Four years ago on February 14th, I decided to love myself more than ever before. My journey has had extremes, valleys, tears, pride, and every other emotion in between. I have learned to delve deep these last four years to seek what is important to me. My needs have changed along the way. I have crafted a life that excites me, motivates me, and one that I am proud of.
For the last three years, I have rewarded myself with something meaningful. I gifted myself a ring for my first year. For my second year, I gifted myself plane tickets to section hike on the Appalachian Trail. My third year gift was saying YES to multiple wellness and outdoor events and scheduling the remainder of what I needed to do around those activities.
I have given a lot of thought as to what I want my gift for year four to be. I have goals and fun things planned for this year as a continuation of saying YES. I am grateful for what I have and will have but not one particular thing I have on the horizon speaks to me as a “gift.”
I recently attended Prairie Snowflake, a wellness festival designed to nourish my body, mind, and soul. I have attended multiple events by The Prairie Collective over the last four years. Each one of the events has helped to transform me into a better version of myself. The workshops inspire, guide, and recharge me.
Prairie Love Yoga Festival in 2017 Snowflake Winter Wellness Festival 2019
Before I share what my gift for four years of no alcohol is, here are some highlights of each of the sessions that I attended at Snowflake 2020:
The Medicine Wheel: An Indigenous Wholistic Approach to Balance and Healing
I did not learn about the history of residential schools in Canada until I was an adult. My nine year old child has been learning about Indigenous culture and residential schools since kindergarten. I felt called to learn about balancing my mind, body, heart and spirit from the perspective of a culture that is reclaiming itself in Canada.
I was especially drawn to the strong connection to the land and how every aspect of it is used to heal. We also learned about Indigenous identity, ceremony, and the seven ways of healing.
Insight + Impact
This was an energetic vinyasa yoga practice to the sounds of A Tribe Called Red, a Canadian electronic music group that blends elements of First Nations music with vocal chanting and drumming. Portions of the Medicine Wheel and what the sides represent were incorporated into the practice. It was incredibly powerful. I look forward to attending future classes led by Shayla Stonechild when she returns to Winnipeg.
“We will tune into our ability to see beyond the physical reality that surrounds each of us and awaken to the unseen world that exists within us. Through connection to something bigger than us – we will come together individually but be connected as a whole.”
Finding Your Voice
Aside from our finger prints, our voice is what makes us the one and only unique individual that we are. Our voice is what we speak and our tone is how we speak. This workshop was focused on how to make our voices authentically us.
Led by Winnipeg lifestyle blogger, Natalie Bell of Peg City Lovely, we worked together as group to explore how powerful our voices are. We talked about what defines our voice, what the results are when we hide our voice, and what happens when we allow our voice to breakthrough and we speak our truth and are unapologetic about it. Amazing things happen when there is a connection with others who all come together to learn.
We combined journaling and meditation in this workshop. The instructor led us through silencing our inner critic, tuning into our passions, and gaining a sense of peace about where we are in life at this very moment.
I am often transported to Hunt Lake in the Whiteshell during meditation. The green moss, high cliffs, boggy forest, and the views over the lake call to me. There are a couple of spots on the trail that I visualize when I close my eyes. That trail has taught me so much and I have a few plans involving it in 2020.
My Gift for Four Years
All of the instructors at Snowflake took the time to curate a workshop designed around what they are passionate about and they shared their talent with everyone who attended. I am moved by what they do and they have all inspired me to pay it forward.
As an advocate for mental health who has the outdoors rooted deep within me, my gift for four years of not drinking alcohol is to share all that I know with other women. My gift this year is to give.
I am in a good spot to share this gift, having recently completed my Outdoor Council of Canada Field Leader Hiking and Winter certificates and being involved with Backcountry Women. My experience with speaking about mental health at Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba has boosted my public speaking skills as well as made me even more comfortable talking about mental health as a whole.
I envision leading hikes where women come to the trail to heal and recover from whatever life has thrown at them. I envision leading hikes where it is okay and even encouraged to talk about our mental health. Peer-support and lived-experience has so much value when stories are shared. I envision leading hikes where there is no shame, no stigma, or judgment for what has brought us to the trail.
I envision leading hikes that combine mindful activities like journaling, meditation, nature therapy, and yoga. Hiking is not always about the destination, it is about the journey to get there too.
I envision leading hikes with women who hike a slower to moderate pace and are a little out of shape like me (round is a shape, though!) I want to help show women that regardless of what our bodies look like, they are powerful and strong. I love the feeling of moving my body over challenging terrain and seeing what I am capable of even if it is at a slower pace and needing to catch my breath at the top (excellent opportunity to take some pictures too!) I want more women to feel that confidence.
The trail is a phenomenal guide where problems can be pounded out. A fire is lit inside me and I dream bigger for myself. What we learn on the trail has a ripple effect into other parts of our lives and I am living proof of that.