#WomenOfAce: Meet Darby Ewashina

“When you are willing to lift up that veil there are beautiful things beneath it.” This week’s #WomenOfAce is truly nothing short of captivating. She wears her heart on her sleeve, her strength is equally balanced with the softness she embodies by always being vulnerable and real, and she’s a doctor — meet Darby.

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Ace: What are you up to? ( Your current hustle )

Darby: Currently I work as a senior resident physician in Psychiatry. This is a fancy way of saying I work 50+ hours per week in a variety of domains (emergency department, inpatient departments, clinics and addiction centres) in the field of mental health. On the side, I co-created and launched Limbus with my colleague Dr. Bourque (MC). Limbus is a mental-meets-physical workout that encourages connection to your mind and body in an introspective and cathartic way. We burn calories and build community within a 60 minute frame. You sweat, you release, you may cry, but whatever happens is okay, we’ve designed it this way on purpose. Team Limbus is in the process of growth, currently teaching in Calgary three days per week, while also organizing and implementing teacher training programs in the Limbus Method and Workout. We have trainers in BC, Calgary and plan to build out across the country.

Ace: Why is this important to you? ( Where did this passion come from? )

Darby: This workout has been created in part because of a learned experience of how I was living my own life. I have experienced burnout and placed unrealistic demands on myself that were incredibly challenging for me, I often found myself thinking “Is this what being a doctor is supposed to feel like?” I felt as though life was passing me by and I was missing it. Insert meeting MC. Together we got real and honest, and shared what we were seeing in not only ourselves, as women and as physicians, but in others as well.

Collectively we are living with extreme levels of stress and unreasonable expectations that we place on ourselves and on others in society. This leads to chronic dissatisfaction and anxious apprehension; this leads to mental health problems. So together, MC and I have a mission of creating mental wellness. We have a choice in how we want to live our lives and it starts with tuning in to our bodies, turning down the noise and expectations of others, and getting real with how we’ve been showing up in our lives.

In Limbus we have incorporated our combined 25 years of experience in the science of exercise physiology, brain behaviour and human relationships. Throughout the workout we challenge you physically while integrating introspective phraseology to encourage connecting to ourselves, our bodies and our thoughts. We can learn to listen to our inner chatter and start to see how quickly our thoughts become the emotions that influence our feelings and dictate our behaviours.

So you ask where this passion came from? It’s a delicious combination of my medical knowledge, my successes and failures in life, my interpersonal self-discovery and my innate desire to heal and care for others. Through the co-creation of Limbus, we aim to prevent mental illness and create mental wellness through the science of exercise and human connection.

Ace: What was your dream job growing up? How do you think this has influenced who you are today?

Darby: My first dream job was to be an actress. I’m from a very small town of 4,000 people, and I was involved in a number of local productions. I even had an agent at one point! The biggest thing I loved about being on stage was seeing the hard work of line memorization and countless hours of rehearsals transform into this magical production that connected me to others in a way I had never experienced. I always struggled with anxiety, and tended to externalize with humour. Being in theatre allowed me to use my anxiety as a strength, rather than allowing it to consume me. These early experiences taught me that I didn’t have to be debilitated by anxiety. Having the opportunity to push my comfort zone gave me the courage to pursue medicine, which is packed with both anxiety provoking, life and death moments, and intimate moments of connection with other humans.

Ace: If you could describe yourself in only three words, what would they be?

Darby: Generous. Ambitious. Vivacious.

Ace: Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

Darby: My sister Rozalind. She has always pushed herself to be better and work harder, both qualities that I adopted as a result of seeing her success. She is incredibly resilient, moving to Vancouver at age 18 where she worked up to three jobs while completing her BA in photography from Emily Carr. She embodies what it means to balance work, friendship, love, motherhood and humility. She is my rock.

Ace: What does the term “Boss Babe” mean to you?

Darby: To me it means owning who you are and what you’re bringing to the table. A Boss Babe demonstrates confidence and a gentle “knowing” that allows her to be truly herself, without the need to please or conform to who she thinks she “should” be.

Ace: How do you empower other women?

Darby: I want everyone to succeed. I want everyone to be big and feel confident in their capabilities as a woman. If we’re busy cutting each other down, elbowing others out or demeaning other women just to get ahead, then what’s the point? Sure you might get to the “top” only to look down and realize it’s lonely up there. Don’t get me wrong, I want to get to the top (whatever/wherever that is), but I want to clasp my palms together and push others ahead of me encouraging them to rise while simultaneously leaning down and offering a hand to those behind me. We can connect without competing it doesn’t have to be one way or the other.

Ace: What is the best advice you’ve ever received from another woman?

Darby: Don’t give your everything into a profession that will continue to take, leaving you raw and without resources. At some point you’ve got to learn to put yourself first.

Ace: Can you share the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a failure?  

Darby: I reached a level of burnout that was deeply uncomfortable. I consider this time in my life a “failure” because I lost sight of who I was and what I wanted. I was working so hard at keeping up an image of who I thought I needed to be. I felt disconnected from friends, family and then I became disconnected from my work and patients. I suffered serious medical complications as a result and had a period where my mind was in a really dark place. It actually wasn’t a failure in the sense that I got fired, or acted unethically, it was more so that I had failed myself because I was so out of line with my values. Luckily, the physical and emotional pain was so visceral I was forced to wake up in order to save myself. I took a vacation, became a meditation teacher, started intense short term psychotherapy, and started to make some major life changes with regards to work-life balance. In the process, Limbus was created. The lesson I learned was that there is always room for growth and expansion if you’re willing to evaluate your darkness, sit in the hallway of discomfort and honestly ask yourself “how am I doing” and “what needs to change”.

Ace: When you are feeling overwhelmed, what do you do to find peace?

Darby: I meditate. I’ve invested in a beautiful meditation chair. I crave the opportunity to practice sitting in silence. A lot of questions have been answered and “A HA” moments realized through this daily ritual.

Ace: What legacy do you hope to be remembered for?

Darby: I’ll let you know when I figure that one out. I want to continue to learn, grow and cultivate my life to have meaning and purpose more so than it already does. That’s a loaded question!

Ace: Where can we find out more about you so we can continue to support you?

Darby: Come to a Limbus class! They are offered Monday at BARRE Belle Mission: 7:40 pm, Thursday at Decidedly Jazz Dance Works: 5:30 pm, and Saturday at BARRE Belle Parkdale: 11:45 am.

We also have an upcoming Limbus Method + Limbus Workout Training happening in June/July 2019. I will be at the Canadian Medical Association National Health Summit in Toronto on August 2019. And stay tuned for the Limbus Retreat in October 18-20, 2019 at Kananaskis Lodge.

Stay connected with Darby: Hit up our website, send me an email, and find me on Instagram.