Our best life lessons can sometimes happen in the most unexpected places and ways. Have you ever had that magical “AHA moment” where whatever was happening to you in real-time showed you some timely wisdom that you most needed to experience? I like to call such experiences “Divine Downloads” and oftentimes they have happened to me when I am on vacation, away from routine and interrupting my typical patterns. Since summer is an excellent time to get away and have an adventure, I thought I would share one of my own personal stories in hopes it might inspire you to stay open to one of your own…
I really never imagined that I would get divorced. I am pretty sure that most people who fall in love and go to the lengths necessary to get legally married envision their lives staying partnered and feel as surprised as I did when life has other plans. Being the optimist that I am, I desperately needed to re-frame the situation. I wanted to reclaim the best or lost parts of my true self pre-marriage. Since I was always passionate about traveling but was with someone who didn’t share that wanderlust, I realized it had been a decade of being more still than usual. To be fair, we also were new parents to our young daughters which also made it more challenging…but I wanted to travel more.
So, I made a promise to myself the year of our divorce being final (which was July) – I would take an adventure of some kind every year and start seeing those places I had always wanted to visit. I would also do this with or without a traveling partner…I would embrace my singledom in every aspect. On the top of my list was Glacier National Park in Montana. I started making my plans and negotiating for a week off. I read up about how to scare the bears when hiking alone and made my itinerary to be able to cover both sides of the enormous park.
To understand the context of my life at the time, I was coming out of an intensely combative time of mediation where I felt like my entire soul and life energy was getting a transfusion on a regular basis. The pain and drama were relentless and heavy and I often felt like I was never going to be able to carry the weight of this decision or experience happiness or “normal” again. I was constantly walking on eggshells and exhausting myself with what I should or should not be doing to make anything easier for myself or our daughters. If there is any best way to describe what my patterns of behavior looked like – think of dough that keeps twisting into a different pretzel every day until the next day when I would un-twist and re-twist into whatever shape was necessary next.
On my first day in Montana, I went to the white waters where I was supposed to get in a raft with 6 – 8 other rafters to ride the rapids. Once inside, the guide offered me the option to ride in my own kayak instead – seems the headcount was higher than anticipated and as a single traveler I had first dibs on this somewhat terrifying opportunity. I quieted my stomach rumbles and said yes. As I was getting my quick “How to Not Crash or Die” instructions, the young outdoorsman said something like this…”Your instinct is going to be to avoid the rapids but whatever you do, you need to face it head-on and just paddle like hell.”
Off went the raft and I was supposed to follow closely behind. I honestly do not know where the courage came from but some kind of force bigger than me knew that I needed to have this embodied experience and so I was off…I faced every single rapid straight-on and paddled right into each one of them and managed to stay afloat. And…you get where this is going by now, right? THAT was what I needed to understand to apply to what was happening in my lived experience. I needed to stop trying to avoid all of the difficult choices, people, or situations that were the rapids of divorce and face them square off and dig into my paddling. And so, I did. I had what I needed inside of me, it was just a matter of tapping into it and trusting the next right action in spite of the fear or the noise.
As summer is winding down ahead, what do you feel particularly called to do or see? Is there a Divine Download in your future that just needs the right circumstances to present itself? What commitments do you want to make from and with yourself to celebrate the truest parts of your essence? I would love to hear your stories and discoveries….