I am writing this newsletter from my room in Rome after 11 and a half weeks of travelling through Europe, mostly on my own. I would like to end off our last newsletter of the year by sharing with you a few thoughts of what I have gotten from my crazy, rewarding, challenging travelling experience.
1. We can not skip steps
It is naturally for our human minds to want to think ahead, think of the future and think of all the "What if's". Doing that takes up a lot of space in our minds which we actually need to rather focus on the present moment and the step in front of us that presents itself and requires our attention. There were many times where my mind would race to which bus I had to take after the plane or train that I'm on or where I was going to sleep or which country I was going to find myself in next. At times I didn't even know where I was going to be even a day or two before I was drawn to be somewhere else. For a control freak like me it drove me insane until I surrendered to the process of not knowing what is going to happen. Because face it, we don't know what is going to happen. Even if we think we do, we can never be 100% sure. We can just trust that the bend in the road ahead will lead us to a view where we can see better to make the next choice and then the next one. I always had to remind myself to come back to the only moment that exists - this moment right now and give it its full attention.
2. We are always guided
I soon noticed that I was never lost for a very long time. Sometimes I just had to stand still, take a deep breath, call my strength and wait for guidance to show up. And it always did. Be it in the form of a sign post with clear writing in English or a kind stranger that offered to show me where to go. Sometimes I had to give up my pride and ask. Other times I had to listen to a voice within me that nudged me to go in some direction. Like the one time in Berlin where I ended up at the complete opposite side of where I intended to go, just to see a building with the message: "Thoughts become things! Take massive action." Good advice for that point in time! My getting "lost" allowed for perfect timing to meet two wonderful people who gave me the gift the next evening of experiencing the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in person and a lift to Vienna two days later!
3. When in fear, get out there and act
Travelling always sounded for me like one big adventure with an overwhelming sense of excitement to explore and see new places and meet new people. It is. There is also another side to it, especially when travelling alone. There were days where the plans didn't work out, where my idea of how things should've been crumbled in front of me and I had to trust the process. There were times when I didn't know what to do next, where loneliness overcame me and where I felt terrified to put myself out there again and again. That is where I realised that fear and the Terror Barrier we always talk about can actually physically paralyse you. In those moments I was reminded to just take one step forward, to just go for a walk, go outside, because doing nothing makes it worse and in the end when we face that which we are most afraid of, it actually shrinks in our presence. We are much stronger than we realise ourselves and in the end we can almost always say: I did it! I was there!
4. Be ready to be pleasantly surprised!
Yes, it is very difficult to face the terrible stories our mind tells us about what would happen when we face our fears. I can now say that every single time I have done that though, I was rewarded in ways that took my breath away, warmed my heart or led me to experience things and have encounters with people that I could not have dreamt of experiencing through my own efforts. When we hear the call and act, we will always be rewarded. I have seen castles and beautiful countries and met amazing people who have enriched my life so much in the last 11 and a half weeks. All because I trusted the process and jumped when I was most scared.
5. Know what you want
When there is a fork in the road, how will you know which side to take? The only guidance we can go on is to follow our deepest desire, our wants, our heart's calling. There were many times where I felt like giving up and going home, where I doubted if I was strong enough to do this on my own, where I questioned my strength, my integrity and my clarity. The one thing that guided me throughout was the burning desire to know myself more deeply, to experience life and love in the fullest and to grow from this experience. My intention was always to experience more in my life, to shake up my life, to feel more, live more. Without that marker as my guide I would've been lost when the going got tough. Thanks to a few reminders from home of why I took on this journey in the first place, I could stay strong and push forward even when at times it didn't feel good. I realised that we learn so much about ourselves, what we can do, how strong we are and how passionate we really are, when things are tough. It's a gift.
6. Life is full of surprises. Surrender and be flexible
This was probably my most challenging lesson of all. Many times things didn't work out according to my careful planning. I was thrown a few heavy curve balls and quickly had to adjust and trust. There were times where I got so tired of making things happen that I forgot to allow things to happen. Life is full of surprises, sometimes it seems like nasty surprises but in the end we always get what we need, what serves our highest good. The quicker we can learn to flow downstream and surrender, the easier it will be. Have a clear intention and then be detached from the way it should come to you.
7. Sometimes chocolate is the answer
Sometimes when all else fails we need to just take a break, kick up our heals, have a block or two of delicous chocolate and remind ourselves that life has one wicked sense of humour. My biggest breakdowns happened in the country with the best chocolate on the planet, Belgium! All I could do was smile, induldge, see the humour in it all and remind myself not to take myself or anything too seriousely.
I'm grateful to have had this life changing opportunity and would also like to thank my family and dear friends who have supported and encouraged me along this journey. I am going home next week ready to take on a new chapter of life with enthusiasm, excitement and a knowing that in the end everything will always be ok.
My wish as a coach, is for each and every one of you to take a stand for your life, for what you want, what your burning desire is and to say "YES" to what life has to offer. We look forward to supporting you in any way we can in the next year. We have big goals for InVision next year and look forward to sharing it with you.
I would like to end off with one of the most inspiring poems for me, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance
I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don’t jump up and shout, “Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!”
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.
Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, every day.
Don’t tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without abandoning yourself when
you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.
Tell me a story of who you are,
and see who I am in the stories I live.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.
Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next. . .
I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall, to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?
And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the clear,
healthy boundaries that
help us live side by side with each other, let us risk remembering that we never stop silently
loving those we once loved out loud.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make
my heart whole again and again.
Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us shout
that soul’s desires have
too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money. Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs
you want our children’s children to remember.
And I will show you how I struggle not to change the world,
but to love it.
Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.
And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.
Don’t say, “Yes!”
Just take my hand and dance with me.
© Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from the book The Dance, HarperONE, SanFrancisco, 2001
Let's dance into 2013!