EP28 In awe of the human spirit-Erica Nunnally-The Bija Institute
BIJA - noun /bee-jah/ – sanskrit word meaning 'seed'
In this episode I talk with Erica Nunnally of the Bija Institute. It was such an honor to be able to interview Erica and hear her story about the creation of the Bija Institute after one of her two Daughters was diagnosed with cancer when she was three years old.
During this interview there was so many times where I was on the other end of the microphone, just listening to Erica’s Story and I was in tears. It was such an endearing story and the fortitude that her and her husband walked with and what they have done since. They went on to create the Bija Institute and the Bija Foundation. The Bija Institute is a place to hold retreats or you can go on and retreat yourself.
The foundation is for parents who are going through something similar to what Erica and Eric (her husband) went through. The foundation is to provide support and give them the opportunity to visit the Bija Institute and get that time to breathe and grieve and do whatever they need to do for themselves because they’re being so strong for their children.
If you are in the market to get a little retreat yourself or to schedule a retreat for a group, definitely check out the Bija Institute in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
[0:00:14] KC: Welcome to the Business of Life Podcast episode number 25. Keith Callahan here. I am the host of the show and as always, just grateful to be on and grateful to have you here listening. If today is your first episode, the first show that you’ve listened to, welcome. Grateful to have you here.
And really what this show is about is, I have the opportunity to talk with people who are really, they’re aligned and in line with what they really are supposed to be doing with their life. They’re living their life’s purpose, their sole purpose and you know, what I get to do is hear their stories and interview them and talk about how they got to where they got and the tricks and all that stuff.
Today we have on Erica Nunally of the Bija Institute — B-i-j-a. This was just, it was such an honor to be able to interview and it’s not even, really interviews what I do, it’s more like just chatting with Erica and to hear her story about what the creation of the Bija Institute and how she — when their daughter Indira, so they have two daughters, Indira and Kai. When her daughter was three years old, she came down with cancer. They were basically at Dana Farber for a year. Her and her husband Eric.
Just during this interview there was so many times where I was on the other end of the microphone and just listening to Erica’s Story and I was just in tears. It was just such an endearing story and the fortitude that her and her husband walked with and what they have done since. They went on to create the Bija Institute and the Bija Foundation and it’s basically a place to — the institute is a place for people to hold retreats or you can go on and retreat yourself.
And then the foundation is for parents who are going through something similar to what Erica and Eric went through and it’s a foundation to support them and to give them the opportunity to visit the Bija Institute and just get that time to breathe and grieve and do whatever they need to do for themselves because they’re being so strong for their children.
Amazing, amazing work that Erica is doing. Like I said, it’s just such an honor to be able to be the one that’s on the — to be in these conversations and I know that whether you’re driving in your car or doing your work out or doing yard work, doing the dishes, whatever it is. I know that you’re going to enjoy this conversation. If you are in the market to get a little retreat yourself or to schedule a retreat for a group, definitely check out the Bija Institute in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
Also, all of the links to everything that we talk about will be in the show notes if you just go to KeithCallahan.com Alright, let’s go ahead and bring Erica on.
[0:03:31] KC: So I am here with Erica Nunally, the owner and founder of the Bija Institute. Erica, welcome to the show.
[0:03:41] EN: Thank you! Thank you for having me, glad to be here.
[0:03:45] KC: You and I kind of known each other from a distance for probably five years or so, we were both associated with Open Doors Yoga and kind of had talked a little bit. And a few weeks ago, I was talking with Jacqui Bonwell on the podcast and she said, “Oh my gosh, you have to reach out to Erica and talk to her about all the work she’s doing.”
So I’m grateful to be here with you, grateful to be talking with you and our audience is grateful that you took the time out for us today.
[0:04:18] EN: Awesome, awesome.
[0:04:19] KC: I think the first thing I sort of want to do is dive into the Bija Institute but before we do that, who did the beautiful website redesign? Because it is just the most beautiful website ever.
