The Art Of Reinvention

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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?

The Hamster Sleepeth.

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My husband and I had been enjoying an incredibly beautiful fall, walking in the woods with our pup and biking around town on days off. I barked out a laugh. “You know what I’ve been thinking? Absolutely nothing. Blank space. The hamster in my head is laying face down in the curve of the wheel, back arched, one leg dangling off the side, snoozing and drooling.”

This was a strange place to be. Especially for the personally motivated life coach, trainer, striver, traveller and seeker that I am. The status quo is for my brain to be in overdrive and at it’s peak at 3 am, stars twinkling as I plot and plan and dream of the next whispering horizon yet unseen.

This unknown territory began in the spring of last year, before I ended up in bed for two and a half months with a case of Zika turned into encephalitis. Five months of migraines and the stupids followed. The brain was turned to mush, ending in a slow drawn out recovery; hardly full of brilliant and complex thoughts.

I realized that for quite some time before that, I had been in between the chapters of my life. A space of unknowns, of questions, and a lot of the time – nothing. A moment of clarity bubbled up, that me (the usual loud mouth) had nothing to say and oddly enough had come to that elusive place of living completely in the moment and with no plan. Savoring the cup of tea, having an extra pint and listening to loud music on my Ipod into the wee hours of night, to choosing my new hobby of fishing and hanging out with my dog, over reading or growing my mind.

I found myself lying in my hammock pondering the width of my feet, to enjoying dinners of mixed languages with kids yowling with laughter at wrong words in different languages. To that moment when the only clear thought was “I don’t know.”

I spoke of it with friends and smirked at myself in my own quiet time. My husband smiled at me and a typical wise statement escaped his lips. “Vanessa, you realize that most of the people in the first world can only dream of attaining a place of the quiet peace you live in day to day. They dream of retiring and seeking the moment of the slumbering hamster. Yet here you are.”

Only a month ago I realized my brain had sped back up and THUMP, the pages dropped me over into a new chapter of my life. Even though lately the hamster is hot footing around the wheel of my mind, I now realize the gift of giving him snoozing breaks from time to time. I allocate siestas for him, and have somehow compartmentalized his workouts. Even though I embark on a new chapter, I take time breathe deep and feel my pups ears draping over my toes as I write this. I have to lift the computer off my lap just to watch her for a moment and take in the gift of a crazy animal that seeks out the comfort of drooling on my foot from time to time.

The reminder was that sometimes in life we need to allow for a break, to not know, to let the tides wash in and out of our minds, to clear space for new thought, and to rest up for the next segment. It really is OK not to be running full tilt all the time, and a blessing to have the “Hamster” take a good long nap.

The Return

 

Traveling is sometimes easy and sometimes a complicated dance ranging in varied levels of difficulty. From the minor headaches to the challenges that leave you shaking your head while marching for the nearest beer to slug down, followed very quickly by another one.

Our return south was challenging, yet after a few cold ones and a night panting in front of the fan blowing an inch from our faces it feels as though we had never left!

In our latest stint away from our heart home of Nicaragua, we had been to Canmore Canada, Spokane WA, Cache creek BC, Pennsylvania, New York City, Washington DC, Holland, back to DC to pick up the dog we had left on her own short vacay, threw her on a plane to go south. Dragged ourselves onto our flights and in what felt like the blink of an eye we found ourselves enjoying a rum cocktail while floating on paddle boards on a lake. The setting sun leaving brilliant streaks of pink and gold across the sky, content in the company of lifelong friends.

I keep shaking my head at how time can seem so irrelevant, as well as how much a person can fit in a short period of time if motivated. I enjoy a peaceful morning at the keyboard, savoring the moments while others still sleep. The first few days in a new location have me way too excited to sleep for long. Picture the hyperactive and overexcited five year old that ate too much sugar, minus the meltdowns.

Morning in the historic city of Granada, is filled with tropical birdsong, the breeze off the lake rustles the leaves on the mango trees above. Roosters announce the new day, although I am curious where they actually live, now that I think about it. A massive iguana blinks at me from the roof above, as the dogs pant at me feet; tongues as wide as they can go, and bellies pressed into cool tiles.

Heat and humidity opens the pores wide, allowing a person to sweat profusely from strange places like ones scalp. I recommend a cloth handkerchief or in a pinch a folded piece of paper towel to dab the upper lip and occasionally make a full swipe of the forehead, under the breasts or the classic sternum or belly wipe catching the rivulets making their way to the belt line.

During the acclimation phase little is worn in the home, shirts are off and shade with a bit of a breeze is a coveted piece of real estate.

Time slows down, as it just seems too hot to complete anything at a fast pace. Already I have slid into the lazy flip-flop walking pace of the tropics. Time in town is fun, but the sea murmurs in the back of our minds.

We heed the surfer’s call for the salt on our skin and waves beneath our feet.

Our return to the beach is filled with warm smiles, and many days of bumping down the dusty back roads at 5 kms an hour to greet old friends after almost 9 months away.

