Can you hear it?
Can you hear the call to adventure?
Can you hear the call to claim your seat at the table.
To take up your space.
To make your voice heard.
To be the person you were always meant to be and live the life you were always destined to live?
If you can hear it, that’s wonderful. And we’re going to be talking about what to do next in a moment.
If you can’t, don’t panic! You might simply need to be still for a while, to quieten your mind and to turn down the volume on all the other noise – all the ‘shoulds‘, the overwhelm, the resolutions you’ve already broken and the disappointments you already feel, even though we’re only a week into the New Year.
I confess I’m not feeling particularly adventurous or dynamic myself right now, and that’s a huge disappointment for someone like me who places substantial expectations on herself.
I’d hoped to feel fit, healthy and strong, Amazonian even. I’d hoped to roar into 2021, ready to take on the world. I’d hoped to be full of bounce and drive. I even began working with a personal trainer in December, making a headstart on my intention to strengthen my body as I approach my half-century on this earth.
But instead, I’m hobbling around the house after spraining my ankle on a hike on Christmas Eve and, consequently, feeling a bit flat.
For me, a sore ankle is far more than an inconvenience. For someone who relies on fresh air and exercise to stay mentally afloat and for whom sport has been such a friend, as well as an obsession at times, it’s a real blow, especially during a pandemic when outdoor walks are one of the few sanctioned forms of socialising.
I’m also prone to catastrophising, especially about my health, and I have to be careful not to spiral down. When my body hurts, I struggle to remember what it feels like when it doesn’t or to see any light at the end of the tunnel. The time when my body didn’t hurt actually feels a long way off. My health has taken quite a battering this year – a combination of Covid, ageing and, I imagine, pushing myself always that little bit too far.
The life that didn’t go to plan
Suffice it to say that my life today, January 7, 2021, isn’t how I would like it to be and I wonder if that’s true for you too.
Is your life today different to how you’d hoped it would be?
It’s incredibly annoying, isn’t it? Frustrating. Sad. Depressing at times.
But what can we do? We can either fall into the trap of beating ourselves up for all the ‘mistakes’ we deem we have made …
Why did I hike so far on Christmas Eve when I actually wanted to be lying on the sofa, watching rom-coms? Why didn’t I strengthen my joints last year?
Or for you, it could be …
Why did I waste two years of my life with that guy, two of my precious fertile years? Or why did I focus all my energy on my career and neglect my personal life? Or why didn’t I do my inner work sooner so I could change my relationship patterns?
Oh yes, here’s another one of mine, which is bugging me right now …
Why did I wait until I was nearly 50 – yes 50 – to believe in myself enough to write a novel?
That question is driving me mad right now as I read the stories of other women who realised at 30 or at 40 that they wanted to be a novelist and just went for it, while I continued to focus my energies elsewhere.
So we can wallow in those questions, and believe me, I do a fair bit of that myself. Oh yes, I can spend hours berating and blaming myself for all the things I deem that I’ve done ‘wrong’. I’m so much better than I was – you should have known me 15 years ago – but self-compassion does not come naturally to me. I’m a work in progress in that area.
Acceptance is the answer
Or we can accept where we are today – me with my sore foot and aching body, arriving late, and on crutches, to the novel-writing party; you with your life that hasn’t gone to plan for whatever reason – and love ourselves as we are today.
We can trust that life isn’t a race that we’re somehow losing or a test that we’re failing badly. We can trust, instead, that life is a crazy, challenging, sometimes infuriating adventure, with many humps in the road, but an incredible privilege too, an adventure that we can make our own.
Yes, we write our own script. And we play the leading role.
So can you hear the call to adventure?
Despite my lack of dynamism, my sore foot and my grief about my ailing mum, which is always in the background, and sometimes in the foreground, often hijacking me in the middle of the night when I’m wrestling to sleep, my mind buzzing with information and ideas so that I don’t have to feel the magnitude of the loss I am facing, I do hear the call to adventure.
But hang on a minute, what adventure? I hear you cry. I can’t go anywhere right now.
How can I have an adventure when I’m stuck indoors and it’s cold and dark outside? Surely adventures involve tropical rain forests, mountain tops, beach parties or festivals?
Yes, they can do, but our most important adventure happens on the inside.
It’s the journey back to our authentic selves. It’s the process of uncovering our truth and discovering who we really are, beneath the fears that compel us to stay safe, to stay small, to stay quiet. It’s the action of reconnecting with the joyous, courageous, creative child inside, with the person we were before life rudely landed on us like a tonne of bricks.
It’s where we must go first, before we do anything else. Because that’s where we connect with our deepest feelings and our heart’s desires. That’s where we discover our mission. That’s where we find the map that’s going to dictate our next steps. That’s where we discover our truth.
