4 months ago I packed up my life, my 8 year old dog, and I said goodbye to the Alberta prairies where I was born and raised to fly across the world, following my heart, to join my soul mate on the other side of the Atlantic in Salzburg, Austria. I went from big open skies and flat vast land of nothingness to the heart of a mid evil town nestled in the mountains with castles and lush forests.
When I was 14, my family sold our farm out in the middle of no where of Southern Alberta to move 2 hours south to the “big” city of Medicine Hat where I spent the last decade of my life. I was raised around cattle, horses, raising lambs, gathering eggs from the chicken coop, country music, and dust on my boots. My life in Medicine Hat became a country girl rebelling hard from her sheltered roots which resulted in a few years of wild parties, hanging out with biker gangs, and dropping out of high school to do drugs.
Post drug days and removing myself from the group of people that I was associating myself with, I then smoothly slid into the role of an oilfield trophy girlfriend. I went from being broke as fuck, spending my last $5 on a hit of ecstasy, to being with someone in the big brand new truck and I was driving the matching brand new SUV which we parked in the garage of our white picket fence lifestyle home. Even though I could play the part of the loyal oilfield girlfriend, working at a bank while he was away for weeks on end working, waiting patiently for his 6 days off a month to come, I still rebelled from the identity of an “oilfield trophy wife” by burying myself in tattoos and hitting up as many rock concerts as my ear drums could handle.
I felt very removed from my country roots, thinking that I was this big city girl who had her whole life laid out in front of her as an oilfield family: get married, have kids, keep moving into bigger white picket fence homes…but there was still something missing. This identity didn’t feel like me. It was merely a box that I was trying to fit my triangle personality into because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do, especially after having a few years of disappointing my family with my choice of hanging out with low lifes and pumping drugs into my body when I was a teenager.
Travelling wasn’t on my radar, but I hopped on my first ever plane ride at 23 to head to Nashville for a work conference. It was there that my perception changed and my awareness expanded to see that there was a whole world out there that I wanted to see, and that the white picket fence lifestyle I was living was a lie to my true self. I came home from that trip and I walked away from a long term relationship that wasn’t right for me, the mortgage, the big garage, the bank account. I put my dog in my SUV and I drove away. I moved back in with my family so that I could afford to travel, and I began a trek of self discovery.
I rebelled hard. I was a newly single woman who didn’t know who she was outside of a relationship and she just walked away from an identity that wasn’t who she truly was. I spent a year committing to myself, to allow myself to have multiple breakdowns and build ups to figure out who I was. I lost and found myself in the streets of Vegas, the beaches of Mexico, Cuba, Dominican, New Orleans, and multiple countries in Europe. I deepened my connection with Spirit through doing all of the spirit junkie things: travelling, meditating on beaches, trying new energy healing modalities, hiring a life coach. I became drunk on the thrill of personal growth and wanderlust and I fell in love with a foreign heart with a charming Irish accent who I met on a tour bus in Cuba.
When he asked me to marry him under the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, I promised myself to him for the rest of our lives together to grow together, travel together, and always be seeking adventure together. I excitedly agreed to moving myself and my dog over to Austria where he’s lived for a number of years, to join him in a fairy-tale setting of castles and the Alps. All of the travelling I had done had made me feel like I didn’t have roots anywhere, and even though I knew it would be hard to say goodbye to the beautiful established relationships back home, I was excited to start over somewhere and truly shed all of the old identities that I had accumulated when I was a triangle trying to fit myself in a box.
My fiance and I have the same mindset of doing out of the norm, stepping outside of the comfort zone, and doing that which sets our soul on fire rather than conforming to what society tells us we should do. We are both entrepreneurs, we both love to learn about the world and people through travel, and we are both free spirited always willing to try something new. I met my match in my fiance. Someone who thrills and excites me and makes me feel safe and at home all in one shot. Someone that I can truly be myself with, a witchy woo woman draped in crystals, smelling like burnt sage, empowering other women to heal their worthiness wound so that they too will stop settling for a life that’s not in align with their true desires.
The settling in period in Salzburg was chaotic and foggy. Our apartment is in the tourist zone, and my small town self struggled with being surrounded by so many people and having buildings and mountains towering around me, blocking my view of the moon and stars. I felt very removed from the nature of Salzburg because as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t seem to connect with it on the deep level my soul craved. My PTSD symptoms from a trauma the year before began to surface again because I no longer had my usual anchors that grounded me to feel safe. I missed the community feel of Canada, where I could make small talk with anyone when I was out and about, and where I would get smiles from strangers walking by. I didn’t understand why I was struggling so much, I am an easy going go with the flow, open minded, well travelled person, finally living in the same country as my fiance with my dog by my side, why is this so hard?
