My first Alt Summit experience.

(AKA: Introversion, Saying YES + Professional Overthinking)

The Gifting Line-up at Alt Summit 2024 in Palm Springs, California.

It sounded like a freight train barrelling down a hallway and I was already sweating profusely. How do you hide pit stains on a white shirt? You don’t. Neat! The louder it got, the more my head spun. This line-up was Next Level.

Picture some thousand female entrepreneurs all vying for the top swag at Alt Summit’s legendary ‘Gifting Reception.’ We snaked around the outside edge of the event rooms, down two flights of stairs extending the entirety of another hallway and out the doors to the pool area. Not quite akin to the throngs of eager shoppers outside a Best Buy on Black Friday, but almost.

It. Was. Cray!! My inner introvert almost said f*** it. But in true Sam fashion, FOMO took over. So I got in, grabbed some free shit, then got the hell out. I’m now the proud owner of an electric flosser!

Fighting the Beast (read: introversion)

For the longest time, I’d misunderstood the whole extraversion / introversion thing. Quite frankly, I’d assumed I was of the EXTRA varietal on account of my zero shyness. But then I’d get confused when my first instinct with networking events was to back away to the farthest corner table. Ha! It would take leaving my career, walking 800 kilometres across Spain and a pandemic for me to get a grip and rightfully proclaim my INTROversion. 

Are you feeling me?

I need my space. Like, I really really need my space. Restoring myself at Alt Summit looked like the sanctity of a flamingo-pink and neon-green room with the comfort of a Thai Beef Salad and some brain-numbing Netflix. (Pro-tip: Lindsay Lohan’s My Irish Wish is about as brain-numbing as it gets. And yes, I did.)  Yup. That’s the formula when undertaking conference vibes for the first time in 5 years. 

Funnily enough, I almost didn’t go owing to three things which I will happily keep real for you:

1) I’d applied to speak and heard crickets, so yeah, I was pouting,
2) The idea of large swaths of people gives me the willies, and
3) I’m still working on my shit and didn’t want to have to FAKE IT. (Eww.)

As it turned out, getting my Canadian butt to Palm Springs for my first Alt Summit turned out to be a GOOD THING (please use Martha Stewart’s voice à-la the ’90s). I quickly discovered that I’m not alone in my Figuring It All Out Era, that others struggle with overstimulation slash introverted tendencies and BONUS: the speakers did no better job than I would have. (Thanks for allowing me that shameless pat on the back.)

Truly. I mean, the conference freaking rocked. And it takes a LOT to impress me. 

Some Things I Said YES To

I said YES to a literal ‘virtual stranger’—we met on the ‘Gram—who knocked on my door that first night for some company. To be straight with you, I’d been eating my Thai Beef Salad with my fingers on account of a miscommunication with the Uber guy. (Yes: I was too lazy slash tired slash in dread of all the people having invaded the Saguaro hotel that I indeed resorted to an advanced form of sloth; no offense to sloths.)

When Maria came in, though, I just owned it. And she immediately confessed her feelings of WHAT-WAS-I-THINKING. In short, we trauma-bonded over our mutual Imposter Syndrome and traded stories of daughters with OCD. It was the BEST! Hence, Maria became my new Alt Summit Bestie. I followed her around and when we got tired of each other, we said so. Then we’d reunite at some later hour for a swapping of workshop learnings and where the nearest coffee was. 

I said YES to hosting a Meet-UP for a group I coined “MidLife ReInventors.” I thought FER SURE other aliens were walking among us with the same existential second-guessing I’d started in my forties. Then, when I took my spot in the designated pool area, home-made glitter sign bellowing (gently) for all in that category to come hither, I PRAYED someone would sit down. Please, God. Just let ONE WOMAN join me. Don’t humiliate me now on this, the last day. 

Sure enough, over they came, one by one, thankful to find their merry band of fellow ReInventors.

We all went around the table, introducing ourselves, sharing where we were at in our so-called ReInventions and yada, yada, yada, it’s getting real and getting personal, FAST. One woman recently left her marriage and was bound and determined to learn how to swipe right on Bumble. Another had had a stroke not too long ago and had to relearn how to walk. Someone else found the world of being a sole-preneur lonely and isolating. On and on we went. I had found my people. We bonded immediately and swapped IG handles. 

Sam Plavins (centre) and other attendees at the Alt Summit in Palm Springs, California.

Some Things I Learned

You know how it gets when you go to one of these things… You’re inundated with all the inspiring ideas only to realize that it will take learning, money, patience and possibly the help of other people to implement them. I’m lucky if I can find one or two practical things that either shift my mindset, or save me the one thing I never seem to have enough of: time! 

But for this go-around, I’ve collected a long-winded NOTE in my iPhone chock FULL of learnings. Here are a few that spoke volumes to me:

  • The passive aggressive “No Thank You” when receiving online hate
  • Look at the Acknowledgements in a book to peep who the agent is!
  • The importance of creating ritual around our creativity
  • Ask yourself, “are you willing to go first?”
  • That collaboration is often the answer
  • Even the most successful humans struggle with fear
  • Women are nurturing, amazing, accepting and open!

