Lao Tzu said, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” I would have called BS on the above quote until the day I lost control of my life wheel, while heading towards the life I thought I was meant to live. I had a plan, a good one, a solid one, and a fun one. I guess I got too cocky or maybe just a bit too comfortable because the direction I was heading took a major detour, then another, then another, until I was completely lost. Woody Allen said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” If that is true, then I was a true comedy. Only I’m pretty sure at some point, God stopped laughing as I let go of the wheel, and instead of laughter, there must have been a nod of approval, as I threw my hands up to receive with Grace.
I used to preach platitudes regarding “going with the flow” and “trusting the Universe”, and while I believed it, I never really had the chance to truly trust the validity of my claims using the spiritual tools I had been learning and teaching for over twenty years through the gift of yoga. While I had used these tools during certain isolated experiences, I had not yet had the chance to use them while experiencing a multitude of life changing events exploding all at once.
As I fell down low enough to the point of questioning all I had known to be true, I found myself feeling as if I was clawing myself out of the depths of my admittedly self-inflicted “Hell”. I was able to put these tools to good use and they passed the test, but only after I got down and dirty with those emotions that ruin your make-up and cause you to take out a loan so you can purchase more tissues for your never ending issues.
My story isn’t any more special or different than what many of us experience daily, but the way I navigated through it, gave me more passion behind my life’s mission to help others find that inner strength and confidence to weather the storms of an unpredictable life. We should all feel we can navigate our life map with grace during uncertainty when it feels like we could crash horribly at any moment. From this, we can create the life we’ve always wanted and from a place of unapologetic authenticity.
Everyone has a story and my story begins very white picket fency, if you were to view it on the outside. I was married, two wonderful children, the fancy possessions, good genetics, a plethora of great friend surrounding me, a career I loved. I had it ALL!
I had it all, until the day I decided I wasn’t living my most authentic life. I didn’t realize it, but I was lying to myself and everyone else. I was a hypocrite, a product of my culture that told me I had to be a certain way to be of value. So, in the quest for practicing what I preached, I felt I needed to leave my marriage. I jumped off that cliff hurting many people in the process. My reason for leaving,” I just didn’t want to do this anymore.” We had tried everything to save it, including a year of Puja’s in India for a Happy Married Life. After 13 years of working part time and being Mom first, I wasn’t worried because I had a plan and part of that plan was my yoga business supporting me.
It was soon clear, however, in order for us to separate, the yoga studio I had built for seven years had to go too, years of my heart and soul work I needed to untether, while at the same time unraveling 13 years with another person. My plan was failing.
Instead of going into “freak out” and “grasping” mode, I felt sort of ship-wrecked, floating in a sea of uncertainty while I sat in the ebb and flow of the waves, both gentle and calm. I wasn’t sure where the tide was taking me, but I felt love was holding me up. Plus, I had all my great friends, right? I had always heard of friend “fall outs” from marriages failing or the perception of what people had of you shifting so much that your relationship with them shifted into the ‘shitter’ as you look less desirable because your crap is being flung all around you. People have their own problems and don’t want to be hit by yours too, so people bow out, some gracefully, others not so much. Ouch, that hurt.
Desperately trying to avoid more self pity, I was grateful I had good health and my kids were happy and adjusting well, but then I went to the Doctor. I had known and taught the body would tell your story if you had not tended to self-care and my body was showing me I had been neglecting myself for awhile. Still, at least my kids were happy and healthy. This was the greatest blessing and all I knew for certain. When I felt my worst, I would allow myself time to process and then choose to focus my energy on the fact my two little loves were healthy and thriving, because I can not imagine anything worse than a child suffering. I used the gratitude tool in order to shift perspective,make self-care a priority, and reclaim the vitality I needed to move forward.
Then came the final straw. I had fallen in-love way too soon to someone I thought was the love of my life, a gift from above for all my hard work of 40 years. That ended as quickly as it started, worse, I felt like a fool thinking of this Love and the friends who walked away, so much so that my faith in the Universe was questioned and I thought about pulling out of my yoga career completely at this point because what did I have to teach anymore? I lost control where I thought I had already let go.
After pulling myself off my livingroom floor after 4 days of the ugly cry and questioning every part of my spiritual beliefs because I felt so dark, I was ready to move on. My view had shifted towards something more real, less fluffy, and more exciting than before. I returned back to the ebb and flow of the tide, practicing my breathing, my mantra, and the art of uncertainty. If living in the moment means trusting all will unfold if I just listen to my heart, then that’s what I chose to do. As I have learned to do this, amazing opportunities have fallen into my life regarding my career. People have walked into my life or stood up at the forefront who love me, crap flinging and all, replacing those who chose to exit. More importantly, I love my own company more than I ever thought possible. As far as plans, I don’t have any, except for a logical time frame making sure all my basic needs are met and I trust they will be, because they always have been. I have come to realize, as I sit in this ocean of opportunities being gently rocked by the waves, that I have all I need to explore this life map and now there is no point A to point B, instead, it is an adventure of staying present, trusting, and having gratitude for each breath I take above the dirt. Each day above the dirt is a day of creating the life that serves my higher purpose. I’m pretty sure Loa Tzu would consider me a worthy traveler now and God is no longer laughing, but gently placing all this abundance and joy along my path.
The life map is as simple as it is complex to follow. Obstacles on the path are there to steer us in another direction. Gently take the wheel without controlling and lean into reality, dig deep, be still, breathe, be open for the tide to take you in a direction you never expected, trust and be grateful for the opportunity to recreate that which has exploded to reveal the ugly and beauty underneath. Life is an adventure and adventures are not meant to be controlled or predictable. Let go and travel free.