On humanity, hope & belonging.

What strange times we’re in right now.

We got the memo: this is no joke. We’ve donned our masks. We’ve pushed through our weariness. We’ve limped along and accepted what is. But could we be seeing signs of progress on the horizon? The world’s most brilliant minds have done the near impossible, pulling together several vaccine candidates that could knee-cap this relentless battle. Whether you take an eligible vaccine or not isn’t my point. Humanity is persevering.

Humanity, is looking for a way out of this mess. 

Straight up, this gives me hope. And when in darkness, I will seek out any shred of hope I can find.  

Wherever you are in the world, Covid has impacted you. Most of us spent months in lockdown, forced into disconnection while we worked to ‘flatten the curve’ — an expression I never imagined I’d hear, understand or be so sick of all at once. But it became a rallying cry for all of us. We did not want our health care systems in chaos. We did not want our loved ones dying. We did not want to be reckless in the face of so much bloody uncertainty. We believed in the idea that although we were apart, we were still together, just, in new ways. 

As it turns out, we need each other. Just typing these words fogs up my glasses.

How beautiful to now know that perhaps we took each other for granted? How profound to now grasp that our whole, wide world is really so small? How vital has it been to finally fathom the sorry state of our Long Term Care system?

I know this is getting old. And we’re heading into winter amid soaring new numbers. Enthusiasm for supporting the cause is waning, to say the least. But let’s hold onto what we’ve discovered. Our yearning for human contact says so much about us as a people. 

It says that we all matter. 

Sometimes I reflect on pre-Covid times, and what I’ve come up with is that things were a train wreck then, too. Just a different one. Everyone running in fifty different directions… Every man out for himself. I get that I’m generalizing, but I’m beginning to wonder if this could be true: is all great change really preceded by chaos? (Thank you, Deepak.) Are we not on the brink of taking the lessons we’ve learned and making the world better?

This is how I choose to see it, because it gives me something to believe in. Something that fuels my hope during this freaking misery marathon we’re all running. 

Yes, we are tired. But look how we’ve adapted! Look at how options to connect have skyrocketed! (And admittedly, we have a ways to go to bridge the digital divide.) Look at how we’ve all sought options to take our friendships, families and social groups online to stay in touch. Because we just aren’t meant to exist on our own. Another realization that fuels me.  

Photo cred: John Cameron, Unsplash

I’ve seen such kindness over these last few months.

Busy people putting down their agendas to make life a little easier for our vulnerable loved ones. Picking up medication and groceries. Med students mobilized to babysit the children of frontline workers. Programs created to call isolated seniors so they might enjoy a weekly phone call from a volunteer, keeping them company a few hours each week. People have stepped up and are filling in the gaps. It makes my heart soar to see this level of human compassion. 

I’m not denying the vast amount of suffering that’s gone on. I just can’t, however, go there right now. I must focus on the good. The world will open back up again and as it does, maybe we can take these collective learnings and shift our consciousness to a more global perspective. I personally believe that our spirit of human cooperation has the potential to move this and future generations into a society that cares even more for others. And wouldn’t that be something? 

We are, after all, a universe of people. Bonds are forming across barriers we didn’t used to pay attention to. And while things are far from perfect, we can all agree that we’re a species longing for … well, belonging. That revelation has the power to change our whole world.

by Sam Plavins, Founder, She Walks the Walk Inc.

I stopped chasing money.

“Money is numbers. And numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.”

Bob Marley

On January 17th, 2020, I lugged the last remaining boxes from my office and sat in my frozen car, stunned at what had come to fruition. The “be careful what you wish for” adage poked me in my tear-filled eyes. I didn’t even try to hold them back… Months of stiff-upper-lipping-it meant the floodgates were now safe to open. Whoosh! 

No more client meetings. 
No more financial plans to construct. 
No more market-fluctuation counseling sessions. 
No more proving I had a client’s best interest at heart. 
No more rigorous compliance audits.
No more feeling like an imposter.
And, I hoped, no more stomach-aches.

It had been a ten-year financial slog to re-acquire my client base in exchange for majority share ownership in the family business. And that decade of payments ended the day I chose to exit stage left. The “house”—if you will—was finally paid for. But it was too late. I was done.

Guys, who does this?! I mean, who puts in all that time and abandons the rewards right when they’re finally accessible?

Apparently, I do! As the reality of my situation took hold, I continued to sit in the car like a statue, staring at the door I would never walk through again at will. I had surrendered my key, my clients, and my livelihood. At forty-six years old, I walked away from that little goldmine.

Some thought I had gone completely bonkers—a midlife crisis unfolding before their curious eyes. “Don’t you still have bills to pay?” “The girls are so young!” “You’re throwing away sixteen years!” But my reasons for leaving will become clear as I outline a few life lessons I’m taking with me on my new path. Most of these insights have come directly from helping my clients.

Lesson #1: Life is short. 