Of course, I learned far more than that, but those are some nuggets with not too much context that still might resonate with you. A real highlight for me was meeting a travel icon I’ve followed for years. I swallowed my hesitation and asked her for a selfie. Unsurprisingly, Jessica and I share similar values and became kindred spirits for the few hours we had together. If you’re unfamiliar with her family’s company, Worldtowning, you should definitely check it out.

Jessica Sueiro and Sam Plavins at the Alt Summit 2024 in Palm Springs, California.

Professional Overthinking.

The badge I picked up during Alt’s Gifting Party said everything: PROFESSIONAL OVERTHINKER. Ummm, how did they know?!

Since losing my dad (and go-to for all things advice) 18 months ago, I’ve been in a chronic state of “Do I? or Don’t I.” Let me tell you, it sucks LARGE. I used to pride myself on my decisiveness and would even write about its power and place in life. 

Now, though, I seem to have lost my footing. I know that learning to trust myself is a work in progress, but it’s annoying because I already have an insanely long list of things I’m working on. Puuullleeeeaaazeee, no.

In a classic state of overthinking, on arrival at Alt Summit I began to question the shoes I’d brought. Understand I’m a hiker girl who no longer has a schnazzy looking wardrobe, and as it stands, I spent money I didn’t have trying to complete the look of Successful Sam. Alt Summit has a rep for ladies dressing in colourful and fashionable frocks. 


My wardrobe is mostly all black. And, I prefer slacks thankyouverymuch. Anyhoosie, once I’d scoped the layout of the hotel I realized very quickly my black and gold STILETTOS (yes, you read that right) were not very practical nor were my high-top runners going to necessarily fit in. I then proceeded to find the nearest TJ Maxx and panic-purchased two pairs of pink, wicker sandals. Comfortable? Hellz no. Cute? Not really. 

What was I thinking?! I mean, come on! I never even wore them. You can see I just stuck with the high tops and honestly WHATEVS. Nobody cared. 

The thing with overthinking is it can paralyze you. And standing still is not in my nature, hence this whole Catch 22. 

I will say that starting and owning a new business is RIFE with overthinking and it did make me feel seen to know that so many others were carrying this burden as well. I mean, so much so, that they made a goddamn badge for it! 

If anyone has any good ideas here, please let me know. Otherwise, I shall continue to work on self-trust and promise to pass along any kernels of wisdom that may or may not come from my bumblings.

Sam Plavins' "Professional Overthinker" badge.

Well, I should go and tend to all the things. I’ll definitely give Alt Summit another whirl. The handful of real, meaningful conversations I had will stay with me forever (hugs to Hope, Jessica, Alyssa, Maria, Elizabeth, Laura, Sophia, Audrey, Janie, Debbie, Kara, Janna ❤️).

With love 💃,

The math, magic and madness of investing in YOURSELF.

As a former financial advisor turned entrepreneur, I often spend my days justifying my ludicrous decision to walk away from certainty in favour of a blank slate. I mean, it was such an all-or-nothing move.

But also on brand, if you ask anyone who knows me. I’ve never been great at being part pregnant, half present or just a little bit tipsy. If I’m going to do something, it needs to be ALL THE WAY. Reminds me of this video I love.

Besides—it was impossible to attempt any movement towards my dream so long as I was in the role of taking care of my clients’ financial well-being. And that’s fair. They deserved my time and attention. The regulators saw it that way, and I did, too.

I’m here to say that taking such a big risk on myself has been the craziest roller-coaster of my life: an exhilarating, puke-inducing, clutch those handle-bars, and strap-yourself-in ride. And I’m not complaining, I’m just keeping it real.

My logic when I made the leap:

  • I’d taken a risk in love and that seemed to pan out! My brazen (read: drunken) saunter-over at my friend’s wedding paid off and Mr. Rebound and I are still together 25 years later. 
  • Surely I’d learned some things about risk, reward, what I loved, hated and how I wanted to serve in the world after 16 years in an industry that kept me running on a treadmill.
  • I was on the verge of cracking anyways. Might as well crack at something I truly love, no?

That all checks out. Plus, I’d have the mentorship of my dad, one of the greatest business dudes I knew. (Note to my father: I sure do miss you and all of our dad/daughter chats. I know you’re with me in spirit.)

Recently, though, I’ve had to take stock of what it means to go ALL-IN on your dream. That’s financially, emotionally, in your body, and for the people around you who wipe those tears when you feel like shelving the whole damn thing.

Investing in Something Uncertain

Don’t we do this anyway?

We save in our retirement funds. We entrust our advisors to make good recommendations. Hell, we do it ourselves and try to pick stocks that will pay the most lucrative dividends in the long run! This is not a super fun thing to do. But it’s a societally-acceptable method of salting away nuts for the days when we’re not as quick on the gathering.

And yet.

As I transferred over one more loan into my little baby start-up, that stabbing pain I sometimes feel when nervous almost knocked me over. I’d never seen the account so low. This account is supposed to be for WHEN WE’RE OLD. And newsflash? We aren’t getting any younger!

It’s supposed to ensure that we aren’t living on stale Saltines and squatting in a van, down by the river (not that there’s anything wrong with that, in fact, it sounds like a little slice of heaven right about now).

