I floated out of the forty year old building on the corner of Walsh Street and Rockville Pike looking up at the sky and smiling. I’d just taught my first live workshop to fifteen engaged, kind, aware and heart-centered writers. A summer breeze held my face gently in its hands as I quickly crossed the street to my car, pulled the door shut and dialed Mom’s phone number.
“Hey Mom! I just finished the workshop,” I got the words out and listened to the reply I already knew was coming, “Oh, how did it go honey?” “Mom, I think I was born for this!” I choked out and then pulled the microphone end of my iPhone toward the roof so she couldn’t hear me start to sob.
“Honey?!” “Are you okay?” she replied while I continued getting myself together enough to actually speak more words. “I’m good,” I cried. And she let me cry for another few seconds before speaking more motherly things, “Oh honey, I know. I’m so happy for you. I’m so proud of you.” Doesn’t matter how old you are — you’re always your Mom’s baby.
I was stoked on my sixteenth birthday when I brought my first car home, having paid for it with my pizza-making money. I felt super proud walking across the stage to receive my diplomas in undergrad and grad school. I was overjoyed to get the “Yes” from my first employer at a big hospital. I was excited and joyful on my wedding day, and when we brought our first dog home, my smile was huge.
When my son was born, I felt awed and humbled by life and the sheer miracle lying on my chest. When my daughter was born the same feelings graced my heart. When I opened my own business the freedom flowing to my soul was amazing. When my kids laughed and told me stories about their day, I sat, so in their moment of joy, I felt like it was my own.
When I received my first check for a published article in Tae Kwon Do Times Magazine, you couldn’t have wiped the grin off my face for nothin. Standing by my son’s side as we earned our black belts together after six years of training? Well…I don’t know who I was more happy for, me or him.
When readers emailed, “You changed my life,” that got really close to pure joy. I felt I was in that game, Hot and Cold, and getting much warmer. Something tingled inside. I knew the work I’d done about purpose, mission and calling was paying off. I was happy more days than not. It was a better feeing than the drug of achievement.
When I asked for my divorce, relief, freedom and happiness spread through me like wildfire. A necessary choice to ready me for what was next. Along with that hardest year of my life came reclaiming my worth — a jump toward happiness I’d never lose again.
But the night I finished teaching those fifteen amazing souls; sitting there sharing my stories of worth, and truth, and healing, and watching as they absorbed my enthusiasm, listened with bright, hopeful eyes, and then with huge amounts of courage, shared their own stories and helped others release their tears…that night was the bomb of happiness for me. I knew in that moment I was born for it; for healing, for teaching, and for inspiring others to live fiercely alive.
The day I knew my purpose, claimed my mission and listened to my calling, without doubting it, or wondering if I deserved it, or being afraid to go after it…that day I knew my whole life had changed for the better. That day was the happiest, most amazing day of my life. I’ve carried that lasting joy with me since, giving myself permission to use the inspiration, positivity, energy and fire of it to light my moments and keep me on point with everything I do.
That joy has stamina no other moment or event has ever had. That joy was real, unexpected, and true. That kind of joy’s got the power to change the world. And the night I accepted it into my heart, and allowed myself to feel it down into my bones, and then let it burst out in tears to my mom on the phone was the moment I felt a bigger thing driving my bus. For once I knew I could surrender and go for the ride.
“I love you Mom,” I said. “I’ll let you know how next week goes.” “Great honey, I can’t wait to hear!” she said, and I let the rest of the tears fall on my way home as I finished letting bliss take me over and have its way with me. So this’s what that feels like, I thought and smiled. I looked, blurry-eyed, up to the sky one last time and whispered, “Thank you.”
Now it’s your turn, amazing, brave reader. Time to go for the joy. Time to put yourself and your dreams up front, at the top of your list, and go after them with a crazy kind of determination, awareness and love. Time to treat yourself and your purpose like the golden nugget they are. Time to change the world with your gifts.
I’m going to offer these five big, brave questions to help you connect with your soul, listen to the language of your intuition and get started on the journey to your joy and purpose.
Begin by quieting down, connecting with your body and breath and clearing your mind. (If it helps to be guided, here’s a 5 1/2 minute body awareness audio to listen to.
When you’re ready, set your timer for five minutes and write as fast as you can until it goes off. Do that for each of these questions. As a bonus challenge, read your answers to someone you love and trust afterward; putting your own voice to the words.
Ready to write? Grab your notebook and pen and ask yourself:
- What if there were nobody left to offend, upset or disappoint? Who would I become?
2. What do I need to give myself permission to think/say/do or believe?
3. Where in my life am I not living in integrity with my own intuition and soul?
4. What do I love to do so much I lose track of time?
5. When am I filled up with so much gratitude it overwhelms me?
Let’s talk about what’s behind these questions now that you’ve had a chance to answer them.
- Caring about what other people think
Thing is, we all come at life from our own perspective and filters depending on how we grew up and what our influences have been. Caring about what other people think limits you to their perspective only. It means you’re following rules other people gave you, rather than living on your own terms and listening to your own intuition.
2. Having permission to be yourself
We grow up listening to parents, teachers and coaches and live by the rules we’re taught. When we grow up and start playing in the big, bad world, we sometimes are still living by those same rules, even though they may not serve us or our dreams anymore. It’s good to use awareness to understand what beliefs are limiting you now. And it might be time to make a change or two!
3. Being in alignment with your intuition
This is a feel thing. How many times do we say, “yes” when we mean, “no?” How many times are you feeling something isn’t right for you, but because you’re following the should’s and supposed to’s, you say yes anyway? Being in alignment means you’re listening to the messages and following what nourishes you, not what depletes you.
4. Following what you love
There’s magic in following the pull of your desire, passion and loves. I use gratitude and love as my go-to’s. When you’re following the things you love and doing them more and more, the energy with which you’re living begins to help you attract more of what you love.
5. Using the energy of gratitude
Similarly, when you choose gratitude in any circumstance, you’re choosing your own thoughts, beliefs and actions, rather than allowing the circumstances of your life to control you and let you spiral down into negativity. With awareness you have the choice to pick something that feels good, something you’re grateful for, in any moment.
These questions, along with many more, some deep inner healing work and the love and support of people like Mom, have catapulted me into my purpose and there’s no going back. The fear will paralyze you at first. When you jump through that wall of fire, get to the other side and look back to realize it was only a millimeter thick, you’ll begin to feel the unstoppable feeling of joy drive everything you do. Cheers to your courage every step of the way!
Laura Di Franco, MPT is the owner of Brave Healer Productions. She’s a published poet and author, inspirational speaker, holistic physical therapist and third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do with over two decades of experience in healing. Praised as “our favorite class” by The Writer’s Center, her brave, intuitive writing and healing workshops are the reason she was born. She helps healers get their badass, authentic voice published in order to heal the world with their words. Her new book, Brave Healing; a Guide for Your Journey is due out June 1st! www.BraveHealer.com is where you can grab a free 30-minute call with her to learn how your story will heal the world.