(All photos taken by…me!) Inspiration can come from one person saying or doing something from their heart and soul. Just one person can do one thing, and they can inspire many, many other people. This story is not just about my travels, but one of stepping in to my destiny, being connected to the flow of the universe, and opening to trust that wonderful things will happen in the most unexpected of ways if you are willing to do something a little crazy.
I was inspired by a person I met on a recent trip to Iceland. I went for a week and while there ate at a lovely restaurant and met two random British ladies next to me. We struck up a conversation and then headed over to a random karaoke bar next door, where they bought me a drink. While there, I randomly met the founder of Lord Hobo Brewery in Boston. (Notice how many times I used the word random? That’s because I do not believe anything is random.) As I left, he said to me something like, “Go forth and enjoy every moment of your life.” The sincerity of his words made me stop and thank him and also realize that I don’t enjoy every moment of my life. That’s because, I realized, I don’t always do the “crazy” things I want that align with my spirit and my heart.
This conversation became a major catalyst for me. On my last day in Iceland I was heart-broken about leaving. I wanted to stay and talked myself out of it because it was so expensive to change my ticket. My hotel was too expensive to book same day and a huge snowstorm made it impossible to take my luggage to another one. I chose to leave, and in so doing, had a lovely moment with a Spanish man I had met the night before. It was nice to have him at the airport and he held my coat while I went through a random bag security check, and then made fun of me for being randomly checked by security.
I flew home feeling all the way that I should have stayed just two more days. That would have allowed me to fly home with a new friend, Valerie, who I met on the flight over. She saw the lights the night after I left, told me they were amazing and then I felt even worse about my decision to leave.
The nagging feeling that I should have stayed remained with me all the way home. I entered my apartment like it was a foreign world. I reluctantly slept in my bed and woke up feeling I was in the wrong time and the wrong place. And then I saw the forecast for aurora borealis. It was predicted to be VERY high (6 out of 9 for those out there that follow it!) AND also very clear skies. It felt like I was being called back.
Lesson: When you don’t follow your heart, you will feel discombobulated, and you can’t escape that horrible feeling. Sometimes, when you don’t follow your heart in the moment, you end up spending more time and money later to do what you knew you wanted to all along.
I thought about the Lord Hobo Brewery founder’s words to me, and in the spirit of #FuckItDoIt, I booked an overnight trip back to Iceland! Truth be told, it took me several hours and talking to a few friends to make the decision. I had a big battle to fight between my head and my heart. My heart knew exactly what it wanted. My head, however, struggled with the money. My mother thought the idea was insane and I doubted my decision. There is also no guarantee of seeing the lights since the weather changes so quickly in Iceland, so I was seeking an experience with no certainty that it would work out the way it looked in my head. But, then I realized, money is just paper and is as unpredictable as the northern lights. What I have today may, or may not, be what I have tomorrow. I can make more money in future to replace what I spend now. To not depart because of money began to feel insane.
Lesson: Money is meant to be an opportunity, not an obstacle. We’ve become conditioned to base decisions around lack of money instead of trusting in the abundance of it. That trust in abundance makes so much more possible.
So, I booked my flight about 8 hours before it departed. I ran home, moved some items from a big suitcase to a little one, and ran off to the airport. I felt a mix of excitement and like a fool. This decision truly was following my heart. But I usually talk myself out of such rash decisions. What was I doing? (I was expanding.) I thought about canceling my trip and going back home. I began worrying I wouldn’t see the lights and that I was being a spontaneous idiot.
Lesson: We will naturally worry about how things turn out, and we want a plan, and a guarantee to feel safe and validated. But, in fact, some of the best experiences can happen with no plan, and no guarantee. And, when we trust in the process, it feels uncomfortable, because, we’re doing something that is not comfortable!
I was “randomly” selected for a second security scanner, and then I was “randomly” seated in front of a passenger who turned out to have booked his crazy overnight trip to Iceland 2 hours before our flight! So, now I was no longer the only crazy one. This man, apparently, had made this same trip two other times, had not seen the lights, and was trying one last time. He ended up booking the same tour as I had booked to go see them.
I arrived in Iceland, elated. My hotel room wasn’t ready, so I headed for one of the municipal hot tubs and spent my morning feeling like a seal among fellow seals, spread out on various rocks, with the sun on my face, enjoying the hot water in 30 degree (Fahrenheit) weather. But, clouds rolled in later in the day, and the doubt crept in.