I mean, what business do I have continuing to pour money into my business?! How long does this entrepreneurial reinvention take? Come on, UNIVERSE!

All these questions stem from my own naturally-occurring fear. Because, guess what: I’ve been trained to mitigate risk at all costs. And, I’m no dummy. There are no guarantees on our dreams. P-SHAW! How many businesses start and then fail? I’m not the only one to have gone ALL-IN on some vision.

The Math of Investing in Yourself

But here’s some nifty math… Take away the money I’ve invested, crunch some future financial scenarios minus that money and the outcome in the long run is not that big a deal. I was floored!

On the other hand, let’s say that She Walks the Walk becomes the thing I imagine it could become, or that this next round of investment helps it grow to a new level—then that’s not for naught, right?! My illuminating moment came when I realized that I was investing in something I believed in, something I put effort into, something I saw a need for, and something over which I had a degree of control.

The Magic of Investing in Yourself

Since launching SWTW in the fall of 2020, the journey has not been a straight line. At times I feel like I’m living in a real-life sim of Snakes & Ladders: two steps up, slide backward diagonally, jump forward unexpectedly, go back one, and so forth. Life has dished out an endless slew of curveballs—pandemic, regulatory BS, the loss of my hero, earthquakes and wars, to name a few—but I’m still here.

Still trying. Moving forward. Learning. Growing. Analyzing. Getting real. And each time I wonder what my next move is, someone impactful, or something unexpectedly positive comes my way. This can’t be coincidence.

The people who’ve shown up with possibilities and opportunities to help SWTW (and, me) are nothing short of magic.

Take Kristin… She came into my world all because I left my AirPods on a plane, and she happened to hear me lamenting about it to a front-desk hotel employee in Tanzania. End result? She and I are now partnering on my future Kilimanjaro offerings. That I’d meet someone with such shared values, offering the perfect partnership package for my clients? It just doesn’t happen like this.

Or, take the chance to compete in a Speaking final when I’d not officially earned my way in… That just doesn’t happen. But randomly, on a Wild Card opportunity, it did. And I’m so grateful! I’ve always believed SWTW should have a speaking sleeve—a platform to help get my message out there to other women. This is one more shred of proof that the universe can AND WILL co-create with us if we get out of our own way.

The Madness of It All

My whole dream of helping women off the treadmill could be one massive delusion that results in a fantastic mid-life Belly Flop… possibly at the expense of a so-called retirement. Possibly at the expense of my sanity (see the initial paragraph about my ALL-OR-NOTHINGness).

But when I hear stories of other women like me… women who are at the point of near-cracking, trying to balance it all, give it their all, hustling and pushing and never ever stopping for one goddamn second— well, I want to SCREAM!

This is my WHY. Why I try. Why I put up with the Snakes & Ladders game that has become my new business life. Why I stop myself from walking into a bank or a financial institution and selling my way into a leadership position. Something I know I could do in a heartbeat. But that I know would be out of integrity with who I’ve become over these last few years.

If You’re Out There TRYING

Making something from nothing is not for the faint at heart. It’s why most people just don’t do it. The safer, easier path is the one we are trained to tread. Off-roading at this stage in the game feels like a one way ticket to Crazy-Town. (And be assured, it is! But I’d rather this straight jacket than my trusty old RRSP season blazer ANY DAY!)

So. If you’re like me and you’re out there working on your dream, working on a midlife reinvention, fear not. You aren’t alone. And I want to remind you of a few guiding principles that keep me grounded when the fear threatens to shut everything down:

  1. Success is not measured only by numbers. Look at how far you’ve progressed!
  2. Having no regrets counts for something. We will ALL DIE anyways. Might as well die trying.
  3. Your children are watching you model hard work and possibility for them.
  4. Entrepreneurship is magic and madness. You can’t have the magic without a little crazy.
  5. Pursuing the most authentic expression of how you’ll serve in the world matters.
  6. Things take time. Please remind of this, like, tomorrow. ‘kay?

If you have a reinvention story to share, I’d love to hear it. Or, maybe you’re a woman on the treadmill wondering how to stop yourself from flying off the back-end. I want to hear from you, too! We haven’t been put on this Earth to simply toil away in isolation.

Surviving or thriving: you decide.

Could it be as simple as changing our mindset? Does that baloney even work? Can we afford to relax a little, maybe take ourselves less seriously? Don’t we deserve to really THRIVE here?

I’ve been reflecting on my workaholic tendencies, along with my own ambition. When I get laser-focussed, everything else falls away in the pursuit of my goals. (Facts: I’m not that much fun to be around and I look like a grease monkey with my unwashed hair!) I could probably work myself into the grave and even then I’d continue picking up things that need attention. 

That’s all fine and dandy, because I get to call my own shots, and everything I do is a labour of love. But if I’m not careful, it too can become a toiling hot mess. 

But why not aim higher?

My dad used to quote from Robert Browning a lot, and one that has always stuck with me is this:

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

R. Browning

I love this quote, and my ambitions are evidence of my own belief in it. Of course I believe in striving for more than we need or desire. If we only strive for what’s in our immediate grasp, guess what we’ll end up with?