For the first time we truly feel home. All errands that used to be arduous due to lack of translation, extreme heat, and figuring out the ropes, now are performed as old pros.

We know where to go, how to keep cool, how to negotiate the chaotic streets in the city filled with bike taxis, horse and cart, and a plethora of wild dogs and people.

We retrieve our stored car, that although has a coating of dust and bird droppings, needs air in the tires and new paperwork, runs like a dream, and has us mobile once more.

Coquita Muneca, our Nica dog/world traveller, has arrived safe and sound and has slotted into beach life with few hitches. She has quickly learned the ropes of how to guard the house, fit in with the other dog packs in the area and has become a swimming fiend; a fun way to cool off in the afternoons.

Our own adaptation is to the surfer’s life. Needing to drop Canadian winter weight and go through the beat up feeling of the first two weeks, groaning with exhausted shoulders, sore ribs and taking lots of siestas.

As I wander down the beach in the early morning light, Coco chasing pigs and horses, I am mesmerized by the artistic hand of the tide. The sea is a master at sculpting sand twice a day on the endless beach. The San Cristobal volcano commands the horizon, salt and pepper smells of the tropics mingle with the ever present smoke in the air of burning cane fields. We are home.

Goals and Play-Doh

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As a life coach I highly value the decisive act of goal setting. It not only draws an outline for your life but the act itself makes an individual look within and take stock. I do not mean the casual thought of this is where I want to go, but a play-by-play segmented plan.

Many people find goal setting daunting. The fear of failure peaking over one shoulder or the giant end game crushing the other. The key is to make soft and attainable goals to go along with the big ones, as well as medium steps that are malleable.

A wise woman once shared with me her approach of goal setting: One month, three months, one year, and five years. I personally would take that a few steps further, by first approaching this exercise with a sense of lightness and possibility. Not overthinking the initial process, but writing your dream goals from the heart not with your hard lined reason – that can come later.

For those in relationships, the second step I would offer would be to rewrite your goals if you were completely on your own. JUST YOU. Not with a family, children, parents, pets, friends or a partner. See what comes up, you might have a surprise waiting for you.

At a pivotal time in my own life, I sat down to think of my goals. I first wrote things with reason, with my husband, in our current life. I hacked through it and came up with a decent roadmap, yet when I decided to unleash my innermost goals of what I wanted for my future I realized I had been compromising the life I truly wanted to live. Not because I was forced to, but because I had been caught up in a community, a marriage and a lifestyle, without realizing my inner needs had changed and were slowly eating away at my current happiness.

This was an insanely life altering process. When I wrote what I would do if I was on my own, a bomb went off in my heart and mind. I had written a completely 180 turn, as well as how I would pull it off.

This process was a thunderous reminder to never let life get away on me, as many of us know, can easily happen. It was a reminder for my husband and I that we were in a marriage, a union that takes compromise. Yet underscored was the absolute necessity for communication with each other about changing needs, as well as the act of taking chances within ones life. To pursue dreams as not only a unit, but to keep the passion alive within the individual we each fell in love with.

That crossroad in our lives sent us on a crazy ride building the next dream. The other major nugget I was reminded of recently? The dream changes. Due to necessary adaptation when the curve balls come flying in, or because of time and it’s continuous and eroding march forward.

Attaining those big goals doesn’t happen overnight, and usually through the process of trying to get there, we are morphed in the fire of our own journey. Time passes, we hit potholes or canyons and need to constantly adapt to the fluctuating ground we are scrambling upon. Hence the need for goals that are not carved of stone to crumble when life’s inevitable quakes shake our world, but objectives we can remold time and time again. Sure sounds better than dangling in the air by our claws as another dream falls away.

What if we approached goals with a childlike sense of wonder, of possibility? What if we shaped them with Play-Doh and let our imagination run wild. Color them with crazy hues, stick pipe cleaners out of the top, or roll them in the dirt. Goals that are in a distinct shape yet pliable enough to add on, take away or just plain reform into our changing needs and desires.

My invitation for you is to carve out, schedule, or set aside an afternoon or day in the next week or two to dream up or remold the next shape of your life. Sit down with your heart and mind and get your hands dirty.

Rock your inner youth!

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I don’t know about you, but as a 41 year old woman, I seem to be in denial that I am actually getting older. Until I look in the mirror in the right light and exclaim “What the #$@!%!, where did all those wrinkles come from?” Incidentally my father in his seventies also has the same shocking moments of wondering who the old guy in the mirror is.

I am in a smaller class of women that chose not to have kids, my number one passion is still surfing, and I am occasionally still seen ripping turns around our mountain neighborhood on my electric Skateboard while listening to Eminem.

While talking today to a “sister of the cloth”, meaning a great friend who is as much of a punk as me, I exclaimed the frustration of societies expectations for people at a certain age. While yes my husband and I are incredibly successful in our own hand crafted world, we still seem to be swimming against the tide of others following the accepted norm.

