How Did You Know?

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~ Anais Nin

I was recently honored to receive an email from an old colleague who had seen my profile on LinkedIn and reached out about my adventures in South America and my book. She asked a question that I’ve been asked before and one that I have been on the asking end of, so I thought I’d answer it here…

The question: “How did you know ‘enough was enough’ to follow this path?” I’m going to draw the conclusion here that “this path” is in reference to my decision to leave the corporate world and to go wander in South America…to make a big change and do something different.

I love hearing stories of people’s adventures. My favorite question might be “What’s your story?” and then to wait eagerly to see what they’ll say and what they’ll highlight. While it’s natural to focus on the outcomes and the “highs” of a journey, I am constantly fascinated by the spark that ignites the chain reaction in someone’s decisions, priorities and path in life…like asking someone how they met their true love. Did you know right away? What did it feel like? How did it happen? Tell me everything!!

When I trace back my own story, the starting point could be in any number of places really. My memory, which is often selective, tells me that the final trigger came most strongly after returning from the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. My close friend and I had gone there for a month to celebrate our 30th birthdays after planning for four years and it was like a sneak preview into what could be.

We came back from South Africa changed. It is not an exaggeration to say that everything felt possible after that. Having that dream for four years had kept us exploring and growing and learning through the challenges and barriers we had both encountered during that time. There was a goal and a dream, and it was undebatable.

There’s a quote from The Alchemist where Pablo Coelho writes, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” and we had directly experienced this. We had tasted what it felt like to be whoever we wanted to be, laughing, dancing, singing, exploring, embracing every present moment and we were rewarded tenfold.

With this came a big responsibility. How would we keep this alive?

When I went back to work in a tiny office that we were not so affectionately calling “The Cave”, I knew that I had to decide to live differently. I didn’t know what career I wanted to move to and so I decided I needed to go figure that out. I started with what I did know…I love to travel and I learn a lot from getting out of my comfort zone.

That is how I knew. And once I knew, I didn’t really have the option to turn back and ignore the feeling. In full disclosure, it took two more years of preparation before making the leap, but I always knew I would and I was working towards it that whole time.

Anyone else out there have stories of big life changes and how you knew when “enough was enough”?


If you like this post and want to talk about this topic together, I am now offering sessions in 30 minute chunks of time to do just that. Think of it as targeted coaching. 

The same goes for other topics addressed in previous blogs. Sessions are $20/30 min and can be scheduled by filling out the form on my website.

Please consider following the blog and checking out the rest of my website. You will find photography, writing focused on travel, transformation and gratitude, as well as updates on my upcoming book.

What I Learned from Leaving

I struggle to leave places. I don’t like it at all. To look at the stars one last time before closing my eyes or to stand at the shore looking out on the water before turning my back on it or to say “I love you” one more time before hanging up…it is torture. Even if I want to go where I am going, it is hard for me to leave and I really feel it intensely. So why ever leave? Especially if you are happy and content and love where you are? I don’t like it, but I have gotten better at it because I have realized some things. I leave because sometimes this is exactly what you need to shake things up and to appreciate where you have been.

It is exactly what you need to draw your attention and your senses to what it is that you love about where you are and to give yourself focused time to love it in the special way that you can only love something that is fleeting…longing as if it has already been taken from you or as if it is something you yearn for and have not yet found, while having an intense presence and focus in order to capture the well of emotion such that you can store its essence deep in the memory of your heart and body forever to recall at will and go back there.

It takes the Truth in the journey of life that everything is always changing, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically, and it makes you conscious of that. Well, it does for me. I am not talking about running away from anything. It is exactly the opposite. I notice what exactly it is that I am sad to leave and it makes me run towards more of that in my life, both while I have it and in new situations.

A lot can happen when you leave. You realize where you came from and you wonder about where you are going. You maybe have fears. You maybe have hopes. You maybe have decisions to make. You have an approach, whether conscious or not, for letting go of what was and embracing what is and opening yourself to what could be. You have the opportunity to take what you learned, what you loved and to apply it in a different context and in doing so, integrate it into your life more fully.

