Guests who stay at La Belle Vie B & B and Wellness Studio often say they never want to leave. I’m not surprised after chatting with their hostess, Josée Velsen, who exudes warmth, gratitude, and a joy of living.
She and her young family moved from one small island to another 17 years ago, while she was in her early 30s and healing from breast cancer.
Josée says, along with chemo and radiation, many alternative healing modalities came to her – including Ayurveda, Chinese and herbal medicine. Nuns and a Buddhist monk came to pray for her, and she still uses the prayer mala beads he gave her.
Unable to cook, and with two young children, she was grateful when gifts of food arrived at her doorstep. Always interested in wellness, she was open to receiving treatments from healing hands and hearing there were prayer circles and sweat lodges held in her honour.
The family endured hard times and deep pain. It was a long journey with many lessons. Spending time in nature fed her healing process. This deepened her connection with nature and her soul.
A big lesson for Josée was being open to receiving help. For her, giving had always been easier. She took in all the love that was given and knew that “one day, it would be [her] turn to give comfort to someone in need.”
Josée starts every day saying, “Yes, to receiving joy.” Their family mantra is, “We’re so lucky and blessed.” They have been saying and singing this together since her children were born. They always close by saying, “Thank you.”
Pedro and Cookies & Cream, her roosters, wake her up. Josée then sips a cup of chai tea while being watched by Albert and Noel – her pet Alpacas. They stand and gaze at her until she is lured out to visit with them. They communicate via humming. The chickens then rush out to greet her.
Josée says it’s a treat to collect her own eggs and to communicate with her animals.
When friends sold to Josée’s family two acres of land at an affordable price, it made the dream of building their own “healthy home” possible.
Her husband, Adam, used materials that didn’t contain volatile compounds, and their home is even wired differently. It’s a welcoming space to live in.
Herbalist teachers taught Josée to identify the herbs in her own backyard. In the magical time of spring, her world explodes with vitality. She harvests stinging nettles, Oregon grape, lemon balm, mint, raspberry leaf, and calendula to create her own teas, tinctures, facial masks, and healing salves.
After their children grew up and left home, she and Adam opened their extra bedrooms as a restful B & B where visitors can help harvest herbs, gather eggs from the chickens, or visit with their two alpacas.
Josée invites guests to join her in her morning meditation and chi gong practice and leads guests on walks to gather herbs to create their own custom tea blends. Women have come to just rest while on their own healing journey.
It is both a hobby farm as well as a B & B for body, mind, and soul. Josée practices Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old healing modality from India. She believes this is a lifestyle we can bring into our lives with routines that nourish our constitution.
She has continued to study over the past 19 years and loves to share the teachings with others in her workshops and retreats at her home on Gabriola Island.
Josée says: “Creativity is fundamental to who I am. It’s part of my every day. It was put on the shelf for a while when I had kids – but even then I had a Juice Bar out of an old boat trailer Adam reinvented. I sold what I called Grabby Abby – fresh ginger and apple juice along with wheatgrass shots.”
Creativity and curiosity are vivid inside her, and the natural world that surrounds her gives her courage and inspiration to continue on her creative path of wellness. She shares her natural ways with others and feels blessed to wake up every morning.
Her goal is to “express joy, peace, and possibilities through her creative voice,” and to “support people in their own beauty.”
Leading workshops was a creative risk for Josée because she’s shy. It was a risk she took because she really wanted to share what had worked in her healing journey.
She cites a quote from Rumi as something that inspires her: “Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
Josée expresses her spirituality through her creativity. There’s a definite connection between the two for her because it taps into who she is and takes her to a deeper place. It helps her get to know herself at a deeper level.
Sometimes it can be lonely working alone, and it can be hard to stop the creative flow and rest as ideas are always flowing. A big plus, however, is that every day is different. She likes variety and to have space for magic to happen.
Her best ideas come to her when she’s out in nature. She likes to take her meditation practice beyond the yoga mat, and often sits by the sea, watching and listening to life.
Living an island life is all about creativity. It’s a chance to become something new. It’s not unusual to cobble together more than one source of income.
Josée thinks creativity is a huge teacher, and she urges everyone to jump right in and welcome it. “Feel it with all of your senses. Have fun. It’s all about play and being curious and not afraid to make mistakes. Allow creativity to guide you. It’s part of our life journey and our lesson.”
We don’t control our creativity, but we can choose to take a risk and follow it. If it doesn’t work the first time, we can get back up and try again. “Creativity is in everyone and it’s important for all of us to connect with it. It has the power to transform a blah day into magic – like catching raindrops on your tongue. It’s more about play than it is serious.”
How have you used your own creativity to reinvent your life? Is creativity a spiritual practice for you? Please share how you have used your creativity and let’s have a conversation!