How does it happen? At which point in life do you realise that it’s not enough, that this is not the life you are looking for, that you are not happy? Some people go through dramatic events like a divorce or depression. Others, such as Courtney Sinclair have a harder time finding the precise moment where they felt they needed a change. She says it herself, there was no defining moment, it was just a recurring thought. Going through life, day after day, thinking it is just okay, not great, not bad, just okay. At some point, okay starts feeling mediocre and dissatisfying.
“People go to work every day being like “I don’t like it here, but I’ll do something better tomorrow”. It’s like okay, when is your tomorrow? Eventually your tomorrow has to be today or else you are going to continue allowing yourself to be accepting of your circumstances.”
We met Courtney on a hot summer day in Fort-Coulonge, Quebec. Sitting on the quiet and charming Coulonge River, the villages’ red covered bridge seemed like the perfect backdrop to shoot photos of Courtney as she playfully paddles on her stand-up paddle board. As we rolled into town though, so did the clouds, dramatic and stormy. We decided to chat in the van, hoping that the sun would push its rays through the clouds and rain once again before dusk set in.
The cozy, basic Westfalia we sat in for the interview was just like the cottage Courtney had rented for a summer as a mean to find what was missing in her life. It gained in adventure and experiences what it lacked in luxuries. That summer, she decided, was going to be her tomorrow.
“I did put myself in a bit of financial distress to rent that place. There, I didn’t wear shoes; I hung out with my dog and the bugs; I didn’t have all these possessions. I didn’t need stuff, I didn’t need money […] I needed my own space to find clarity.”
Courtney spent most of her time outside, finding peace and clarity by the river. The summer passed and Courtney felt better and better about her choice. “I felt more abundant even though the space I had was less.” When an opportunity for a SUP and yoga retreat in the Algonquin Park presented itself, she knew it was where she needed to be. Choosing to not listen to the little voice in her head telling her it was too expensive and unnecessary, she jumped on the opportunity.
Meditative yoga was a discovery for Courtney and she also had never tried stand-up paddle boarding. Although she was, to her own assessment, horrible at it, she enjoyed it so much, she knew it was going to be her thing. That precise moment, in the water, is where she finally found her true self.
“I was like: “Oh! Here I am! Where have I been? ” And this is how I feel every time I go in the water. I have a connection to myself there.”
On her way back home from the retreat, she stopped at the first outfitter she passed, to have a look at how much those heavenly boards did cost. “Way too much!”, she was thinking, as she was figuring out a way to strap her new SUP on her car without a roof rack! Courtney never looked back. She still paddles whenever she can and has made other changes to align her life with what she really desires. She changed job and now works for a smaller company that provides for a better work environment. She found herself a house trapped between the river and bike trails, giving her an option depending on how she wants to connect with nature that day.
For her to keep her focus and harmony, she has to maintain that regular connection with nature. Time outdoors is how she gives herself the space and time to reflect on her life.
“When I go on the river, I feel joyful and playful. This is the place where I want to make my decisions from. Not stress, survival, or frustration. I want to make decisions where I can feel connected to me.”
On top of it, Courtney makes sure to align every day with inspiring content and surrounds herself with positive people that bring her up. “Of course sometimes I have negative feelings. I just try to rest in a place of knowing my power to feel any feeling I want to feel at any given moment.” Courtney’s journey is motivated by the idea that a people are in control of their reality.
“You have to create everyday what you want your future to be. I want to create my future. I don’t want to just accept what comes my way. I’ll stay at this as long as it makes me happy. And if I want to do something more incredible and badass, I’m going to do it.”
Lately, Courtney has found in herself a desire to share her experience and try to inspire others. Through blogging, organizing SUP and yoga sessions and Desire Mapping workshops, she hopes to help people connect with themselves and design a life they love. Although the path is sometimes complex, her message is simple.
“If you are not clear on what your happiness looks like to you, everyone will be there to tell you. Just listen to yourself. Inside, you know what you want.”
Outside the van, the storm had passed. The calmed river looked so inviting, lit by that warm evening sun. As I watched Courtney paddle down it, I understood how that ritual could bring her so much peace and joy. She is lucky to have found within herself and through nature some of the answers to her happiness and hopes everyone does the same. How do you bring balance and happiness to your life? #FoundSero