Leaving does not have to be moving cities or countries. It can happen even when you go to travel for a holiday. It can happen when you move from one house to another, one neighborhood to another. It can happen when you leave your bed in the morning. It can happen when you get totally immersed into nature for a day and then cross the threshold back into civilization. It can happen in a relationship with someone you love deeply who is just not the one.

How would you live your life for the next month if you knew you were leaving to a new place at the end of it? Would your senses be on higher alert? What would your priorities be? Who would you want to spend time with and how? Where would you wander? What new things would you do that you’ve been wanting to do and haven’t gotten around to? Where are your favorite places you would go and what would you realize about why you appreciate them? What would you feel grateful for? What would you realize about what you have learned and experienced there?

I just left a magical place, where I have had six months living on a lake in the mountains of Patagonia, surrounded by stunning, pristine nature and warm, fun, authentic people. I feel that I lived more consciously during my time at the lake, as I was so aware that I was only there temporarily and wanted to take advantage of that. I think I am leaving there living my life more in this fashion, understanding more about the nature of a full and consciously lived life. Life too, is temporary.

I am so sad to leave, but it is sadness that is grounded in the deep happiness and gratitude for having been there and knowing that although I am leaving, it is forever a part of me.

Gone Journeying – A Call to Adventure

Are you familiar with The Hero’s Journey? If not by name, you’re likely more familiar with it than you know. King of myths, Joseph Campbell, identified a similar structure in myths throughout countless cultures, eras, and in our own individual lives that shows up with striking frequency. So much so that many a movie, novel, or personal transformation story echoes this mystical pattern. Creative geniuses of the likes of Bob Dylan and George Lucas have been known to acknowledge being guided by this pattern.

So what is it? In short, the “hero” of the story experiences a “call to adventure”…some sort of pull, feeling, or event that tells the hero that their current situation has become too small and it is time to go out wandering to discover something new. This might appear as a feeling that is magnetic, a ‘must do’, without being able to actually see the magnet. In some cases, the call is not recognized or it is dismissed, often leading to a more dramatic and often painful “yank” to adventure. The universe now has the hero’s attention, and the hero commits to crossing the threshold and going on this journey. The hero goes out wandering and often encounters signs and guides along the way, as well as barriers and obstacles to overcome. Typically there is a climax as the hero is faced with the biggest challenge yet, a death of old ways and a birth to a new revelation. Ultimately, through the course of this journey, the hero learns, grows and receives a gift, his personal, unique gift. He is then faced with the task of returning back to his community, crossing back over the threshold as a transformed hero ready to share this gift.

There are many types of travelers that I meet. There are those who have a break from school or their job and are using it to travel. There are those who are moving abroad to work, either with a job lined up or the willingness to find some sort of work that will enable them to live abroad or travel. There are those who are going for months or even years, those accomplishing huge adventure goals, those taking a short vacation to experience a new place. There are those who are taking a break, maybe a sabbatical and have a job or commitment to return to. Here I am wandering Argentina, out exploring and meeting all sorts of these travelers and I feel so different from them. I feel this weight or responsibility. I think travel is a wonderful thing for many reasons, and I respect all types of travel. So what is this feeling? It finally it hit me…

I am not “gone traveling”. I’m gone journeying, a heroine’s journey to be exact. The purpose of my wandering is to pursue the call to adventure that I felt first as the “yank” and then felt more gently once I accepted it. (I touch on this in an article I recently wrote for elephantjournal.com.)

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What am I doing? Well, after fighting it for some time, I gave in to the whisper to go wander foreign lands right  now. I sold my house, car, most of my things, and set out to get in touch with my essence and design my life around it. Not to “find myself”, but to fully “be myself”. I’m not traveling, I’m not jumping into an expat life, I’m not looking for work. I’m on a journey to have my unique gift revealed to me. This journey could happen with or without travel. Ok, well travel is part of it 🙂

So why travel? Well, because you are alone if you are going about it the way I am. Things are different, foreign, there is a threshold to cross and dance with the unknowns. I am trying to look at things in a new way and this facilitates that because newness surrounds. And for me, I love to travel. To create a life around what I love, I started with something I know I love…travel. This is why it made sense for me.