[0:04:33] EN: Thank you so much. Well, actually, that was me but I will give photo credits to my husband Eric. Ever since we bought this property, he’s been going around just collecting photos, and so when it was time to update our website, I just pulled from that huge collection and I really wanted the website to be an online version of what your experience would be here. I hope we nailed it.
[0:04:59] KC: You did, I feel like I can just go on and retreat by looking at the website.
[0:05:04] EN: Awesome, score! [Laughter]
[0:05:08] KC: For everybody listening, we’ll provide links and everything and we’re going to talk a lot about the Bija Institute. Tell us a little bit about the Bija Institute, what it is, what it means, what it is for people?
[0:05:24] EN: Absolutely. The Bija Institute is a Yoga retreat property for — we cater mostly to yogis, writers, and foodies but we really focus on anyone who needs a moment to breathe. Because everyone from the high exec to the folks driving our kids to school need moments to breathe. It’s really a sanctuary for anyone who needs to get a little space around what’s going on in their day to day lives.
The word “Bija” is actually in Sanskrit it means “seed” and we chose that name because we wanted this to be a place where you could come and plant new seeds, kind of experience something that would help you get a fresh start and so to blossom in a new direction. It’s also a place where you can come and cultivate something that you already got going, right? If you’re a writer or an artist or if there’s something that you’re really just you need to sit down and really focus on, come in and nourish that particular seed.
And then in the background, the third level of it is, this place actually came to be because of my daughter. My youngest daughter was actually diagnosed with cancer when she was four. And so I wanted to create a space for parents of children who are living with cancer, to come and get a little room an so that they could go back and nourish their children a little bit more with a little more power behind them, a little more energy behind them than they had before. And so when I think of seeds, I think of our children, that’s where that came from.
[0:06:59] KC: Wow, I didn’t know that about your daughter.
[0:07:02] EN: Yeah.
[0:07:03] KC: What’s her name?
[0:07:04] EN: Her name is Indira.
[0:07:05] KC: Indira, three years old? I can’t even imagine, I have a three year old right now, imagine what that was like going through that for you and your husband’s name Eric, right?
[0:07:18] EN: Yes, his name is Eric. We’re Erica and Eric, easy to remember. [Laughter] Yeah, so what happened, I really don’t remember a lot of that year, I will admit it. Essentially I had just led a retreat to Costa Rica and I was already experiencing a bit of mommy guilt because somehow or another in the grand scheme of things, I don’t know what I was thinking but I ended up scheduling to fly out on her birthday.
So she was turning four and I was getting on a plan to leave, We celebrated her birthday before I left but when I returned two weeks later we were in the hospital at Dana Farber with the cancer diagnosis. She’s doing amazing now, she’s a rock star, she’s seven and just cooking right along. But for that year that we were sort of living at Dana Farber and going through all these treatments, every once in a while I would look up and I would see the parents sitting around in the waiting rooms with us.
And I realized that we were all sort of shells of who we once were. Because of course, we’re giving all of our energy and all of our focus and all of our attention to our children who are fighting this battle and you sort of feel powerless when you’re in this position because it’s not — you’re doing all the heavy lifting and all you can do is sit and hope that you’ve made the right choices.
Of course as a yogi, I’ve been a yoga practitioner for over 20 years, it was sort of anti — it just made very little sense to me. I knew that I was taking my child in to receive these chemicals that we’re hopefully going to do some good but at the same time they were going to cause a great deal of harm. That was really hard for me to get my head around. But she’s a tough cookie and she really made me have to step up to my own truth and really tap into understanding that we really don’t have that much control and that of course was also hard because I was a type A person, I controlled everything.
So anyway, after that year I realized that it was time to give back and I wanted to be able to provide just the space. I guess the space where these parents can come down, they can have at least a night’s sleep without the beeps and the bloops of the machines and not necessarily focused on blood draws and counts and all of these things that you never even think you’d ever learn about unless your child is in some, one of these types of diagnosis.
But to also come down here and learn techniques. Techniques for stress and management, things that will give them a sense of power, giving them their power back, right? So there you go, that’s the Bija Institute in a nutshell.