We need to connect to this truth because otherwise we’ll go off in the wrong direction. We’ll follow a path that others set out for us, a path that pleases other people but not us, or a path that feels comfortable, safe and secure, even if it is intolerably dull.
And we’ll keep following that path until we hit a brick wall, which we’ll bang our heads against a few times before sliding to the floor and sitting at its base, our head in our hands, in despair.
So dear readers, first, step inside. Have a good look around. Because that’s where you’ll find your mission for this year.
Once you have your mission, identify your superpowers.
Yes, you have superpowers. If you don’t know what they are, think about some of the darkest times you’ve endured, some of the difficulties and challenges that have been unique to your life, some of the pain you’ve experienced. That’s where you’ll find your superpowers. That’s where your greatest strengths were developed.
Maybe you are extraordinarily perceptive, able to sense what others are feeling and hear what goes unspoken – a skill you honed growing up around anger or violence or drunkenness or other unpredictable behaviour.
Maye you are deeply empathetic because you experienced grief and loss at a young age.
Maybe you are super resilient, because you have been fending for yourself for so many years.
Maybe you are incredibly creative – a creativity born out of pain – a way to express things you struggle to say in other ways, which manages to touch other people’s hearts.
These, dear reader, are your superpowers.
Identify them. Embrace them. Champion them. Don’t be embarrassed to shout about them, even though doing so makes you cringe, just as I cringe a bit when I write the following …
I see my superpowers in my coaching – in my ability to see and hear and empathise and read between the lines and help to put together the puzzled pieces of someone else’s heart and mind so that they make some form of sense, so that the picture brings relief and shows a way forward.
And I see them in my writing, in how I am able to translate the scars on my heart into words that somehow heal someone else’s wounds.
So know your superpowers and use them to their full potential. They have carried you this far and they will continue to carry you, for miles and miles.
Next, accept your humanity. You have superpowers, yes, but you are human too. I often forget my humanness. I think I should be able to keep going even though my mind and body are telling me to stop. I think I have more than twenty-four hours in a day and that I can achieve more in those hours than anyone else. It’s simply not true.
So accept the fact that you are human, that you sometimes make ‘mistakes’ (or experience opportunities for growth), that you sometimes feel weak and sad and need to lie down in the middle of the afternoon (something I never do, by the way, but would love to!). Forgive yourself. Show yourself compassion. Love yourself, for both your superpowers and your not so super powers.
And because you are human, gather your supporters. Yes, you have come so far on your own, in your own strength, not asking for help, but you don’t have to struggle on anymore. In fact, you can’t, because you’ll hit that brick wall.
So look around you and ask: who’s supporting me? Or who can I ask for support? Coaches, counsellors, therapists, friends, groups – lean on others. Allow them to be there for you, just as you, no doubt, would be there for them.
Armed with your superpowers, with a healthy dose of self-compassion and a team of supporters, identify the obstacles that stand in your way and start to chip away at them.
Yes, I said chip away at them. I could advise you to pick up the boulders that block your path and hurl them to one side with your Herculean might but this wouldn’t be realistic. It would be setting you up to fail.
Remember, you are human. Slow and steady progress is enough, more than enough. Baby steps. Small wins. Gradual improvements. Pick your battles too. It’s impossible to slay all the dragons in one go.
Allow space for miracles
And remember to do something that I always forget – to celebrate your successes. If not, what incentive do you have to succeed again? If your eyes are always fixed on some faraway, elusive prize, you will miss out on the joy of the journey. And that’s what it’s all about.
Along the way, allow space for miracles. When we hold on too tightly to fixed outcomes and exert ourselves in trying to engineer the perfect result, there is no room for the unexpected, there’s no space for surprises or miracles.
Hold it lightly, whatever it is.
So can you hear the call to adventure? Or are you willing to listen out for it?
What internal and external adventures will 2021 hold?
How will you take your seat at the table, how will you be heard, how will you be seen this year?
You are the hero or heroine of your life.
You are the author of the next chapter.
What story will you write this year?
Resources to bring you home to yourself
Reconnect to your true self 7-day course – Use code fromfortywithlove for 50 percent off the course for the next week (discounting it to £19.50)
Laying the Foundations and Date with Courage, Clarify and Confidence self-paced courses to help you to reconnect to yourself, lay your foundations for a healthy relationship and date successfully. Use the code compassion for 10 percent both self-paced courses for the next week.
My next How to Fall in Love – Laying the Foundations small group course starts January 25th, 2021. Seven places remaining.
My Date with Courage, Clarity and Confidence group course will run in early 2021 also so please contact me for details.
Want to discuss if my courses or coaching are for you? Book a free discovery call here.