My reasons and goals for returning and staying at the Ranch
Returning and staying at the Ranch helped me to regain trust in myself and to appreciate my strengths and transform what I perceived as weakness into a strength
Every week we have a Transformational Journey Review (TJR) with all our community members at the Ranch, but also the global ones who have time to join over the phone. At the TJR we share our challenges and successes and what we have learned from them, refocus on our interests, goals and purpose. By sharing those things, we can hold each other accountable on our growth and evolvement. One of the questions in the TJR is “What are your reasons and goals for coming and staying at the Ranch?”. I am now at the Ranch for the third time and decided to stay for at least a year. So because I made this decision, the question about my reasons and goals for coming and staying at the Ranch is a very important one. And while I can list lots of little things, everything can be summed up through our three pillar philosophy of personal development, nature connection and conservation.
I remember my first time at the Ranch, all the opportunities at the Ranch were overwhelming to me. I expected someone to tell me what to do, but the only person that would do that is myself which I realized after some time. I became the “Master of my own destiny” and this empowered me in ways I did not think were possible. Back in Germany, I would get sidetracked and caught up in things that did not contribute to my evolvement, but instead tired me out. My second stay at the Ranch helped me gain clarity on what living a fulfilled life means and that I need to take charge for it. I know back in Germany, I would find ways to avoid challenges that would help me grow and people would validate me for this instead of holding me accountable to my evolvement. I made the decision to commit to my personal development to work on myself and each community member is committed to their growth and evolvement. We know we cannot grow for each other, but we can support each other’s commitment to personal development and hold each other accountable. In the last months, I could see myself constantly transforming. First taking charge again in the office was lots of responsibility which I did not have for a while. Stepping out of my reserved character and learning how to effectively lead others while being my true self helped me to regain trust in myself and to appreciate my strengths and transform what I perceived as weakness into a strength. However, as I got more comfortable in the office, the next step in my journey came along. I started guiding multiple pack trips. It was a new kind of taking charge and there was no room for being submissive to other people. “If you are not in control, someone else is and then we are all in danger” as we say. So, I had to step up to the challenge and take charge. Going through that process I would gain new skills and knowledge along the way. The next challenge I took on was to guide wildlife tracking trips. Though I was lacking the practical experience which would have normally already stopped me to continue, I felt ready for that challenge. I knew it would be hard and I would have many first time experiences I would have no idea on how to handle. But trusting that being focused on my growth and evolvement, I was approaching this challenge with the right intention. And when the first wildlife tracking trip ended early, I did not let the opportunity slip away to follow through and go back into the mountains immediately for the next trip which was successful on the first day. Proving that “perseverance wins the race” and “most people quit right before they succeed”. Overcoming those challenges and transforming them into a success, empowered me. But also in moments where I am unconscious of myself and actions, my community partners hold me accountable and I can work on myself.
Another reason for returning to and staying at the Ranch is the unique environment in which the Ranch is located. The Chilcotin Ark is a place like no other in the world. Living at the Ranch facilitates so many opportunities for nature connection. Nature connection, for me personally, is very important as it helps me to recharge my energy, to gain clarity by letting my thoughts wander without distraction. Being connected to nature also facilitates more awareness and appreciation for my surroundings and myself, leading to a more positive mindset. That is why I am appreciative for the calmness, beauty and freedom that nature provides us with. Going out into those mountains of the Chilcotin Ark and seeing their untouched beauty makes me feel humble and appreciative to be able to live in such a beautiful place. On our trips in the mountains, we always scout for wildlife which is abundant and unique in the Chilcotin Ark. Learning how animals behave, understanding their patterns, learning what tracks they leave behind, all those insights and applying them opens up a new world. Knowing the animal’s behavior and patterns you soon start to identify with them. When I come across a field of berry patches, I start thinking if I were a bear, I would love it here. Then I wait and scout and soon will be rewarded with a bear walking through the meadow eating those berries. Nature is a great teacher and if you watch closely, it teaches you many lessons. Another example of how I become one with nature is to find shelter in a cluster of fir-trees, called an Indian bedroom, and I can drink water from any creek that crosses my way. Instead of imposing myself on nature with water bottles and tents, I can feel close to nature and become part of it by using what it provides. But not only by being in the mountains do I feel connected to nature. Our self-sustainable lifestyle at the Ranch brings me back to the basics. Living in this rustic environment, splitting our own firewood, growing our own food, harvesting wild berries, apples and pears before the bear gets them, having our own chickens and eggs and eating wild game, knowing that the animals lived their best life, all those are examples of how I feel connected with nature and feel as a part of it. By feeling part of nature, I also become more connected to myself and my actions as they have an impact on my environment. This means either my actions contribute to sustaining the nature or they have a negative impact. Therefore, it is important to be connected with nature to be aware of how one is part of nature so actions are taken consciously. It helps me to realize how small I am in comparison to what surrounds me and there is more to life. Being connected to nature means to be more open to bigger things and personal growth.
As mentioned, nature connection facilitates a feeling of appreciation and realizing that there is something bigger. So, to contribute to the bigger picture and to leave an impact by being able to participate in nature conservation is another reason for me to stay. While at first my interest was mainly the opportunities in the field of office management, the exposure and opportunities facilitated a mindset shift to including conservation in what I am working on. Our conservation and stewardship efforts contribute to managing all the resources and our environment sustainably. If we do not look after the environment we are benefiting from, we would not be able to live our self-sustainable life style, connect with nature or even do any kind of trips. But it is more than that, as mentioned in CITIES “local people are responsible for their resource.” If we do not do it, who will? So, by being involved in conservation projects, I am able to gain new perspectives of life and to identify my values and what I stand for. Since our conservation projects are based on a participatory action research approach, our conservation efforts have a noticeable impact. By participating in nature conservation, I can contribute to a bigger vision, seeing my actions can impact the preservation of the place that I am benefiting from, is motivating and empowering. But participatory action research also means to include all stakeholders, meaning we get to educate and empower visitors and other people to contribute to the conservation and stewardship efforts as well.
So to conclude, my reasons and goals for returning and staying at the Ranch are many little ones which are all represented through the three pillar philosophy. I am getting out of my comfort zone and get exposed to new perspectives in life taught by fellow community members and nature which empowers me as what I am doing has a purpose. I would like to sum up my reasons and goals for returning and staying with a citation from Gerry Bracewell on her reasons for returning and staying in the Chilcotin Ark: “I longed for something real: the friendly grasp of hands that make one feel at peace with all mankind, where friends are true; and so I journeyed to the Cariboo”.
Lea, 24, Germany