When I woke up the first morning here in Topanga Canyon, I was excited, energized and ready to take on this strange new world. However, after a day of absolute bliss, the disorientation set in... I felt like I'd plunked myself down in the middle of a foreign country (which, in a way, I have...) where I didn't know the language (which I kinda don't...). The truth is, though, I know it's the right place to be, regardless (which I do...).
But, jeez… I forgot about the whole "What the hell was I thinking?!?" part of taking huge freakin leaps of faith when I decided to actually listen to that Voice! Friday was a doozy, I tell ya. Self-esteem in the toilet, absolutely heart-wrenching loneliness, totally disoriented when I went "down the hill" to Santa Monica; everything in me wanted to go home… and I don't mean to Topanga Canyon.
Every day since, however, feels a little less strange and a little more real. This weekend was good and each day is brighter, feeling more hopeful, and in my search for connections for my book, Getting That You Matter, and work here in L.A., I'm meeting some really amazing human beings like Duncan, Julie-Ann, Aniko, Alessandra, Philip, E.B. and Marcy. I'm reconnecting with some great friends like David, Erin, Janette, Michelle, Laura, Michael and Maura. And I'm being showered with love, support and gifts, like tickets to events, lunches, tea and lots of hugs. Gotta love hugs! As a matter of fact, I think I'll go out and give some Free Hugs some time in the next few days. Heck, I've got the signs in the trunk of my car! Hmmmmm….
The thing is, I'm writing this book and, truth be told, it's taken me years to get that I mattered for who I am, for what I love to be and do in the world. The truth is, it's a journey that's taken a lifetime and a lot of struggle and effort to bring me to this place and time right here. Through two divorces, four network marketing companies and more personal growth workshops than I can count, among many other things, the thing that's been constant is how much I love people and love to see them connecting with their own inner passion and sharing that with each other.
It's funny, I've always thought of taking leaps of faith as being this sort of "on purpose" kind of thing, but from where I'm floating now, I can see that it wasn't "on purpose" at all. Actually, it felt more like I was standing on the cliff backwards, toes clinging to the ledge (like a diver doing a reverse flip, or whatever they call them), and the Universe, with its ever-so-loving nudge, gently pushed me off. Arms and legs akimbo, screaming "Waaaaaait!!!!" I didn't so much leap as lurch. But then this funny thing started to happen… teeny tiny wings sprouted out of nowhere, expanding quickly, and just as my nose was about to scrape the canyon floor, they took me on a sharp turn upward.
All in all, I have to say, this foreign country is starting to look more familiar – I'm remembering street names and short cuts, and learning to allow way more time than I think I need to get anywhere but just down the road. The language is getting easier to manage – I'm learning that cynicism is just part of the territory down here but when you scratch the surface, everyone still wants to be connected and loved. And, more than anything, this is the right place to be, regardless – there is so much going on here, more than I ever could have imagined….
So here I am pumping away, like some sort of moth in the night, hovering in the flame of passion and purpose that lives inside my heart, trusting that my little monkey mind that says "Who do you think you are?" will quiet down when I tell it to Please Be Quiet, and knowing that It's All Good.
Last night was good but strange. I went to dinner with my host and two of his friends, a lovely couple taking a break from traveling the world to visit friends and family before heading out one more time. They were lovely people and I hope I get to know them better, but I felt very quiet and shy, and all I wanted to do was listen and observe. The introvert in me was in full bloom, and I felt strangely out of place, almost an intruder even though the three of them seemed quite happy to welcome me.
I felt awkward and almost dispassionate when Amy asked me why I'm in Los Angeles. I stammered out a crude explanation about the directive I received last fall to "go to L.A.," my desire to make connections and look for investors for the book project, and the fact that I was also looking for work that will sustain me in the meantime, but it all felt flat. What I really wanted to say was, "I have no freaking idea why I'm here!"
Why am I here anyway? Because a loud, booming voice from the sky told me to come here? Yes! Is it the same loud, booming voice I heard three years ago this month when I was told to write this book that's taking forever to complete? Yes!
So I listen and follow directions like the good girl that I am, and now I'm sitting in someone's (a very kind and generous someone, I might add) back patio, overlooking Topanga Canyon, watching the sun make its way over the crest of the mountain, feeling alone and scared, wondering why in the hell I'm here. "My GOD, what have I done?!?"
I guess the single simplest explanation is I've taken a leap - a giant, free-falling leap of faith. But doing it alone at 47 feels a lot different than doing it at in my 30's with a husband and a plan. It feels way scarier, even than taking a trip around the world with company, way more risky, and way lonelier.
Truth be told, if I were to give my Inner Critic full reign, it would say, "What the hell are you thinking?!? I mean really! You're up to your eyeballs in debt, have no idea how you're going to pay the bills due next week, and you're sitting here writing about it. You should be out there pounding the pavement. You should be looking for work right now. You should get up off your ass and do something! Instead you're sitting on your ass, sipping tea and writing about it." That's what my Inner Critic says.
And yet, when I say ever so kindly, "Thank you for sharing. Now please be quiet," when I take a deep breath and feel the depth of my loneliness as well as the rightness of where I am and the depth of conviction that this is the right place for me to be and I'm doing exactly what I need to do, I remember that listening to that big, booming voice (no, not the Inner Critic) has gotten me this far with great success. I've created a really amazing life for myself. Despite not yet having all the material things or financial freedom I desire, I have a beautiful home in the mountains I can go back to any time I wish, I have more amazing friends than I could have ever imagined, two incredible children who are creating amazing lives for themselves, and so much more. I remember that I've known for a year that I needed to come here, even if it meant feeling completely alone.
So, I take a deep breath and a good look around at the beauty of this scene, listen to the birds arguing, the cars driving by down below, hitch up my britches and exhale... I remember. I am right where I need to be and everything - everything - is okay. Even the rapid beating of my heart. Even the feeling like I'm either about to explode or pack up the car and head home as fast as possible like this was all just a big mistake. Even the feeling that this place is just too big, too cynical and too hard for an open-hearted, thin-skinned country girl like me and I have no idea how to maintain my open heart and greet everyone I meet from that place, like I seem to do so easily at home. Even that
I just have to breathe and be - in this moment, and this one, and this one. That's all I have to do to keep that monster in my head at bay.
After I do that for a bit, what's next? Post this blog, make some calls, get on craigslist and look for some jobs, then get in my car, head out of this protective canyon and into the big, wide valley of possibility. As my son wrote in the very sweet note he left on my passenger seat, "...give 'em hell. LA won't know what hit 'em.