As featured in San Francisco’s M Magazine (OCT 2013 - page 114)
I admit it. I have spent much of my life living in any time but NOW. Worry about the future, fretting over the past….WHY?! Worry and fretting didn’t help much, if at all. It’s much like spinning the wheels of a car in a muddy ditch; It just digs you in deeper. Well, living like that just wasn’t working for me anymore and I didn’t like what it was doing to me physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually.
About two years ago, I went on a little adventure that, ultimately, changed the way I live my life today. It was my second big leap of faith toward my simple goal of learning how to be happy again. But sometimes, making ourselves happy is far easier said than done. I had left my career after 20 years not more than a year and a half prior (my first huge leap of faith) and I had barely enough money left, but I got a one-way ticket to California. A solo journey…how glamorous, brave, and cool! Uh-oh. All of the most transforming (but ‘uncomfortable’) experiences I’ve had have started with a bright idea of mine that I perceived was going to be “glamorous, brave or cool”. In truth, my 'adventure’ was just a trip to visit a different place and stay with friends and family…with no money and no plan. But it truly FELT courageous to me at the time; traveling on a one-way ticket with no money and no plan was something I had considered frivolous (and potentially dangerous) in my little world before. But California was calling to me and I felt that I was going to find something there….some guidance on my next step, the meaning of life….SOMETHING.
When I look back, I laugh at myself. I considered myself so brave and free-flowing, but I initially had most of the trip planned out; where I would stay, with whom, and how long. Well, as so often happens when we think we have everything planned out to a tee, the Universe laughed in my face. A week before my trip, every single arrangement I made fell through. My father was renovating their house and there was no room for me. My friend, Kristie, was going to be on a family trip. I couldn’t get in touch with other friends. Everything fell through. I was shattered! Was this a message from the Universe protecting me from danger and telling me to cancel my trip?! I poured out my tale of woe and misfortune to my friend Ivana, who shrugged her shoulders and told me “So what? You have nowhere to stay. At the very worst, you have nowhere to go and sleep on a bench at the airport. Then, you borrow money from me and fly home.” Hmmm, she was right. After all, I had never done THAT before! Adjusting my perspective and deeming this trip a “rite of passage”, I replied “Yes!” to the Universe’s challenge. This little girl was going to go on an adventure and come back a woman. I put on my fake brave face, puffed my chest out, and packed my bags.
When I made the final decision to commit to the trip despite the setbacks, I felt strangely 'lighter’ immediately. The dark clouds of negativity started to dissipate from my head and thoughts of excitement returned. Magically, when my attitude from changed from Debbie-Downer to Sunny-Shani, the rain clouds parted and a rainbow of hope appeared in my situation. The very next morning, I got an email from my friend Kristie saying that they delayed the trip and that I could stay with her for a couple days. It was a start! I hopped on that plane with, seriously, $56 in my wallet and a bag of Halloween candy to eat if I ran out of money.
Fast forward to the end. I had a couch (or bed) during my entire 'tour’ through California. I went from place to place, not sure where I’d be from week to week….but something always opened up. Due to my limited resources and as fate so designed it, I had no way to plan or confirm where I would be at each stop until a day or two before I was to leave each place I was currently at. Unwillingly, I was thrust into having to adapt and go with the flow of life every step of the way during this trip. But as my trip continued, I got better and better at 'flowing’ with the unknowns….even started to enjoy blowing like a leaf in the breeze of life…..I began to awake each morning with happy anticipation! I ENDED UP STAYING IN CALIFORNIA FOR ALMOST TWO MONTHS. Not bad for a girl that started with $56 and a bag of Halloween candy, huh? Along the way, I reconnected with friends and family that I hadn’t seen in decades….I really LIVED with them in their lives….and they welcomed me whole-heartedly. Hearing of my leap of faith and the story of my last year and a half inspired them. Watching and living with them inspired me. What an experience! It was one of the most simple, beautiful, and fun trips I have ever taken in my life. Really. My eyes were perpetually filled will tears of gratitude. I would have missed out on all of this, if I had given up on this trip when it didn’t go as I had originally planned!
Consider allowing yourself to FLOW with life a little more…in little ways (and big!). How much time and energy do you waste spinning your wheels in the attempt to control every aspect in your life?How much of your happiness in life do you sacrifice today by worrying about tomorrow? There’s a quote by Thoreau: “The price of anything is the amount of life you pay for it”. Heck, most of the best things that have ever happened to you probably happened unexpectedly….like magic…when you were just floating along in the most natural way. The most amazing things happen when we are flowing with life, rather than fighting it.