It was brilliant, we were travelling around every few weeks. In a short 3 months I had been in Ireland twice, Holland and Croatia as well as exploring the surrounding towns of Salzburg. My wanderlust had certainly been quenched. My relationship with my fiance grew and deepened in a beautiful soul nourishing way. My dog and him became the best of friends. I was able to work from the comforts of our apartment with my dog at my feet, coaching women through their traumas and worthiness wound.
My fourth month I finally began to feel more settled into Salzburg. It truly was beginning to feel like home, wherever my fiance and my dog are, my little family, that’s where home is. I surrendered to the fact that the people, the culture, the lifestyle, the language, the nature, are very different than what I was used to in Alberta and I stopped resisting it and began to truly accept it for it’s own different charm. I began to fall in love with the sunsets over the mountains even though the mountains, trees and buildings ate up sky space. I began to fall in love with the different liveliness of the nature on the mountains that was so lush and green compared to the harsh dry prairies I used to connect so deeply with on big sky sunset walks with my dog.
The beginning of my 5th month of living abroad, I flew back to Alberta to reconnect with friends and family. This flight was bought for me by my fiance in a moment of homesick weakness in order to give me my dose of friendly Canadians so that I could come back feeling refreshed and able to handle the big crowds of tourists better, and the unfriendly personalities of the Austrians. As soon as I landed in Vancouver, I began to cry such tears of gratitude as soon as I felt the “home” feeling of being surrounded by people who whenever I would make eye contact with them, they would offer a friendly smile. I wandered around the airport, a huge smile on my face, looking for poutine, Tim Horton’s, a beer and clam, and a Caesar. I didn’t mind the layover, I was so happy to be surrounded by English speaking people, restaurant menus and signs. I was brought to tears when a man paying his bill next to me said that for his 30th wedding anniversary, he was bringing his wife to Cranbrook to go fishing and they were both so excited. It was so wholesome and so Canadian.
My short flight to Calgary was incredible emotional. Flying over top of the Rocky Mountains has always been such a powerful experience with the majestic views. Soon the mountains turned into rolling hills, and then rolling hills turned into flat land, dry farmers fields looking like a patch quilt from the sky. As the plane descended towards Calgary, tears of gratitude streamed down my face. My friend was going to be an hour after I landed to pick me up, so I wandered out of the Calgary airport with a Tim Horton’s coffee in my hand, and I found a patch of grass where I laid myself down on, staring up at the big blue sky. I could feel my frequency begin to fine tune to the vibration of the prairies as my back was pressed flat against the dry Earth below me.
I have never appreciated the long 3 hour drive from Calgary to Medicine Hat down the desolate #1 Highway so much before, with my best friend by my side, a woman I share such a deep sisterhood connection with. The September sun was setting over the golden hued prairies, the land so harsh and dry from yet another drought. Vastness. Space. Big sky. Flat land. Nothingness. Country music filled Cassandra’s vehicle as we had a deep soul to soul conversation and we sunk into the gratitude and appreciation of what the prairies have to offer as pinks and purples exploded over the sky the closer the sun dropped to the horizon. We pulled over on the side of the highway, nothing or nobody around us, to watch the sun completely dip below the crisp surface of the wheat fields. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I lost myself in the gratitude of the moment.
Last night, I rode a horse at sunset on a friend’s farm. Out in the middle of nowhere, not a soul to be seen for miles. It’d been well over 10 years since I had rode a horse in a prairie setting rather than a beach setting. We sat for hours underneath the stars, a warm September night, reflecting on how my life has twisted and turned and brought me to the path I am meant to be on. It was in this moment that I realized, Medicine Hat is part of the roots that I established growing up on the farm in Gem. Even though I lived in the city of Medicine Hat, it still is part of the country -what the rest of the world views as the Wild West. It still has community, it still has a western flare, as it’s filled with retired ranchers and farmers, and every family is connected to the land in some way – their well being coming from oilfield production, farming or ranching.
This is where my roots are. It no longer is home for me, home is where my dog and my fiance are, but this is where I started. The Wild West. The place where I grew into the person that I am today. The place that I stumbled around in until I found the right outlet for my inner misfit: travel, living abroad, marrying a foreign heart, doing work that most people don’t understand, being a light worker and having a deep connection to Spirit. Being away has given me a deeper appreciation for the harsh dry climate of the prairies, for the big skies, the big trucks, the cowboy lifestyle, and the country music. Even though all of this isn’t who I am anymore, this witchy woo entrepreneur living on the other side of the world, I appreciate how it shaped me and how it is a big part of my history.
I feel closure. And I know that when I am craving familiarity and simplicity over excitement and adventure, the prairies will always be there to remind me of how far I’ve come, and it will always be my starting place that I can always go back to when I need that refresher, that reminder, of where I started.