SheTravels from the Perspective of a Volunteer: Shari Lash
We’ve been lucky to have an awesome team of volunteers for this project without whom it couldn’t have been possible. Here’s the perspective of Shari about how she feels about SheTravels.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Joseph Campbell
The theme of feeling the fear and doing it anyway has accompanied me for almost half a century. Whenever I was restless and a new path beckoned, my first reaction was to hesitate and tell myself, “No, I can’t do this.” Trying something I’d never done before was always daunting, yet I learned the rewards for taking risks were immeasurable. Whether it was getting married and moving across the country or getting divorced and moving back again, starting my university education at 38, or overcoming a major depression to discover my true callings, leaving the familiar behind to venture into the unknown was a necessary part of my growth, regardless of how scary it was. Even as I notice my battle scars, I wouldn’t change a thing.
When I first met Sara Elisabeth in 2014, I was struck by her gumption. That’s not a common word in my vocabulary, but I think it applies to Sara. It literally means, resourcefulness, initiative, courage, spunk, and gutsiness. I saw these qualities in the way she runs her business, in the artistry of the photographs she takes, the way she authentically interacts with people, and now in her resolve to transport her whole life to a place she’s always dreamed of. Her gumption is something I’ve come to admire, and also recognize in myself. When Sara asked me to work on the text and conduct interviews for the SheTravels Project, I was excited to be part of her vision. Her intention to create a space for women, young and old, to form a community of courage that celebrates change and fear, resonated for me. The project spoke to the essence of the group work I do around transition and collective wisdom.
On the day of the SheTravels interviews, I witnessed the unique characteristics of women’s stories launched by the inspirational quote each had brought with her. I also noticed as the day progressed, that these stories wove into a larger narrative of what it’s like to take a leap of faith. What it means to do it afraid. Facing change, whether chosen or not, whether early or later in life, ultimately results in a transformation. Some women were at the beginning of their journey, contemplating their big change, and some women were in the thick of it. Others were looking back and celebrating their achievement and bravery. Whether it was leaving a job or a relationship, or deciding to start their own business, overcoming depression, recovering from serious illness, or standing up to others, all the women I interviewed showed up with an eagerness to share their strengths and vulnerability. They showed up despite the intimidating equipment in the room – the lights, the camera, the video recorder, and me plying them with questions only four feet away from their chair. Amongst the outer distractions, they dropped down to an inner level because they had a story to tell, and a message worth sharing – not only for themselves but for others as well. All of us in that tiny room observed and captured how each woman knows, or is learning, what it’s like to be afraid, to leave the shore and head out into uncharted waters. Some shared with excitement, some shared with tears. My privilege of interviewing almost a dozen women that day reinforced how individual struggles and the stories we tell, inform our collective wisdom and the confidence to move forward.
Through SheTravels, Sara Elisabeth has created a visual and virtual community of women who, like her, are bravely walking the path of transformation. Hopefully, the images and stories that emerged will strengthen her as she embarks on an exciting new adventure.
Shari Lash, M.A. is as inspired by unearthing people’s stories as she is about harvesting the wisdom within them. Her company, WholeSTEP offers customized profile writing services and group programs around transition, empowerment, and how to “be seen” authentically. For more information, please visit www.wholestep.ca