A pandemic escape, pivot and perspective on a new world
My life used to be really, really busy. My husband and I had moved back and forth from British Columbia to Kenora, ON every 6 months for 15 years. We also travelled to many other places during this time period for work and play. We travelled through southeast Asia, South America and Europe. We uprooted our kids during kindergarten and moved to Nicaragua as a family for 6 months. Our lives were filled with travel, adventure, work, and socialization.
We slowed down in 2015. We moved our family to Kenora full time as our kids were getting older and needed more stability. I did not embrace this change. This new pace. This new place. I was really unhappy living in a small town without all the busyness and adventure I was used to. I was resistant to slowing down so I found purposeful work to keep me busy. I opened a yoga studio. It was a successful and busy business. I had teachers that would teach, but I didn’t have employees that helped me do the day to day business. I never really felt all that happy in Ontario so I drowned myself with work instead. A yoga studio doesn’t make a whole lot of money anyways so I convinced myself that my daily hustle was the only way to work anyways. I never allowed myself to be slow. I stayed in the hustle until the pandemic of 2020 forced me to shut down….and slow down.
My studio was forced to close for many months. I did shift my programming to online offerings and continued to run the business, but I knew that it was done for and didn’t work as hard as I normally would. The end of the pandemic was nowhere in sight and the bills were stacking up. The studio was the only thing that I really enjoyed about living in this small town and I was scared to think about what would happen to me if I lost it. What would happen if I didn’t have the demands of work to keep me busy? Instead of focusing on that whisper of fear and working harder…. I did something else. I gave up the struggle. I gave up the hustle. I closed my doors in 2020. I stopped. I stopped everything.
We had a cabin on an island property that we usually only visit in the summer. It’s boat access only and was never meant for winter living. My husband worked rurally too and with no downtown studio needing me anymore we decided to move out to our camp full time. My husband is an over-qualified bush man. He’s the best person to be married to if you want to live off the grid. He spends most of his time building things, hunting things, or burning things. I wasn’t worried that we wouldn’t have the skills to live on an island property through -40 winters and all the troubles that come with those temperatures. I was worried about what would happen when I just stayed home? I was so used to being busy. So used to numbing my feelings with work. I thought I would be sad, bored and depressed. The last thing I ever wanted to do……was stay at home.
What actually happened was my emotional load got lighter. I started enjoying simple, everyday chores like cooking food, organizing the house, walking the dogs and shovelling snow. I started practicing more yoga….instead of just teaching it all the time. I created strong daily routines for myself that included self reflection, writing and exercise. I put my phone down more. I read more books. I looked my kids in the eye when they were talking. I started becoming more present.
I started to embrace the place that I previously resisted. I began to see things in a different way. I gained new eyes for what we already had. I started appreciating the little adventures that we were having right here. I enjoyed cutting holes in the ice to catch fish. Building fires so I could practice yoga beside them. Making ice rinks and teaching the girls to skate and play hockey. I enjoyed my daily walks with my dogs on the ice roads. Snowmobiling my kids to town. Visiting the odd neighbour who would also brave the ice roads to their camp. All of a sudden I just started to appreciate all of the things that I had previously resisted. Before the pandemic, I would have never had a good attitude about moving to the woods, driving on an ice road and living in almost total isolation.
I became happier, and happier with less. That year I lost a lot. I lost a lot of money, my ability to travel, to see my friends, and my business which was my only tie to this community. I lost a lot, but I gained so much more. I didn’t crave the busyness anymore. The travel, the hustle, the people. Of course I still loved those things….but I didn’t NEED those things anymore to be happy. I was just happy in the here and now. For months I coasted on this new feeling.
Eventually I wanted to get back to my purpose work. I wanted to get back to helping people. But it needed to be in alignment with this new way of feeling. I applied for grants and used the money to open a 100% digital business. I created an online Body and Soul studio where I coach, teach yoga, mindfulness, mental health practices and more. I teach alone, have little bills, little pressure but much more opportunity to generate income than I did in my small town brick and mortar. This new way of doing business allows me to stay in the slow lane. There are no pressures of the pandemic. It allows me to homeschool my kids and be here for them as they navigate the same struggles of the pandemic.
I’m still working, setting big goals and getting ready to do some travelling in the upcoming months as the world begins to open up. Things will get a little busier for me but I will never again get caught up in the busyness of the world again. So many of us seek for things outside of ourselves when we’re feeling low. The answer for me was not to add in….but take away. Slowing down and focusing on all the little things has made me happier and more resilient than anything that I could have added into my life.
With grace and grit,