And I know not everyone has their basic needs even met, so let’s get that out of the way before I yak any further.

But, what if mankind didn’t strive for what lies beyond?

Surely we would not have landed on the moon, written symphonies while blind and deaf, or simulated an actual wormhole! (Note: the latter is astonishing and I encourage you do go down that rabbit hole to see where science has just taken us.)

My point here is I’m doubtful the most accomplished humans in history set out to simply “survive.” 

The doomed houseplant.

I recently accepted the planter of a work colleague who was moving back to Italy. The plant itself is on death row, but I didn’t have the heart to tell my friend I’ve a history of manslaughter with these things. He was desperate to have it go to a good home and had hours to get it out of his apartment.

The reality is, I’ll try to keep up with that plant’s basic needs as best I can. I’ll water it (when I remember) and maybe, the little guy will have a shot.

At surviving!

But what if I actually re-potted him? Spent time and energy infusing his soil with fertilizer… Investigated the best possible light for my new friend to really bloom? 

I’m sure if I did this, he’d not only survive, but he’d thrive

The truth is, I care, but there are far too many tasks more pressing than making it my mission to become some Goddess of Greenery here at home. I accept this, because we can’t be all guns-ablazing with everything in our life. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. 

The cost of our ambition.

Burnout, resentment, failed relationships, weight gain, weight loss, headaches… these are just some of the things I’ve experienced personally in the chasing of my very lofty dreams. I see some head-nodding in the Over-Achievers crowd! Capricorns, you feeling any of this?

The world is full of ambitious people, and thank goodness, because they appear to have the stamina to go the distance. But sometimes we can lose sight of what really matters when all is said and done.

I will fully admit I’ve lost years as a mom, my head shoved so far up my ambitious ass: I blinked and my baby girl is almost fifteen. I’m not saying I haven’t been a decent mom, but for sure I’ve not properly listened when she’s talked to me, I’ve shushed her away when in the middle of “something important” and I’ve missed loads of events knowing her dad would represent. 

This is all time I will never get back. 

Just the other day, I found a video of myself… Ugg, it was painful to watch. I was bawling into the camera, lamenting about my fear of the future, blah blahboo-hoo. And my then twelve-year-old came bounding down the stairs wanting to show me her latest art. I watched my annoyance on the screen and heard myself say, “Saffy, I’m in the middle of something,” to which her wounded eyes clouded over. 

I will never get a do-over of those moments. So. I’m asking myself if I shouldn’t be dulling down my ambition.

Let’s just move to an island and sell piña coladas on the beach.

Hands up if you’ve said this!

We say it in the comfortable knowledge that it seems like less hassle. The exact opposite of some hectic ambition over here in the “real world.” (Note to anyone who has plans to do this… It’s obviously not this simple, so forgive the overused metaphor.)

I’ve no interest in getting to the end of my life having alienated myself from the people who matter to me. Or having recklessly focussed on what could end up being a pipe dream. (I will never believe this, so I’ll also ask you to forgive my hypocrisy!)

At the same time, I think our quest to pursue that which is beyond our grasp is healthy. What is life, if not made up of dreams? Why not try? If we can develop healthy parameters that will ensure we continue nurturing the people we love, then why not? 

The joy in it has to matter, or ambition can just fuck right off.

Today I had a conversation with a fellow entrepreneur who reminded me that finding and feeling the joy in our work is not some fluffy fantasy reserved for Instagram. It’s incumbent on all of us to seek it out, because the alternative is a whole pile of years where we wither.

Our chat reminded me that I need to dust off my feminine energy, and just sit in the silence of being. That we’re SUPPOSED to enjoy the process, otherwise, what’s the point? Do we want our ambition to morph into withering?!

I sure don’t. So, where to go, what to do?

I say we should always aim higher. But not at the expense of our health, our love for family, or our values. We should reframe our ambition as a human right to thrive on this planet. And we should find ways to make all that hard work feel fun. 

That, to me, is thriving. Now excuse me while I water my new friend. He’s looking a little thirsty these days…


She walked away from Corporate America.

I think the title says it, no? It just seems too obvious when you write it down: ditch the soul-crushing job. Why wouldn’t you?

Yes, I’m saying this a bit tongue in cheek. I know all too well that it’s much MUCH easier said than done. It took me years to even admit to the fact that my career was indeed soul crushing. My family was depending on me to bring in money. My father was depending on me to take over the business. My own sense of success and well-being – fed to me by societal expectations, for sure – screamed at me to suck it up and get my head on straight. To even think of my work and responsibilities as “soul crushing” was a sign of weakness I had to beat down and lock away as I climbed onto the treadmill for another dreaded day…

So yeah, ditching the soul-crushing job may sound obvious. But it isn’t always when you’re treading water on a Monday morning just trying to keep your head above the waves…

My Friend Jen

My good friend Jennifer McQueen has experienced the soul-crushing job too – and her experience was to the extreme. Jen and I grew up here in Thunder Bay, but she moved to Sauk City, Wisconsin and had a family. Luckily, she’s one of those lifelong friends who I’ll be close to no matter where in the world Life takes either one of us. I connected with her recently to talk about her own experiences juggling work, four kids (sometimes as a single mom), and health issues – and how she managed to ditch her own soul-crushing job.

