind slow as molasses. The dog curled butt to butt, with propped head and worried eyes.

Body stiff and sore with no movement. Loving texts, message check-ins. Mind full of clouds, no thoughts, just breath. We all wait. 

Then I roll over and begin to stretch, and hope. I walk through memories or the previous world of taste and smells. My mind slowly bubbles to the surface of a glowing new world.  I dream of movement and air searing my lungs with possibility. Of joy and sun and water and clear star-studded skies.

You will know when I am back from my inward journey, eyes aglow, heart afire, for a few more days.