I remember in my early 30’s picking up my very first self-help book. I was a mother of two children under the age of five. I was working full-time. I was exhausted and I was beginning to wonder what had happened to me. I had done all of the things I had been told to do, get a degree, get married and have children. All to end up living a life that didn’t include any of the dreams that I had had growing up. I didn’t have a mother around to turn to. My mother was an only child so there was no doting aunt that would listen to all of my questions.
I remember, I had to go to a training for work, the training was in San Francisco for four days, the idea of this made my slumbering inner gypsy wake up and scream for joy! A plane, a change of scenery, new experiences; that was all it took, and my gypsy was plotting all she wanted to see and do. After the practical mother and wife part of me assembled the army of people and task coverage that it would take to cover all of the things that I did in a four-day period. I was off.
It was during this trip that I found myself wandering the aisle of a bookstore in the city. In that aisle, I found a fully stocked self-improvement section. I have always been a reader since I was small. As someone who felt so lost in her life, I was standing looking at what I wanted to believe to be the promise land, all of the answers that I needed to find were surely there in those pages. I know I purchased a stack of books that day, although now I couldn’t tell you which ones they were. I am positive that they were read and eventually donated and replaced by the next set of books reflecting the answers that the latest new group of writers had found in their lives, the representations of which are now on those same bookstore shelves.
I have spent a lifetime reading these books, trying out some of their ideas but always feeling that the answers that I sought were not yet found. I still felt called to find my purpose, the reason that I am here in this life on this planet at this time. What is it exactly that I should be doing? Why did my soul decide to come here?
Almost two years ago, I went to Costa Rica and did 4 days of Ayahuasca. I was seeking answers, I wanted to have certainty in my purpose. I just knew if I were certain I would pour myself into it, heart and soul, I would be filled with passion for it. During that trip, I received direction and some answers that resonated in my gut, but they were not easy answers that I could just flip a switch and begin to implement. I have been finding my way with those answers ever since determined to find what they mean to me and how they will express in my life. In these last two years I have experienced and made profound changes. I have ended a marriage, walked through profound grief, begun dabbling in a second career and have been on a journey back to me all while evolving in my purpose.
A few weeks ago, I was meeting with my shaman sister & spiritual coach Diane Hageman and she said, “What if your purpose was just to be happy?” I remember my ego (my small self) immediately jumping in with “that can’t be it, that is too easy, doing something great in the world takes effort and hard work!” But there was another voice, a deeper voice, the one that I have been cultivating a relationship with through my writing, the voice of my higher self, that voice was saying “there is truth in those words, just sit with them, try them on for size!”
So, over these past couple of weeks, I am beginning to try those words on and so far, it feels like I have lifted pounds off my back. I have lifted off the years of searching, imposing expectations, feeling like I was in fact somehow broken because I couldn’t find an answer that I was certain in.
But now I was simply waking up each day and paying attention to the things that make me happy and making more room for those things and less room for the things that don’t. Now, I am not saying I am living in some kind of Pollyanna kind of way or putting my head in the ground. If you know me, you know that I am about as practical and grounded as they come. I am simply looking at my life and asking the questions, how can I expand my happiness? Sometimes this question even has to be asked about something I may not enjoy doing but for those things I am finding that if I look at it there is still something in those things that I can find happiness in if I look and if I allow it.
For instance, today I spent the morning chatting on zoom with a friend who lives on the other side of the country, actually she has become more of a sister to me. When we were done, I was looking at a list of things that I wanted to get done but I was also looking at the face of a Great Dane that needed to go outside. In that moment, I just checked in with myself what would bring me joy, a quick trip outside and then diving into the list I had or a longer walk with my dog Blue, enjoying our day, heading down to the harbor. Now that question could have gone either way but in that moment, I knew that the walk would bring me more joy and that joy would propel me into the rest of my day whatever choices I was to make after that.
Today, my purpose is to just be happy!