It’s been two years since my husband and I jumped without a net into a dream, that some would consider a little crazy: live, travel and work full time on board “Merci la vie,” our 40 feet motorhome. We now have 25,000 km on the odometer and we did stop in more than a hundred cities in Canada, the US and Mexico. This new way of life led me to reconnect with what was really important to me: do more with less, connect and be closer to the people, and above all, learn to co-create with my surroundings. Welcoming what the road offers me is now the norm.
Being present and receptive to the road did not happen by accident! I had to completely rethink how I worked. After months of swimming upstream, reacting to anything and everything, trying to stay focused on my goals, and being dizzy with new ideas for my coaching, I found myself exhausted with depleted batteries. Often, I went walking along the beach or went for a bike ride in search of answers. I was looking too hard for a solution. Sessions of yoga and meditation calmed me, but it was not enough. Yet the road invited me to be receptive and curious, but I guess I could not hear it. Or perhaps ready to hear it.
It was not always easy to fully accept what was in front me, especially when it came time to harmonize work and pleasure. As if my road told me again: “Christine, you have to adapt and adjust your Coaching & Leadership business. Customers and partnerships were not necessarily the ones you had planned … you have to let go of your original plan. ”
I still remember trying to merge my coaching and leadership skills with what emerged from my road. I had no idea what I was doing and where I was going. I spent weeks rethinking and redoing my website. Even expressing the essence of my message proved to be a daunting task. Ah, it’s easy to say we have to trust without seeing the result … but putting it into practice is another thing.
Two weeks ago, the road made me meet Leopoldo. That day, we hit the road at dawn and drove toward the city of Chihuahua in Mexico. We had planned to stop at a protected campsite, which was offering some services. I had planned to stay there at least 2-3 weeks. We discovered with amazement that the campsite did no longer exist … for three years! Instead there was a Pemex gas station with a large parking lot for truckers. We decided to stop in order to work on Plan B. I immediately got on Google and various specialized forums then realized that there were no other campsite within a short distance.
With the permission of Pemex, we decided to spend the night here among the trucks, “bikers”, street vendors, strangers, stray dogs and homeless. Shortly after we parked, we let our dog Myco out, so she could stretch her legs. That’s when Leopoldo came towards me. A Mexican man in his early fifties, dressed simply, with a straw hat and a large smile. I told him in a fairly simplistic Spanish that we were looking for a campsite in the area. To my surprise, he replied in English. I spontaneously asked if he knew the area well and if he could give us an alternative. He replied negatively. I asked him where he learned to speak English so well.
He shared his story with me. It has always been very easy for him to cross into the US once or twice a year, where he worked “illegally”. He spent the remaining time of the year with his family in southern Mexico. Leopoldo never felt the need to bother with any immigration “formalities”. A little more than a week before we met, while he was working on a construction site in California, the “Border Patrols” raided the site and arrested him. Within 48 hours he was deported to Mexico. He found himself in Chihuahua, empty-handed, because the deportation was done so quickly that he did not have the chance to contact friends to collect some belongings.
He was in no way bitter. In order to survive, he simply provides his guardian services to truckers, and tourists alike. His goal is to raise just enough money to be able to afford a ticket bus (approx. 1500 pesos) that will take him to Guadalajara so he can rejoin with the rest of his family. He asked for nothing, except to be allowed to sleep under our motorhome so he could keep an eye around. He explained that he will be pulling a small wooden board to sleep on and that he will be on the alert all night for us. I looked at my spouse as my heart sank.
I began settling down for the night and making dinner. We offered Leopoldo a plate of Osso Bucco with a little dessert. Oh what a beautiful smile! He was so happy to be there and of service to us. I noticed that he put his sleeping plank just beneath our door. It felt really awkward as we would not even let our dog sleep like this. I found a blanket inside the motorhome that I offered it to him to keep warm.
The day was long and we decided to go to bed early. I sat on the front seat and read the news. Everything moved around us: the truck’s waltz, dogs barking, racing bikers ... And at a small distance, I could see Leopoldo chatting with a group in front of the small restaurant. Regularly I could see him making his rounds around “Merci la vie,” to ensure everything was fine. I decided to go sleep and instructed Myco that she too was on duty for the night… She takes her role very seriously. The night was uneventful. As I woke up, I went out with Myco, and I saw Leopoldo moving out from under the motorhome; stretching as if nothing had happened … and I can’t stop but think about the super comfortable warm bed I had! We prepared a nice gourmet breakfast with coffee for Leopoldo. I also gave him 200 pesos (the equivalent of what we would have paid for a night in a camp) to thank him for being our guardian. That’s four times more than he is used to receive. He said it wasn’t necessary, but eventually he accepted. I told him that it saddened me very much that he must sleep under the trucks to gain some money. He told me simply that what makes him happy is to meet people like us on his way … He looked at me in the eyes and said softly; I create from my route and that is enough to keep me happy. My eyes were filled with tears. I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We then resumed our journey … Moving towards the border of Mexico and the US at the cities of El Paso and Juárez.
Leopoldo had all the reasons in the world to be frustrated and bitter as his plans got shattered into pieces. Instead, he chose to embrace what was available to him. People who cross my path are inspiring, creative and have their hands on their heart. They’ve all led me to reflect and rethink my approach to do more with less.
Instead of pursuing one path, the road has invited me to open up and realize that I had now acquired new skills. In seeking to promote my Coaching business, I have developed new expertise in websites creation. I have perfected these skills through small contracts. I have therefore decided to offer a new website creation service that I call “Be On Web” to complement my coaching business. I want to have fun with the people I meet while helping them create a website or blog that reflects their true essence, so they can share their message with the world.
I procrastinated for quite some time before launching “Be On Web”. My saboteurs, my assumptions and the little voices in my head have held me back far too long. The encounter with Leopoldo and several others who have crossed my path, tells me I have to go with the flow,and work with what the road has to offered me. “Une chance qu’on s’a” (lucky to have us) is the title of a beautiful French song by Jean-Pierre Ferland. So there you have it: I would like to serve the people around me by helping them build an inspiring gateway so they can better spread their message to the world. That’s “Be On Web”!