When I was three years old, my father wrote a six-page letter to his brother about our travels from California to Minnesota where my Dad had received a promotion for his work at the Pillsbury Company. Most of the letter is about the national parks we stopped at (my mom, dad and sister, age one) and the beauty of nature, an imprint that I have carried throughout my life. Many trips to national parks. I love it!
And there is something else. Interwoven in his letter are comments about things I am doing and saying on the trip. My curiosity and enjoyment, at age three, about the people I was meeting and how fascinated I was by things I saw that were different. The cowboy hats, the wooden sidewalks, the cows in the middle of the road. My wander-wonder love is present.
My favorite days are spent wandering. Wandering is a practice like yoga, meditation and writing. It involves wiping the slate clean. Sitting in silence. Listening for an inspiration. Asking the question: What does my soul want to experience today?
Sometimes wandering is a solitary practice, wherein I allow myself to be empty in the anticipation of what will cross my path that day. Meeting people along the way. Observing my surroundings. Taking inspired action. Sometimes wandering includes a dog I am pet sitting or a day with my four-year-old granddaughter. I surrender and follow their lead.
The funny thing about wandering is that sometimes it leads me to explore, sometimes I am inspired to nap or go to a movie or write or even create a newsletter or webpage for my business. Wandering is a surrender that helps me to connect with desire and inspiration. It is a connection to body wisdom. And at the end of the period of wandering, there is clarity about my life.
Last week, I was inspired to go to Restorative Yoga. Tuning in, I felt a rush, a push to leave the house immediately and walk to the bus stop on Main Street. I felt shot out of a canon, only grabbing my purse and saying a quick good-bye to the cats. Walking quickly to the corner, I am at the bus stop, just as the bus was arriving.
After yoga class, I felt inspired to start walking the two miles back to the condo instead of taking the bus. I knew I could change my mind along the bus route. After walking for a ½ mile, I looked down at the sidewalk and saw a wallet. I looked around and wondered if I was on Candid Camera. Was this a joke? No one was around so I picked up the wallet, looked for identification and started walking down the street looking for the owner. A half block later, I saw three men, frantically looking through packages and pockets and looking around on the ground. I said, “Did you lose a wallet?” One man starts nodding his head up and down. I hand it to him. Smile and walk away. I was thinking that maybe that was the inspiration to walk instead of take the bus. I was there at the exact right time to assist this man from a foreign land. A reminder of how connected we all are.
…whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe.~ The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
Wandering helps me remember who I am.
An example of a day of wandering in New York City.
I had a whole day to focus on myself. No appointments or schedules. A day when I could tune in and let my intuition guide me to play, rest, work, have an adventure. Infinite possibilities and choices in this present moment.
I started by connecting with people in the house in Brooklyn where I was staying during my visit to NYC. There were five additional guests for two nights. Ten people in the house. We ate breakfast together and shared some of the details of our lives.
One of the women asked me about my coaching fees. “You’re a writer, right?” She is a screenwriter who was hired to write a script for a film. She is experiencing some writer’s block and wanted to work with a coach to connect to the soul of the film. After a brief conversation, she hired me for three sessions and sent me the script draft. We will focus on story development and the connection to the soul; one of the things I love to do in coaching.
After breakfast, I had the desire to write and read and hang out in coffee shops and bookstores in Brooklyn and the East or West Village in New York. So, I Googled coffee shops and instinctively picked the first destination.
Now, it is late afternoon. I have several desires. The Strand Bookstore. A coffee shop in West Village. Regal Cinema in Union Square. I find myself moving in slow motion. I am not clear on my desire. I go slower so I can listen and feel connected to what I really want, tuning in to the wisdom of my body. I stand in the Regal Cinema lobby looking at the film choices and timing. The films I want to see have all started. The timing feels off. After 10 minutes of standing there in uncertainty and not receiving a clear yes, I decide to move onto the busy, streets of New York.
The Strand Bookstore is in the next block. It is packed. Holiday and weekend shopping. I slowly walk up and down the aisles and move back onto the street. Too crowded. Not the right place for me today.
I walk around the block. Feeling. Thinking. Noticing. Letting myself feel empty and uncertain. I am in unfamiliar territory. It is a new place inside of me. A bubbling well that must be emptied to cultivate the next desire.
The key to discover the next path is to slow down.
I pause on the sidewalk and remember I have been craving pizza for a week. I feel a yes inside of me. I notice the next store is called Pie by the Pound, a restaurant that specializes in gluten free pizza. I pause for a moment and stand there checking within to feel my desire before going inside. Taking my time, I choose four different kinds of pizza, four small rectangular slices. Eating slowly. Enjoying this new experience. Gluten free, flat pizza. I eat until I am full then save the rest for later.
I look at the movie choices at the Regal Cinema again on my iPhone. Brooklyn is the next film showing. I am staying in Brooklyn so my curiosity piques. Film Description: An Irish immigrant in 1950s New York. She moves to America for an opportunity. When something happens at home in Ireland, she returns and must face a choice to stay in her old life in Ireland or return to her new life in America.
I feel a synchronicity. Letting go of the old. Making room for the new.
I purchase my movie ticket. Get settled in my seat and just as I reach to turn off my phone, I see a text from my sister: “Spoke to Dad this afternoon. He is so happy to be home. They had a health care professional visit and Dad is able to get all of the services he needs. He was really excited and happy. The health care person went around the house and made sure it was all safe for him.”
There is a moment when I feel I am not needed and I feel a loss. It is a blip on my emotional screen. I notice it. A moment of feeling: what is my value in the family if I am not there? I take a deep breath. Appreciate that I am connected to my family and that I do not have to be the caretaker. I can live my life and create new experiences. I can schedule time for me and know that everyone else is already cared for!
The film was perfect. I can feel it deeply. I recognize the feelings of letting go of one place to receive the next place. To have the new life, I have to let go of the old.
Text from my daughter: Mom, thanks for the offer to babysit. We are exhausted from the auditions today. Jesse and Lucille sound asleep.
Another blip of loss. I am not needed. And then I feel the freedom to make my own choices, to live my own life.
Now, it is 8 p.m. on a Saturday night and I am in NYC with crazy, drunk Santa’s running around. Literally, throngs of people dressed up in the masculine and feminine versions of Santa with costumes, hats and bells. I walk slowly. I notice how other people are spending their Saturday night. Two drunk people weaving down the street brush up against me. Couples laughing and hugging. Groups of women with full shopping bags. Families huddled together, holding hands. A motor home with Hanukkah songs playing music on speakers intermingled with Christmas music. There is a mobile police station and people inside with ice packs on their heads.
This is a new beginning for me. What do I want to do right now?
I see a store: THINK Coffee and decide to get a latte. Be silent. Reflect on my life before children. Reflect on my life before marriage. Reflect on the new desires that are emerging.
I dive into reading the yummy script of my new client.
I notice I am happy.
Me. NYC. Latte. Reading and writing in a little nook in THINK Coffee. Doing exactly what I want to be doing and being, right now. Fulfilled.
After a few hours, I walk the 1.3 miles to the M Train, choosing to walk instead of riding another train and transferring. The weather is gorgeous. NYC feels so good. I feel so good.
I arrive back in Brooklyn around midnight. Ten minutes later the house is filled with people arriving back from a weekend class and dinner.
I briefly check in with people before heading downstairs to my bedroom. Climbing into bed with a smile on my face.
The end of a New Day.