Insert eye-rolling, and yawn! Yes, we all know this. But do we really? 

The gift of life is a miracle. That you exist defies all odds—about 1 in 400 trillion, according to Google. While you let that sink in, know that your life also matters. Greatly. And whether you feel the magnitude of that statement yet is immaterial. One day it’ll tap you on the shoulder when you least expect it.

You were put on this earth to have an impact that only you can have. Because, there is no other you.

But what if I told you that vast potential could all be wiped away in one catastrophic, single-engine plane crash? You might say, “Nah, I don’t make it a habit of getting in those things!” Or that you’d soon find out you have an inoperable tumor that will rob you of the chance to see your daughter walk down the aisle next year? “Dude. I’m a vegetarian with no family history of Cancer, so stop with the Debbie Downer sh*t.” 

If this sounds dramatic, I get it. Realistically, we all face life and death at any given moment. The above are the kinds of situations I dealt with all the time in my practice… Walloping, unexpected curveballs that changed everything.

None of us has sorted out the business of living forever. (Except maybe that Wolverine guy. My twelve-year-old says he kicks ass at immortality!) Yet, some bank on the illusion that if we work tirelessly now, we’ll get to enjoy the good times down the road. You know, like, in retirement.

This is fool’s thinking!

My clients showed me the fragility of life. The idea that tomorrow is promised has set us up to live as though we’re in rehearsal, just practicing for the grand event that will eventually be our life. It plays into the “I’ll be happy when” mantra, where we chase an elusive carrot on an ever-turning treadmill. (Only to find we’re going nowhere but around in circles.) We magically expect that once we hit that golden age of retirement, we’ll have made it! Phew! Now, I can really live!

One time, I delivered a life insurance cheque to a young widow whose husband was taken from her at the precise moment she was on the phone with him. Can you even imagine? His truck literally exploded while they shared a routine conversation. Thanks to this level of extreme perspective, I’ve come to a place where I’m not interested in practicing at life.

I’m going to live it. Every day, and on my terms. Not on the assumption that tomorrow will stick around and wait for me. Note: even in saying this, I recognize the privilege and know that many people are just trying to survive, let alone thrive.

Life Lesson #2: You can’t take it with you.

Some of my clients had more money than they could spend in three lifetimes, but they wouldn’t spend any. The truth is, it gave them a sense of security. Most of these people grew up in a time of austerity or came from parents who served in one of the World Wars. They fought hard for every nickel, and their values around money were simple: accumulate and save. I’m not judging, and I understand where the mentality comes from.

But added to this was often a desire to leave a legacy to their children and grandchildren. “When I die, I want to leave all this to the kids.” I found it fascinating that these clients were sacrificing so much of themselves, even though they didn’t see it that way. I always believed that money doesn’t mean anything until you trade it for something. Their altruism for the future generation touched me.

It also bewildered me. I wondered if there wasn’t an opportunity to impact their next-gen-kin while these folks were still young and impressionable? Parcel out bits of that nest egg and play a role in teaching them how to handle money? Or, relieve some of their financial pressure while they duke it out with education, finding jobs, and getting established. It’s not easy being twenty-something today.

And yet, forget that! What about spending some of it on yourself? Get out there and make a bucket load of memories with the people you love! Put it into the world and watch it come back ten-fold, especially when it’s invested in more than just funds. Which brings me to my next life lesson…

Life Lesson #3: Diversify your investment portfolio. Make deposits into your Memory Bank. These will pay dividends that can last a lifetime.

I confess I had a slightly unconventional style when it came to dispensing advice in my financial practice. Sure, I subscribed to the importance of shoring up risk and planning for tomorrow. (None of us wants to eat cat food in retirement!) But you’d never hear me tell a client not to take that trip with their kids just so they could max out retirement contributions.

Screw. That. Noise.

Investing is an interesting phenomenon. You dump the energy you’ve earned (that’s money) into something you hope will make it grow. There’s a headache of upfront homework required, including assessing your risk tolerance, understanding what it is you’re investing in, and then paying attention along the way through the ups and downs of market performance. It takes discipline and patience.

What I think we can all agree on is the end-goal of our investing: to make money on our money. (Let’s not split hairs about feeling good for supporting young entrepreneurs and other social enterprise start-ups. This isn’t about that.)

But what about investing in your Memory Bank? Is that even a thing? Because if it is, boy does it sound hokey!

Guys, it’s a real thing. Four years ago, my husband and I came into a bit of money, giving us the privileged opportunity to get thoughtful about what we should do with it. The options were endless— including, but not limited to, fixing our roof (not sexy), topping up our girls’ education funds (boring), or paring our lives down to one backpack each and hitting the road for a South American adventure. Winner, winner; chicken dinner!

