This past weekend I was in Victoria - I was there to present my ideas on “Optimizing Health with Nutrition” at the Canadian Health and Wellness Innovations Conference.
When I have an opportunity to work in the field I love, and share my passions with people who are willing to listen, my answer is always “yes”. But, to be really honest with you, I must say that as the days approached I became increasingly nervous. The day I received the email asking me what books I have published so they could add them to the virtual library, things got really real.
I have spoken in front of people before – lots of times. I teach groups of bootcampers on a regular basis, I love meeting new clients in both training and nutrition, and when I am in a classroom setting I have no issues presenting in front of the class or sharing my sometimes-controversial opinions. I love a good conversation, and the more people involved – the better, in my opinion. The biggest group talk I have done (presenting my own material) so far was 360 people. I have spoken in front of the whole grandstand audience back in my dancing days (20 000 people), and I have spoken at weddings, in front of spin classes (back in my short lived career of teaching spin!) – you name it – speaking is something I like to do. So what was it about this conference, of only 205 people, that had me so worried?
I suppose, for me, I felt that this was a pivotal moment in my career – I felt like this talk could potentially be a big deal – if not for the unreal networking opportunities then for the amazing exposure and experience. I have worked so hard in my industry for the past 9 years and have absolutely always had an unshakable dedication to following my passion. I want to elevate the world, I want to help the people re-learn to connect with Self and with Earth and with Tribe. I want to leave this world better than I entered it.
I gotta tell ya, forging out my own path has not always been an easy journey - there have been plenty of times I have had to call my Mum for help paying a bill, or had to be stuck in the hard choice of buying just enough groceries or paying for therapy – therapy always won. It has not always been easy, but it has always been worth it, and I wouldn’t do it any other way.
When I 1st graduated Nutrition school 10 years ago the term “nutritionist” was simply unheard of. There were no jobs, you had to make your own. When I graduated as a life coach, that term was even less known --- I seemed to be on a passionate path that seemed to lead nowhere. It became increasingly clear that I was born to be an entrepreneur. I was born to make my way in this world on a path not yet walked. I was just another wild-hearted-free-spirited woman with an idealist goal of making our word a more loving and peaceful place.
I remember at the ripe old age of 25 having a total melt down and for the next 2 years I wouldn’t touch life coaching with a 10 foot pole. I was so lost in the world of ‘being’ vs the world of ‘doing’ - I simply could not coach people. Are we meant to create a goal in life and work our asses off at accomplishing it? Do we meditate on it and make dream boards about it? Do we spend our time vacating what’s here and now to visualize the future we believe we should have?
Or are we to stay true to the whispers of our heart and allow life to guide us in a direction? Do we surrender? We do simply stay unweaving in our dedication to honor the passions of the soul and hope that life will guide us? Hope that there is actually a bigger picture to this universe?
I still don’t know the answer for sure, but I can certainly say that for me it has been a combination of both. 10 years ago, I would not have been able to predict where I would be today let alone create a vision board for my life. I did however know that I loved studying nutrition and spirituality. So that’s what I did. I loved helping people. I knew that some paths felt deeply right, and some made me feel like a sell out. Some stimulated passion in my soul, and some stimulated low life force. I chose to continue to stick with the path that was my passion.
I do not believe that surrender is weakness. I believe that to surrender with consciousness and dedication to honouring my heart is an incredible act of faith. It does not mean that I give up. It means that I am so rooted, so self-connected that I am ready to create the life I want, the life that I am meant here to create. I believe that surrendering demands us to know intimately what our values are and to stick with those – no matter what.
Anyway – back to Victoria.
When I arrived at the conference center and picked up my ‘speakers package’ I found a lanyard stating:
“KORI HAGEL - SPEAKER”
and then I saw the program.... and there I was....
‘kori leigh hagel – RNH, holistic nutritionist & CPCC, certified life coach”.
It was a wild moment; I was filled with excitement, gratitude, and butterflies. It was an overwhelming moment to see how far the industry has come – only a few short years ago there was no work for a person like me, and now people are wanting a fresh new perspective and people in my line of work get the chance to talk amongst some of the best in the industry. Thats evolution. Thats what this existence is all about.
