Working from the heart. Loving what you do and as a result, bringing love to what you do. That was always Tracy Remelius’ goal but proved to be more complicated than she hoped for. Between her passion for nature and teaching, she finally found the place where she can be her best self.
“I made a decision to go into teaching because I’ve always been concerned and passionate about the environment. I had hopes that I could open that up in younger people as a science teacher.”
A few years into her career, she moves to work for an urban school that offers alternative pedagogy and teaching methods that were more in line with what she envisioned education to be.
“I was really interested because it was trying to be interdisciplinary, get the kids out in the world, be part of changing education, all those things I believed in. I really didn’t believe that kids should be in a classroom all day, sitting in their chairs and not able to go outside and experience the world.”
Unfortunately, the move didn’t prove to be what she hoped for. One week in, she already knew she had made a big mistake but stuck with the one year commitment she had made. The year-end came after too long, leaving her burned out. While she was lucky to find work at a great school the following year the damage had already be done. The rocky year had planted the seed of doubt Tracy needed to make a big change.
“I had landed the perfect job. Every child was perfect. I had great colleagues that were all working together. As that year progressed, I got more into my personal Yoga practice and realized that day after day, I was feeling really unhealthy and really emotionally drained. I had this vision and mission that I had to help people see what needs to happen in the world. So many of these people, whether the kids, friends or colleagues, were living unhealthy lives, both emotionally and physically.”
Tracy started leading Yoga sessions at school for her colleagues, increasingly compelled by the idea that her gift of helping and giving back might be to help people deal with their stresses and connect to themselves so they can consciously connect to nature and the world around themselves. With the support of her husband, she decided to quit her teaching job and started teaching Yoga full-time.
“I wasn’t that scared. I just knew deep in my gut that’s what I needed to do. I was more scared of becoming like some of the people I worked with who were counting down days until the end of the school year and years left to retirement. I was way more afraid of being like that. I don’t want to countdown my life.”
Selfishly, she felt that she needed to herself be in a better place, to be able to bring others into that light and Yoga helped her in that sense. Only one thing was missing to the perfect equation. Nature.
“For me, doing Yoga outside, I can have my bare feet on the ground, then I can look up and have this huge sky above me. I really connect to the elemental qualities of whatever is around me. Being in nature helps me be more present because there is so much to look at, to observe. It’s where I feel the best.”
She started introducing this element to her teaching, bringing her students in nature for traditional yoga sessions or using nature and exercise as ideal meditation settings. Doing Yoga on a paddle board became one of her favourite means.
“It takes your studio practice and everything that you thought you knew about a pose, you almost have to throw out the window. What I love is it brings a whole other layer of awareness to your practice. For me, it really revitalized my Yoga practice because I was so captivated by how things could be so different, being much more experimental.”
Her life is quite different now. On top of teaching SUP Yoga at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, one week-end a month she takes patients from a substance abuse rehab retreat out for a three day camping trip. She also works as a national director for SheJumps, a non-profit with the mission to increase the participation of girls and women in outdoor recreation. With her husband, they live on a nature sanctuary and in exchange, take care of the property.
“The daily beauty is really important to my happiness. I’ve chosen to live in places where I can just walk out my door and be in a beautiful serene place. As a teacher, I would go home at the end of the day and be crying. It was rough. I didn’t have the emotional capacity because I couldn’t care for myself in a way that was helping me thrive. Now, I have three jobs. In the summer time I work a lot. I still get burned out from time to time but my goal of being happier and healthier is met and I have no regrets at all leaving teaching. I don’t want to go back. I get to be out here to live and work in places like this and it’s really awesome.”
For one to work from the heart and thrive doing so, she has to find a way to keep filling this heart. Otherwise, the love and kindness you are trying to spread thins out. Find a passion, something that makes you happy, something meaningful to you. When he your heart fills up in the process, let it pour out and be a source of inspiration for others. Tracy certainly has no regrets.