Yesterday, I saw a sign and I followed it.
Not like a metaphoric sign, I didn’t hear the voice of god or anything… I literally saw this ‘Chateau’ sign and I followed the direction of the arrow.
About 5 minutes later I was huffing and puffing [by the way months of travelling around Italy and France eating carbs non-stop is NOT the ideal training for hiking!] but I kept on climbing – up steep rocks and a slippery dirt path [with totally the wrong shoes].
All these voices started coming into my head… ‘I really have to pee maybe I should go back and do this tomorrow’ or when I started to break a sweat: ‘Ugh what must my hair look like – frizz city’ and ‘wow my legs feel so heavy and awkward – where’s my rhythm?’
10 minutes later when I was really struggling to take deep breaths because of my pace up the mini-mountian – my pulse racing – my veins throbbing in my neck – I took a moment to pause and look around me. Smell the fragrant trees, listen to the cicadas in the tall grass below, breathe in fresh oxygen… let my heart return to a normal pace! Then out of nowhere, the negative nancy in my mind again: ‘why are you stopping?’ ‘you’re so weak and out of shape, no one else would have to stop here’ ‘why are you so slow – keep going!’ I took notice of these thoughts and then stopped them in their tracks.
I remembered something that one of our inspiring Working with Dog members told me. This superwoman runs marathons, despite never having considered herself a runner! When she’s stuggling, or starts comparing herself to other people she thinks to herself : ‘my race, my pace’
I smiled thinking about her and her beautiful mantra… How with those words, anything is possible. I stopped feeling like a loser for needing a break to breathe and started feeling proud of myself for getting off my ass and climbing a trail of unknown destination or length!
I let go of should, and embraced good.
I mentally patted myself on the back and then I kept on climbing. Ten minutes later I saw a collapsing stone building and then turned a corner to see this:
This incredible structure, I have no idea how old, just presiding over this little hill. I was filled with a little leap of joy in my stomach for persevering up my little hike to find it.
[note: it was only like a 20 min hike– so I first made fun of myself for celebrating my achievement and then gently reminded myself that all achievements, however small, especially the ones that push us outside of our comfort zone and into the unknown, are to be celebrated!]
I will come back to this building in a moment, but I want to give you a bit of context…
This weekend I have been really working through some business planning, content planning, strategy, marketing and life planning too. What am I doing? Where do I want to be? How do I want to be spending my time? How can I make the biggest impact? How can I serve more effectively? How do I know what to say yes to? How do I make sure I don’t mess it all up?
These are questions I know we all face in our businesses in and our lives…
This weekend I’ve found myself re-adopting practices I always seem to neglect when things are going well… like reaching out to some of my favorite sources and mentors for inspiration, writing in my journal, taking long baths and finding solitude just to think. A weekend in this French mountain town means my husband is off cycling for hours, which gives me the space to force myself through these routines that normally I neglect because I’d rather hang out with him, take walks or spending hours indulging in delicious French food and wine!
What I found out this weekend, is that I have seen this door in front of me. I’ve seen it there for years in the distance, through the fog… Somehow just knowing it was there, as an option, has been super comforting, but now it’s really close… There’s just that last bit of climb to get up to it. I can see all the details in the surface, the cracks and the aging patina of the handle. But I am terrified to climb towards it. To open the door. To step through it. I am pretty happy here on this side – I know what this side is like – I have lived comfortably here for ages and it would be so easy to just stay put. But after a weekend of pushing myself through thought, research, asking questions, bouncing ideas and absorbing the stimuli around me – I know I have got to walk through that door. I know I want to, I know I can, and I am confident whatever is waiting on the other side is tremendously worth the last bit of the climb up to that handle.
So, this little hike, actually became quite a real life manifestation of my weekend of playing around in my own thoughts. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when I climbed the last bit of the hill and saw this:
An open doorway. Just waiting. What’s even better [although I didn’t get my phone out quick enough to show you] is that when I looked up for the first time to see this open door… there was a black and white border collie standing in it. Looking right at me.
What are the odds!? A random dog, just waiting in the doorway for an instant and then turning back through – as if to say ‘come on then! This way!’ I didn’t pause, I marched right up to that doorway, I climbed the stone steps and without hesitation, I walked through it.
The other side was a beautiful view of the town, the mountains and the low-hanging fog. It was a stunning, crisp moment. I felt like I was standing in the footprints of history and the future all at once. I felt alive and calm and free.
Yesterday I followed a little sign that said “Chateau” which led me to one big message:
Walk through that door. Let go of the fear, it’s simply wasting the time you could be spending taking in the beautiful view. It doesn’t matter how you get there – it doesn’t matter how fast, or how awkward or how uncoordinated you feel climbing. Doesn’t matter how many pauses you need to take to catch your breath. That door is waiting for you to walk through it and when you do the whole world opens up.