……….but life changing and rewarding beyond measure!
This journey serendipitously all began in March 2012……less than a month after my 40th birthday.
I am a wife and mom of a 19 year old and a 9 year old. I’ve always been very involved in my children’s activities, volunteer in the classroom, make time for my friends and each year plot a new athletic adventure and goal. Daily I’m kept busy being creative in the kitchen and in my ‘not-so-spare time” I am one of those “busy” ones in the business or shall I say “busy’ness” of always being busy – or at least that’s who I was at 40 with lofty goals to navigate change.
We have a family hotel business, which I oversaw the operations for, for 12 years. I “retired” from Operations Management in 2010 and decided to focus most of my professional time on growing a spa and wellness centre – which seemed and sounded a lot more nurturing then being involved in the 24/7/365 grind of hospitality. Early on my focus was on menus, programs and memberships, but as time lapsed, I felt compelled to lead my business in a new direction – one with a conscious, tangible and relevant integration of wellness in businesses coupled with raising awareness for wellness initiatives and projects and corporately sponsoring and participating in wellness community events. I further refined this new alignment with supporting those projects which would benefit women and children. Reaching out and becoming connected in the name of wellness – whether it was sponsoring a half-marathon, a local youth on her own “Play it Forward” tour, a local women’s shelter or impoverished women and children in Nepal through scarf sales in my spa, I felt meaningful success when my balance sheet bottom line reflected giving.
It was during a WOW (Women of Worth Event) in 2012 that I was introduced to the Keynote Speaker, Linda Edgecombe. She was there delivering an inspiring and motivational message on everyday women’s issues , but during her presentation, she introduced her husband who spoke of a recent trip to Nepal and showed us a slideshow. During lunch we were able to buys scarves in support of the organization they both were involved in, IWEN Canada). I was deeply touched by the powerpoint and I was curious to learn more – more about the organization and how I could become involved. After the conference, I contacted Edgecombe to arrange a shipment of the Nepalese scarves to my spa and from that shipment forward we began to sell scarves in support of IWEN. I began to follow IWEN online, on facebook; to learn more and ensure the transparency of the organization. In 2012 followers were invited to buy bricks in support of 2 classrooms that were being built. I bought two for my children.
During the summer of 2012 I was putting finishing touches on an “Inner Wellness” series that I intended to promote and deliver in Grande Prairie. It was a one day motivational workshop geared toward “The Everyday Woman” and “Young Women 14-17”. I contacted Edgecombe to see if she’d consider being the keynote speaker. She did and I was thrilled. It was during that day in November 2012 wherein I had the microphone and was speaking about how we met and her IWEN/Nepal connection that I, mid-sentence heard my own voice tell the room full of women that I too, would go to Nepal. Just like that. I had not planned on saying it, but I suppose it’s fair to say that subconsciously my bags were packed and I was taking a leap of faith.
Fast forward to spring 2013 when the invitation went out for the November 2013 Build Team. I verbally and emailed my intention to commit – but then came the 3 month gut wrenching, heart grueling and nerve wracking internal ordeal. I needed to find a way to tell my husband that I was planning on going to Nepal for 3 weeks. The paperwork and formal registration deadline came and went, the build team was being formed (including 3 dear friends of mine – the GABbers’ – more on them later). I had merely mentioned it, but I knew he was not eager to hear more. For you see, the reality of our situation was this – our teenage daughter was graduating in June so I knew she wouldn’t be around the house to help in my absence. Furthermore, our nanny of 7 years who managed our home and most importantly could navigate meals around our son’s diet was going on maternity leave at the beginning of September.
But despite everything logistical working against me, I went for a run in the park one August morning and with gathered courage, I called Kevin Edgecombe and told him, that if he’d still consider making room for me on the team, then I was going. (I am very grateful for his “welcome onboard”!)
Then I need to go home and make the announcement to my husband. I had a cue card with points that I had jotted down – I felt like I was giving a candidacy speech. I assured him that I would make provisions and arrangements for our son’s meals. He responded “I’m never going to tell you what you can and can’t do”. I took that as an “ok, so you are proceeding with this crazy idea”.
The weeks flew by. I was in the delivery room with our nanny for the birth of her son on our son’s first day of grade 4 – which also happened to be the same day that our daughter was moving into a new apartment in Alberta and sadly, my Spa Director of over 5 years tendered her resignation letter. A day that I will soon not forget.
I pressed on with my planning despite the very real thought that I was infact pursuing a crazy idea. Our son has anaphylaxis to a multitude of foods and so with every large meal that I prepared I started freezing an extra portion. Some days I went on a cooking marathons a bought more freezer containers to store the meals. In total I made 38 extra dinners (a dinner for each, my son and husband for 19 days); I communicated with teachers and made arrangements for our house to be spot cleaned minimally during my absence. I proofed artwork for Christmas marketing projects for the spa , wrote my newsletters and submitted other works that had deadlines while I was away. I delegated my corporate workload and arranged for an email auto-reply during my absence (I was not even connecting my corporate emails to my ipad to avoid temptation!) The days seemed like they were sprinting by; I had lists the length of my arm and sleep was a low priority.
I got my vaccines, guzzled the oral Ducoral 14 days and again 7 days in advance and then came Hallowe’en.
I was home long enough to see my boy off on his trick or treating and then headed to the airport at 6pm that evening with tears of peace, excitement, pride and disbelief rolling down my cheeks.
Despite being so busy, I carved 3 weeks out of my life to pursue a dream and I was on my way ~ taking a gy’normeous leap of action!
[This is the first blog post in a series covering my journey to Nepal, to view the next one, visit: Why Nepal, Why IWEN?]