Did you ever feel like life was getting a little too boring? That it’s the same old thing day in and day out? And you feel like you need a change of scenery for a while, or a major life change?
A few years ago I read No Opportunity Wasted by Phil Keoghan, the host of the Amazing Race. I bought the book because I wanted more out of life. I wanted to do more things, travel, and have more meaningful experiences. And I’m not saying my life was bad, it certainly wasn’t, but my heart wanted more.
This book is a good no-nonsense look at the excuses we put in the way of taking those great trips or chasing those dreams. It also gives you food for thought about what you really want to do. Everyone’s version of that beloved thing on their bucket list is different, but it doesn’t make it more or less meaningful. As they say, the heart wants what the heart wants!
Just a little FYI, I think the author is an adrenaline junkie, as his most treasured experiences are very adventurous and off the beaten path. Don’t let that dissuade you. If you’ve ever dreamed of strolling around Paris just to eat really good bread for a week, and your heart lights up at the thought – it counts!
I’m bringing this all up because it relates to my recent trip to Australia. It all started with a meeting at church (if you can believe it!?) A friend told me she just started listening to a new podcast, the Lively Show, and was really enjoying it.
The following week I looked it up out of curiosity and started listening. Right from the beginning I found the podcast hopeful and uplifting. It also happens to be a bit woo-woo and talks a lot about mind over matter things like meditation, setting intentions, and listening to your intuition.
(I haven’t written about it for a while, but I am all about the intuition! It’s a language our bodies use to speak to us that is very useful. It’s the sixth sense when you realize a person makes you uncomfortable for no obvious reason. It’s the feeling of peace when you walk into a room with people who love you. It’s your body saying “yes” or “no” to something crossing your path.)
Anyhoo, I found that listening to these podcasts put me in a really good mood, and each one had at least one good take-away idea worth exploring. For example, setting intentions for the day = good, but meditating each day = maybe I’ll just take a few deep breathes each morning?
Months go by, I feel happier with these things in mind, and calmer, too, as if my positive vibes are doing their work. Eventually Jess Lively, the host, announces a live event to kick off a new set of classes she and her team put together. My brain says, of course it’s in Sydney (where Jess lives), and immediately takes a pass. I continue listening (I’m driving) to the description of the event… Jess says she is making 111 tickets available (she’s into numerology)…I glance over at the clock and it says 1:11 pm. My eyebrows rise and I keep driving. She starts talking about how you can visit Sydney and then also visit New Zealand since it’s so close. My heart starts racing a little bit, since I went to NZ a few years ago and had the most magical week that I never wanted to leave…
I reach my destination around the time she finishes explaining the event, and my heart skips a beat and feels like it’s going to leap out of my chest. I’m hit with a sense of longing so strong that I burst into hysterical tears because I know I’ll never be able to go. It’s so far, it’s so expensive, and I have kids to take care of…more crying, and then I get myself together and go on with my day.
Later that night, I confess to my husband what happened. He looks at me like maybe I hit my head, but is going to be nice to me anyway. I tell him it makes no sense but I really really want to go on this trip. He says, yes, it’s a little crazy, but let’s talk about it. (Points for him!)
We talk about it on and off over the course of a few weeks. How will I pay for it? What’s needed for the kids? Why do I want to go so bad? We hash it out and re-consider and talk some more. I realize I have some money in savings, and he thinks he can take off to be with the girls. It goes on from there and he finally says, if you feel so strongly about it, you better go.
I tell him I feel like I will be among like-minded people at the event, that I need to escape my day to day for a little while, that I need to explore a bit. He says OK, but that spending a week alone flying internationally doesn’t sound fun to him.
I book the trip and don’t tell anyone but him. I feel sheepish telling people I’m flying to Australia just because. It’s not for work, or school, or a research project. I’m just taking off to go to an event on the other side of the globe because I want to. As the time gets nearer, I need to tell people I’m going, and I really dread the reactions. My parents look puzzled, but say, have fun. That was the worst of it. My co-workers are excited for me, as are my friends! They say things like, way to go, follow your heart, you’re an inspiration. (I can’t tell you how shocked I was to hear these reactions!)
So I get myself on the plane and spend 24+ hours traveling. Luckily I slept most of the long flight across the Pacific, so I feel OK when I land in Sydney. I spend the next four days meeting new friends, exploring Sydney, learning about the interplay of the conscious and subconscious mind, drinking pink lattes and eating lovely healthy Aussie cuisine. I meet a longtime online friend for the first time in person and have a wonderful evening. My last full day I take the bus to Bondi Beach and do the coastal walk. About a mile in I stop to eat in a beach side cafe after observing a rainbow form over the ocean. As I dig into the best avocado toast I’ve ever eaten, it hits me:
I’m eating lunch in a beach side cafe in Australia! I feel a sense of euphoria bubble up as I think over the past few days and how much I’ve enjoyed both being with people and having relaxing time to myself. I think, hey, it’s a miracle I’m sitting here right now!
All of the planning and the worry and the strange sense of longing to follow my heart was worth it. My heart was light in a way that doesn’t happen too often.
I’d like to say that I won a million dollars or made life changing connections while I was there. And, you know, those connections just might be a big deal in the long run, but only time will tell. I will never forget being among other people who thought way-out the way I do sometimes. I’ll never forget hearing other people say they also felt a little embarrassed about flying to Sydney just because it felt right. I’ll never forget how unexpected it was that so many people were rooting for me to go. And, as I look back on this trip and its emotional impact one me, I’ll never regret it one iota.
May YOU, too, follow your heart to its next destination!