As people in our forties and above, we seem to have to behave a certain way, reach the bar of an accepted level of success, or be at a certain phase for us to “fit in” to a mold. This expectation piles on the ever-building weight of being an “Adult.”

How can we retain our weightlessness of youth?

Stop caring about what other’s think of you for one. I am reminded of my most valuable lesson fitting this topic. Be all that you are and the other black sheep will find you, before you know it you have a tribe of like minded people, that celebrate you and all your quirks.

My invitation to you today, is to ask what are the small stories you can let go of in your life that trap you in your age?

Can you shift a mindset here and there, to one of a child and play? To create a lightness of joy and simplicity, even for an hour a day? Are there things you gave up over the years that brought you such joy in your earlier years, and would you want to add them back into your life? Think of the shift of mindset or step of action that would allow more freedom to explore happiness, connection, and possibility.

Crossroads of Possibility or Regret?

 

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Sometimes while listening to a great song that brings back memories of days gone by, I think about those blazing crossroads that could have taken me in a completely different direction in life.

I can pinpoint so clearly those choices I made that lead me to this exact moment. When you look over your shoulder to past decisions do you have thoughts of regret? Do they fill your heart with sadness, or like me an interested and pensive wonder?

My heart aches a little for all the possibilities within ones life. I like to picture the other road that could have spread out before me. To imagine how it would have played out. Would I have died young, or become something so different? Perhaps.

All of us if we live long enough have moments of decision that we live with forever. When I look back I am so thankful for so many roads I could have taken. I feel fortunate to be thankful for where I am.

I have always had the philosophy that there are no such thing as regrets just decisions that could have been different, and all the ones that may now feel wrong lead to our growth, learning, and our grand path.

Yeah I know I am forever the optimist, and yes you may think screw that, I regret what happened, the decision I made.

But did you learn?

Can you look back with new eyes and see how that shaped you, made you different? Will you forgive yourself  and  share that knowledge to make a difference on the planet for the better? Will you give back, or will you let those decisions define you and take you down the dark path that leads to self destruction?

If you are sitting in a place you do not want to be, remember you are at that fiery and momentous crossroad now. The one you will be looking back on, in the blink of an eye.

Make the choice for you, for where you want to be, for who you wish to become. Create a blazing trail behind you that you are proud of.

Where is Home?

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Home.

What does Home mean to you?

For some it’s a house, for others it is a sacred land that had been passed down through ancestors, or perhaps it is where your parents are.

Maybe home is the accumulation of hard earned possessions or a life someone has built for their children. A community, or the combination of all these things, rolled together into an idea.

For me, home is where my husband and dog are. Home is in the pieces of my heart that I have given to my family and friends scattered all over the planet and it is in a land that I have adopted, far from my country of birth. It is wherever I may carry it.

While having a very normal morning playing toss and tug of war with my dog on a walk in the woods, the moment was surreal as I paused and looked around, laughing and yelling, ”Where the hell am I?”

In less than two and a half weeks, I am in another country, town and life. It’s amazing what you can pull off in short periods of time.

This is our new life model, the manifestation of a dream in the making for more than eight years. It has morphed during the process as we realized key points that we did not know before and as life grows and changes so do we in our needs, desires and wisdom.

The new model is to take work all over the Canada and the US, with my husbands well paying job as a project manager. To work “hair straight back” as we call it, for a chunk of the year and then disappear into Nicaragua to live a quiet surfers life.

2015 was a gift of health and six months in the south, getting to know our southern community, healing from a three year off and on back flare up, and to surf our brains out.

Returning back to our mountain home after visiting family, we scraped together work that was plentiful when we left and somewhat meager on our return.

A wonderful summer and fall in the mountains left us happy in heart but not at the cash level we needed to return south and build on our land. True to form, another random phone call was to veer us in a new direction.

“ So how do you feel about Pennsylvania?”

My only answer was, “Can we go to Nicaragua after?”

“ Yup”

“ I’m in.”

This short conversation would lead to the hurricane of packing up our lives once again, ferreting away our possessions into a room within our house, and handing the keys to a property manager.

My husband had gone ahead to the job, and I was to follow with the dog, a few days later. Rental cars and hotel living with a canine companion is a new challenge yet completely doable in this day and age. We even crammed in a whirlwind trip to NYC over Christmas, found a house and moved once again.

After unpacking, grocery getting and renting another car for myself, we are finally breathing a sigh of relief. I can now lay on the floor with Coco at my side and get back to writing.

When in Canada I can work my many fun jobs wherever I may be, now in the USA I switch gears into more Coaching and Writing; careers I can take on the road.

Life on the run is exciting and blissful for me, but certainly not for everyone. The unknowns and the challenges are certainly there packaged in a plethora of different stresses, yet a slight shift of mindset makes adapting to the life of adventure a worthwhile one for us.

I feel fortunate to have my home in my heart, easy to carry and share with others. For this crazy life of ours would not be possible if it were any other way.

Tell me a story of where your home is, or your idea of it.