When younger, I wanted to change the world. To do something to address human suffering and to ease the pain that we continue to manifest when we consider ourselves ‘other’, outside of nature’s system and disconnected from the souls who share our planet.
Early on, this desire led me to a career with the Red Cross, working to help the most vulnerable in Canada, Switzerland, Bangladesh and China. Humanitarian work that marked my soul and changed my views forever. It broke me open to better understand our shared vulnerability and planted seeds of social justice deep within me. After my children were born, I needed to keep them physically close to my battle-tired heart and so changed my career to work as a consultant in social enterprise, community economic development and coaching leaders in the non-profit sector. It was fulfilling and challenging work where I was blessed to learn alongside some of the most inspiring and lit-up people.
I was filled with gratitude some days and ached with a calling I couldn’t place on other days. Then a change arrived that demanded loss and reinvention. In my 40s, I moved my family to Argentina and took a few months off to determine how I really wanted to use my strengths, vulnerabilities and energy for the next phase of my life. I journeyed across the Andes on horseback, on my own with the help of a guide. Staring up at the stars at high altitude, I quieted everything in my mind and heart in order to listen to what was calling and creating this aching discomfort.
Looking back, I now stitch together all of these life experiences into the realisation that our call is to unearth our most important values and understand the driving forces that truly ignite us. Then, in this self-knowledge, undertake something truly difficult: to live and lead from these values, to action them every day guided by our hearts.
It sounds simple enough as a mantra. But I have learned that, to do so, will challenge you in ways you can’t even imagine.
Up in the heights of those mountains, deeply feeling the pulse of the earth, I awoke and realised the foundation of my calling is two-fold: to link marginalised people to sustainable economic opportunity and to inspire those of us with resources to contribute our advantage in a way that makes our children proud.
Amazing things begin to unfold when your energy focuses in on what lights you up; your tribe begins to arrive and opportunities open to challenge you.
My friend, and now Argentine business partner, introduced me to a part of the world that, though little known, acts as a cradle and first home for many of our oceans’ most amazing marine mammals: Peninsula Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage site and biosphere reserve in Patagonia, Argentina. We had the opportunity to build right on the beach. In this privileged location you can see, from your bed, mother whales caring for their newborn young. Exploring the peninsula will bring you face-to-face with penguins, orcas, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins and a host of unique land animals and birds. This space truly is one of the most important locations for the future of wildlife on our planet. And this wildlife will stare you down, eye-to-eye, and in that moment, something will change in your heart.
So when we chose to build, we decided to do everything we could to make our children proud by modelling sustainability, sourcing what we could from our local communities and creating opportunity. This project, this investment of my life energy, was and remains an opportunity to put into action all that I believe to be true and have learned throughout my life experience. From geothermal heating and cooling, to solar panels, to recycling water, to reusing materials, to partnering with local suppliers, every day we are investing in reducing our environmental impact while creating sustainable tourism that provides life changing adventure for our guests and dignified work for our communities. www.oceanopatagonia.com www.sharilynamy.com