Leaping Into the Unknown

cliff_jump

“Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

I’ve told this story many times, but I decided today to tell if more completely. It’s a story of following your intuition and listening to messages. The story doesn’t have an end as of right now, but, no one’s does until it’s too late for them to write it.

When I worked for corporate America, I took a great deal of pride in having worked my way up the ladder. I am the only one in my generation in family who does not have a college education so there was a lot of ego involved in succeeding despite this perceived lack. I stayed in jobs I didn’t like for years after I became dissatisfied purely to prove that I could “handle” the pressure.

Four years ago I started pursuing my more spiritual side. In that search, I found out a lot about myself and worked hard on moving towards who I really am. I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind or to behave outside the social norms, but I still wanted social approval. Letting go of my desire to succeed by the current social standards was not easy nor was it a decision that was made in haste.

Part of my process was to ask for the universe, God, my higher power, to tell me what I needed to know. The second request I made every night was for my dreams to guide me. As I got closer and closer to being ready to move away from where I was, the more dreams I was having. I had a dream that I was climbing a multi-story ladder and being urged to grab a trapeze handle and jump. I had a dream that I was on a very high cliff and that I was being urged to jump because I would be supported. I took these dreams as signs that I needed to take a literal leap of faith and jump away from my “safe” job. Two weeks after I had left that job I had a dream that I had jumped, grabbed the trapeze handle and not only did I fly, I also felt total support.

I spent the first two months meditating, reading and making lists. I knew I didn’t want another “conventional” job and that I needed to do something I loved. If I could just figure out what made me happy, the rest would sort itself out. My journal is filled with lists of things I love. Eventually a theme comprised of two items emerged: I love teaching yoga and I love words and how people put them together. This blog, and my YouTube channel, Jasmine Petals Yoga, are both a direct result of that exercise.

The yoga is something I’ve been doing for many years. I love the energy flow when you’re able to help people re-discover how to use their bodies. After studying philosophy and Buddhism for the last four years, I appreciate even more the great gift I receive when I am able to instruct people in how to relax and let go of their stress even if it’s just for the duration of a class. I have learned so much from my students this past year and I know I am a better teacher for taking the time to really focus on their needs.

I am able to write almost every day and on the days when my working/teaching/living schedule doesn’t allow time for me to write, I feel out of kilter. I don’t feel completely centered or balanced until I can once again sit in front of my keyboard and write down my thoughts and feelings.

From the first, I knew my original idea of combining yoga and starting a blog wasn’t necessarily going to be the final word in how I wanted to spend my life. I knew that by pursuing those passions, I was stirring up energy that would help guide me through the next phases of my life.

Last October, I was emailing with one of my oldest friends; a woman I’ve known since Kindergarten. We went through grade school and junior high being the class “artists.” Our paths after that went in different directions, but a few years ago we got back in touch. One of the constant threads in our conversations is our art. Why we weren’t painting, what gets in the way and what we would do if we went back to our easels.

On this day we were emailing about painting and I asked what she would go back to exploring if she ever made the decision to do so. Her immediate response was “oil painting.” I replied to her email, closed the conversation and went into my inbox. Sitting there, having arrived while we were emailing back and forth, was an invitation from a local gallery to come take oil painting classes.

My initial response was “I can’t afford that, I’m only working part-time and the yoga and writing isn’t bringing in enough cash flow to support paying for painting lessons.” That night I couldn’t get the email off my mind. Sometime between falling asleep and waking up I realized that I could not be getting a clearer message that it was time for me to paint again. So, with a deep breath and some trepidation, I signed up for the class.

I cannot believe that in my late fifties, I have fallen back in love with painting. I love playing with color and shapes and I am often filled with wonder at what the paint does under my hands. I now have a body of work I am generally happy with, and have an exhibit currently at Unity Temple on the Plaza with my instructor, mentor, and friend, Michael Molick. I have another exhibit scheduled for next week and am looking forward to the energy that will flow from those events.

I am eternally grateful for how supportive my family and friends have been. I hoped they would be, but it’s amazing to me how they celebrate my small victories and encourage me through the moments when I wonder if I did the right thing. I always felt like I had to live my life on the path society dictated or I would be criticized or be seen as “less than.” I realize now that I was using those critical voices to reflect back my own insecurities and fears.

My journal entry for April first of last year started with: “I hope SOMETHING I do resonates with someone.” That sentiment is still my hope and dream. I don’t know where this path is leading me. I don’t know how I’ll make a living doing these things I love. I only know these are the things that I am being led to do and that I wake up every morning grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. Thanks for reading, and please, don’t be afraid to leap into the unknown, no matter what that looks like for you.

What are your thoughts?