Jen used to work in the pharmaceutical industry. For the first 10 years of her career, she worked in documentation and archiving before moving to sample management – logging and storing samples during testing. But conflicts with her company due to her health issues were a constant problem, and they got worse when she moved departments.

“It goes back a number of years, I’ve struggled with migraines since I was in my late teens. I had a supervisor finally say to me, ‘I really think you need to protect yourself in the workforce.’ Unexcused absences due to migraines can make you lose your job.”

Jennifer McQueen Gammond

Jen filed under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which in the States protects workers from “unexcused absences” such as health emergencies. She said that was fine for a few years, but a change in managers above her started to make her life a living hell. The new manager gave her poor reviews due to these absences, which can be career-busting at the very least and lead to termination at worst.

“It was completely against the law, but our HR department didn’t back me up. They backed management, because it’s Corporate America.”

Things got much worse when her father passed. Not only did that add to her feelings of frustration and alienation, but now she was dealing with grief, depression, and added stress along with the migraines. It got to be too much.

“I felt so alone. I had no support. I used up all my protection under FMLA, and that gave me grounds to really go after me.”

Getting Off the Treadmill Sometimes Has Special Challenges

Quitting in the US is much harder though because often when you leave your job, you lose your health insurance. That means a simple trip to the ER with the kids can cost you thousands. Jen wasn’t prepared to expose her family to that much financial and/or health risk.

“My husband finally got insurance that was reasonably priced, so I started preparing to leave.” That was yet another hurdle due to Wisconsin’s labour laws. She was forced to quietly and suddenly exit the company to avoid more persecution, accusations, and stress. “It wasn’t how I wanted to leave – I didn’t want to leave my team high and dry. But that was the corner I was back into.”

Breaking Out to the Other Side

Once she got out of that corner though, her options were wide open. Jen launched her own Etsy business, Hair with Flair, which featured colourful, fun stuff for kids. That grew into a new business, Charmed by Teagan, named after her youngest daughter.

“I felt like the name covered more things. I can sell anything under Charmed by Teagan rather than Hair with Flair. I’ve been running under that name for about six years now.”

Jen quickly became incredibly successful selling sewed and embroidered items including blankets, pillows, seasonal items, and even her own fabric.

“The growth is amazing,” she said. Jen admitted that success brings its own issues. She has started to get her husband more involved with family responsibilities including booking dentist appointments for their two youngest (the other two are now grown and moved out) so she can focus more on the business – and herself.

Ultimately though, ditching the soul-crushing job was worth it.

“I couldn’t be who Corporate America wanted me to be. But I got out, and I haven’t looked back since. I’m so happy and so thankful. I’m starting now to try to carve out time for me.”

“Me Time” in Guatemala

And I’m so happy to say that part of that is going on the Walk Guatemala G’WA with me next February with her friend Angela! We will trek through the beautiful Guatemalan mountains and visit remote Mayan villages to see how these warm, inviting, and wonderful people live today. The highlight of our journey is Lake Atitlán, one of the most serene spots in the world, which Lonely Planet called “the closest thing to Eden on earth”. There are also options to visit Mayan ruins and watch the spectacular Volcan Acatenango erupt in the dawn light.

This guided tour is as much an inner journey as it is a physical walk. As I always say, Guatemala is good for the soul – especially for those souls needing to get off the treadmill! We’ll focus on helping you re-discover yourself with daily meditation, special She Walks the Walk journalling sessions filled with prompts to help you turn inwards, and group discussions where you can share as much as you want or just listen to the conversations around you. Self-discovery is the main goal of every G’WA.

I’m thrilled they have both decided to take some “me time” in Guatemala, along with the others who have signed up so far. (BTW, there are a few spots left – so if you’re thinking of joining, think fast…) These expeditions are as much about exploring the wild you as they are about trekking the wild terrain. I’m excited to see how the whole experience transforms Jen and all the women who step out of their comfort zones and into an adventure of a lifetime.

Some Final Thoughts

I’m so proud of my friend Jen. There are soul-crushing jobs, and then there is the ordeal that she went through. Jen is such a strong, independent woman who was put in a number of really bad situations. It’s heartwarming to see her come out of the other side stronger and, of course, happier. Leaving a bad situation is never as easy as it sounds. But as Jen shows us, it is sooooo worth it.

Our Walk Guatemala G’WA will be both a reward and another step in her journey. Jen will get the “me time” she deserves, and we’ll help her put the pain and hardships of that soul-crushing job behind her. I am honoured to help every way I can, and so glad to be a part of her journey.

I hope you can join us in February 2023, too! Learn more about this one-of-a-kind trek here:

What the psychic told the pilgrim.

When Danielle closed her eyes and began to shuffle the deck with the oddest combination of care and confidence, I knew I was in for something special. She had warned me that it might feel weird to watch her, but instead I found myself drawn into a mystical, inviting kind of energy. I could feel the anticipation building. (This stuff is definitely my jam!) And then a card fell on the floor. 

Without opening her eyes, she reached for it and informed me that “THIS one has a message the universe is screaming for you to receive.” Alrighty then! I could hardly wait to hear what critical communication lay before me, as our session began at her coffee table in the forested mountains of Squamish, B.C. 

