As a single woman in the modern world, I received mixed reactions to my plan to journey by car and tent camp from Montreal, Quebec to the Vancouver area, British Columbia, Canada. There were the individuals that called me ‘brave, strong, determined, focused’ and there were the ones who thought I might be a bit ‘crazy’.
Once the decision was made to relocate and begin the next chapter of my life —that was it. It did not matter what anyone said to me. I trusted my intuition and inner guidance. I have felt a calling for quite some time to move. Quebec was not to be my final destination. British Columbia (BC) would be more welcoming, no French language issues, many social work, social service, and mental health jobs available, and most importantly I have many friends in BC where I have few in Quebec. I used to have many, but pandemic changed this.
I have been a trained social worker for 24 years. I received my Master of Social Work degree in 1997. I worked as a therapist for 1.5 years with youth and families and the rest of my career to this point as a case manager. I worked with adults with mental health issues for a year, and then for twenty years with older adults ages 50+; most of my clients were Holocaust Survivors. They were my mentors in many ways, extremely resilient and full of wisdom that they shared with me. This all shaped me as a professional and I truly learned perspective. In many ways, I felt my life journey paled in comparison.
I am eclectic and unique as a social worker, loss & grief coach, artist, author, mentor, mastermind facilitator, a creative soul, and what I term as a visionary and servant leader. Lots of words, titles, interests-that is what they are, titles. I love all these roles and many interests, but they are things I do and not who I am.
I believe in multiple streams or sources of income. I believe we should do work that inspires us, that we are passionate about, that brings us joy. The type of work that makes us jump out of bed every morning and look forward to the day ahead. Part of this is mindset. It is making that decision ‘to be’, to have faith, to believe, and trust the process.
We all should ‘journey forward’ as I call it. Life itself is a journey and one that should resonate. No matter what challenges come our way, traumatic life events, illnesses-we cannot give up and succumb. These things happen to test us, make us appreciate these dark moments, as without them we do not truly appreciate and value the light or good moments.
This trek across Canada from east to west was an amazing experience. I travelled by car and packed what belongings fit into it and had what was needed for tent camping. I sold off most of my belongings and gave much away. No set schedule, I aimed for two and a half weeks for the journey and did it in fifteen days. Seven nights of tent camping and seven nights staying with friends at their homes.
Canadian nature is awe-inspiring, calming, soothing, brought me peace, quieted my mind and thoughts. I used the time to explore, paint, sketch, write, read, relax, meet some fellow campers and see friends I had met on social media over the past ten years. Best thing was meeting in-person those I had met on Zoom, through LinkedIn, Facebook, and through five-and seven-day challenges, we attended together over the last year through social media.
Seeing someone’s wall live that I had seen on video and zoom only-very cool!
Solitude, introspection, and self-reflection time is important. Daily walks in nature are grounding, healthy, and needed. I crave connection with nature. I meditate during this time and appreciate the sights and sounds. Seeing the Canadian countryside crossing through 5 provinces was indescribable at times. I took many photos and every province offered more than the one before.
Exercise, visualization, meditation, a gratitude journal, eating healthy, drinking lots of water are part of my daily routine. Music and creative outlets also. To me, creativity is something we all should make as part of our routine; whatever resonates. For me, it is painting, photography, sketching, knitting, writing. For others, it could be woodworking, technology creation, pottery, cooking, or jewelry making.
So, what led me to this ‘journey forward’ moment? Life events, illnesses, trauma, and accidents. The past three years changed my life in many ways, but fast forward to today and all happened for a reason. Life unfolds because we need to learn, grow, change, be open to new things, and sometimes make a big, but needed shift.
It will be three years come October 2021 that I suffered a concussion from tripping on the stairs in my home. A loose tread and down I went, intuition kicked in and I slightly turned so my left shoulder hit first followed by the left side of my face. I blacked out, but the rest is hazy. Two months later I tripped over a laundry basket and put the top of my head into the wall. In total five months off work. The concussions triggered intense migraines and a whole slew of symptoms: dizziness, nausea, memory, concentration, and focus issues. Scents, lights, and noise irritated me as in no sun, no bright lights, no loud noises or strong smells. I lived in a bubble. Physiotherapy, osteopath, specialists, tests, exams, suggestions of medication, which I could not use as I reacted to them, became my world. I could not read more than a paragraph for months and it took me a full year to be able to read a book again and only a few pages at a time.
