Following Your Heart: Stop Playing It Safe & Start Living
March 30, 2016
After an extremely harrowing time dealing with big life changes while working a very stressful job, I snapped.
No, I didn’t reach for the nearest stapler and start attacking my colleagues (though this was a secret fantasy when the going got really tough). The words of that song by The Animals came to mind and I decided, “I got to get out of this place.” At least for a little while.
And so, after much planning, globe spinning, and Google searching, I finally cobbled together an itinerary and nervously asked The Boss Man for six weeks off. Gulp. He said yes! Just goes to show, oftentimes, she who asks, gets.
Fast forward a few months, the tickets are booked, accommodation arranged, I was off on a solo venture to Central America with nothing but a suitcase of dreams and me, myself, and I for company.
Sometimes in life you get these crazy whims and suddenly decide to jump in the driver’s seat, grab the steering wheel, and make a hard right from the road of your life. To some, this may involve a lot of nerve and a yearning for adventure, and true, that is a small part of it.
The other, more interesting part of it for me (for fear of sounding like a bumper sticker) was to feel the fear and do it anyway.
It was about having faith that things will work out and trusting that the universe has my back. Keep the faith if you will.
I didn’t know exactly why I was going away but just had a deep sense that this was what I had to do at this time in my life (or face a lengthy prison sentence for assault with a stapler).
Funnily enough, the whole “the universe has my back” thing became the trip motto, and when I started to obsess over every last logistical detail, I had to give myself a stern talking to.
“Girl, you don’t and can’t control the world. Let it go, it will all work out. And if not, then at least I tried. To quote that fine and wise Irishman, Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Truly words to live by.
Once I let go of the expectation of what the experience should look like and put my inner control freak back in her place, the strangest things started to happen.
I had a small stash of savings lined up that I like to refer to as the “F It Fund.” However, part of the deal with The Boss Man was that I was going to be taking unpaid leave. While paying for my apartment in Brooklyn. Those familiar with the rental market in New York City will feel my pain as I type this.
I had my apartment advertised for sublet but no fish were biting. Instead of panicking, I just accepted that if I didn’t find anyone to rent my place I would be fine. That’s what an emergency credit card is for. As the young kids say these days #YOLO!!
Again, once I had given up any attachment to outcome, three days before I was due to leave I had an email from the sublet agent. They had found someone last minute who wanted to rent my place for a month. Hallelujah!
After much victory dancing in the kitchen, I readied my place for these subletters. I trundled downstairs to check my mailbox only to find a bunch of checks that were overdue to me and I had given up hope of receiving. Taxi! JFK, pronto.
And so, the moral of this particular story is that sometimes in life you need to stop and listen to that little voice inside that’s desperately trying to get your attention. It’s trying to provide you with the wisdom to trust and follow your heart, not your head.
Following your heart does not necessarily have to involve grinding your life to a halt and taking six weeks off work to travel; that’s just my experience. It’s about listening within to whatever it is that your heart is telling you.
It may be telling you to work less and spend more time with your family. Or have more fun in life. Or cultivate more self-care by taking a yoga class on a regular basis, or even taking ten minutes of your day to sit quietly and just breathe.
Whatever it is, know that in doing so you are subtly making a change. It really doesn’t matter how small or how big.
Some people might go all out and create huge life changes, such as moving cities, ending a toxic relationship, or changing careers. Some might just choose to create more peace in their lives or remove a bad habit that no longer serves.
The point is that whatever you choose, if it is coming from your heart know that you will be supported throughout whether you realize it or not.
The end result might not look the way you anticipated or even have any resemblance to it. The universe works in mysterious ways, but will provide the best for you whether you like the outcome or not; after all, we are here to learn and evolve.
Just get out of your own way, let go of attachment to outcome, and simply allow.
Understand that this is a process and we are only human, so do the best you can. I chose to bat this little voice away time and time again, like a persistent fly, focusing instead on my job and generally trying to keep my head above water.
But that little voice kept getting louder and louder until it was a roar in my ear. “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? I’m not going to stop poking you until you stop and listen.”
Hands over my ears.
“Still not listening? What if I push you out onto the corner of Awful Circumstance Ave & Bad Luck Street until you are so stressed out that you have no choice but to hold up a white handkerchief and surrender yourself?”
It took me quite some time to finally concede, fully surrender, and accept that I had to make some big decisions, and from those decisions, big changes. But finally, cautiously, I stepped out of my comfort zone, peeking my head out much like a bear coming out of hibernation.
It may feel strange deciding to let that little voice take the reins of your life, even for a short while, and even incredibly terrifying, but so far it’s been the best decision I have made in quite some time.