Sometimes when you set out on a journey, you are pretty clear where you’re headed and why.
Until you’re not.
On February 21, 2021, I packed my car, loaded my dog Reggie, and started the drive from Santa Fe to Tucson. I’m a traveler as much as I am a homebody and twelve months working from home with my husband was enough. During a normal year, I’d have traveled on my own about once a quarter. I was truly overdue for some alone time and an adventure!
We’ve found this arrangement works for both of us–I get an adventure and some alone-time and Jacob gets a stay-at-home retreat. When I return, we’re both happy to see each other and we’re good for another few months before my restlessness returns. So off I went with Reggie for companionship. We stopped in Truth or Consequences for the night and then headed to Tucson. I was intending a 7-to-10-day vacation/retreat. “Intending,” being the keyword here.
But this thing happened when I crossed the border into Arizona. I felt lighter. Much lighter. I started having waking visions and began receiving messages that suggested the plan was changing. This is not new for me – feeling lighter when I cross the border into Arizona or having visions while walking or driving.
The visions and messages began happening regularly in 2004 after the rollover car accident that opened my intuitive and energy healing gifts. I lived in Tucson at the time and Arizona has always felt like home to me (hence feeling lighter when I come back to the state, I think). When I moved to Albuquerque in 2005, I would walk my dog Zoe in the foothills and the visions and messages would happen throughout the walk. When I got home, I’d journal about what I heard and begin the process of discerning next steps.
So, while not surprised by the experience, I was, and am, often surprised by the guidance I receive. The guidance had a strong emphasis on making progress on my dissertation and I received information about possible futures when it was completed. I recently settled on a new topic (third time’s a charm they say!) and while I had been intending to write the first two chapters, I wasn’t getting much done at home. As I drove down the highway between the Arizona/New Mexico border and Texas Canyon rest stop, I heard very clearly to stay in Tucson until at least March 31 for a writing retreat.
It was brilliant, really. I research and write best when I can immerse myself in the topic, working at my own rhythm and ignoring just about everything else around me. This was hard to do in Santa Fe with my husband, two dogs and two cats always nearby. Staying in Tucson for a month to write felt like the ultimate freedom after a year of being housebound by COVID. Not only could I live simply and on my own (i.e., getting a break from my hubby), but I could feel myself returning to Santa Fe having made some solid progress. Reggie would be there to get me out for long walks twice a day and offer a sense of playfulness when things got stuck.
The thing about journeying is that no matter how carefully we plan, things change on the road, in the water, or on the mountain and we need to course-correct. Sometimes we course-correct quickly and easily like I did, extending my stay at the little casita complex and building in a 4-day trip to Sedona on the nights they were fully booked. But other times we resist, not wanting our journey to change. Holding tightly to “the way I planned it” or “the way it’s supposed to be”.
When we find ourselves in that place of holding tightly to what we think should be, it’s a good indication we’re afraid. We could be afraid of the financial consequences, of what people will think, or of how our life will change if we course correct. But if we don’t follow the guidance we receive, life gets hard. Maybe we get resentful, angry, or weepy. Maybe we injure ourselves and are required to slow down (hello my adrenal fatigue last spring/summer). Maybe we get more and more exhausted no matter how much self-care we’re doing. Maybe we lose our desire to keep doing the work that is/was so meaningful to us. Maybe depression sets in.
Here’s the thing–there are ALWAYS signs that the path we’re on isn’t working and it’s time for a change. The question is, are we willing to see the signs, heed their warning, and willingly course correct? Or do we need a two-by-four upside the head (a job loss, a partner leaving, a car accident, an injury) to make the change?
The older I get, the more I prefer willingness (to see the signs) to forced change (the 2 x 4). It requires me to be more present to my feelings and experiences, but it’s gentler in the long run–gentler on my body, my psyche, and those around me. But the truth is, I miss the signs or refuse to see the signs, that something needs to change just like anyone else.
On this journey of life, whether we see the signs sooner or later, the key, I think, is being willing to course-correct as soon as we realize it’s necessary. Delaying just produces more suffering. And who needs more suffering?
So here I am, writing and posting this from Tucson. I’m here, it seems, for most of the season of Lent. Hmmm. On retreat in the desert for the season of Lent. Interesting. I wonder what THAT’s about??? Getting more and more curious as the journey unfolds.
I wonder, where are you seeing the signs that it’s time to course-correct your own journey (work, relationship, where you’re living, etc.)? Maybe they are small tweaks, maybe big changes. Whatever the case, are you willing to listen to and act on the guidance you receive and take the next indicated steps? I hope so…life is a great journey, and we all need a bit of adventure, no matter how scary it may seem to let go and change something.