I was catapulted into this world 9 weeks early in a state of trauma. I was born fighting to survive. When I was diagnosed with Leukemia 2 years later, my life became about survival again – and with survival comes fear. During the subsequent 3 years of cancer treatment there was a lot I didn’t understand – so many unknowns, a lot of pain, fast movement and conversations that a young child can’t make sense of. The hospital experience didn’t create an environment of safety, security or real companionship.
I was incredibly fortunate during my cancer journey because I had parents who wanted me to experience as much of what being a ‘normal’ kid meant. To my parents ‘living’ meant experiencing. Between hospital visits, treatment and medical appointments they took me home. Home was cat purrs and puppy kisses. It was getting to have my very own adventure story with me being the hero out in nature with a field full of 4 legged best friends. My one constant was one-on-one time with my mom, the dear person who was and has always been my constant. At our home on Silver Valley Ranch I survived… and I recovered.
After I had gone into remission and was in the clear to go about a ‘normal’ life, things were wonderful. I started school, I had friends, and I got a wish granted when my family adopted my baby brother. We rode horses almost every day and spent a ton of time exploring the rolling hills, smelling wildflowers and exploring the swampy lowlands of our property.
My very favorite spot on our property was a thicket of old and gnarly-looking trees with pathways dug deep from all the creatures that roam the land. This place was magic and offered a fairy tale experience for a little girl with big dreams and a love of the land. I spent hours in this thicket of trees, winning battles and dying at the sword of enemies. I was a queen and I ruled my kingdom with an iron fist (not too far off from my current life circumstances lol).
If I was still enough when I laid in the grass it felt ancient. I could feel the beat of drums against my back, hear the crackle, and feel the heat from a roaring fire – the wild west was right in my back yard. I was a cowgirl galloping across the open fields on my trusty pony Apple. Life was as it should be – adventurous with never ending opportunities to explore, learn and grow.
Then life struck hard again at the age of 9. My father passed away one night on duty. He was a firefighter for the City of Calgary and he died while doing his job keeping others safe while we slept in our beds at home. This sent my whole world into survival mode and fear again. Everything was moving so fast again, adults were showing emotions I didn’t understand, and I felt like I should be feeling things I didn’t know how to feel. There were so many people I didn’t know and all in all it was chaos. My mom was sad and I didn’t know how to help her. My dad was gone and I didn’t understand why he just didn’t come home. I just wanted things to go back to the way they were. To console myself I would head out to the field and find peace in the company of my four legged friends. They were quiet, they were still. When they breathed their breath on my cheek I could feel like there wasn’t anything more important in the world than that moment. It was me and them.
As a family we kept on going. We laughed, we travelled, we survived. My teenage years were typical – drama, fun, friends, rebellion, feeling less than and not good enough, wanting to fit in yet knowing there was something a bit different about me.
I was one of those kids that was keen to get out in the ‘big world’ get a job, education and do something important and purposeful with my life. It was a natural fit with my love and experience with animals to dream of being a veterinarian. I set my goal and went looking for a job to help me achieve my dreams. I was going to save the horses of this world! I wanted to serve them as they had served me through my childhood years.
I got a job as a vet assistant and ended up working in the industry for 6 years. I got all the experience I could possibly need and the reference letters to get me into a university program. Right before my big decision I woke up one morning and decided something didn’t feel quite right. It didn’t make sense but the unease wouldn’t go away. I started to look online for equine related professions and saw a website to a college program that was a certification program in Equine Sports Therapy. I called and was told they were full for the year. However, after talking to the instructor he felt I was a perfect fit for the program so I was welcomed in! I felt liberated in the discovery that I was choosing to TRUST myself and follow my heart.
I loved every minute of my training and for a couple years afterwards I got to spend all day every day with horses and their people. I spent years learning from mentors and clinicians in the horsemanship realm so I could work with horses and help their people have a better relationship with them. Eventually the strains of running my own business and attempting to save every horse and human out there took its toll. It became exhausting. I felt like most of the `horse problems’ I was encountering were in fact not horse but people problems. I burned out, I felt like I wasn’t able to support the type of clientele that was being attracted to me and I walked away.
I felt lost.
I was trying to figure out who I was and what my next steps were. I was anxious, I let my health slide and I was lacking in confidence. Like most every woman who is experiencing this transition in her life I joined a gym! Lol! I was hoping that sweating my butt off would change my whole life view and all my struggles. Well that didn’t happen. But I decided that since I was spending so much time at the gym maybe I should work there. One day I walked up to front desk and asked if they were looking to hire.
My next adventure now began as a personal trainer. I was sent to school and continued on in my journey learning everything I could about wellness from a physical and nutritional lens. I was back. I was excited. I had purpose again and it felt great! I then met my husband and life felt like it made sense. My clientele was always so appreciative and there was nothing better than seeing the smiles and happy tears as client after client hit their goals. Working in the gym environment was always motivating and energizing, yet I was being called back home. So we answered the call.
My husband and I moved a house onto our family property and I decided to go the entrepreneurial route again. I opened up a fitness studio in my home on the ranch. It was a risk and there were certainly a lot of nay-sayers, however, I succeeded. The clients who came loved that I listened to them and believed in what they wanted to achieve. I was more like a friend for hire. This prompted me to explore certification in life coaching and add it to my offerings.
One day I was training a coaching group of ladies outside. I often took clients outside of the studio to combine the effects of movement and nature. After our training session we were in circle and everyone was individually expressing something that was a new feeling or experience for them that they had received from the program. In the midst of our discussion a couple members of my herd emerged from the forest. Something amazing happened.
Suddenly I was seeing women laying their hands on the horses necks, over their backs, stroking them and feeling connected in a way they had never experienced before. There were tears and gratitude and then it all came together for me. I was sitting back watching the exchange between my beautiful equine partners, the beings that had guided me and kept me grounded throughout my healing journey, and the beautiful women who had come to my home in search of something. I felt a pain in my heart which I can only explain as a breaking free of the restrictions around my beliefs of trying to fit into the normal – the conventional way of doing something.
It was then I knew I was meant to do something different; I was here to provide a space for women to get in touch with the deeper more rooted parts of their being. This was power, this was purpose, this was impact!
Since that day I have lived what feels like a second part to my life. I went forward with training in Equine Facilitated Learning, Resilience Coaching, Trauma and Anxiety Specific Coaching, Mindfulness Centered Somatic Counselling and I am a Right Use of Power Teacher. I have gained the knowledge needed to be able to support, influence and inspirit the people who are now guided my direction. I have discovered some of my own barriers that were preventing me from truly living a present and empowered life.
I am a mother of three beautiful, spirited children. I have created a practice in self-care that helps me stay grounded and moving towards my greatest potential as a mother, wife, friend and resilience coach.
I know the key after experiencing hard times, challenges and life altering experiences is to relearn how to love yourself, believe in yourself, care for yourself and make your happiness your number one priority. It is about the courage you put in place, the possibilities you are open to receive, the trust you put towards what’s in your heart & the power you reclaim.
“It is about your own individual journey home.”