It was 9:15 at night in Colorado. I arrived on a plane that afternoon and had just ended an evening with friends that formerly lived only on my Facebook page. I did not feel like an introvert that evening. I felt energized by our conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed talking over dinner which consisted of things like river noodles, an occasional too-hot red pepper, a glass of wine and fortune cookies, with a group of four other women who were artists at heart. I wasn’t ready to let the evening end.
As three of the four women left the house, I turned to my hostess and thanked her for letting me stay with her. She warmly welcomed me and told me to feel free to go to my bedroom whenever I wanted to. I felt conflicted. I should stay up and talk. I should glean all the time with her I can. I should...But I was tired, and the morning would come early. Thinking of the morning made my heart beat fast in my chest. I had to speak. Oh dear, I had to speak. I should practice my talk, again.
“I think I will go to my bedroom,” I said, shocked that I was making a good decision despite my desire to push through and squeeze even more into an already full day.
As I prepared for bed, I stared at myself in the mirror. "Who am I becoming?” “What am I doing here?” “What a wild ride I'm on,” I thought, while the toothpaste foam grew in size and overtook my mouth. I spit and thought about what a silly thing spitting is. I remembered the message from my fortune cookie, “Someone looks up to you. Don’t let them down.” What if they could see me spit? That would surely let them down. I’m just human. I spit my toothpaste out just like everyone else.
I returned to my bedroom and as my body hit the bed I realized my fatigue. I pulled myself aside for a little team meeting. “You have two choices Mandy. You can push through hard tonight and practice your talk one more time, or you can get a good night’s sleep and get up early in the morning.
“You better practice so you don’t screw up,” I told myself. “People are counting on you.”
“I have practiced. I have prepared. I have done my part.” I counter-offered myself.
I turned off the light, put my head on my pillow and was instantly asleep.
At 4:55 AM I woke up wide awake. I felt rested. I felt refreshed. As I settled into the beginning of a yoga workout, the thought occurred to me that the world was still turning while I slept. The thought occurred to me that the whole reason I was here in Colorado at all was because I had done my part to follow my dreams one teeny, tiny step at a time (by writing on my blog) and that had led me to these relationships and this speaking opportunity. The size of my part in the whole thing was a series of small decisions, to write and to write one more time and to write one more time after that because that is what I was passionate about - expressing myself. It was a choice to write, everyday. To keep up a blog even when it seemed silly and pointless and like the only one reading was my mom and mother-in-law. Small steps added up to something big (for me), but the whole while I was still sleeping, every single night. I wasn't working around the clock to manhandle my path. And I hadn't sought these women out. They had found me by me honoring my dream to write. What a wonder.
I left Colorado to return to Oklahoma with a strange sense of peace that the achiever in me is not used to. I realized I didn't knowingly construct this opportunity, which meant there was the possibility of others like it in my future. I am not required to kill myself to keep from letting others down. I don’t have to lose sleep, sacrifice my health or conjure up some magic bullet solution to instant success. I just have to do daily what my heart is calling me into next and then get some rest. It’s in the rest that the magic starts bubbling. It's filling up the pot, turning the dial to high and walking away to wait for the pot to boil, knowing I've done my part.
I like waking up surprised by the changes and new opportunities that come with a new day.
Things to Consider:
- Write down three “coincidences” where things have gone your way, taking you in the direction of your dreams quite by “accident.” Be on the lookout for more of these occurrences. Write them down. Celebrate! These are what I like to call Secret Messages.
- Writer, Anne Lamott, likes to write down things that feel out of her control and put them in a box. With this action of putting them in a box she is giving the frustrations and apparent roadblocks over to Someone Bigger. When you feel overwhelmed, before you go to bed at night, write down a list of those things and either put them in a box or burn them or simply rip them up and throw them away. Allow that sometimes you have done all you can do. With this action you are trusting what needs to happen will happen. Someway. Somehow. Let it go. It's not yours to hold anymore.