I feel very blessed to have been raised by spiritual parents. My mom was a yoga instructor in the 70s. She used to teach class in our family room basement. Sometimes I would sit at the top of the stairs and listen while she taught. A meditation would always follow, and I could feel a presence in the stillness.
There have been several times in my life when I felt an inner guide. Over the years my beliefs have expanded from my Catholic upbringing. I began to see and embrace the similarities in all religious and spiritual practices. When going beyond literal interpretations, there are certain truths that resonate from thousands of years of human searching, yearning and studying – individual quests and wisdom all coming together and passed on.
That inner guide has spoken loudly to me at critical junctures. I felt pulled. It felt like an insistent tap on my shoulder. A thought would pop into my head out of nowhere or I’d hear a song in my head. The knowing seemed to push away all doubts. I felt a certainty, and it gave me courage. The inner guide seemed to say “Do this, and all will work out.”
These moments proved to be the critical turning points in my life. They shaped my journey in deep and profound ways:
After a very tough time in Junior High, I was a counselor at 4-H camp where I met a group of girls who were unlike any I’d met. I found out they went to the local Catholic high school and when I left camp that summer, I told my parents I no longer wanted to go to public school. I knew nothing about this school, yet the minute I became aware of it, I had a knowing this was the next and right step. This led to my expansion as a musician and director and I found my tribe of like-minded people.
When I was feeling overwhelmed about choosing a college, the priest at my church told me about Syracuse University. If I wanted to study theater or television or music, this would be a good place to go. When he said it, something in me jolted. I heard the word “YES” ringing in my ears.
In my sophomore year at Syracuse, I kept noticing a man who I assumed was a coach, as he seemed older and was hanging out with athletes. I remember hearing a thought in my head, “This is the man you will marry.” Yet, I didn’t have the courage to approach him.
A few months later, in order to reduce the cost of attending Syracuse, I applied to be a Resident Advisor. The dorm director who interviewed me was the very same man I thought was the coach.
We’ve been married 29 years.
After graduation, I felt a strong pull to move to New York City. I had only been there once to visit my high school boyfriend who was attending Fordham. Everyone around me thought I’d be back home in 2 weeks. But something kept pressing me, and in blind faith, I took the leap.
I had no job, I had $500 to my name, and moved 2 weeks after graduation. Just as money was about to run out, I found a job working on a live comedy tv show as a music coordinator, one of the best and hardest jobs I’ve ever had.
We have all had these moments. When we follow that voice inside, things tend to work out. That inner voice feels and sounds different than the usual self-talk. There is an absence of anxiety and fear. There is a pull that tells us this is a sure thing. This voice has many names: Spirit, Ing, Intuition, Gut Feeling, God.
There have been periods when I have ignored or buried this voice. It happens when I get caught up with work, or family, or experience a very difficult period or a “bad” thing happens. I’m in survival mode. My guide gets drowned out by fear, anxiety and anger. It also happens when I get too attached to an outcome.
During these periods of stress and anxiety, my physical being gets sacrificed. I gain weight, I drink too much or eat too much or sleep too little. Unsupportive people seem to be in abundance during these periods. I feel judged, and I judge. I feel separate. Like attracts like. I stop believing that my thoughts become reality. I feel like a victim of my own life experience. Why is __________(fill in the blank) happening? I start imagining that everyone else has it all together. That I’m the only dumbass who can’t seem to figure it out. It feels like I’m being thrown around in a hurricane with no place to land, all the while presenting an “everything is fine” face to the outside world.
Finding The Voice
Coming back to consciousness takes practice. I don’t believe there is a living soul who has it all together consistently. But the difference between a life filled with joy and peace versus a life filled with stress and heartache is learning to come back to center more quickly over time. Like anything, it takes practice. We begin by taking steps we know have worked in the past. Often these can be small steps. We shift back to a place where we are able to listen to our inner guide, and this requires quieting the mind. Lately, meditation has been my go to. Even if I simply breathe for a few minutes or listen to mediative music for a brief period, I am practicing shifting out of fear and into love. My goal isn’t that I will never have fear again, but that I will be able to shift out of fear, anger and judgment more quickly. I fill my toolbox with steps I know have worked for me. If I’m eating too much, I have a plan for that. If I’m drowning in fear or stress, I have a plan for that.
Author Gabby Bernstein talks about “gathering twigs” as a way to tune into our inner guide by gathering evidence or signs. Every time you notice a sign that things are moving in the right direction, take notice by making a list. You can ask the Universe for signs as well.
I began thinking about the times when I got the signal that things were going to be OK, or that I was being guided. Often we pass these off as coincidence. A huge “gathering twigs” moment for me was the day we were closing on the sale of our old home and closing on our new home the following day:
I was sitting in a local coffee shop when we got the news that the buyer of our home was asking for yet another thing as part of the sale at the dead last minute. This was part of a long string of asks. I freaked out. I broke down. I felt taken advantage of , chipped away at, and the stress just hit me like a cannonball. We HAD to close within the next hour or risk losing our closing time on the new home. Everything I owned was in a moving van. As I was frantically dealing with this last request, the son of my very best friend from high school, walked through the door of the coffee shop. He was 350 miles from home, and just happened to see us walking into the coffee shop as he was driving by.
He had no idea this was the new town we were moving to. He was in town on business. It was such an extraordinary coincidence, I thought perhaps my best friend had sent him to be our angel. The answer was no. This was a total “coincidence.”
I’m not a statistician, but I have to believe the odds of this happening, of us intersecting at that exact place in that exact moment, are pretty slim. And it was because it was so ridiculously perfect, I knew immediately, this was a sign the Universe had my back.
Whether or not you believe in a power greater than you, or God, or Angels or loved ones watching over you from heaven, we can all believe in love. I believe the force that creates is love. What you call it or how you access it is less important. I believe we are guided toward the highest good. The degree to which we hear it, or heed the call, impacts our experience and shapes our reality.
I believe at every moment we are exactly where we need to be.
We are presented with lessons and opportunities to move and grow. If we continually ignore them or get caught up in trying to control or play the victim, the Universe is patient. We will be presented with the same lesson or opportunity until we recognize it and make the shift. I don’t see it as punishment, and I don’t believe that “bad” things happening is some sort of horrible game being played at our expense. No matter what happens, we have a choice as to how we respond. We can respond with “Why Me?” or recognize it as a spiritual wake up call.
When I hear stories about how someone is able to forgive their child’s murderer, or an amputee runs a marathon, I am reminded there is a choice as to how we respond.
When we connect with that inner voice, it becomes the ultimate GPS for our lives. Take a moment to begin gathering twigs. Take a few minutes each day to quiet the mind. We simply need to tune in, and allow that voice to take the wheel.