In August of 2019, I was in a cycling accident on a bike path in downtown Montreal. A young male came out of nowhere and hit me head-on. He walked away carrying his bike because it was bent and my partner at the time fixed mine enough so I could ride the 14 kilometers home. My entire right hand, arm, and shoulder were numb. Nothing broken, but the accident had sent me flying into the street with my bike landing on top of me. Two months of recovery and intense pain and still today two years later I cannot fully bend the finger of the hand that was hit.
Hello 2020, the world changed for all of us, pandemic. Montreal was hard hit, “fast and furious” I call it. No one was prepared. Employers and businesses were not prepared, and many went into crisis mode. Total and complete lockdown of the Island of Montreal for 2.5 months. Schools closed, daycares closed, stores considered non-essential closed. My former work closed the actual building and remote work became the new norm. Three weeks for me until I became ill. I had some of the typical symptoms of COVID; fever for 1 week, the weird scratchy throat, coughing, lost my voice, but then either insomnia or sleeping all the time, no appetite, little taste, daily headaches or migraines, hallucinations, weird dreams, the light of any kind hurt my head and eyes along with digital. Five weeks of quarantine and self-isolation in my living room. I was told by my doctor to do this as I did not have respiratory symptoms and it was so overcrowded in the hospitals, clinics, and testing centres. Residual symptoms lasted for months. I was off work for sixteen months and eventually became unemployed like many.
Yes, I was a shell of myself then; I struggled, was depressed, unsure of what was happening in the world like many, but I also believed things would improve. Events like all of these are put in our path by the universe for a reason. The question is, did we learn our needed lesson(s)? Have we processed all, integrated what we needed to, accepted, and completed the needed inner work, and made necessary changes in our external world?
Internal work is visualization, meditation, gratitude, positive affirmations, study, personal development, working through what I term dark or shadow moments, being with yourself in solitude, learning to love and accept oneself, and knowing you can only change yourself and not others.
Seek solitude, shut down the inner dialogue, quiet the noise, and just flow. I joined an amazing community with individuals who had such awesome skills and expertise, attended masterminds, was nudged, encouraged, supported, and many have become family to me. They were all instrumental in my healing process. For this, I am extremely grateful. I also joined ‘The Friendship Bench’ during this time.
In order to give of ourselves, we must nurture ourselves. Soul growth is forgiveness, courage, patience, faith, compassion, generosity, wisdom, self-love, and love of others.
(Handbook for the Soul)
Nourishing the soul to me is nurturing the ability to respond positively to life. Keep our inner fire alive! Appreciate the positives, commit to action, and most importantly- what activities make you feel most alive, and in love with life?
We must ‘journey forward’ and this is what I have done a few times in my life. Each day we are faced with opportunities to help others, to forgive them, to have compassion for them. Do you seize these opportunities, or do you let them slip by? Do you forgive yourself for choices you have made? Do you live in the present or are you still bringing the past into your present circumstances? We must have courage, we must receive with an open heart.
To nourish the soul means to participate in the very mechanics of creation-to become a co-creator of your life and of the world as you want it to be.
~Wayne Dyer, PhD
My trek across Canada was following a calling and trusting my intuition. I also realized on this ‘journey’ that through service to others it opens my soul. We must be willing to build relationships by understanding others and their feelings, affirm them, their potential, their innate goodness.
Part of my journey is to focus on four areas in order to improve: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. If the above descriptions/events are not enough, I am an individual who has hit my head two other times in my life tripping or slipping on wet cement, was in two car accidents-one where I totaled my car after hitting a patch of black ice. I suffered two miscarriages, immigrated to Canada from USA, got divorced, and ended a second romantic relationship during pandemic. Loss and grief became part of my life through family and client deaths and all the events and traumatic things that occurred over the years.
The wisdom of King Solomon echoes in my mind; “Above all else, guard your heart. It is the spring from which everything in your life flows.” So much of what surrounds us is just noise. Grieving hearts don’t need noise. We need love. We need hope and peace of mind.
Be kind to yourself and patient with others. Breathe deeply. Loss is everywhere. if I am going to be an effective voice of healing and hope in the areas of loss & grief, as a mentor in creativity and Emotional Intelligence, I know I need to make some shifts and what matters is I made the choice to ‘journey forward.’ I could wallow, be negative, complain, and be miserable OR I can focus on the positive, divine inspiration and guidance, and just trust and have total faith that all will be well. Basically, surrender. The surrendering is part of the hero’s journey; choosing a different path.
We know we need to make a change. We know our current reality does not resonate with us. We become more aware and learn, grow, adapt, accept, and change. Are you ready? Do you want to join me on this path?