“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” ~Alan Watts
My obsession at an early age became to follow my heart—a life’s search for meaning, adventure, and enlightenment.
This search has been remarkable, a journey that has brought me to fascinating places for extended stays (Japan, the UK, Australia, you name the place) and has led me to relationships with some of the most interesting, loving people from around the globe.
As exhilarating the feeling of following your heart can be, it’s not always the yellow brick road we envision. The journey can be ambiguous, and it can toss us around like in an airplane cabin during times of heavy turbulence.
In the midst of my latest adventure of working for a small marketing agency in Sydney, Australia, I received word from my general manager that my position would be eliminated.
This forfeited my visa rights to stay in the country. Instead of being overcome by the drama-loving ego, I felt a strong sense of inner peace, as if a path to an important journey lay ahead.
Sometimes spiritual journeys are not the fuzzy-feely ones we see all too often in modern pop culture, Eat, Pray, Love being one of them. Spiritual journeys can be physically challenging, emotionally daunting, and can require deep inner strength.
I received word that my best friend passed away shortly after arriving back in the States from Australia. Kari Bowerman had been pursing her passion for travel and passed away while vacationing in Vietnam. Her young travel companion (Cathy Huynh) passed away two days later.
We live in an ever-changing world, and we need to fine-tune our souls to release inner resistance and fully open to the journey—good, bad, or horrific. Here are five things I’ve learned that help in embracing extreme change:
1. Open your heart to divine guidance.
I craved a coffee immediately following the meeting with my general manager about my non-existent work visa. I had been on my latest health kick and had been caffeine-free for 65 days at the time.
I simply could not fight the compulsive urge at that moment and made a firm decision to make the 20-minute walk to my favorite quaint coffee shop in Sydney.
The exact minute I set foot in the coffee shop I was overcome with an extremely positive feeling. A song I hadn’t heard in years came over the airwaves by a famous one-hit wonder of his time. The lyrics were so comforting, and in that moment I knew everything was as it should be.
I believe that there’s no such thing as coincidence or being in the right place at the right time. If I hadn’t craved the coffee, I wouldn’t have made the 20 minute walk, wouldn’t have heard the song, and wouldn’t have continued to been pointed in the right direction for this journey.
Embrace situations that give you an overly positive gut feeling. That feeling can only be the right thing for you to do, coming from a higher sense of self.
2. Accept the journey that lies ahead.
I made a conscious decision to move home to the states shortly after reflecting on the much-needed song lyrics. Instead of getting granular with the agency’s decision to release my position, I fully accepted the decision and quickly started making travel arrangements home.
One of my first phone calls about the news was to Kari. She was overjoyed and insisted on me visiting her at the children’s prep school where she had been teaching in Seoul, South Korea. The call quickly inspired me to purchase the ticket to visit.
If I would have resented the agency’s decision and allowed conflicting thoughts to deny the inevitable, I likely would never have gotten that final goodbye in Korea. I would have spent the last two months of Kari’s life in Australia wondering “what if” and would have never gotten my final laughs and love from my spaghetti-haired friend.
Sometimes instead of fighting upstream, allow the natural flow of things to take you where it is you’re supposed to go.
3. Let love set you free.
Receiving the phone call from Kari’s family was the hardest moment in my life. A flash of heartfelt memories and dread immediately followed by the four words “Kari has passed away.”
The weeks that followed were a matter of figuring out logistics of Kari being sent home from Vietnam, asking myself endless questions which led up to this unforeseeable end, and rekindling bonds with Kari’s friends and family.
There were countless calls between Kari’s family and me. The support and memories exchanged during this time was invaluable, and I have nothing but complete gratitude for the love expressed during that difficult time. They helped set me free.
4. Be at peace with the past.
The entire experience from Australia to Kari’s passing left some seriously gaping holes in my soul. I have found peace in making the past my friend. Filling the holes with love—embracing only the positive memories of my adventures through Australia and with my partner in crime.
There will be times during extreme change when you will want to make the past your enemy. Don’t! Simply let it be what it is—the past. Life is nothing more than a series of experiences and journeys, and yours is right now—this present moment.
5. Embrace life for what it is in the moment—good, bad, or horrific.
We can all take important lessons away from the life of Kari Bowerman. Whether it was her way of bringing her positivity with her wherever she went or her innate ability to get everything she ate all over her face, hair, or vibrant t-shirts. Life isn’t always neat; it’s messy, but it’s all we have.
Embrace every moment and truly give the divine gift of love wherever your journeys may take you.
“We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other—to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. If we share with caring, light-heartedness and love we will create abundance and joy for each other and then this moment will have been worthwhile.” ~Deepak Chopra
Photo by Alicepopkorn