Each of our stories and our paths are different. By sharing my own personal awakening, I hope it encourages you on your own journey.
For me, everything looks different these days. It's as if my eyeglass prescription changed. But instead of becoming stronger, these glasses actually allow me to see things from a whole new perspective, sort of like having x-ray vision.
The change was sudden, though it took forty years to manifest. For most of those years, I didn't even know I was on a journey – I just went along for the ride. I made life decisions with the loving advice of family and friends, or the toss of a coin. I assumed everyone felt the same emptiness I did. I looked at my life as little more than an un-joyful job and an unfulfilled dream.
When my long-term, live-in relationship ended in 1992, there was nothing to help buffer the discomfort. I spent a lot of time nursing my misery. It even hurt to smile. I didn't even let my songwriting and singing keep me company, preferring to gain comfort from wallowing in self-pity, curled up on the couch watching brainless sitcoms, waiting for the hour to get late enough to go to bed.
But my sleep was sad and heavy. I'd wake in the morning with a flash of panic. The list of the day's stresses would scroll through my mind like the credits at the end of a B movie. "Gotta get to the office early. Yikes! I forgot to call the travel department about next week's meeting in Houston. I'd better do some work on the agenda, too. What am I going to do about handling the discipline problem on my staff? Oh, how I wish I could stay home with the covers over my head. Why is there always a knot in my stomach?"
I'd put on my corporate uniform and check the mirror before I fled out the door. "So this is what stress looks like," I'd think to myself, examining the not-so-fine lines taking up residence around my eyes. "Well, I'm not getting any younger," I'd sigh.
I didn't remember ever bargaining for growing old and unhappy at the same time, spending my life in jobs that sapped my energy and left me unfulfilled at the end of the day. And then there was my painful aloneness to contend with. How did this happen? I felt duped.
I'd come home from work every day, desperate to open the door of my apartment so I could cry. Sometimes, I didn't make it through the door. I cried in the car, in the lobby, in the elevator. Once home, I'd really let it out. I cried about the life I had, the job I hated, the loneliness that plagued me. I cried about the bleakness of the future, the emptiness of the present and the pain of the past. Crying was my way of staying alive – at least I knew I was feeling.
One cold, autumn Sunday, I went for my regular hike in a nearby nature preserve. I was at a low ebb, but still had the presence of mind to know it. I thought about getting a new job. "What's the difference," my little inner voice saId. "You'll end up just as miserable as you are now." I thought about getting out there to meet a new man. "Why bother? He'll only hurt you," it taunted. The only vocabulary this little voice seemed to know was "Why bother?" and "What's the difference?"
The voice was winning. Formerly an optimist, I was becoming convinced that my life was nothing more that the sum total of my unhappiness. And then I did something I'd never done before. I stopped on the path and looked up at the sky.
"Hello, God. It's me, Sandi. I know I haven't spoken to you since I was a little girl…I don't even know if you still remember me. But I've got a big problem I hope you can help me with. You see, I'm really, really miserable. I hate my job, I'm tired of being alone and I can't seem to find anything to smile about these days. All I can think about is how awful it will be if I have to live the rest of my life with this ache in the pit of my stomach. It doesn't seem worth it. Somehow, I can't quite believe that I was put on earth to do THIS. Surely, there's something else I'm supposed to be doing. Do me a favor and let me know what it is. Because frankly, if this is it, I gotta tell you the truth…I'm not interested in sticking around much longer. So let me know, please. The sooner the better. Thanks."
A week later, while pulling into the parking lot of the neighborhood dry cleaning store, I had a startling "vision." It was as if the curtains of my brain parted long enough for me to see a scene. The vision was of a cabaret show for singles, with me as the entertainer. I was leading the
group in song and inventing games to help them meet. I was singing original songs, show tunes and standards, and everyone was having a great time. Especially me. My mind's eye had just invented an innovative, new singles event. My brain knew it was a good, marketable idea. My heart leaped with joy.
A month later, massive layoffs at my company provided me with an opportunity to volunteer for a severance package, just enough to support me while I began the exciting task of creating IceBreakers – Musical Meeting Parties for Singles. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
On some levels, I knew there had to be a connection between my prayer and this new life. Though I was still wandering around with the veil of illusion in front of my eyes, I knew I was finally doing what my heart wanted me to do. Then I started noticing "coincidences" (cooperative incidents) that were paving my way with kind, new friends with gentle guidance. And I knew that creating my life a day at a time, and fairly exploding with creative ideas and energy was some kind of sign. I made sure to honor every day with a walk in the woods. "So this is what it feels like to be happy," the little voice said now. I didn't yet know I was a seeker, but I knew I'd been found. I call it my pre-spiritual phase.
And then a friend lent me The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. My neck got sore from shaking my head, "yes, yes" on every page. About halfway through the book, I finally understood that I had spent most of my life denying my spiritual nature. Aha! So that's what was missing! Reconnecting with that inner source changed my view of the world forever. And happily so.
That shift took place fifteen years ago, and nothing has been the same since. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I see the day stretch before me and wonder what miracles lie ahead. Positive affirmations flood my mind instead of the old litany of worries and criticism. I devour inspirational books in an effort to feed my hungry fire. As I go deeper on my inner journey, I watch my face get younger, my body get lighter and my spirit get brighter. Friends, acquaintances and friends of acquaintances seek out my perspective on challenges they face and I find that sharing my point of view takes much of my time and energy. In fact, one of the reasons I created this e-course is to reach as many people as possible at the same time.
Because after discovering the quieting pleasures of meditation and yoga to help keep me in balance, I finally understand what "Be Here Now" means and I work on being mindful every moment I remember to remember. I write inspirational articles and songs to help reach others on their journeys. In fact, I consider myself a "soul gonger," an uplifter, a joymaker, sharing what I'm learning about being alive. My life work is no longer limited to singles but intended for all audiences – anyone on or near their spiritual path. And I truly believe that doing my heart's work is the way God wants me to live my life. There's too much joy in it for it to be the wrong path.
These days, I fill countless hours learning about things I had always ascribed to the "lunatic fringe." Vegetables suddenly leap off the shelves into my shopping cart and I find myself browsing health food stores for new, nourishing grains to try. I drink more herbal tea than coffee and eat more carrots than candy. (OK…maybe not ALL the time. I do still have a sweet tooth. Only now, more things taste sweet.)
When my mind wanders, it's usually connected to some positive thought or moment of awe. I now understand that I'm a part of nature too, and I enjoy my conversations with raccoons and messages from red-tailed hawks, noticing the seasons a day at a time. I'm experiencing my life in a whole new way, open to possibilities and filled with gratitude.
I don't mean to imply I no longer struggle. I'd lived a good many years completely numb to the wonder of it all, and it's only natural that it take me a while to get used to this new way of seeing. I spend a lot of time blinking in the light. But day by day, I have more faith than fear. Little by little, I find my way, trusting my inner guidance. Inch by inch, I grow closer to God.
Eight years ago, my inner guidance led me to Patrick, my soulmate, playmate and co-creator of this wonderful life we’re having! I now know it’s possible to have it all – love, joy, comfort and ease, and understand why “Life is good” t-shirts are so popular. I wear mine often.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder why it took me so long to find the spiritual door, and wish I'd found it years ago. But I understand that I found it when I was ready to and I'm grateful for the welcome. "We're finally home," says the little voice now. And I know I'll never go back to unknowing.
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