Have you ever been pulled in a direction so intensely that you had no choice but to follow that path?
This happened to me a few years ago and it turned out to be a soul-fulfilling experience, even though I had to do something I’ve never done before. I am slightly embarrassed to admit, especially in my late 40’s, but I had never traveled alone until this particular experience. It was a spontaneous trip that I knew I would regret if I didn’t go. So, without a second thought or letting my fear stop me, I booked my trip to New York.
I grew up in a sheltered home and living locally was encouraged, as was following my siblings’ path of going to college. As a teenager, my biggest adventure was going to Hawaii with girlfriends for my high school graduation. Going on adventures were not part of my childhood reality. My parents worked and traveled occasionally but often without the kids. I was content not traveling for many years and didn’t have an interest to explore the world, until recently. When I was younger, it was implied that I go to school, get married and then start a family. Traveling was not introduced or encouraged. It was a traditional way of thinking and I have no regrets. However, as a parent, I try to encourage my own kids to explore the world and not settle for anything. We often share with the kids that there is a world beyond the one they currently live and participate in daily. I married after graduate school and then began traveling with my husband and kids, but never by myself. I am not complaining as I loved my travel companions, however, I never experienced the process with independence. There was a time that I traveled with just the kids, and I thought that was a huge deal. Kin to feeling grownup even though I was technically already a grown up.
Years later, while taking care of my family, attending self-help workshops and reading books on finding my passion, I had a life altering experience (as I stated earlier). It fulfilled me beyond my expectations…and took place in less than 12 hours! I was reading The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford (highly recommend reading) and found myself charged by the idea that not only do we repress parts of ourselves that we don’t like, we also project them onto other people. If a friend or relative makes you feel crazy or triggers negative feelings, chances are good that they are mirroring your own trait that you do not like in yourself. The book emphasized that with every negative trait I owned there was an inherent gift. I couldn’t imagine that a negative trait, such as insecurity, could have a positive side. I found this theory to be so unbelievable and fascinating that I had to learn more. Once this idea can be accepted and understood, it can transform your relationships, and more significantly, the way you view yourself. I’ve learned that when my finger is busy pointing at another person’s negative traits, it is a signal for me to turn it around, point it at myself, and take a hard look at what’s going on inside. This brings me to my initial statement about traveling by myself. Debbie Ford also created an institute in New York called The Ford Institute. She holds workshops on this very topic which is referred to as The Shadow Process. The notion that I had “gifts,” despite trying to hide and deny my negative traits, was captivating and I had to travel to the place that was going to teach me all about it.
Flying to New York, hailing a taxi, checking into the Hotel that was over an hour from the airport, eating dinner at the restaurant alone were all baby steps leading to the transcendent experience that happened in only 12 hours. I originally thought the workshop started the following morning at 7 am, however, it was at 7p.m! I had nothing planned for the day and panicked at the idea of sitting in my hotel room. I didn’t bring workout clothes, so that was not an option, and the hotel was not walking distance to any interesting sites. My choice was to sit and watch TV or get up and figure out how to get to NY city. I was overcome with feelings of fear, anxiety and excitement. It was driving me nuts because my inner voice was telling me all the reasons why I shouldn’t go but my heart was pulling me to action. In retrospect, I think that’s why I went. To prove that the thoughts and voices we hear are not real and have no control over our actions or behaviors. I packed my back pack, called an Uber and was off to the unknown. I felt like Dora the Explorer! I figured, since no one knew me, I could ask as many questions as I needed to get to my destination. Fear was still riding on my back but the pure joy I felt from this adventure took over. Once I reached the Subway, I just took a deep breath, whispered a little prayer and off I went into the underground. I was attentive to all the details (normally a challenge for me) and got myself to NY city’s Persian Square. I do have to credit Waze for getting me around the city on foot and eventually down to Ground Zero. The weather was frigid, and I couldn’t feel my feet, however, I was flying high and giving myself high fives all day long. After a long day of explorations, selfies, hot chocolate and deep breathes, I returned to the subway, then back to Grand Central station and then to the Hotel 12 hours later. I had the best time with me and realized I am a strong and unstoppable person. I was ready for the work-shop but the internal work had already been done earlier that day.
Here’s the love…
By acknowledging our less than perfect traits…we open a huge abundance of gifts that we didn’t know existed!