Coming Back, Marching Forward


I am posting from Canada on the eve of the US Presidential inauguration. You may be wondering if we ran away to Canada in the face of that fact… Truth be told, no. David and I are back care-taking the scuba/kayak resort, closed for the winter, on Hurst Island, also known as God’s Pocket, as we did last winter. We decided last spring that we’d like to do this again, assuming everything aligned, and we confirmed our plans in September. We are glad to be back, and particularly glad for some time with Bill and Annie, the owners of God’s Pocket Resort, who have become dear friends.

We arrived a week ago to ¼ inch of frost on the deck and temperatures hovering at freezing (that’s zero degrees centigrade because, ahem, we are in Canada!). Unlike last year, when we only had one day of freezing temperatures, this winter is likely to be far less mild. As we drove through very snowy Oregon on our way north, I realized I might not have been quite mentally prepared for this adventure, particularly if it is colder! And yet, here we are. We figured out how to crank the wood stove to max output to stay warm, and within a few days it got warmer outside and the rains began. It is now feeling more familiar.

Coming back for another winter – we plan to be here until mid-March – has given me some perspective, and a lot to think about. First of all, we drove out of San Francisco the week of my one year anniversary of leaving my “day job” and career for my “gap year” off from work. The gap year wasn’t all that I hoped it would be, but I was reminded by a good friend that I had, in fact, completely changed the shape of my daily life. She is right, and that truth is so basic it is actually easy to overlook.

What I didn’t do, nor planned to, was replace the shape of my life with something. 2016 was to relax into, and to help me figure out what that shape ought to be. As a result, I maintained some habits I had wanted to shake off, like my tendency to stay in (and sit in front my computer) when I should go out, move in nature, and have more adventures, joy and fun. There were some shit things that happened last year, and I can’t imagine having dealt with them with a full time job. Still, there were also transcendent experiences that I probably wouldn’t have had without the space provided by my “year off.” (And let me add: I still miss many of the people that I worked with so closely; what I don’t miss is the work itself, or the routine and stress of the job I had.)

This second care-taking gig shows me how much more comfortable I am here, perhaps more comfortable in general. I am in better balance with my inclination to read and stare out the window, or write and work at my computer, and my desire to get out, hike and explore the island more. This afternoon, we took the skiff out to lay a crab pot in Harlequin Bay on the other side of the island and I wasn’t afraid at all. I don’t remember ever getting in the skiff last winter without some dull empty feeling in my stomach, which is what anxiety often feels like to me. Our hikes have been fun, if cold or wet, successfully hunting for winter chanterelle mushrooms, looking for evidence of wolves (fresh scat, feathers from a fresh kill), and generally exploring.

Each morning, I take inventory of our bird pack: Big Blue, the great blue heron that hunts off the dock; the crow pack, Sheryl and Russell and their two kids, now grown; the kingfisher that perches on the red roof of the floating storage area; the pair of gulls that walk the handrail of the ramp; and the two flotillas of ducks, harlequin and merganser. There’s an eagle pair that nests off the western tip of the island; sometimes one of them will fly over the bay and the buildings. And watching and listening for the tides to come and go, and the water and waves to ebb and flow, I am always inspired.

I’ve given myself permission, and fortunately we can afford this (for now), to extend my gap year to a year and a half or even two years if that’s what I feel I need. That notion feels like a backstop, a safety net, for which I am grateful. Still, I am heading into 2017 with some dreams to realize, all of which I know are essential to my growth and evolution. I have committed (to myself, out loud to a few friends and family, and now here on the blog IN WRITING!) that I will launch my leadership, life and business coaching and consulting business in May. I already have some clients, and the universe seems to like the idea by sending more people my way.

I have been filled with doubts and some fear but have realized that forward motion here is the only right path for me. I bought myself a branding e-course from Braid Creative (these women are kicka-s!) last November and am now digging in to the work necessary to bring my vision, my “personal brand” – both what I’ve already established and what I aspire to – and my plans into a working website and outreach plan. A few hours of this work every day has been enlightening, energizing and inspiring. I know there is more for me to let out, a deep creative pool, than I ever had a chance to express in my corporate life. Expression takes some practice, and some kindness, especially if it isn’t what I, or others, are used to seeing from me. Even starting and keeping this blog has been a stretch opportunity for me!

Next week I begin the life coach training offered by Martha Beck, the life coach, author and Oprah magazine columnist. Last year when I thought about taking the training, I realized I was looking for some sort of confirmation (if not certification) that I was “allowed” to start a coaching business by being in or completing the training. This year, I know that my education, experience and skills are all the foundation I need to launch my practice. This training, therefore, is for me: while I’m certain to learn a lot that will be relevant and helpful to my coaching practice, I hope this course will remind me to hold things more lightly, to allow joy and magic more readily into my life and work, and to show others how to do the same. I expect, through the reading and practices, that this training will help me trust myself, to come back to parts of myself I put in storage, and to express my creativity more.

On Saturday, David and I will don our pink paper pussy hats, hold a moment of silence for all women all over the world at 1pm Pacific, and then have our own small march around the property. We will be in solidarity with friends, family and the men and women around the world and in the US marching in support of women and human rights.

This return to God’s Pocket feels so on point: a beautiful remote place to think and be inspired, and time and space to read, write and dig in to my training and work while still staying connected to home, holding the occasional coaching call. I feel very lucky.