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How the Head and the Heart Found Their Way

How could I work as a personal coach and know that I had a dream alive only inside my head? How could I encourage clients to bring their heartfelt wishes to reality and be unwilling to do the same? That tension, coupled with the change in seasons, made one thing clear: it was time to trust and go.

The adventure came incrementally. First, I envied other people’s trips. That envy turned into fantasy. The fantasy became images torn from calendars and catalogues, and scribbles made on scraps of paper. Those became web searches which transformed into an inbox full of camping reservations.

In mid-April I packed hiking gear, a cooler full of fresh food, and all means of navigation. I admitted in my last blog post to being afraid but willing. The solo drive from Vermont to New Mexico was under way.

Let That Sink In

Always, there is a smattering of hand-written notes on my table upstairs. Reminders scrawled on ripped-edge paper range from philosophical (Death is certain. The timing is uncertain) to practical (rotate tires). And for years, a picture of White Sands National Park torn from a calendar claimed space among lists of books to read or plants that might do well in the garden.

That table works magic. A remarkable number of ideas on those notes have come to pass.

The calendar page came to mind as my toes dug into the gypsum sand and I gazed across miles of white dunes. Ripples on the ground looked just like the picture I’d shuffled from one side of the table to the other for years. I reveled in the sun, wind, and this realization: I did it. I am really here!

Pro Tip

Intention is powerful. Remind yourself often what you wish for. Use vision boards, sticky notes, a journal, visualization, or telling others what you want. You’ll find your way.

Some Assembly Required

This trip wasn’t just a drive. There were days of trekking through gorgeous gorges, marveling in multi-colored canyons, and scuffing my boots in scree. Finding these experiences took hours of research and calculation.

By the same token, I had no idea stopping at a red light would allow me to spot a sculpture park in which to stretch my legs in Ponca City, Oklahoma. And it was a hand-painted sign, not way-finding, that led me to the best tortilla I’ve ever eaten. I couldn’t have planned that my nephew would be thrilled to have—1,500 miles later—a folding chair given to me by another camper.

Pro Tip

Planning is work. Getting what you want isn’t always easy. Chunking that big dream into smaller parts and creating a timeline are parts of bringing it to life. At the same time …

(Bonus Tip)

Serendipity will always find her way to you. Investigate that attraction that caught your eye. Veer into the parking lot where you see the words “Good Mexican Food” on a hand-painted sign. Accept the gifts presented.

What About Snakes? And Storms?

There are poisonous snakes in the desert and tornadoes on the plains. For me, snakes are no reason to alter the day’s plan. Tornado predictions are. These decisions were based on reliable information. Some examples:

  • Snakes want to slither away from you. Let them. Diamondbacks can become aggressive when provoked. (These tidbits from a sign at a trailhead in New Mexico. In both ideas, the last two words are key.)
  • What to do if you are caught outside in a tornado: If there is no shelter nearby, go to a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine and lie flat. Protect your head and neck with an object or with your arms. (This advice, which is lifted from a news site based in the Midwest, described a situation I did not want to get into.)

Pro Tip

Exploring obstacles allows for options and forward motion. Are you likely to come across a snake in your path? Are you willing to be still as it slithers away? When is it wise to change your route? And do you know how to protect yourself when there is no way out of the storm?

You’ve Got This

Thoughts on day three were more useful than those on day one. That was the day comfort came. I know how to drive, I know how to camp, I know how to find a hotel online. I know how to do this.

Leaving home by myself was scary, and considering the length of the trip from either end daunting. But the events of each day—the hikes, the conversations, the scenes—weren’t frightening at all. They were balm for a tired nervous system. Expansive landscapes soothed my soul.

Pro Tip

Recognize the resources you have. Let them take you to the places you want to go. Trust yourself; you’ve made it this far.

Susan McDowell is a life coach based in Central Vermont. She would love to support you in bringing your own heartfelt wishes (whatever they are) to reality.

Read more of Susan’s blog here.

4 thoughts on “How the Head and the Heart Found Their Way”

  1. Trust yourself. I love the idea that obstacles are like a snake that we need to let slither away. Gives me perspective. Thanks Susan!

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