Something was off and I knew it. My heart knew it, my body knew it, and my mind was doing a great job pretending it did not know it. One night, as we were walking into a restaurant, a couple of my friends who know me well asked me “what it was I was not listening to.” I knew better than to ask surprised, so the best answer I had for them was that it was not time for me to listen. They were kind enough to leave it alone.
The tightness in my chest was not so kind.
It would usually show up around bedtime, when I had nothing else to tend to. It would whisper to me that I already knew, that all I had to do was admit it, that it would be easier once I did.
But I wasn’t ready.
The Sunday before Labor Day, alone at home for one last weekend of the summer, I could feel the voice getting louder. It was getting quite demanding, and the best tool I had to drown its insistence was my lawn mower. So, I mowed my lawn with great focus, delighting in the noise that was overtaking my mind. Once done (I have a small yard), I still felt very vulnerable ... so I mowed again.
It was getting late and for the sake of sanity, I stopped short of asking my neighbors if I could mow their grass, and went inside to watch a movie instead.
The night was uneventful, and I woke up on Labor Day Monday with a whole day to myself stretching in front of me. The unease was still there and I was trying to learn to live with it, to make friend with the rumbly feeling, the Incomplete that was curled up somewhere inside of me. I had “lived with the questions” before, I could do it again, especially if I didn’t try to figure out what the question was. And actually, it all seemed to have quieted down several notches.
On my way to a garage sale, I was savoring the solitude and the beautiful weather. I only had one stop on my list, and it was a good one. In a beautiful area of the island, a woman seemed to be parting with all of her belongings: in addition to a For Sale sign on the front lawn, there were many bundles of sheets, tablecloths, complete sets of plates, bowls, utensils, furniture, books, clothing, art... it looked as though she was selling her whole life.
As I picked up a few small bowls of the most delicious shade of blue, she and I got into a conversation and she shared with me that she was letting go of everything - house, everything - and moving to Europe to reunite with a love of her youth. She seemed happy, and she seemed nervous. She said something like: “you know, maybe I’m crazy but I have to go for it.” Because I love this kind of crazy, I was quick to tell her that I thought she was actually really brave, that she was saying YES to life, to her heart, and what a beautiful thing that was - and finally that well, if it didn’t work out, she could always come back.
As I walked back to my car, she told me that this was just what she had needed to hear, and she thanked me warmly.
“My pleasure,” I said. Because really, this is what I do. I thrive on celebrating people’s dreams and courages. No big deal.
The drive home was about 15 minutes long, and as soon as I opened the door to my house, it hit me with gusto: this thing I had worked hard at keeping at bay, this thing I had tried to drown out (twice) with my lawnmower, this thing I had asked / begged to stay quiet... this thing had sneaked out of my mouth when I expected it the least, seemingly on its way to someone else’s ear.
I had heard it. I had answered it.
It had won.
Suddenly, there was no holding back my tears as all this energy had found a path out of my heart. I picked up the phone, still holding my car keys in my hand. I called my daughter and sobbing, I told her that “I had to go to home for a while.”
She knew right away what I meant.
As I talked with her, the Essence started to take Form. The madness started to feel sane, the chaos started to slow down and just as I had said minutes before “I was saying YES to life, to my heart, and what a beautiful thing that was - and finally that well, if it didn’t work out, I could always come back early.”
She was fully supportive.
Plucked away from my country 35 years ago without the voice to stand up for myself, more than France and more than Italy, I suddenly knew that I needed the Essence of Sovereignty. Geographical Sovereignty, to be specific. I needed to heal this old powerlessness, and for many reasons, this time in my life was the perfect window to do it (apparently the border officer in France knew it too, as she had strangely told me, when looking at my passport as I flew back to the US four months ago that “ I really should stay here.”)
Within days, a plan was starting to emerge. Sharing it with the people I love was at times easy (my oldest son told me that it had taken me longer than he had thought it would) and at times less easy. Waves were made, and waves were ridden. Sometimes gracefully, sometimes less gracefully. Financial puzzles were put forth. Meetings were had. In the end, I got the blessings I was yearning for.
Initially, I had hoped to be able to go for a year. In actuality, it will be six months, and really six months is plenty.
Where will I go? I am not fully sure and because of the Essence I am seeking, this not knowing may be the most important part. I will be in Italy in September for the La Dolce Vita Retreat, and in Mexico, in February for the Relax, Renew & Review Retreat. In between these two landmarks lies the magical land of Geographical Sovereignty. And that’s what I need the most.
I will write, I will continue to coach, I may even lead some classes online. My guess is I will discover some new happiness work to be done over there, also.
In the last few days, I have been around several people who have changed their lives drastically, following a call they knew they had to follow. Of varied ages, some have changed gender, some have changed continents. Others have drastically switched careers and in doing so, majorly altered their income. Some have changed their sexual orientations, some have invested huge resources in order to invent a new family. Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing a meal with two beautiful women in their 60s. Married to each other, life handed them the unexpected challenge of saying yes to raising the baby of a relative, to make sure he would be safe and thrive. They not only said yes and adopted him, but they are now contemplating moving to France to raise him in what they consider to be a better educational environment. Neither of them speaks French. But their heart is leading the way, and from the little time I spent with this now 3-year old little boy, their hearts are a powerful guide. They are flying over there in September for a one month reconnaissance trip.
And then, sitting in the darkness of a movie theater, last night, I was awed to learn that Eleanor Coppola just released her first full length movie, as director. She is 92 years old.
So, for now I am putting together the puzzle pieces of renting my home for 6 months, making sure I can keep on growing my work while I am gone, that the Center continues to run smoothly, and that my cat is well taken care of. I am a little scared and I am a lot grateful. Grateful that no matter how many times I mow my lawn, my truth seems to always trust me enough to sneak out, even if on its way to someone else. And grateful that there are so many YES people in my life, ready to celebrate and support my dreams - even when it is not 100% convenient.
Today, I invite you to consider that this crazy thing you’ve been dreaming about may actually be possible. I invite you to consider that there may be someone around you wondering right now, why it is taking you so long to say yes to it. I invite you to love yourself enough to make a few waves, and possibly be surprised by how gracefully you and yours may ride them. I invite you say yes to life. Because life loves it when we do this, and tends to reward us gleefully.
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Essential Happiness Retreat
January 10 to 20, 2019
Guadeloupe, French Caribbean
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I write because this is the way I am able to taste life more deeply.