The title of Angelyn Toth’s latest book, released earlier this year, came to her 20 years ago but it’s taken her decades to write the story of her retreat centre, Xenia.
“This is a very vulnerable book,” said Toth. “I’ve put everything out there. It’s out there for scrutiny.”
Part autobiography and part spiritual manifesto, Radical Trust: Manifesting a vision when it seems impossible is Toth’s journey toward her trust in a higher intelligence and founding Xenia 26 years ago.
“The first part of the book is my story of learning how to trust,” Toth said in a phone call with the Undercurrent. From near-death at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, her husband’s death at 41, an eating disorder, Toth lays out her pain and joy and her path to radical trust.
Toth starts with a two-month stay on Bowen Island in a tree house on Miller Rd in 1986. Wife to a farming executive and a business owner in her own right, Toth had been living a busy corporate life in White Rock and took a sabbatical to write a corporate manual. That’s not what happened. Instead, Toth spent the months catching up with herself “and learning how to really listen to inner guidance.”
The guidance led her to Xenia.
“I could see 40 acres in my mind’s eye––I could see trees and meadows,” she said. “And it was to be a place for the magical child within all to feel safe to be creative.”
But Toth didn’t have the means to buy such a property.
“I’m like, 'I have no idea why this vision is following me around because I don’t have the money to do it. Go away.'”
But in that summer, while the world was falling in love with Vancouver at Expo 86, she fell in love with Bowen. “I felt at home for the first time since coming to Canada,” she said. “I knew that one day I would buy a house here.”
It was five years before her family moved to the island and a further two (1994) before Toth had the money to purchase the 38 acres of a dilapidated sheep farm and what was to become Xenia.
“I honestly didn’t have a clue what I was doing,” said Toth. “I didn’t know anything about renovation. I didn’t know anything about running a business.”
“But I was following inner guidance…and that’s where I learned radical trust.
“If I hadn’t followed the guidance, then Xenia would never have come to be.
“Radical trust isn’t 99 per cent,” she said. “That’s not enough. It’s 100 per cent, which means jumping into the abyss when you have no clue how but you know you have to.”
“The rest of the story is very intimate about the things that happen here, the silent retreats, the community, the volunteers, and that whole journey,” explained Toth: how OPA became OPA (the millennium-old tree that was one of the reasons Toth was so drawn to the property); how the labyrinth and sanctuary came to be; friends’ and guests’ experiences at Xenia.
At Xenia, Toth runs the silent and writer retreats (with online and residential components) and then the rest of the programs have other facilitators who hail from all over the world. The expansive property also has some resident animals––a couple of horses, a miniature horse, a donkey, dogs and cats (Charlie the pig died last year).
“Even corporate CEO guys can come here and go, ‘I don’t know what it is about this place, but it just feels so good,” said Toth.
“It’s a very loving, beautiful place and we really protect it from dogma,” said Toth. “So we’re not professing any particular religion or philosophy, it’s just really nature and creativity.”
Ten years after creating Xenia, Toth nearly lost the property to the bank. After being on the brink of giving up, she created another business––relationship marketing through Univera––to support the retreat centre. (And it’s that business that’s too keeping her afloat during the pandemic.) Toth again points to inner guidance seeing her through that time.
On why it took her so long to be able to write Radical Trust, Toth noted the adage of sharing the wisdom of your scars not your open wounds. “The wisdom is far greater to share,” she said.
Through the book, Toth hopes she can inspire readers to trust in themselves.
“I want people to learn how to trust their deepest, deepest knowing about what to do,” she said. “I think people don’t trust in themselves enough. So they do jobs that they hate and they’re discontent, and because they’re not trusting the stern of their own soul.”
Radical Trust: Manifesting a vision when it seems impossible is now available in audiobook and paperback on Amazon.