[0:10:09] KC: With the Bija Institute, I actually want to come back to, if you don’t mind…
[0:10:14] EN: I don’t mind.
[0:10:16] KC: Come back to a few questions about going through everything with your daughter, but I don’t’ think we mentioned either the BIja Institute is in Cumberland, Rhode Island for everybody listening. If you wanted to go as an individual or you wanted to go as a group, is it sort of setup — from the outside looking in, it seems like it’s kind of you guys are open to creating anything for anyone?
[0:10:45] EN: How it’s setup is that we have, essentially the focus is to have different retreat leaders bring their people here, right? For example, we have a woman who is looking to bring together a bunch of women writers and so she’s planning her retreat right now and then we help her to design around it so sometimes they want yoga, sometimes they don’t want yoga, sometimes it’s all about the food.
Really, whatever it is that they want, like you said, we kind of design it around them and we setup that day so that it really nourishes what they’re trying to grow and cultivate. We’ve also had yogis, they come in and they setup this event and students sign on for that and come in.
So you are definitely welcome to sign up for any retreat that’s listed on there. But you could also call and say, “Hey, I want to host something, I want to bring these people here and do this thing,” and we’ll do that as well. We focus on groups.
[0:11:44] KC: Does your family live at the property?
[0:11:47] EN: We do, we live right here. So half of the house is setup so that we live on that half and the other half is setup for our retreat goers and we also have a yurt that is in completion, it’s being completed as we speak right now, it’s going to be about 700 square feet of space for people to hold their workshops and their sessions and all of that in that space.
[0:12:13] KC: I’m on your website now, I don’t know if you guys have, if it scrolls pictures or if it’s a static picture. But on the about page is this big, beautiful structures, that’s the yurt?
[0:12:28] EN: That’s the yurt, yes. Yes, that is it.
[0:12:33] KC: I am going to set something up here at some point, I know it. This place, it’s absolutely beautiful! For everybody listening, you have to go and check out the website.
[0:12:33] EN: Definitely.
[0:12:48] KC: So jumping back to the experience with your daughter for you and Eric, how did you get through it? How did you get through the day to day without literally losing your mind?
[0:13:05] EN: Right. Well like I said, I actually don’t remember very much of the year itself because she was going through chemo for a year, she had a number of surgeries so we kind of lived at Dana Farber for a little while there and then we were able to just drive back every week for her treatments.
But the way we got through is actually with our community and we have an amazing yoga community out here in the New England area. And people just showed up on my door step and said, “I want to help.”
At the time, I wasn’t even certain what I needed help with but as it went on, people would bring food because we would forget to eat. We wouldn’t have time to go grocery shopping. So these things were just an amazing help and support for my family at the time. And at one point, I was supposed to be going to lead a retreat in Vermont, it was supposed to be working this retreat and I called the owner and said, “Oh my gosh. I was so focused on other things that I hadn’t even, I hadn’t marketed, I hadn’t done anything.”
Of course I’m remembering probably like two weeks before that I needed to tell her I haven’t done anything. So I call and tell her what’s going on, she says, “You know what? Don’t worry about it.” She said, “You, just come and bring your husband, you’re going to need a moment.” And I was like, “I can’t, I can’t. We’re doing all this stuff with my daughter and it’s just not going to work out, I can’t do it.” And she’s like, “Just come. Just come and if you want to practice Yoga, practice. If you want to teach, teach. Just give yourself a moment.”
After much humming and hahing and back and forth, some other friends in the community said, “You know what? We’ll keep your daughters,” I have two daughters, I have an older daughter Kai and a younger daughter Indira, the one who was going through treatments. And I said, “We’re going to take them both for this weekend. You guys go.”
So we went, we went to Vermont and it was probably the thing that saved us because it gave us an opportunity to be sad and to be scared and to be angry and to cry and to do all of those things that you feel like you shouldn’t do in front of your kid because you need to be strong, right? You’re trying to be strong and if they can do it, you can do it. That kind of thing. But you don’t realize how much you’re holding on until you actually have the opportunity to step away.