Then I took another close look at the other speakers - They were people with PhD's, they were motivational speakers, they wrote books - they were amazing. And then it hit - my ego took over.
“Who the hell are you to be here?”
“You don’t belong here!”
“You’re just a holistic nutritionist, what the hell is that anyway?”
“These are doctors, Kori, no one will listen to you”
As I read this and heard that voice yelling in my mind I become instantly short of breath and burst into tears in the car with Shane. All I wanted to do was run.
The conference was Sunday - Wednesday; my talk was not until Tuesday afternoon. I knew I had 2 choices:
1) RUN!!! I could hop on a plane and get the hell out of there. Or, convince Shane to take me home, which I knew would take me an intense amount of convincing as he was my rock, my cheerleader – he knew I was capable of this
2) Get my confidence together, and look at this for what it is – an amazing opportunity to share my passions. I do, after all, do that everyday. Who was driving this ship anyway? Negative Self talk had taken over.
So guess what I did? I dug deep, I called upon courage and I decided to face this – fear and all. Oh, and good ol’ Brene Brown – I listened to her Ted Talk on the Inner Critic about 8 times over the next 36hour period of time. I was reminded that even she wanted to extract eyeball juice from her sons 1st grade class to give herself pink eye to have a legit reason to vacate the talk she was presenting. Even the best and most passionate people get nervous. But most importantly as I listened to her wise words over and over and over again I was reminded of this:
The talk didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if I got on stage and fainted and forgot all my words. It didn’t matter if the audience hated me or even booed at me. What mattered is that I honoured my value of courage. What mattered is that I got into the arena. And as Theodore Roosevelt says in his poem 'The Man In The Arena' :
"...who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."
And its true. Nothing matters more than trying. Nothing matters more than being dedicated to a worthy cause that your soul years for. Nothing matters more than being courageous enough to step straight into the void of vulnerability, for that is where we find courage. This is where we influence change. This is where we shine.
For me, on that Tuesday afternoon my point of both vulnerability and courage was on that stage, in front of 205 passionate people. I pour my soul into my work, and I have some ideas and perspectives that are rooted in my own philosophy – and it was that that made my nerves rattle and my ego sing. It was that that triggered the inner critic to try and keep me small. But there is no damn way I will play small. I would risk failure over and over again before I played small.
For me, courage is an absolute value, so is creativity. In order for me to honor I have to be willing to get up, get out and be seen. I have to be willing to fall, to fail, to stumble and I have to get up – dust my knees off and keep going. I have to know the critic well, and I have to be sure I know my support systems and how to regroup after a long battle. I have to be willing to deeply-self-love. I have to learn to be proud of who I am and what I am doing on this planet. I have to be willing to look myself in the mirror and say (as Louise Hay taught me in her book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’) “Kori, I love you and accept you exactly the way you are. I have to work daily on cultivating slow-patient-compassionate-forgiving-Self-Love.
One of my very good friends and women I very much look up to texted me the morning of my talk and reminded me that ‘nervous’ is the flip side of the coin to ‘excitement’. As I progress in this field and as I do more and more talks and as they get bigger and bigger (which I hope they do) I pray that I always get nervous before I share my excitement with others. I pray that its always a passionate job for me. I pray that I never take it for granted and that I always feel alive, and feel like it is a great honor to be able to be a messenger of Self-Love and Wellness to the Universe.
The morning of my talk I took joy in the simple gifts of life. I breathed. I connected to self. I walked the streets of Victoria. I went for coffee with Shane and my good friend Crystal, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Branch Out Foundation, who was also speaking at the event. I remembered that I was there in that conference for a reason.
And then I got on stage, and the second I stepped foot on that stage I felt like I was ‘home’. Its just natural for me to be there. The worry was for nothing. The 2nd I saw the people looking back at me, I remembered that we were all in this conference for the same reason – to elevate the world. And nothing is more inspiring to me that that.
Most importantly, I remembered to cultivate.courage.