Running my own business offers ultimate flexibility and requires rigid discipline. I am one who likes to come right up against the edges of what is possible, pushing limits. Almost immediately after launching into coaching full time, I wanted to understand the feasibility of traveling and working remotely. I questioned the perception, particularly of my clients, in holding our sessions from different parts of the world. I was gently reminded, by my own coach, that showing up as a whole version of myself, including the part of me that loves travel, would allow my clients to stretch themselves right alongside me. Highlight that there is truth and possibility in designing your own life and clients will rise alongside me.
I am just over halfway through a 3-week work and travel rendezvous across Europe. In the days leading up to my trip, I was a bag of mixed emotions but the excitement and wanderlust generally upon me before a big trip was far from reach. My mind was playing a loop of stories that focused on the absences of the trip. The experiences that would not be had, the freedom that would not occur, the people who would not be alongside me sharing in its adventure. The stretch of traveling that once felt so empowering, particularly when done alone, felt more like a limp rubber band that had already been stretched too far. Lifeless and unable to hold anything good.
The truth is that it took me the first half of my trip – more than 10 days – to consciously press stop on the stories I was telling myself. They were not present in every single moment, but they were with me, both consciously and within the depths of my subconscious. Nightmares haunted me in my shuteye hours following days of walking more than 10 miles and meeting my pillow with exhausted satisfaction. Worse still was feeling plagued by the knowledge that I wanted to shake out of my self-created funk and be present with what was rather than what was not. The optimist in me just didn’t want to come out to play.
The last few days in Croatia kicked me out of my spell. I woke yesterday morning and quickly realized that I had left my wallet at a private vineyard where I’d dined the evening before. I was hours shy of needing to catch a ferry back to the mainland for a continued tour of the Northern part of the country. I assessed the situation, felt grateful I had my passport and a calm mannered travel partner and made a conscious decision not to turn into a ball of stress. I called the vineyard and had a brief exchange with the portion of the owner that was seemingly coherent after my waking him. I calmly let him know I was leaving the island in a few hours and he promised we’d work something out once he’d risen for the day. I didn’t wait by the phone for his call. I went for a walk and found myself sitting on the seaside.
I sat in meditation next to the sea off the island of Vis, watching a woman gracefully swim far outside the parameters of the designated swim area marked by buoys. Seeing the boundary and pressing outside its limits. My meditation kept bringing me bliss fueled by realizing that people can change. As a coach, it is paramount to believe that change is possible. Hard work and raised consciousness can create striking lives for ourselves. The changes with the biggest impact are the tough ones – the ones that require a shift in our mindset and perception. These are the changes that evoke transformation in ways far more powerful than getting a new job, moving to a new place, or getting in and out of a new relationship. Those are certainly gifts granted to us in life, but changes that stick throughout all circumstances hold more weight.
For most of my life, I was that ball of stress. I still chased the experiences as I do today, but anxiety kept a barrier between me and the experience. There were so many moments in Croatia that, strewn together, made up a comedy of errors. I worked myself into the laughing joke at the tourist office moments after renting a car. I needed help navigating my way out of a stone walled maze clearly marked as being off limits to vehicles. I didn’t throw my hands up thinking the trip would be over after blocking foot and scooter traffic or incurring a bill for a rental I hadn’t even signed a contract to secure. I didn’t spend the day focused on the time spent in the unexpected scenario I’d created and what that sacrificed from the day’s itinerary. I let it be a comedy. When I finally met the real, vehicle allowed road, I walked away thinking I’d nailed it. I was proud, not just of my driving skills, but for being present in the experience. For consciously saying no to the anxiety that I could have brought forth. The version of myself signified by mindset and choice, shining in that moment, was unimaginable to me even five years ago. It feels like a miracle to embody the roll with the punches side of me, but calling it such would be selling myself short. I’ve worked hard to want that version of myself and to know how to call it forth. It’s my lemonade from the lemons of my life. I’ve earned it. Recognizing that version of myself, next to the sea, reminded me that travel provides a window into seeing my own growth. It’s one of the reasons I stretch myself by traveling halfway across the world.
It is a privilege to witness my clients make decisions about who they want to be and to work to bring different versions of themselves forward. As a coach who has made her own lemonade, I believe change is possible. Every single one of us is capable of changing if we are given the space to design what we want and the accountability to make that design a reality. That combination is one of the gifts that coaching brings to clients' lives.