Have you ever wanted to do something and been afraid to do it? That’s been true for me. I always wanted to take the train across Canada. What better way to see this country if I chose not to drive? And I’ve always held limiting beliefs which kept me from taking the trip. I believed that I would not be safe if I were to travel alone. I believed that I’d get lost and not know how to find my way. And I believed that I’d lose something important and not be able to find it. Far better to wait until I could travel with someone, I’d always thought.
This past July, I was talking about taking this trip with a friend who asked me what was keeping me from choosing it. And in that moment, I knew that I had no real reason not to go. So I went to a travel agency and booked the trip and the hotel in Vancouver. And I booked the flight back home. I called and arranged for a limo service in Vancouver to take me from the train to the hotel and from the hotel to the airport. And I hired a limo service to pick me up at the Ottawa airport and return me home.
On the day my trip was to start, I couldn’t settle. I was both scared about what my experience would be like and anxious to get started. Now that I’ve returned home, I am so glad that I chose to go. I was away for only a week and I know that I’m not now the woman I was before I left on my journey.
I learned so many things on this trip. On a practical level, I learned that I made the right decision to book a larger room. I learned that I was actually more stable walking in the train without my cane. I learned that if you want to get into the dome car, you need to get there early to get a seat and it helps if you’re a bit of a mountain goat since the stairs up are steep and narrow. I learned that it’s always better to not walk into or out of the dining car when the train is moving around a bend.
I marvelled at the diversity of this country: Northern Ontario’s trees and lakes, Manitoba’s gently rolling terrain, Winnipeg which is a very pretty city that I want to explore more, Saskatchewan’s essential flatness, Alberta’s farms and power and industry until you get to the foothills of the Rockies. The Rockies have to be experienced. It’s hard to tell where the mountains end and heaven begins. Canada is just so beautiful.
And I learned so much about myself that I had not expected on this journey:
- I’m a good listener and people are at ease in my company.
- I enjoy quiet and the sense of inner peace that gives me and don’t need to be in the company of others for fear that I might be missing something interesting or important.
- I’m not socially inept [which I always called being socially retarded] and I don’t feel awkward or watchful when meeting new people
- I’m a lot safer than I thought I was.
- I’m so much stronger than I thought I was.
- I’m so much steadier than I thought I was.
- When I pay attention to what my body is telling me, I know what to do to look after myself and I can trust that my body will heal itself.
- When I see things as puzzles to be solved and not as conspiracies against me, then I solve them – it’s just a given.
- I can ask for what I need.
- I can trust others to follow through on what they say they’ll do.
- I can make the most of experiences in my way as I choose and when I do that, I don’t worry that I’m missing out on something.
- I can go out on my own and create experiences that I enjoy and know that I will be safe.
- I don’t need to worry about what others think of me because I’m choosing differently from them.
- When plans don’t pan out due to what others do, I may get irked and I don’t feel like there’s some sort of plot against me to foil the plans that have been made anymore. I feel no intense or lingering anger. And I don’t feel the need to rehash what did or didn’t happen with others so that I feel self-righteous.
- I can learn to use things by using them. Relearning how to use my digital camera has been great fun.
And the four most powerful things I learned about myself on this trip:
- As I watched the VIA personnel walk on the train, I realized that the best way to avoid stumbling or falling is to step forward with my head up, looking to where I want to go, and striding with confidence knowing that I will reach my goal. It feels so good to know the truth of this. That’s such a profound metaphor for me about how to approach living.
- I’m not an arctic soul – now there’s a metaphor if there ever was one. I always said that about myself and about my reaction to heat. And I know now that it’s really been about my trying to be cold and unfeeling so that I would feel safe and invulnerable. And it’s not who I AM.
- I am no longer embarrassed for knowing when I do need help and asking for it. I don’t have to explain or apologize when I ask for the help I need. I know that I do not abuse asking for help. I also know that others can always say no if they choose to.
- On the last morning, as I was sitting and eating breakfast, I looked up and saw myself reflected in the mirror ahead of me in the dining car and I realized for the very first time in my life that I’m pretty. I’d never felt that way about myself before. I’m pretty! And it still feels so big inside. I SHINE! I really DO!
My friend Louise called this trip an adventure. At first, I didn’t know what to call it. And there were a few times in the days leading up to my trip that I thought about calling the whole thing off. I’m so thankful that I didn’t bail out on it. It has been the best gift I’ve ever given myself. Even if I didn’t intend to learn so much about myself when I set out, I did chose to take the trip which meant stepping into all my uncertainties and allowing things to unfold as they would. I’ve gone from the East to the West and life is very different for me now.
Transformation is never a function of time or age. It happens when it happens. And as I write this and waves are moving through me, I’m so thankful that I was open to the experience and that I said ‘Yes’ to mySelf. This has been more than a trip across Canada. It’s been a journey into the land of ME. The woman I came to know on this trip across Canada has always been here waiting for me to know her. And that feels wonderful!