To rehash where I’m at, you may recall I’ve been working towards launching a new business, having ditched the financial advisor role this past January. And when it comes to what the frick I’m doing with my life, I’ve been an outward hodge-podge of both evasiveness and openness. This is mostly due to a bundle of insecurities. I consciously try my best to keep them at bay but we all know it’s not easy. 

Well, I’ve never had more time than the last week to practise speaking out about my new business, She Walks the Walk. See, I dragged the kids on a cross-country roadtrip to the West Coast of Canada. Our idea was to get the hell out of dodge and immerse ourselves in quality, outdoor time with my sister and her family. They live in the most epic of towns — Squamish — in the most beautiful of provinces — B.C. If I could teletransport my friends and parents, along with my kids’ friend circles here, I’d move tomorrow. Mountains… ocean… the largest, lushest forests I’ve ever seen. It’s literal nirvana for an outdoor gal like me.

Anyhoo, while out here, I’ve been introduced to some phenomenal women. They’re all friends with my sister, so by default I already knew they’d be cool (and, that quite possibly, I’d NOT be cool enough). By the grace of my exposed silvery hairline and worn-in hiking shoes, it seems I’ve been accepted into her posse. And of course what always comes up is, “So, Sam, what do you do?” Insert a tic-like response to reach for that glass of wine accompanied by a flush of red creeping up my neck. 

I promise I’m getting to the Tarot reading. Taking a bit of a detour for context. 

One particular occasion for practising my new spiel arrived during an e-bike adventure with some two dozen other women (socially distanced, don’t get your knickers in a knot). It was an annual, dual birthday thing that my sister never misses, modified due to Covid. The whole lot of us made our way through winding roads and pedestrian bridges to get to Fergie’s, where tables awaited us out back, all spaced apart and complete with river and mountain views surrounding us.

My sister and I wound up at a table with these two awesome ladies, Cassandra and Johanna. Apart from my fascination with both these women having a history of dating Olympians, they also blew me away by seeming super into the dealio of my new biz. (Note the continued shameful vaguary, now a deliberate strategy so I can do the whole LAUNCH thing with a bang. I’m hoping.)

Nearing the end of the evening, we all gathered into spread out groups down by the river bank. Someone MacGyver’d a fire and the conversations continued well past sunset. By then I had run out of steam about my new gig. In fact, I was so daunted by the amazingness of these ladies — firefighters, physiotherapists, pilots, Crossfit champions, an actual spy and general all-round Bad Ass Babes of the Outdoors — I began to crumble inside my slightly dressy romper. (It also screamed, *trying too hard*.)

So, Tash — my sister — took over the role as PR manager and continued to trumpet my She Walks the Walk offer, while I stood by feeling like a noob for getting overly liquored up with just two glasses of wine and a margarita. I became a wordless sloth, if you can imagine such a creature.   

I should tell you that we did e-bike back to my sister’s place. In the dark. With nary a reflective piece of clothing on either of us. Did I mention we were half tanked? Fully, maybe? And no lights on our rented bikes. Yeah… I know.  I don’t endorse this sort of reckless behaviour! Yet we rolled back in after 10 k’s on that dark and daunting road and both proclaimed, “But did we die?” (The new theme of my West Coast adventure.) 

With all that practise explaining my new business, you’d think I’d then be brimming with confidence and vigour! Ummm, not really. In fact, my very real anxiety over “what will people think” and “this isn’t even a thing” lingered with me for the following few days. 

That is, until I met Danielle.

You can now all congratulate me for finally getting to the damn point.

Danielle is a kindred spirit my sister introduced me to. She’s also an inspiring, warrior woman who had the courage to change her life when she realized it was no longer making her happy. And possibly hurting her health. (It’s worth noting that a difficult decision like this is compounded when you succeed at your craft so brilliantly, which she did in spades.) You should check out her website to get a flavour for the talent this woman has. She’s been entrenched in the male-dominated industry of bike racing for years, specifically working for the illustrious B.C. Bike, where she travelled all over the globe, photographing athletes, scouting locations, taking on PR and marketing a sport she revered.

But some tragedies happened in her life — namely, the passing of her father, among others — and instead of giving herself the grace to grieve, she continued to grind harder on her chosen career path. Well, burn-out arrived with a bang, and she knew it was time to make a drastic pivot. So Danielle left the under-appreciated role she had carved out for herself in the bike industry and decided to be a kinder, gentler version of herself. This included getting back to some of her roots, which had previously involved Chakra/Tarot readings. Her specific gift honed in on our current physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health. I want to mention that at one point, she abandoned this gift in favour of trying to fit the mould of a ‘normal women,’ whatever that is, lol. She’s now embracing her own brand of ‘weirdness’ (her words) and in my opinion, has nailed it. 

Needless to say, as I watched her lay the cards out before me, I felt I was in the presence of someone who genuinely gave a shit about me, the words she chose in communicating the reading and the ensuing feelings it may evoke.

Is it fate or just random? Are our souls meant to do certain work? 

