In 2008 my friend died in a motorcycle accident. From that day forward, I decided I needed to love my life always. I was working in sales in the restaurant industry in Chicago, and had recently been promoted to sales manager. I had a boyfriend, a home, a dog and a sister in Milwaukee, none of whom I spent enough time. I made a decision that day to change my life, though I wasn’t sure how to do it. I needed not only a new career, but a new outlook, a new perspective, a new way of living.
I opted to seek this in other cultures. I left the country alone and travelled to South America for six weeks, starting with a yoga retreat on a little island in Brazil. I then traveled around from Brazil to Argentina and into Chile. I came back for the holidays with a strong intent to make this travel life continue. So I rented my house out, moved half my belongings into a storage unit, and leased my car out to a friend. Once my major expenses were minimized, I felt ready to go again.
I left for Southeast Asia and traveled the next six months, covering Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia and came back to SE Asia to attend a yoga teacher training in Bali. After a month immersed in yoga, I found my heart and soul open up to what I had been searching for.
Yoga brought me back to my core ethics and belief system. It was not an exercise, but a philosophy that finally made sense. Now that my heart was opening, it was time to open my mind. This was a challenge because my way of thinking was ingrained in me since childhood. That belief was to find a career where I could make money and climb up the ladder. I’m not really sure what ladder that was as I look back, but I suppose it was a ladder to financial success or even a higher level of prestige and achievement in something or other that mattered to people on the outside. I was now considering the possibility of what could matter to my inside.
I fought back and forth within my brain to allow myself to dream, “What if?” What if anything were possible and I didn’t care about the money? What if I were guaranteed success in anything I tried? What if I just did what made me happy? This was so much harder than it sounds.
My brain fought back, “No, you can’t think that way. You won’t be happy if you don’t make money. You are set up as a salesperson and you are good at it. Are you losing your mind?”
So I would come back again, and explain to my old brain, “No, look this is just an experiment. This doesn’t mean I have to change anything in life, but I just want to think about it.”
Even that made the old brain freak out, “You’re crazy to even consider anything else. It isn’t YOU.”
Somehow, whether it was being in Bali, or all of the yoga was seeping in or who knows what, I accomplished this difficult task. I allowed myself to really dream. It reminded me of being five years old and considering what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always knew I wanted to be a famous singer and a dancer. What happened to that? Oh, right, now I recall. Everyone told me I couldn’t and that dream wasn’t logical or didn’t make sense. It was a silly kids dream and I wouldn’t succeed. So I gave it up.
So, here I was, 33 years old and still searching for what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was an accomplished, financially-stable, #1 salesperson in the “power rankings” of my company. But now what? What’s next? I could go back and climb the corporate ladder, make more money and support myself in a lush lifestyle.
But what lifestyle did I really desire? What if I were to take this yoga training back with me and actually teach yoga? I hadn’t considered that. I was only taking the training to deepen my understanding of yoga. I was drawn to it and not really even sure why besides that I loved the feeling I would get after yoga, even days to follow. Life seemed to go a little better when I had done yoga, for whatever reason.
What if I were to teach yoga and travel? Yes, that would be insanely awesome. Other yogis do it. Why couldn’t I do it? International travel and using my body in motion for work. This sounded way too good to be true. Maybe it goes back to the dancing dream as a child, but using my body in the physical sense brought me so much fulfillment, a feeling of freedom, beauty and emotional openness. In corporate, it was a struggle to fit in a quick run or a yoga class with my busy days.
I wrote out my thoughts and dreams in my journal. If I were to live my absolutely most amazing dream life in five years, what would that look like? In my past nine months traveling, I was already getting experience at this. Every time I wanted to do something completely crazy and outlandish, I told myself, “If it sounds amazing and like a dream come true, then that is what you must do.” So, that became my rule. That is how I ended up traveling all over the world and in this teacher training to begin with.
In my dream life, I wanted to figure out where I would live. But oh, I couldn’t decide. So I wrote about that. I wasn’t ready to narrow it down to one spot. Currently living between Milwaukee and Chicago, neither seemed appropriate in my absolutely amazing awesome dream life. I had loved Argentina and I found it smart to somehow make dollars and spend pesos with the exchange rate, so maybe I would live there? Oh, but I really love it here in Bali. Would I consider actually living here?
I am really close to my family so I wouldn’t want to be so far away, but maybe I could compromise and do part of the time near them and part somewhere else. Yes, perfect. Well, continuing this thought process, I came to the conclusion that one of my favorite, most magical places in this Earth was actually northern Wisconsin, where I had gone since childhood for summer weekends to a family lodge on the lake. I wondered if I could live there and somewhere else. Until I figured out where that “somewhere else” would be, I would travel different seasons varying years between Bali, South America and wherever else in the world called to me. I would do this for about five years or until I found my other “spot.”
So, I would travel the world and teach yoga. Wow, this sounded too good to be true! What about love, relationships, family, children? I decided I would fall in love and have an amazing partner. I would also have a child. How in the world would a child fit into this lifestyle and dream? I decided I didn’t know how, but that is what dreams are made of. Somehow I would have a beautiful little girl to experience the world with.
This was in 2008. It’s now 2017 and I have spent the last nine years traveling the world, teaching yoga, hosting retreats and trainings and continuing my own studies. I have a one and a half year-old beautiful amazing little girl named Leela Rose. Leela is a Sanskrit name with spiritual meaning, “Divine Play” which I equate to be the highest enjoyment of life, and she is.
Take some time to close your eyes, be still and let your mind go to a new place of freedom. Dream. Write it out. Start telling people. Yes, that is insanely scary, but it’s important to say it out loud. If they say you can’t, don’t listen and don’t judge yourself or them. It doesn’t matter if you tell the Starbucks clerk or your most trusted confidant, but you must say it so the Universe can hear you. You will start making your decisions in life accordingly to what supports your higher vision. This is your first step towards making magic happen.