There’s a nature reserve outside of town where I love to hike, and on the way, I drive past an old farm. It doesn’t look like anyone lives in the ramshackle house anymore, but there are often cows grazing in the pasture. From the road, I can see the pasture sloping down and giving way to shady woods, and there’s the briefest glimpse of a creek winding off into the trees.
I’ve totally fallen in love with this farm, and one day, on my way out to hike, I heard the voice of one of my Guides: “Send them a card.” Them being the owners of the farm.
Now, I am a card-making fiend, and the more glitter the better. On rainy days, you’re apt to find me dominating the dining room table armed with Mod Podge, markers, and enough glitter to coat a continent, and I love to surprise family and friends with my sparkly creations.
I have not, however, sent a glitter card to a complete stranger and certainly not as a way of indicating my interest in buying a farm from them.
When I heard my Guide speak, my initial response was, “Ooooooh, that sounds fun!” (Which, by the way, is always a good sign.)
This was quickly followed up by, “That’s too silly. You don’t just send goofy cards out to people you don’t know if you want them to take you seriously enough to sell them your farm.”
This latter type of inner talk is always a red flag for me, because it purports to be an inviolable rule given away by the words, “you don’t…” as if there are actual universal rules regarding the sending of glitter cards and the buying of farms. Pretty sure those don’t exist, despite what my ego-mind thinks.
Post-hike, I meditated and asked for further guidance, and I was reminded of something that I too often forget:
How we get to our destination defines our destination.
Let me unpack that statement.
My “destination” is buying land so that, one day, my husband and I can build a magical house. When I think about this destination or goal, I feel very specific feelings, what author Danielle LaPorte would call Core Desired Feelings. In a nutshell, LaPorte teaches that if you identify your Core Desired Feelings, aka how you most want to feel, you can then find ways to cultivate those feelings on a regular basis, and from there create “goals with soul.”
Contrast this to the typical approach to goal setting, which can result in feeling empty and asking ourselves “is this it?” even after we reach a goal, because we weren’t conscious about lining up how we want to feel with the goal we’ve been chasing. In the latter situation, we may find that getting the job or buying the house or finding the partner isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
When I meditate on our dream house, I feel three things every single time: I feel free, I feel intimately connected to nature, and I feel immersed in beauty. It’s interesting how many of my life decisions are based on these three feelings; they’re clearly important to my soul.
But back to our statement: How we get to our destination defines our destination.
Earlier in our land search, I was taking a very different approach than glitter cards. Buying land was “serious business,” and somewhere in the process of reading books, searching land-for-sale websites until I’d worked myself into an anxious mess, and picking fights with my husband if I felt he wasn’t as committed to this goal as I was, I managed to squeeze every ounce of fun from this dream.
I was feeling anything but free, connected to nature, and immersed in beauty.
If I approach every step of the way from a place of stress, anxiety, and conflict, how can freedom, connection to nature, and immersion in beauty emerge?
If I am planting the seeds of our dream in poor soil, I cannot expect the eventual plant to be radically different.
If, instead, I remember how I want to feel when our dream is a reality–free, connected to nature, immersed in beauty–our dream will be imbued, right from the start, with those qualities. And bonus: I don’t have to wait until we have a house to feel that way; I can feel it right here, right now.
And wouldn’t you know, making a glitter card totally captured those feelings for me. I felt free, not constrained by made-up rules; I felt connected to nature (see my little bee below); and I felt immersed in glittery beauty.
The inside of the cards reads “Your farm is the bee’s knees.”
Whether this card results in us buying this farm or not is besides the point. The power lies in my internal shift from seeing this process as an obstacle to how I want to feel to seeing it as an opportunity to feel that way right now.
One more example: A friend of mine is in constant money-making and -saving mode. She’s terrified of not having enough money when she retires, and her method for achieving that goal is to work as hard as she possibly can now. Not surprisingly, she is very, very stressed out most of the time.
In the past ten years, I have watched her change jobs three times, each time due to her current job reaching the boiling point of stress. She starts each new job with the belief that the stress resided in her past job, not within, and that it will go away once the past job goes away. Each time, though, the process starts anew and the current job becomes increasingly more and more stressful.
Here’s the thing: I know my friend well, and I know that what she wants to feel is supported. She grew up in a home environment that was the polar opposite, and she has spent all of her life trying to capture that missing feeling of being supported.
So, too, I learned from a young age that “adulting” and being responsible meant constricting yourself into a teeny-tiny box of perfection and acceptability. In order to be an adult, it doesn’t matter how I feel or what I crave on a soul level; it only matters that I’m adhering to the status quo and “behaving.” Thus, whenever I got into situations that felt weighty and “adult-y,” I put on my too-tight status quo pants and cut off my flow of natural creativity, communication skills, and inner power. No wonder things got weird!
My friend was using the model she learned as a child–not being supported–to try to achieve a feeling of support. Said another way, she was trying to feel taken care of by not taking care of herself, i.e. by overworking herself to the point that she was completely stressed out and manifesting physical health issues.
How we get to our destination defines our destination.
My friend believed that if only she worked a little harder, pushed a little more, put in another year, or two, or ten…then she’d feel taken care of.
But you can’t feel taken care of by not taking care of yourself.
I can’t feel free by cramming myself into the status quo box.
You can’t get to a place where you love your body by hating it through punishing diets and exercise.
You can’t get there from here.
If you start with how you want to feel now–not later, not after you lose the weight or buy the house or land the job–those feelings will guide you to situations and people that are right for your soul, and you get to feel the way you want to feel, right here, right now.
You get there by bringing there to you.
Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of that faith is to see what we believe.
– Saint Augustine