I am out of my comfort zone. I am living in New York City.
Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself living in any city ever again, let alone the one I was born in nearly fifty years and left just before high school. When I tell people I have recently moved here they usually ask, "Where did you live before this?" "Hawaii", I reply. They look at me, eyes wide open with surprise and disbelief and ask, "Why did you leave Hawaii for New York?"
"I followed my heart."
Following my heart hasn't always been the easiest or the most sensible path I have taken in the past. Any of you who have read my book, Third Time Lucky: A Creative Recovery can testify to that! A fact I was well aware of when I swapped my flip flops for snow boots. Are there days when I wonder to myself, "What the hell am I doing here?! Yes. Are there days when I long to hear breaking waves and rustling palm leaves instead of screeching brakes and car horns? Yes. Are there nights when I look out my apartment window searching for stars and am blinded by street lights instead? Yes. Does my heart ever sink? Often. Do I regret my decision? No.
Why not? Because, after all these years of working on myself and engaging in spiritual practices, I have reached the understanding that every time I leave my comfort zone I enter the discovery zone.
The discovery zone invites us all to see the world with new eyes and dream wilder. It offers us an opportunity to break free of the ideas and expectations that limit our sense of who we are and how we think life is "supposed" to go. It encourages us to ask questions, be playful and stay curious. Ultimately, the discovery zone calls us into a deeper intimacy with life.
Remembering this helps me to stay present, even when I am uncomfortable, and ask questions from a fresh perspective:
What is being asked of me now?
How can I serve?
I carried these questions with me on a trip to Sedona, Arizona a couple of weeks ago where I was facilitating a retreat called, Embracing Your True Nature. I am always amazed and humbled by the important strangers who show up. It is never quite clear to me who is teaching whom.
Shortly after I arrived I went on a solitary hike into the gigantic red rocks that hovered above the retreat sanctuary of Mii amo like guardian angels. My spirit soared with every step. Feelings of sadness also crept up as I recalled how far away I felt from the ancient landscape and limitless blue sky. When I got to the top, tired and sweating, I lay down towards the cliff edge and spent some time meditating and giving myself Reiki. After an hour or so had passed the dreamy sound of flute music drifted in and out of my consciousness. I had no idea where it was coming from. On my way down I met Robert, the flute player. He was gifting each passerby with a heart shaped stone he had carved himself. Robert has gone hiking every day for the past four years, giving away heart rocks and sharing his message of unconditional love with anyone who will listen. I listened.
"We are here to touch and open one heart at a time, wherever we are. It is time to let go of expectations, forgive others, as well as ourselves, and spread a message of love."
By the time I hiked down to the bottom I felt like I was a lot closer to letting go of the illusion that any of us are separate from the grandeur of nature, by the mere detail of geography.
The beauty of every landscape is mirroring back the abundance of love dwelling within my own heart and within the hearts and eyes of every person I meet, irrespective if it is along a winding dirt path or the subway platform of the 6 train. Love is everywhere.
Since I have been back in New York I am discovering aspects of my own nature that only New York can show me. I am grateful for that.
I am also grateful for The Museum of Modern Art, Central Park, the East River, a new and beautiful relationship with my sister, the local twenty-four hour diner that serves the best split green pea soup I have ever tasted, new friends, my peers and the patients at Integrative Medicine at Memorial Sloane Kettering, an opportunity to walk my talk every day and an open invitation to continue discovering new ways of walking and talking and most importantly - new ways of listening and loving.
Oh yes, and last but by no means least, for the man who my heart felt compelled to accompany here. New York, New York has broken my heart open even wider than I could have imagined. So good they named it twice!
When was the last time you ventured out of your comfort zone?
What was your experience?
I would love to hear from you!
P.S. I am off to India this week with Terri Wingham of A Fresh Chapter. We are leading a group of courageous hearts way out of their comfort zones on a volunteering adventure to New Delhi! I am guessing New York will feel comfortable compared to New Delhi....we shall see. More to come.
I have some exciting news to announce when I get back....stay tuned!
Namaste & Love,