So why alone? Because it is uncomfortable or maybe a gentler way to say it is that you are out of your comfort zone. This is a heroine’s journey. It is a rite of passage, which is very common across cultures and eras as well and is experienced alone and often in nature. Along with travel, nature is such a great teacher and mirrors so much back to you. It teaches me my tools and forces me to come up with new ones as well. It teaches me what I am capable of when I have courage and take action. What frustrates me? What does that tell me about me? What am I afraid of? Why? Is it a familiar feeling? What am I doing about it? How am I processing it? What excites me? What is it about it that lights me up? Who have I attracted doing this journey, and what experiences? What have I learned in the process of preparing to leave and throughout wandering? What do I do when I get to a new place? How do I approach people and situations and how do I want to be approached?

My journey is a conscious one and one grounded in intention. I am getting answers to all of these questions. I am pausing to reflect. I am still discovering my passions, talents, and my unique gift. I’m still out on the journey. There absolutely have been challenges along the way and there continue to be. At times I’ve actually been too obsessed with The Journey and have had to learn to just be again. I need to be guided by what I love and continue to fine tune what I learn when I do that. One component of this is that it’s a “can’t turn back” sort of situation. Once you cross the threshold into this journey, it is almost impossible to turn back. But history also shows with this pattern that if the hero moves forward with conviction and awareness, the hero perseveres. It’s not a coincidence. To me, it is an energetic response to the heroine owning her true nature and letting it out to play only to find it was within her all along.

This looks different for everyone, but the components often resonate. It feels right to share this story because I think we benefit a lot from sharing our personal experiences and connecting with what resonates. And I think the hero’s journey is just so simple and awesome. Have you felt the call to adventure? What do you love? What would it look like to let yourself dedicate time to fully pursuing what you love?

To read more about The Hero’s Journey (or Monolyth), well, just google it! Or you can read the book where Joseph Campbell first references it called The Hero With a Thousand Faces

What Inspires You?

I had the pleasure of having the most intense experience of my life in every way you can imagine and some you probably can’t…deep in the Amazon on a thirty-three day transformation retreat. We learned many traditions and engaged in several ceremonies during this time, guided by a shaman who had experienced intense healing himself from this very selva (jungle).

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One type of ceremony we practiced was a coca ceremony, where the sacred plant is shared over the course of hours in a highly ritualistic setting while the group holds council on a single, chosen topic. It is important to note that these ceremonies were guided by a shaman whose focus is on healing, and were accompanied by elements of candles, song, blessings, and shared intentions.

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The topic for this particular ceremony was to ask ourselves: What inspires me? Where do I fit into the cosmic evolutionary journey? We talked about all sorts of ways to take action, to work with kids, to bring what we were learning in the jungle back to our “real world”, and how each of us individually felt inspired to provide a unique gift.

After some thought, here is what I had to say:

I do not know what my passions and talents are right now. I’m out wandering the world looking to discover just that: my inspiration, my gift to give. What I do know is that every one of us is unique. If we learn to live in a sustainable relationship with our Earth, life could go on and on and on, and there will never again be another “Me”.

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How exciting! The possibilities!! But I also get overwhelmed with the responsibility of this! I mean, wow. I believe we each have a particular place in time and space where our passions, talents, and skills meet in a perfect storm for what the community and the world need from us. Our gift and our service to the world is to be at our best and our happiest, really owning our true nature.

It reminds me of a drum circle, also unique to those who make it up and their ebbs and flows and rhythms in that moment. You don’t just go into the circle thinking, “I’m gonna rock this super sweet beat!” You listen, you feel it. Where is the space that is available to me, the place where my soul is needed? And as more of us realize that space and jump in with conviction, the collective rhythm takes it in and evolves exactly as it should.