So when we stepped away, we spent two days just being fragile and we let other people hold us up for a little while and it was. That was the moment I believe that saved us, I really do. It wasn’t designed specifically because it wasn’t designed for us to be there to process what we’re doing but it was exactly what we needed.
And so that moment, like I said when we got back and each time I would look up at the other parents in the waiting area, I knew that they also needed a moment to breathe. That’s how we made it, community.
[0:16:03] KC: Do you think that if this had happened at a different time in your life, so you’ve been practicing yoga for 20 years and prior to that you were a type A. I’m sure, we’re always a type A personality, right? I’m the same personality, it’s just tempered a little bit.
[0:16:22] EN: Exactly, exactly.
[0:16:24] KC: But from observation with myself and friends, type A personalities are usually very much introverts and in leadership roles and stuff like that, we can be extroverts. But from an emotional standpoint and like having a large community, that doesn’t come as natural. I’m curious, did the community develop over the last 20 or so years and if so, do you think that it would have been a much different experience without the community?
[0:17:01] EN: Yes. It would have been completely different. I actually recently held a luncheon here, I call it a gratitude luncheon, to thank some of the people who had really helped carry me through and make sure that I actually ended up where I am here today. One of those women helped me to realize that, you had mentioned the type A personalities, we kind of keep things a little bit closer to our chest.
She helped me to realize that sharing was what was going to get me through. And like you said, it’s a little bit out of the box for me to do that. But I used Facebook and I sent out newsletters just with updates on how she was doing, photos on things that had made me feel gratitude and the more I shared, the more my community was there to support me and it was this beautiful cycle that developed.
I don’t think it would have happened had this woman not showed up on my doorstep and said, “Here’s some vegetables and some fruit for my garden, what else do you need?” She’s like, “We’re here to help, I’m putting together a food train for you.” Yeah, it just kind of went from there and I don’t think it would have been the same earlier in my life, I really don’t. I really, really don’t.
[0:18:25] KC: So an experience for me that is, I don’t know if similar is the right word, but I follow a native American spiritual path and one of the things — so we have a lot of ceremonies and then like twice a year we have really big ceremonies where we’ll travel out to Arizona or travel out to South Dakota. And we’ll travel out with a big group and we’re out there for a couple of weeks and latrines and we setup, we’re there with a couple of thousands of people and we setup camps and it’s a beautiful prayer time.
But one of the things that we do each year when we get out there is we circle up as a community. We’re out there with a larger group but we have our small community that we travel with. There’s usually anywhere from 15 to 25 people in our community and we circle up just to check in and just — I feel like every year when we get out there, every single person breaks down in that first circle.
Because it’s almost like you said, everything that we’ve carried with us for the year that we’ve been strong through, now we’re in a safe place to be able to s hare and to be able to either grieve or let out that anger, let out that rage, express that fear. So yeah, one of the beautiful things that I like about that it’s just a gift to me with this podcast is there is a common theme that people who — I won’t say success. Success isn’t the right word, but probably freedom is the best word to use people who are living free.
So the two things that we’ve already talked about are the community but also that the expression of emotion.
[0:20:30] EN: Right, exactly. Exactly. And that’s what it’s all about. Creating opportunities for people to reconnect with themselves and become more comfortable with expressing what’s really going on. Even if this is the only place that they come and do this. So like for you, you go out, like you said, to Arizona and you have this opportunity.
And I think the more often that people have an opportunity, they know that there is this safe space for them to do, to process what they need to process and do the work they need to do. I think we’d just end up with a lot more happy people. That’s the hope, that’s the goal, bring them out, build them up and send them back out.
[0:21:20] KC: Tell us a little bit about your husband, because I’ve connected with you and I’ve been able to watch you from afar on Facebook and see everything that you’re doing and I don’t think I’ve ever met your husband Eric though.
[0:21:34] EN: Oh my goodness, Eric, he is a black belt in Krav Maga, he is probably the exact opposite of me, which I love. So I used to tease him, he would go out to learn how to effectively break people’s bones and I am the healer. He is a writer, he writes sort of about murder, mayhem, magic and monsters. If you’re into any of those things, you’ll love his books.
