When the universe tries to tell you something, you don't go ignoring it over and over, right?
But, I do. I really, truly do. A lot.
Because sometimes, I don't like what the universe has to say. Or, I am not sure what to do with the universe's message.
Most of the time, that's okay. We are masters of our destinies and all that, right?
What makes me stop, however, is when the universe seems to start telling me something that I know I have buried inside me. A message that I have given myself, but decided that it was easier to ignore or to put the message aside, than to do anything about it.
This morning, something in the universe wanted to hit me hard on the head with a message that has been going on over and over in my mind for a very long time now. The message's vehicle this time was Debbie Millman's book of essays and "typographic poetry", Look Both Ways.
It was a real in-your-face, sit-up-and-finally-take-notice-will-ya moment, especially when I came upon one of the essays in the book, "Fail Safe":
Reading the passage from that screenshot was almost a direct copy from the private journal pages that I have been writing recently.
You see, I have been writing about moments in my life when I made major decisions that could have completely altered the direction of my life. I keep wondering about the "What Ifs" and "If Onlys" even though I don't think I am living my twilight years just yet.
In other words, I have been feeling restless. Not really sure why because, essentially, I am in a really good place.
I mean, sure, house buying and selling is always stressful. And, running a business is never simple. But, all things considered, I've had it relatively easy.
But, as I reflect on how good life is, that's when it struck me: I found a way to make my life good. Easy. Comfortable. Nice.
Not without problems, mind you. Not stress-free or worry-free by any means.
But, there's That Something that I am missing. That certain hunger. That particular drive.
Maybe I am experiencing some kind of a mid-life crisis as I countdown to the big four-oh.
The thing is, when I read that passage from the essay, I realised that while I love what I do now and I'd like to think that I have achieved a certain level of success in my life, I have made my way here through a series of "safe choices".
Some people will probably think I am insane for saying that, as I don't exactly have a straightforward career path and a traditional life.
I have been through start-up life several times over, one of them leading to a multimillion dollar venture capital roller coaster ride, ending in a small chunk of change that helped to pay a good part of our mortgage (which we are now extending!). I sold art. Completed two masters' degrees. Wrote a book and published in magazines. I married a man from another culture that I only knew for less than a year. I moved and lived in different countries. I travelled the world.
Yet, through all these crazy adventures, I have always held back a part of me.
Or maybe, there are just certain dreams from my childhood that just won't quit.
I told myself before that it's okay to let those dreams go. They're not practical. I am not good enough. Not talented enough to make them real.
But, now I am facing the good life that my husband and I have built together, those old dreams have come back. Telling me that perhaps, now is a good time to start really doing something about them.
Not that they were ever really gone completely. In fact, the reason I got to where I am right now is because I did start out following those dreams.
But, being the queen of back-up plans, I ended up following back-up plans of my back-up plans. So now, I have come to a point where I see that while the work I do are all related to my dreams, I am no longer following the original plan.
Because the original plan was too scary to pursue. And, people told me that I couldn't really do any of it. That I am too foolish if I think I can build a safe, secure life around my dreams.
So, I taught myself to pursue less of those dreams. Create parallel hopes. Back-up plans.
They say it is very telling, the things that make us angry or jealous or sad.
As I look at the lives of people in the same line of work as I am, I don't see myself wanting to do more of what they do or what they accomplish. Yet, when I read blogs, books, articles, and watch features on people whose lives reflect more of what I long for, my heart hurts a little. Every time. I am envious of what they do - not necessarily because of their talent or their mastery. I am happy for their success. But, I envy them for their courage to pursue the life that they really wanted. They dreamt big. They hoped high. They got rid of back-up plans. They were all in.
I'm not sure if I know what it's like to be "all in". I don't know if I would ever know.
That's why I ended up in tears when I read these words from Ms Millman's essay:
If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.
Don't waste time. Start now.
Reading these reminded me of last year's word of the year, possibility. Admittedly, it's the year I started feeling the restlessness stirring in me.
Indeed, it was universe ignored. Again.
Now, universe is back with the message. I am gathering up the courage to dream those immense dreams. Again. Yes, right now.
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.