I used to be overwhelmed and concerned…if I follow my dreams and passions and everyone else does too, who will want to be the garbage man (for example)?? Over time I have realized that if we were all living to our greatest creative potential, we wouldn’t be living the same stories that we are today. There very well might not be a need for a garbage man because we would have another unique solution entirely.

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I think this is critical. To see the possibilities that we haven’t even thought of yet, when we each take responsibility for following our passions and realizing our gifts, and creating new stories together. There are worse things you could be asked to do, no?

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When I left Denver to wander the world, expose myself to the unknown to get to the core of what is me, in some ways it was like a mini funeral. Sure, saying goodbye to familiarity was akin to a little death. During many goodbyes and ‘see ya laters’ friends opened up to me about why they will miss me. It was a unique and special opportunity for me to hear from the people I care about the most; what do they see in me?

I hold this in my heart as I wander and I hope to give others this gift in return. To tell them now, “Here is how I experience you… Here are the gifts that I get from you…” If we each seek to embody our own true nature, we can grow personally and in turn collectively participate in the evolutionary journey.

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Dancing with Abundance

What a fitting time of year to be writing about abundance as the Northern Hemisphere celebrates the colorful harvest and the Southern Hemisphere bursts with the green of new life all around.

If you look at the word abundance itself, it seems to almost break into the words ‘abound’ and ‘dance’…as in, many opportunities abound! Anything is possible! And it is the interactive, connected, boundless nature of energy and life force in us that enables abundance. It is the dance we do with each other and spirit that brings these opportunities to life. And the great news is that we are all a part of this dance.

So how do we dance and seize the opportunities that abound? Perhaps it starts with recognizing the innate goodness inside each of us that makes anything possible that we choose to believe, that comes from this place of truth. We are all born with this space and ability to be good and to follow our true nature. The more of us acting from this space, the more opportunity for abundance. And because each of us have this space then we can know that there is enough goodness to go around for everyone. It is intangible, which can make it scary, but because of its intangibility it is endless. Our true nature and everything that comes along with it is something to be shared, not given away or taken.

After all, we are all unique and so we will have our own way of tapping into and interacting with this goodness, this essence. From this space we can feel the potential of what is possible and we can be in relationship with it within ourselves and each other. And the more we honor our own nature and encourage others to blossom, the more we share in this dance.

It may be helpful to take a look at the opposite of abundance, scarcity, to draw a more complete picture. The images, emotions and words that arise when I think of scarcity are: negative, emptiness, being without, alone, fear-based, limited, selfish, restrained and just plain dark. I see abundance as positivity, coming from within, connected, possible, confident, aware, present, fulfilling, collective, limitless, accessible and colorful.

Why do we need abundance? What does abundant thinking do for us? It helps us look for the positive in our lives and to see what we do have. It helps us look for opportunities and to believe that they are possible. It encourages us to help each other and participate actively in the collective evolutionary journey. We overcome fears…fear of running out of money or time, fearof unfulfilled dreams. We live in the present…we no longer need to say “ah, someday…” or “I will be happy when…” or “I will do xyz when…” Thinking abundantly shows gratitude and acknowledges Spirit and intentions and the power to manifest that we each have when acting from our true nature.

Some simple examples of switching from scarcity thinking to abundant thinking (These are for exemplary purposes. Any one of these or another example could be a whole blog):

Scarcity thinking: Someone took my idea and they are successful and now I’ll never make it as a ________. I’m jealous.
Abundant thinking: I am unique and have my own angle to share that resonates with others. This person’s success is an example of that. I’m curious and learning.

What actions can we take towards abundance? How do we think and act abundantly?

  • Change scarcity statements into affirmations.
  • When sitting in scarcity or perceived scarcity, acknowledge what you do have and see the abundance. It is available.
  • Meditate, be present. The past has brought us to this moment. The future will be decided based on what we do and feel in the present. Be abundant with your present moment.
  • Help others from a true space (not conditional giving).
  • Set intentions and believe they are possible.
  • Trust.

