I studied media, communications and political science at university, so learning about social justice issues like human rights, environmental activism and the impact of various socio-economic systems around the world was par for the course.
I loved my classes, professors and found the whole university experience incredibly enriching. And the course content definitely propelled my career, working primarily in the non-profit sector.
Despite having intellectualized many of the world’s most pressing issues at the time, I can’t say that my behaviour radically changed. Sure, I was perhaps more inclined to separate my recyclables and source fair-trade chocolate on my snack run; but beyond that, it was business as usual for my daily habits.
All that would change many years later.
Correction: all of that would start to change many years later.
Remember, this is a journey.
After several years living and working abroad after university, I relocated back to my hometown. It was great to be home, but I took a marketing job at a large, corporate law firm. It wasn’t long before I realized corporate law was not the industry for me. But for practical reasons (girl’s gotta pay her bills, amirite!?), I stuck it out for as long as I could, even if it meant crying into my bowl of cereal before work in the morning and wallowing on the couch in despair in the evening.
Nearly a year in, I was having dinner with a friend (crying into my plate of sushi) and she suggested something radical for me: she told me to go on a yoga retreat.
The conversation went something like this:
Friend: You need to get away, seriously.
Me: Ugh. I know. (Note the lack of creativity in my response. I was drained.)
Friend: Yeah! Go on a yoga retreat or something. Go to Costa Rica!
Me: **stares blankly*
Friend: Yes! Costa Rica has lots of yoga retreats, I think!? You should Google it.
Now, this was a radical suggestion because I didn’t do yoga. I mean, I had done it a handful of times before, but it wasn’t exactly in my wheelhouse. But for whatever reason, I went home and I Google’d “Costa Rica yoga retreat.”
A couple of weeks later, I was on a plane.
I wrote more about my experience of the retreat on my personal website but suffice it to say, the trip changed my life.
One piece of the story I haven’t yet shared (you’ll see why in a minute), is what I packed, or didn’t pack.
For some reason, almost overnight, I became very interested in my deodorant.
I can’t for the life of me think of a reason why this suddenly became an important issue for me, but I just felt* like I should be concerned with what I was spreading over my pits every day.
Turns out, I had good reason to be concerned…not that I knew the details at the time.
Anyway, I purchased an aluminum-free, unscented deodorant to wear during the retreat. During the 30+ degree, 90% humidity of the Costa Rican jungle. I figured it was as good a time as any to switch it up. I mean, if I’m going to reek then I might as well be around a bunch of strangers who I’d never see again, right?
So I wore the natural deodorant.
And you know what? I didn’t stink! I didn’t smell like a sweet melon or a zesty citrus fruit, but I certainly didn’t stink!
And so began the first personal move towards being much more conscious about how I was spending my money and what I was putting on my body. Looking back, this really feels like the start of my journey.
Lots of things shifted for me during that yoga retreat, but I could never have guessed the shift would start in my pits.
[*Editor’s note: You’re likely to discover through this blog that I tend to operate first on feeling, whereas Chris will operate first on logic and reason. This makes life with each other hilarious and fun at the best of times, and impossibly frustrating at the worst of times!]