“Clouds were not predicted today. What if, after following my heart, I don’t see aurora?” I had to calm myself down, and remember that, after all, I had followed my heart no matter what happened.
Lesson: The path to your destination may have a few obstacles, even though you’re clear on where you’re headed. Figure out how to keep your faith through and around those obstacles, and make your decision right, no matter what happens.
Finally, after a lovely day walking around, it was time to see the northern lights! My tour guide picked me up and off we went. Heart thumping with excitement, we went to a spot outside the city….only to find so many other cars in the same spot, good photos were impossible. So, we moved to another spot. No cars, but there were so many clouds that we could only see a small part of the aurora. I was getting frustrated and disappointed. How could so many clouds be out when the forecast was clear, clear, CLEAR, where was aurora??!! Knowing that what was happening underneath the clouds was really beautiful and I had no visibility of it only made me sadder. Doubts returned. I tried to keep my faith, and remember that I was seeing the lights. They just didn’t look the way I hoped. And, being upset with aurora and the clouds is ridiculous!
Lesson: things might not always turn out as planned. Try to focus on what you are receiving instead of what you’re not.
I tried to remain positive, survive the cold that was claiming the feeling in my toes, and watched the skies. Then I decided to talk to Aurora like the lights were a person. “Hey, Aurora, can you come out? Hey, clouds, could you please move out of the way?” And, a short time later, both things happened! We started seeing a beautiful view over a mountain, and my heart started beating faster, it was so beautiful.
I figured if they were listening, I’d ask, “Hey, Aurora, could you dance for us?!” And, in case the lights were shy, I did my own dance, and invited them to join me. And, you know what happened? They DID! It was like a symphony orchestra of dancing lights all around us. They moved with such speed and grace. I never saw anything like it. If someone were showing the rhythm of the music I was pretending to dance to, this was exactly what it would have looked like! Powerful forces of beauty and color, and drapes and swirls, I think I forgot to breathe. Though it was below freezing I no longer cared or noticed the state of my toes. I had followed my heart, asked for what I wanted and I received it ten times more powerfully than I could have imagined. Even better, I captured images that look like the lights are a face looking back at me with fun and silliness and awe!
Lesson: Remember to ask for what you want. Then, be patient. The payoff may take a little while. And, be willing to dance and act silly to get what you want.
The funny thing about following your heart is, it leads to unexpected opportunities. The tour guide and I struck up a conversation about entrepreneurship in Iceland. It just so happens she is connected to some key people that look for speakers at their entrepreneurial events and connected me. What’s one of my big dreams? To speak all over the world! So, in following my heart and taking a risk for one day, I was unexpectedly led closer to my dream.
When I returned to my hotel, I heard from Valerie – remember the woman I met on my flight over? I would have been on her flight had I just sucked up the money in the first place and stayed an extra two days. She sent me a message that on the way home, her flight had run out of fuel, and something had happened to the plane, and they made an emergency landing in Boston. (Happily, she made it home safe and sound, just many, many hours later.) I am so relieved she is ok, but also in gratitude and recognition that I made the right choice. (Spooky how these things work out.)
Lesson: You make the crazy choices you do at a certain time, in a certain way, for a reason. You may not understand them in the moment, but you will always see, later, why the way you chose was the right way, for you.
Waiting for my bus to the airport, three young girls dressed as different animals came into the hotel lobby and sung and were given candy. I asked why this transpired. I learned that in Iceland, on Ash Wednesday, young children dress up and sing for sweets. I felt like the universe was wishing sweetness for me as I left the country.
You might think this is the end, but it’s only the beginning. I wonder how many other people might now be inspired to do something a little crazy that they’ve been putting off. Will you be one of them? I wonder if this one trip will lead to other speaking opportunities, or connections, and where the friendships I made because of both my trips will lead me next. Because I made this one choice, I already feel like a modified version of myself. I feel more powerful, more confident, and I believe in myself more. That means I’m ready to make the next bold move I want when the time comes. Interestingly, once my mom understood how much this meant to me, she was delighted that I went. In the end, your naysayers want you to be happy, so if you go make choices that make you happy, they are happy, too!
The most powerful part of my experience was the knowledge that all our choices are right, and if we don’t like the result of any single choice, we have the power to choose something else. It’s not about the money you will lose, it’s about the life you will live. As my friend from Lord Hobo Brewery said, “Go forth and love every moment of your life.”