At the explanation of the first card, I found myself welling up inexplicably. Apparently, my Root Chakra — the earth energy associated with the feeling of safety and grounding — is embedded in “The Hanged Man.” Danielle interpreted this to mean I was on the cusp of moving into new perspectives but needing to fully surrender. That I’d come to see things in a new light. The Hanged Man (depicted beautifully by a bat just chilling in his upside down mode) suggests a choice in the matter. He is not struggling with being upside down, but rather is there because he wants to be. This is a Major Arcana card, which suggests an element of fate in the matter. That I was perhaps destined to come to this place of being upside down, and seeing my world through a new lens. I couldn’t help but think of all that I’d gone through to come to the place of peace in deciding to turn my life on its head and leave my career. 

And then she moved onto the Sakral Chakra, that area within that shifts from us obeying tribal, familial authority and allows us to discover satisfying interests of our own. Enter, the “World Card”… as Danielle explained, it is though the literal world is at my feet. I thought about this in the context of my new business and began to sit in a feeling of both peace and excitement. Not knowing anything about Tarot, this is the last of the Major Arcana cards, which, again, means our deepest soul work. In other words, she told me that even if I would not have left my career, I was somehow destined to do this upcoming new work. That its been part of my soul’s journey all along. And that I should trust in that knowledge. 

As we worked our way through the other Chakras, Danielle seemed unfazed by what she had pulled from the deck. Prior to meeting with her, she and I had had a Zoom call where we chatted in depth about our kindred reinvention stories. Though she had the gist of what I’d decided to do with my life, and what my motivations were, she certainly didn’t know everything. And yet there we were, engaged in this beautiful dance of seeker and seer.

At the risk of boring you, I’m not going to go through each card — because, who cares, right?! The whole point of this post is to contrast two themes that kept coming up for me in each of the cards. Because these are likely the same themes that play out in your own lives. Every day.

The Yin and Yang of Fear vs Faith

She told me that while my fear was definitely a thing (namely, some scarcity fears, and worrying about what others think), I was blessed with a solid grounding of faith. There is a presence with me (Son of Pentacles card), guiding me and protecting me. Is it God? Is it a guardian angel? Maybe both? As we moved through each Chakra I couldn’t help but think of the role that both of these forces play in our lives. 

Look, fear serves a legit purpose. We are literally hardwired to spot the danger lurking in the bushes… that thing that could jump out and eat us. Oh look! A saber-tooth tiger! I think I’ll just hide out here for awhile. We needed this survival mechanism to keep us alive. But as evolution progressed, our fear has turned into this heavy security blanket that often keeps us from progressing. It’s become the thing that leaves us stuck. Uh-oh, I’m sensing a Mike Wrenshall baseball analogy — wait for it… and, thank you Dad! 

We hesitate to steal second base. Will we get caught out? Will we let the team down? What if it’s the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs already? So we just stay on first base. Waiting to see when conditions might be right for us to take that step.

The thing about waiting for conditions to be right, is that you might wait around forever. But what if you believed that no matter what decision you made, everything works out in the end anyways? Isn’t this what faith is? That idea that we are always going to be ok? Could we come to peace in knowing that any step forward would lead us to the place we’re supposed to be? Even if it turns out to be a big fat bust, it might just be the lesson we needed to learn. The one that takes us to another place. An even greater one. 

We don’t have the map. But we do have the compass. 

Since walking the Camino, I’ve viewed my faith as an old-fashioned compass that keeps pushing me forward on the path that is unknown. There have been days where I’ve felt lost and panicked — choked by things I have zero control over (hello, pandemic??!). These are the moments I long to have a map in my hands. Something that could show me the entire picture — you know? That place where X marks the spot, and the fastest, most accurate path to get to the treasure! But where would the fun in that be? And the fact is, as much as we try to predict the future, life has shown us that we’re not in charge and we can’t always know.

So, in the absence of that map, I’m learning to listen to the whispers in my soul. They’re my own personal compass. And I’m starting to trust that they know what’s best for me. 

Where will your faith lead you?

Danielle ended our session at the Crown Chakra, where the Major Arcana (soul card) of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ turned up. She explained to me that this card is about risk and timing. On the wheel of fortune, we can all have that moment at the top of the wheel, feeling lucky and abundant, but we can just as easily be on the bottom — one of the unlucky. The trick is to detach and see every part of the wheel, or each risk that we take, as our chance to be true to ourselves. We must not compare our spot on the wheel with anyone else. We must know that everything is always going to be alright. In this space, we can claim our own divinity.  

I left her house feeling invigorated. Validated. Full of hope. I received her words and messages with my whole heart. And I desperately wanted to pay her (she refused payment). At my insistence, she offered me the chance to make a donation to a friend who at 28, is struggling through very costly Cancer treatments. Perhaps I could donate to her. 

A gift comes full circle. 

Of course I donated, but it didn’t feel like enough. I had to do something more. Something profound, to show this remarkable woman what a gift she had given me: a literal stranger basically told me I’m meant to do this new work. That I should trust myself. That I’ll be supported along the way.