But at the same time he also holds the old nine to five job to make sure that I can keep pushing this dream and make it happen. As a nine to five job, he is a graphic designer and he’s just amazing, but he’s and amazing person, an amazing individual. He was a marine, jumped out of a perfectly good helicopters as marines tend to do. But shattered his ankle and was no longer able to serve and…
[0:22:28] KC: I have to correct you real quick on Eric’s part because if he was here, he would say, you can’t say he was a marine.
[0:22:36] EN: He was, I know.
[0:22:37] KC: He is a marine.
[0:22:37] EN: He is a marine, exactly. Once a marine, always a marine. And he does say that all the time. So now, with his foot, sometimes I’m like, “Well if he had never hurt his ankle, I would have never met him because he would still be an active marine.” So because of that, he ended up going back to art school, he went to Mass Art, got his degree and he’s been doing that but he is my anchor and reminds me, yes, he reminds the yogi that sometimes I just need to go and get on my mat.
When stuff is not quite going as I would hope or if I’m not feeling as well as I would like he’d say, “Erica, when’s the last time you got on your mat?” And you know, “Ugh, yeah you’re right, it has been a few days,” and I’ll go and I’ll practice and then I’ll sit and he is my reminder.
[0:23:36] KC: That’s beautiful.
[0:23:36] EN: So glad to have met him and that we’re on this journey together, it’s been 17 years, 17 years together.
[0:23:43] KC: Wow, that’s awesome. Take us back to the moment when you decided that you wanted to — so you’re at the Dana Farber and you’re understanding and you’re learning and you’re getting this vision for what people need. How did you take that vision and bring it to reality?
[0:24:13] EN: Through a lot of crying. [Laughs] It was a lot more struggle in there than I had anticipated. When you first have the idea that you just want to give back you’re like, “Oh, well this will be really simple. I’m going to go, I’m going to get a property and I’m going to open it up and I’m going to let people come and it’s going to be awesome,” right? So this is the top layer.
So yeah, we were looking for the right property that really spoke to me. We tried all the way out in Vermont, we tried New Hampshire and Maine and all of these things. And believe it or not, I actually, I called up my Reiki Master teacher and said, “I don’t know what’s going on,” because she’s kind of been to astrology. and I said, “I can’t find the house. I keep putting in bids and people keep outbidding me. Something keeps happening.” And she says, “Alright, I need you to go talk to my astrologer,” and I’m like, “Really?” And she said, “Yes.” So I did.
I went to go talk to her astrologer and she said to me, “You know? You need to look in Rhode Island.” She’s liek, “Northern Rhode Island is where it’s going to be.” She says, “There’s going to be water on the property and there’s going to be some sort of dome on the property as well. The dome isn’t there yet but it’s going to be there later.” And she’s like, “You’re going to find this, you’re going to see it,” she gave me an exact date. She’s like, “You’re going to see this on December 14th,” but she’s like, “You’re not going to get it right away. Something’s going to happen and you’re not going to get it but don’t worry because the house is going to come back to you and you’ll get it later.” I’m like, “Okay?”
And I swear to you Keith, I am not kidding you, on December 14th — now I didn’t realize on the day that we saw this house and I was like, “Oh my god, I think this is the one,” and about a week later I looked back and realized that I had seen it on December 14th and I was like, “That’s really weird.” And let me tell you, we did lose it. They decided they were going to give it to somebody else because they had put in some sort of cash offer.
And I’m like, “Oh my god, not again.” I said to my realtor, I said, “You know what? This house is going to come back to me,” And she’s like, “Well I still think we should keep looking.” And I’m like, “That’s fine but this is the house, I know it’s the one and it’s going to come back to me.” The day that I’m getting on the airplane to go visit my family, she calls and she’s like, “The other people fell through, do you want the house?”
[0:26:46] KC: Yeah?
[0:26:50] EN: So we’re doing everything over the phone to get all the papers in and so on and so forth and then we flew back after our visit and 30 days later we signed the paper and we got the house. It was sort of a weird and funky story but we finally got the house then we needed about a year to start to do renovations and all of that. You know how renovations are.
