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Saying, ...
Published: June 8, 2024

Saying, “Yes!” to IIN Put Me On Route to a Business and Life I Love

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*This blog post comes from IIN graduate and Health Coach Annalicia Niemala.*

That picture to the left is me three years ago. 

Little did I know that the picture above and the paragraph below would change my life.

Jan. 26, 2011 - Recently, I was munching on some romaine lettuce while waiting at a stoplight, when I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw a man in his car, devouring a fast food meal. “What a great metaphor,” I thought, “an opportunity to look back at where I’ve been, in regards to my eating habits, and appreciate where I am currently.” A moment later, the stoplight turned green and prompted the question, “Now where are you headed?” And, as I looked around and saw car after car waiting in the drive through lines at all the fast food restaurants, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of inspiration to continue to become better than I used to be and to begin on a new journey of more profound service.  Although many concrete aspects of this journey are unknown to me at this point, I answered, “I’m headed to a place of less confusion and more sound wisdom; a place of more awareness and less judgment. I am on route to a place of enthusiasm, energy, integration instead of division and genuine impact!” And, that is why I’m parked, with passionate anticipation and excitement, outside the doors of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition!

After finding out I was one of IIN’s “What’s your vision?” scholarship contest winners, I was ecstatic…and terrified. “Holy cow,” I thought, “they must have made a mistake! I don’t even think I have time to do this program right now. And, I have no idea how to start or run a business! Literally, no idea! Do they know that? Should I tell them?”

Oh the joys of stepping outside your comfort zone! :)

Here I am about three months into the program:

May 31, 2011 - This past January, I entered IIN’s “What’s your vision?” scholarship competition. I used the metaphor of driving a car to express my aspirations. I ended the submission parked eagerly outside the doors of IIN. As silly as it sounds, after being notified that I was one of IIN’s full scholarship winners, I couldn’t help but visualize myself fervently pressing a garage door opener. As I saw my car pulling into a space painted red, with a renowned white swirl, I thought, “This is great! I’ll park here for a year and then I’ll be ready to drive towards my goals and race on the road to my dreams.” I can’t help but laugh at that thought now….stay parked for a year…I don’t think so! Surely not if IIN has anything to say about it! 

I’m realizing now, a more accurate description of my journey since January would have to be a road trip, not a stylishly decorated spot in a parking garage. And this road trip is definitely not one that will start upon program completion, but rather, a trip that has already begun. The day I signed up for the program I revved my engine. Since then, IIN has been my fueling station, my carwash, my GPS and the tunes on my radio. I have been pumped full of more wisdom than I could have ever expected. I have been scrubbed clean of countless unnecessary and untrue thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs. I have been guided along beautiful routes that were once foreign to me, but now feel familiar. And, it’s all been done with a sense of joy as I’ve hummed to the tune of inspiration and service that IIN plays so loud and clear. What a ride so far!

Here I am today:

I’ve come to realize that the road trip I spoke of above has no end in sight and I’ve fallen in love with that realization.

"Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness, therefore, is not about making it to the peak of the mountain, nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain: happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak."

-Tal Ben-Shahar

With IIN’s help, I have discovered my peak…a clear vision for my life and my work. Not only that, but I know the road that’ll get me there and I’m on it; traveling slowly some days and quickly on others, enjoying the wind in my hair and the sunlight on my face, thrilled that I’m no longer aimlessly driving around the base of the mountain, happy that I don’t have to wait to arrive at the peak to be happy and more likely than ever before to pull the car over and have a picnic…just because I want to. 

“So they didn’t make a mistake,” I say out loud as I shift gears. And then, I hum along with Xaiver Rudd as he sings Follow the Sun, and I smile because I have finally realized that this “road trip” has more beauty in store for me than I could have ever imagined. “I’m always up to something,” I say to myself and then shoot a wink out to the universe.

Connect with Annalicia

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