Why am I here? A good question to ask. Perhaps the most important question you will ever ask yourself. I have pursued, almost relentlessly, the answer to this question for decades. Sometimes it has alluded me, other times the answer is simply there, arising from nowhere like morning mist over an empty field.
When I was a young girl, I believed I had magical powers. Around the cul-de-sac where I grew up there was a giant oak tree, standing mighty and gracious, its branches reaching into the sky. I passed by this tree everyday walking home from school. And every day as I approached the tree, I would close my eyes, and for a moment envision floating into the sky above the tree and landing on the other side. I not only envisioned it, I actually believed one day I would fly over this tree.
I grew up and left my home in the cul-de-sac, the oak tree and the forgotten magical powers. I followed cultural and self imposed expectations of who and what I should be. Rather than believing in magic, I often looked at life through what I could understand, study, and analyze with my rational mind.
However, one of my gifts- an insatiable curiosity, has returned me time and again to the question why am I here? My journey - since I left my childhood home at 19, travelled the world, studied many disciplines, connected deeply to nature and became a mother, has led me full circle. I now know I have “magical powers.” In fact, we all do. These powers are not flying, levitating, or bending objects with your mind, they are your gifts -those core parts of who you are - your light and Medicines that you have been given to help you do what you came here to do.
Knowing my gifts has not come without doubt. Over the last two years I’ve taken numerous trainings including yoga therapy, meditation, restorative yoga and professional shamanism training. In addition to all my training, I have accumulated many skills and life experiences. And yet I still sometimes find myself questioning my abilities, my gifts, and what it is I am here to do.
Occasionally the critic in my mind takes over: “Janelle, you really should have a 500 hour accreditation to be good at this,” “who are you to teach yoga in the first place, you are not really all that flexible (right, because yoga is all about flexibility), “your mind races constantly, you've experienced anxiety and sleeplessness, who are you to guide others in meditation," "you've never published anything, what makes you think you could write a book" to “who are you to help others heal, when you have your own sh*t to heal.” This critic unleashes its fury, vying to prevent me from moving forward in my path.
I could allow myself to be swallowed by these insecurities, however as I splash them on this page, I see them for what they are - crazy, ridiculous thoughts. Although a part of me, they are not who I am. Looking at them with humour and compassion, I let them go. In doing so, I settle deeper into myself and soften into who I am. And I can see clearly.
I see clearly what has been with me all along - my gifts. I feel them whispering in my heart like the leaves of the giant oak tree, guiding me and calling me to believe in magic. I see it in the experiences that I’ve had and in the people I’ve connected with. The answer to the question why am I here is not random, the clues are all around.
One experience has been etched my heart for nearly twenty years. I was just twenty two years old when I started working at a women’s shelter in Edmonton’s downtown core. Being so young, I did not have the trainings nor life experience I have now. I was neither a mother nor wife. I had not suffered from a year long injury. I did not lose my mother to cancer nor live through anxiety, depression, and bouts of insomnia. I had not watched someone I love deal with alcohol issues. What I did have, though, were my gifts.
And that was all I needed one particular night shift, when I sat and listened for four hours to a woman share her story. In the dead cold winter night, it did not matter what trainings I had completed or what I had experienced in my life or whether I had a 200 hour versus a 500 hour accreditation. What mattered was the trust in my gifts - my abilities to see, witness, and listen-really listen to another soul in her deepest pain and most vulnerable time. In the space I created, we lifted higher than a mighty oak tree and into the realm of healing. What happened was purely magical as I listened while She Spoke.