You Can’t Change Without Changing

You can’t change without changing. Now that seems a bit obvious. I started using this phrase with clients though because I was discovering a phenomenon of sorts. The desire to change was there, or sometimes even just the realization of the necessity to change and yet they were stuck. I started witnessing this with friends in their personal lives as well. But really, let’s be honest. I started noticing this in me.

“Oh that’s not how we do things here.”

“That’s not me.”

“I can’t do that.”

“I don’t know how.”

“I would if I could.”

“It’s not working.”

It is natural to want to start making changes slowly and subtly while still hanging on to the comfort of what we know even if it is the very comfort that we wish to leave. The brain is an efficient organ that survives on recognizing familiar situations and putting the familiar responding circuit into action. Therefore, it actually experiences something new as a threat, or in the very least, something what it is: new! A new response is called for and this is outside of the majority of the tasks that the brain performs. Remember that we also have brain cells in our heart and our gut, which can explain the pangs of knowing that we get when you can “feel it in your gut” or your “heart is telling you to do something.” It really is a full body experience to change. So we need to break these old circuits to create something new, if you want to look at it from a neuroscience perspective.

I also like to look at it from a more emotional and/or spiritual perspective, and that is to say that we have to create the space for change…sometimes literally, sometimes emotionally, sometimes in our minds. At a minimum we need the space in our awareness.

personal example:

Stuckness: I have been dreaming and planning a move abroad, and I am ready, but I have this house and a mortgage. It would be great if the house could be a form of savings for me. It won’t rent for enough money; it won’t sell. This has been going on for months and months. I am stuck.

Letting go: The house represents my ego and my old way of being and is keeping me anchored to my old life. For what I am about to do, it is best for me to let it go and sell it. What do I need to do to get this house sold? Who can help me? It is possible. (and it was)

Now this is a personal example and I’m just giving the minimal details. It took me a lot of work to decide that was the right decision for me. As I sat and cried while writing out the check for the amount of money I lost. I thought, “Am I absolutely crazy? No, I just believe in my dream this much and I am taking the leap.” And imagine how tough it was one year later to hear of friends buying and selling houses within hours. When I tell people I meet here in Argentina, “I sold my house and moved abroad,” they often say something along the lines of “That’s incredible, but I just don’t understand why you sold your house??” I don’t know the Spanish yet for how to say, “Great question! Well, it represented my ego, my old way of living, an old failed relationship and I was ready to let go and create space for new!”

So a few simple thoughts to help trigger the unsticking process:

Play the “what would it look like” game. Let yourself dream and create a vision. When you make the change, what will it look like? What will it feel like? What will you be doing and how will your situation and people around you respond? How will you know when you are there?

Then look at what is standing in your way. What is in your control and what is out of your control? Be honest about this. Great news! You can’t change something out of your control so you can cross those items off of your ‘to do’ or ‘to worry about’ list. Rather, look at any road blocks and barriers you see and focus on how you can navigate them. Sometimes you can break them right down. Sometimes it involves much more work and you might even feel you are getting away from the original point. Go back to your vision exercises. Don’t try to skirt road blocks; they’ll show up again. That’s a promise.

“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know” – Pema.

When taking the leap, acknowledge the role in your life that the state you are leaving has played. Creating space for new can often feel like a mini death of sorts. It is important to acknowledge what was good, what you can take with you and to grieve the loss.

Reach out to others for help.

Be honest with yourself.

Now jump.

I like to use the analogy that I had to use to try skydiving for the first time. Just jump out of the plane and then let the rest happen…let the view zoom by, let the parachute do its job and trust that it will, enjoy the float back to solid ground. You have to let go though. Now I’m not saying we should just run and jump out of a plane the second we realize we want a change. Rather, letting go and fully saying yes to the change is often the last part, the hardest part and what can keep us stuck. So get yourself ready, jump and enjoy the ride.

This can apply to tangible situations like I described for myself (selling a house), but also to growing yourself as a person, relationships and other less tangible transformations.