The only thing I could think of was to give her something that meant the absolute world to me. Perhaps if I gave her that, and if she understood the meaning behind it, she’d then know how grateful I was. So before I left B.C., I looked down at my wrist. I’d been wearing the most special bracelet since arriving in Santiago on June 1st, 2019. It was given to me by one of the most special people I know. Her name is Karina. Our paths crossed entirely by fate along the Camino in a tiny town on day 10. We wound up walking most of the Camino together, united in our wonder over all the miracles and beauty we’d been seeing along the way. Here she is below. The most joyful, giving, enlightened, crazy-beautiful spirit I know. 

The bracelet came in this envelope, and was meant to remind me to always follow my intuition. 

I’d never taken the thing off. It was dirty and slightly tattered. But full of so much collective meaning, from all that we’d endured together in finishing our personal Camino journeys. I questioned whether or not such a gift would resonate. And whether or not I would hurt Karina in letting it go. 

But as fate would once again have it, this decision became a no-brainer when Danielle told me, unprovoked, that her good friend had just called to download the terrible news of catching her husband cheating. And that she and her friend would boldly walk the Camino together as soon as the world resumed some semblance of normal. Well, if she was going to walk that same journey of healing and epiphanies with her dear friend, I wanted her to have something sacred to take along with her. So, I paid it forward. 

What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim

As our paths parted, Danielle and I exchanged Instagram handles. In perusing my curated collection of posts, she saw one of the books I had read pre-Camino. I guess I was so effusive about it, that it became its own Instagram post. Who knew that one day, this book title would come to have a literal meaning in my life. 

It’s no accident that I met Danielle. There will be more on this to share later. In the meantime, I encourage you — no, I IMPLORE you — to seek out the moments when you can choose faith over fear. You just don’t know what riches lay on the other side, unless you take that step out into the unknown.  

A blank slate. And a fresh new beginning.

Three weeks from today I will wake up to a new beginning. My life will officially become the Blank Slate.

To say that I’m scared would be a complete joke.

Realistically? I’m petrified. As a nifty coping strategy, I’ve buried my attention in other things. Like, tree decorating, once-a-year baking, gift procuring, house cleaning, wine drinking, too-much-junk eating, Netflix binging and husband bickering. All the classic stuff, courtesy of those chaotic holiday pleasures and pressures.

But in the quiet of this Saturday morning, it’s hit me hard that things will be different very soon.  

Last night I went to the annual Open House of a good client and friend. I knew I’d be asked… “So! Sam!! What the heck are you doing with your life then???” And twice the day before, I bumped into clients in the same freaking chiropractor’s office, “Wow! What’s going on? What are you going to do??” The reality is, I don’t have a solid answer for this, so I turtle, leading to a bunch of justifying, which makes me annoyed at myself (and society) for feeling compelled to explain myself away. I know that people are just curious and want to wish me well. That’s cool. 

What I’d like to do is just stop the clock for a few days to collect my thoughts and get my plan in place. Hah! Remember that Twilight Zone episode circa 30-ish years ago? When time stopped altogether? Everyone was just frozen in place. Kind of like that – if I could wave a wand that would be my first move; in one fell swoop I’d stop the clock and restart it once I had my shit together. (But does anyone ever really have theirs together? Their shit, I mean?)

I recognize there are larger forces at work here, orchestrating some of my moves and pulling me towards the things my soul desires. I do have an abundance of faith which is keeping me sane during this transition period. Yet I know intuitively that my intentions for the future will eventually be raw and exposed. This vast area of uncertainty – will it be a thing or won’t it? – is my usual jam. Just get out there and make it happen, type of thing. Naturally, my “I’m-super-capable” attitude has resulted in some full-on flops. Like that time I thought we were the kind of people who wanted to sell everything, buy an RV, throw the kids and dog in it and boogie on down to South America.

That actually happened, lol. RV purchased. Rogue unloading of personal possessions and irresponsible disengaging from life did not. Payments made towards the RV? 18. Number of adventures had in the RV? 1.

To keep myself grounded and for some measure of accountability, I’m laying out my Blank Slate game plan right here, right now. I’m aware it won’t be as straight a line is as this implies. Note: the irony of the year being 2020 and what that typically implies in terms of vision is not lost on me, in my muddled ideas for the future. OMG.

Sam’s 2020 Blank Slate

  1. Breathe: Jan 18th
  2. Don’t panic! Jan 18th
  3. Write. Every. Single. Day.
  4. Launch your new website,
  5. Work like crazy on your offering.
  6. Send it out into the world, mid to late fall 2020.
  7. Resist putting any label on yourself.

Regarding that last one, my 16-year old daughter has asked me several times what I will be. This makes me chuckle and scowl simultaneously. I love our need to make sense of people and contain their vast scope in a box. Don’t get me wrong, I do it, too. This is this, that is that. We are incessant with our labelling.

Thus. I’ve responded with the best word I could find – a kind of catch-all, since I don’t really have an answer that will satisfy her naïve teenage understanding of the world.

“Well, Piper, I’m going to be an entrepreneur.” Her response was so fitting,

“So, you’re going to preneur???”


Here’s to 2020, to the Blank Slate we are all given in various facets of our lives, if only we open our hearts and eyes to see them. May your New Year’s Blank Slate be fruitful, exciting, growth-oriented, boundary-blowing and most importantly? Entirely yours, no justifying necessary.  

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