[0:27:15] KC: I’m in the middle of it right now.
[0:27:18] EN: It never quite goes as quickly as you would like.
[0:27:21] KC: Or as cheaply, right?
[0:27:23] EN: No, it’s always more. Always more time and money. So this is why I said “through a lot of tears,” yeah. In there, I knew I said I just have to keep going forward because it’s going to get there. It’s going to get there, despite all of these setbacks and things that are slowing me down, it’s going to happen and what happens it’ll be amazing.
Fast forward, here we are, the dome that the astrologer had mentioned is being finished right now. There is water on our property, there’s a brook that runs through the front of the property and there’s a little pond in the back, a little frog pond that you can hang out at. So lots of nice little natural features here and what I love about it most is that when people come here, you can see their shoulders immediately start to soften. They tend to stay a little longer than they’re supposed to.
[0:28:24] KC: Yeah.
[0:28:26] EN: And so I love that it’s working. It was a tough few years to get it to this point, but it’s working and here they have the experience that I’m hoping they have. They enjoy the foods, they enjoy the environment and it seems to be working.
[0:28:45] KC: I think you’re like the perfect person to ask this question to.
[0:28:53] EN: No pressure.
[0:28:55] KC: No, because you’ve already mentioned, you’ve eluded to it a couple of times. As humans and especially again going back to the type A piece, someone says that first you went to your Reiki Master, then your Reiki Master sent you to the astrologer and the human, like as humans, somebody tells us this and inside there’s something that just knows it’s alright. But then our human brain gets in the way and analyzes it.
I was wondering if you could just share a little bit about how you’ve gotten to that place of trusting, whether you call it intuition or god or everybody’s got all these different words for it, but it’s that little whisper that isn’t rational but is always right.
[0:29:49] EN: Yes, yes. And see I call that the universe. My husband teases me, he calls it the great hamster. [Laughter] But yeah, I did really have to — like I said, I’ve been practicing yoga for over 20 years but I think the true test of my practice probably came in this last three to five years.
So like I said, understanding that sometimes things just need a moment to align in order for it to open up for you. So as often as I was looking for a property in all these other places, I was getting shut down because they weren’t the right one for me, right? I couldn’t see it at the time because I just wanted a house. I was like, “I just want the property, once I get the property, I can get the people in,” and you kind of fast forward all of the time.
But being here in this place now, looking back at all of the properties that I went to visit, that was just the universe aligning me to where I need to be. It was like, “You’re not going to get this house because you’re not supposed to be in this one.” Then it would steer me this way, “You’re not going to get that one because you’re not supposed to be there.” But once I saw this one, like you said, there was something just inside that I knew and I was like, “It’s true.”
The astrologer was right, my Reiki Master teacher was right and you can feel it all aligning and then there’s nothing to struggle against. There is no more struggle when you’re actually along the path that you’re supposed to be on. Yeah. So I had to trust it and go with it and it has worked out. Even in the process of trying to get this yurt up, it was supposed to be sort of a two week long process that turned into a seven week long process.
And eventually I sent an email to the company I’m working with and I said, “You know what? I give in.” I said, “The universe is telling me that this isn’t supposed to start until the second or third week of November and I’m going to let that happen.” And she’s like, “Okay?” Because I really expected it to be done in September you know? All of these things kept coming up and coming up. I’m not certain why but it’s happening now and it’s happening with ease right?
Whereas I think if it had actually pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and tried to make it happen in September, it probably still would have been met with a number of obstacles and ultimately we would have been here in November. So yeah, you’re right, there is this feeling that just kind of comes over you when you find that alignment, it makes sense and it’s easier.
[0:32:44] KC: We could go on and on for hours with sharing these types of stories together I’m sure. There is one little one I want to share with you because it’s kind of pertinent to this conversation. Three years ago, we moved our family out to the Berkshires and that when we first moved out here, we rented because we wanted to make sure. It was a big move for us, we’re moving from the Boston area out to here. It was a lot quieter and we just wanted to make sure that our systems, mainly the adult systems would acclimate to it.