We called ourselves The Traveling Gong Show, because, quite frankly, we were a disaster at the best of times. A family of four: set to bicker and bumble their way through Ecuador and Peru! Our only goals? Slow our lives down, bond hard with the kids, and show them a piece of the world that offers a new cultural perspective. (They were thirteen and eight at the time.) Again, peeps thought we were a little crazy—“Wait, you’re going to be on a bus for fifty-two hours? Are you nuts?!”—but that didn’t stop us.

I’ll admit that we even wound up taking on a bit of debt by the time the three months were up. See, when you don’t work there’s no income (go figure), and, we didn’t know if we’d ever have another chance like this, so we embraced as many opportunities within reasonable proximity as we could.

But the money spent was a fair trade-off for all the memories we made… Hiking the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu. Dune-buggying in the Peruvian desert. Swimming with sharks in the Galapagos. These investments were far more epic than reading the Fund Facts for a medium-risk growth portfolio! And while it’s true we short-changed an opportunity to save more for their educational future, we actually wound up shaping their lives in ways I couldn’t have dreamed possible.

Thanks to this experience, my eldest daughter’s goals for her future now include how she could make a difference on a global scale for some of the inequities in the world. Who knew that our bebopping around on a shoestring adventure would inform her budding ideology about life, culture, and social responsibility?

Life Lesson #4:  A career you don’t like—but one that offers a great pension plan—could equal years of misery.

I counseled dozens of clients who were hanging on by a loosely woven thread at their jobs. They were miserable, but the carrot at the end of the treadmill was a guaranteed pension. And that does count for something. A lot, these days, in fact.

As far as lessons go, this one is sensitive. Job security is important. Planning for our futures and self-reliance is important. But churning out eight to twelve hours a day, five to seven days a week at something that kills your soul is not a fair trade for a future life that isn’t guaranteed. At least, not in this girl’s honest opinion.

Even as I type this, I can think of a number of people I know who are virtually miserable in their places of employment, but they’re banking on that guaranteed pension once they hit the age-factor of retirement.

And I can speak with some authority on this. These pensions are called Defined Benefit plans. The employer takes on all risk and future income is a combination of years of service, your top five years of earnings, and their own market investment performance. You just have to show up and work. Every day. Until you hit that magic number.

But pensions like this are concerningly underfunded today, and thus going the way of the dodo bird. People who have access to them (usually those in some sort of civil service) are told over and over how blessed they are.

And, they are.

Only, guess what? If you are literally TOILING and only living for tomorrow, you’re not really living now, are you? I know some people in this situation. Fabulous skills. Talent wasted in a job they loathe, but it offers them a better financial tomorrow than they could likely get anywhere else. So, it’s the age-old today, or tomorrow?

Look, I’m not here to convince you to leave your job. That’s not it. I do believe in challenging the status quo, however. And I believe in remembering that today matters. Today deserves a shot.

Speaking for myself, after sixteen years as a financial advisor, I could have easily stayed in the career and metaphorically cleaned up. Most established practitioners do extremely well if they have the stick-to-it-iveness for the long game.

But the trade-off of all this future money, for me, was control. So much of what I thought, valued, and wanted to pursue in my personal life was distilled down to regulatory policies of what was and was not acceptable. And I’m all for regulation –geez, there are crooks and *ssholes out there! The honest guy pays a price, however. Incessant scrutiny. A feeling of Big Brother watching you. It all became a little too much for my free-spirited, ethical self.

And? There was something else, too. Which leads conveniently into my final life lesson for today.

Life Lesson #5: Being true to yourself is critical to (genuine) happiness.

I consider my time as a financial advisor a massive blessing, but it began to feel disingenuous with my soul. I had poured myself into the career through my thirties and early forties, but along the way lost a bit of who I really was.

There is a much bigger problem at play when you feel like a square peg in a round hole. It can manifest physically, showing up in the form of stomach aches and a chronically watering left eye. (Had this for two years). It’s also a quiet erosion of your spirit—but this is only noticeable when you step completely away from your situation.

Thankfully, I decided to do something about the growing unease I felt in an industry that had been mostly good to me. Once again, I distilled my belongings down to a backpack and set out on a pilgrimage to gain some clarity.

For thirty-three days, I put one foot in front of another, following the famed Camino de Santiago trail in Spain, walking a total of 800 km. With each step, I tuned closer into the frequency of my soul, until it was no longer garbled static, but a loud, booming voice: Samantha! You need to make a change in your life! This career is killing you!

What I discovered was that being true to myself was vital to my growth, my purpose, and the peace I craved. I didn’t want to waste another moment not being the woman I had found on that trail.

So, what now? There’s a pandemic—cue another curveball—and mass global uncertainty. But I’m choosing to plug away at a new dream, one fueled by passion, not wealth. I remain grateful for all of life’s blessings, and even the struggles. For they have taught me that chasing money and status does not ultimately fill a person’s happiness bucket. And that’s gold to me.

This post was originally published on tinybuddha.com on Sept 2nd 2020. You can find the original piece 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.  

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