An Extraordinary Life

My aim has always been to live an extraordinary life. One filled with adventure, meaning, and purpose. The conventional standard issue “dream life” of being married by 25, becoming a mother by 27, and ascending the corporate ladder by 30, never appealed to me. Besides, who made up that dream? I have never understood, why anyone, would try to pack in a full life, before 30. I felt like 30 was my starting point.

In my quest to live life to the fullest, I traveled the world solo in my 20’s. Sometimes on a shoestring budget, and other times with funds. I had the time of my life.

In my early 30’s, I got married. My husband and I lived in the Middle East and traveled throughout Australia and Europe. 2012 was an epic year, we moved to Europe, the United States, and Canada. We had our son in 2013, after years of fertility challenges, and we moved to my husband’s small hometown in the woods. While I enjoyed family life, I felt blindsided when I lost myself to post-partum depression.

My recovery was slow. My inner circle was comprised of family and friends, who wanted to see me soar, especially in the dark moments, when I couldn’t see that possibility for myself.  I struggled to radically accept, that I was the best mother I could be. Even when I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and numb. I grieved and practiced self-compassion, as I accepted my reality. At one point, I asked myself, “How can I live my best life, if I don’t feel whole?” That question changed the trajectory of my life.

I was 42 and embarking on a journey to reclaim my worth. I had to dig deep. In the midst of piecing my life together, I realized that I had entered a phase, of finding meaning through depression. I needed to live in my purpose. Yoga, meditation and journaling became a deep source of healing. I’d been practicing yoga for almost two decades and teaching for one. I always felt a mix of gratitude and humility, supporting women as they tend to their mental, physical and spiritual well-being. I always wanted to own a yoga studio, create a gathering space to collaborate and serve. I decided to create a business that supports that vision.

My recovery was slow. My inner circle was comprised of family and friends, who wanted to see me soar, especially in the dark moments, when I couldn’t see that possibility for myself.  I struggled to radically accept, that I was the best mother I could be. Even when I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and numb. I grieved and practiced self-compassion, as I accepted my reality. At one point, I asked myself, “How can I live my best life, if I don’t feel whole?” That question changed the trajectory of my life.

I was 42 and embarking on a journey to reclaim my worth. I had to dig deep. In the midst of piecing my life together, I realized that I had entered a phase, of finding meaning through depression. I needed to live in my purpose. Yoga, meditation and journaling became a deep source of healing. I’d been practicing yoga for almost two decades and teaching for one. I always felt a mix of gratitude and humility, supporting women as they tend to their mental, physical and spiritual well-being. I always wanted to own a yoga studio, create a gathering space to collaborate and serve. I decided to create a business that supports that vision.

I’ve never owned a business before, however my purpose overrode my fears. I wrote a business plan, secured funding and purchased a two-story building. The lower level has been rented out as professional office space. The upper level is a yoga studio. When the space is not being used for yoga, private and pop-up events will be held. The renovations on the upper level are almost complete.  My ambitions to support women through yoga has extended on-line. I recently started a yoga, and personal development community dedicated to women of color.

One thing I know for sure, is that we all have the power deep within us to reclaim our worth, take inspired action, and chart our own course. I subscribe to living a full life, because my biggest fear, is wasting my precious time.  It’s never too late to start. I’ll be 45 this year, and I am so excited to see, what my second act will bring.

Valerie Ritchie is a Yoga Alliance Certified instructor & studio owner.  She is a multipassionate entrepreneur.  She is the Chief Celebration Officer of The 184 an event space for corporate and private celebrations. Valerie is also the founder of Vibrant Life Collective an on-line yoga community, dedicated to women of color.  She is passionate about empowering women to become the most whole version of themselves.  When she is not on her yoga mat, she can be found traveling, reading or writing.  She lives in a Canadian forest with her husband and six year old son. 

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