After two years, we fell in love with it and we decided that there was a very specific place in Great Barrington called “The Hill” that we wanted to live on there and there’s probably two or 300 houses in this area. It’s an old, historic area, all the houses are built in like the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. And we looked for almost a year and we could not find a home that we liked. We would see some of them were just way out of our price range, some of them needed way too much work.
[0:34:02] EN: Yup.
[0:34:03] KC: So eventually, we decided to buy a lot of land, there is literally in this area, there’s two lots of land left because it’s been developed and we said, “Well even though we don’t’ want to do it, it’s going to cost us a lot more to build because it’s really expensive to build right now, why don’t we just, we’ll buy the lot of land.”
So we bought the lot of land and we were, I think that my wife and I were verbally and doing the best we could to be all in on this lot of land but it wasn’t right.
[0:34:41] EN: Right.
[0:34:41] KC: It was like our last resort or something like that. It was going to be beautiful and everything was going to be beautiful, but it wasn’t aligned. So we had to wait, so we bought the lot of land in like November, so we had to wait till after the winter to start building and we would go and walk around the area that we were going to buy the house.
Anyways, we were walking around the area one day and we snapped a photo of one of the other houses, it was just a different street, it had a side walk on the street, it had this two beautiful chestnut trees out in the front lawn. We snapped that photo and life went on. Then eventually, a realtor called us the same realtor that sold us the land and told us about this house that was coming up for sale and it was that same thing.
We already bought the land, we had the builder lined up like everything lined up and I said to my wife Amy, I was like, “I want to go look at this house.” And she’s like the grounded one that keeps the whole family together and she kind of got upset, she was like, “You need to focus on one thing. Like we bought a lot of land.”
So anyways, I convinced her to go look at the house, we walked in the house and we made a full price offer right there. We wound up buying the house but the crazy part is, we bought the house, we closed on it in January of this year. And then in March or April, my wife, she does birthday books for all the kids every year. She was working on a birthday book for our daughter Daphne.
And she was like, “This is so weird, we have a picture of our house before it even went up on the market, before we knew about it,” and we realized that we were walking around and we actually said, “We love where we’re going to live but this is what we really want,” and we took one picture of one house, that’s the house we live in now.
[0:37:06] EN: Isn’t it amazing?
[0:37:07] KC: Yeah. I think that — so the reason I really wanted to share that and I wanted to bring a question back to you because I feel like with all the people I’ve talked to and again, being able to interview people and being able to bring the stories out to our listeners, one of the things that I feel makes the difference between living the life you’re supposed to live and sort of getting into the — not that it’s not a life you’re supposed to live but yeah, yes I guess it is.
We all have this big beautiful dream that’s inside of us and when we’re aligned with it, everything just falls into place. But I think that faith and faith is like a muscle, I believe it’s like a muscle. Like the more we do it, the stronger it gets and the deeper it gets.
[0:38:07] EN: I love that, yeah.
[0:38:08] KC: But I feel like that’s the missing link that so many people, they want to make change in their life, they want to do these things, et cetera. But it’s that faith piece and I was wondering if you could just touch on that with — even still continuing to go through the development and building of the Institute.
[0:38:31] EN: Right. Well definitely. Getting to this point, like you said, I love that idea. It is like a muscle, faith is very much like a muscle and I’ve had to flex it several times just to get to this point. [Laughs] Still, the ultimate goal, right, is to see these parents here, right? Every paid retreat that happens here helps us to shift money over to our foundations so that we can bring this parents down at no expense to them, right?
So I have faith that I’m going to see this amazing group of parents come in here and leave being completely restored. I can almost see who they are, how many they are, what they’re wearing, what their stories are. I have that vision in my head and I think in order to keep flexing that muscle, right? The more you have that vision and you believe and you make it become more real, the easier it is to stay on that path, the easier it is to keep going. Because you can see it so clearly, it’s almost real. It’s just a matter of time. Time is nothing, it goes by, right?
[0:39:52] KC: Yeah.
[0:39:53] EN: So I think that’s where I’m at right now. I’m just keeping my eyes on that particular prize that this place is going to be able to nourish these parents. It’s going to nourish a whole lot of people in general. Any yogi, writer or foodie, anyone. They’ll leave feeling nourished and that holds me up. That holds me up.
[0:40:17] KC: So beautiful. So you have — I’m really seeing the vision of it now. The ultimate goal is to provide a retreat for parents who are going through, whether it’s cancer or something else, but they’re going through something where they need that reprieve.
[0:40:38] EN: Exactly.
[0:40:39] KC: Supporting that is the people who are going, like the paid retreats and things like that, so beautiful.
[0:40:47] EN: Exactly, exactly. So it’s a cycle. Again, coming back to that circle, right? It all feeds into the next. Each thing continues to feed and I think like I said, for anyone who is listening, if they create their vision, hold it up and keep it true. Keep flexing that muscle, it gets there, it happens, it helps you to cut through the clutter, right?
The more clear your picture is, the easier it is to identify those things that are not necessarily relevant or able to support your vision and you let them go. Like you did with the land you said, “We were set to do it but then we found this place and we knew it.”
[0:41:34] KC: Sort of, the land is still on the market. [Laughter]
[0:41:38] EN: It’s one of those things, you kind of know. When you know, you know. The more clear your vision is, the easier it is to filter through.
[0:41:46] KC: So it’s getting clarity of the vision and then just taking that next step, and taking the next step.
[0:41:52] EN: Exactly, exactly.
[0:41:55] KC: I love it. For people who want to — is the foundation setup to receive donations as well?
[0:42:05] EN: Yes, we are still in that strange holding pattern with the IRS where we’re waiting for them to say that we have officially received our 501(c)(3). I’m hoping that happens very soon, I mean we’ve set it up to be retroactive. But yes, we do and will accept donations and like I said, every retreat that happens here, every paid retreat we send, we just immediately, our profits, we send 10% over to the foundation right away so that we can really start to build up that cushion and make this happen. So yeah.
[0:42:38]KC: That’s awesome. I’m going to check all of that out and again, we’ll include links to the Bija Institute and is there anything else that you would like to share, any upcoming events, anything at all?
[0:42:54] EN: Well this particular weekend is pretty exciting, if anybody wants to come down, we’ll be finalizing, we’ll be celebrating the yurt raising. We also have the healing drum circle that’s happening this weekend. That would be pretty awesome. If you go into the website and you click on the “reserve button” and say that you’d like to join a retreat, you can see a listing of all the things that are coming up. We’re also holding a bunch of free yoga classes because the students from my teacher training are graduating this weekend.
[0:43:25] KC: Yay!
[0:43:26] EN: Yay! So they’re going to rock it out, so a lot of free classes. That’s sort of unusual for a retreat property, we don’t normally have a sort of “class schedule” here. But for this particular weekend, it’s a nice opportunity to just come down and check out the space and get a feel for it. So everyone’s welcome to come on in.
[0:43:48] KC: Awesome, awesome. Well thank you so much for taking the time to chat Erica. I appreciate it and from my heart to yours, grateful for the work that you’re doing. I’m grateful that your daughters are doing well and just grateful that — and for the space that you’re providing in the world for people, so thank you.
[0:44:13] EN: Awesome, thank you. Thank you for having me.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:44:16] KC: So just an amazing story, amazing woman and like I said, when I did the intro for Erica, the work that her and her husband are doing, it’s just really angels here on this earth. So if you find it in your heart, definitely swing over to, you can find them on Facebook or you can go to their website.
Swing over there, schedule up a retreat for yourself, schedule up a little R&R. Or they also do take donations, so my wife and I, right after we get off the phone wrote a check over to the Bija Foundation to help them with what they’re doing.
Whatever you want to do, whatever you feel moved to do, as always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.
[0:45:05] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for listening to the Business of Life Podcast. Apply what you learn today and you’ll be one step closer to creating the life you love to live.