The waiting stopped the day I said to a woman - I want to change but I am afraid I can't. She heard me. She said "You can Susan. If you want to." That was it. She didn't say anymore.
My heart and soul heard her. They had been waiting a long time to be heard. My soul heard me asking the question. And I can almost hear her sigh, today as I sit here and write this. She breathed a sigh of relief and hope.
That was ten years ago.
I am Irish born, red-haired, so yes I am fiery, not a trait always commended. My deep voice, strong opinions, unwavering desire to learn and share and seemingly grounded approach masks that I am also very sensitive. I am both. For so many years I hid the sensitive side of me behind a tough exterior of striving, trying to meet my own high expectations and achieving.
Ten years ago I didn't even know I was waiting. Waiting for permission. It is a trait some of us are somewhat familiar with. At first I masked the waiting by numbing - with work, alcohol, fun socialising, travelling around the world. You know the story. But a lot of it was, on reflection, a performance. We often have to go through the performance and the painful times before we hit a point that we know it has to change.
Five years ago the desire stirred again, this time I knew I had to listen. She was insistent this time. Maybe its knowing I was hitting my 40's soon. I also believe my soul, my heart and my body were so worn out. All nearly at the point of giving up. And instead they all give it one more loud whisper. It was the one to wake me up.
Of course, that other voice pitched in as usual and said Wait. Now is not a good/safe/financially viable time. Or whatever it said.
Wait was the message. Wait is always the message. We are told so often, to wait. All of us, regardless of gender, here I speak about women specifically. Recognise some of these? I certainly do.
Wait until you meet someone.
Wait until you get a promotion.
Wait until you get a pay rise.
Wait until they propose to you.
Wait until you get engaged.
Wait until you are accepted.
Wait until you buy the house.
Wait until you get married.
Wait until you have children.
Wait until it can definitely make a profit.
Wait until the children go to school.
Wait until the children finish school.
Wait until you pay off the mortgage.
Wait until your partner is happy.
Wait until you lose that weight.
Wait until there is more time.
Wait for retirement.
Wait until you feel better.
Wait until you look better.
Wait until you feel like you belong.
Wait until you feel......Nothing.
Wait until you feel......Nothing.
If you wait long enough, you begin to feel nothing. And that feeling can become normalised. It is safer not to feel the stirrings of desire and excitement because that way you can't get hurt or disappointed. You don't have to feel the terror, the ridicule or maybe its not ridicule, maybe it's envy. Either way you can choose to drown it, laugh at it, hide from it, cry at it and generally ignore it.
But you know what, the desire is always there. She is always there waiting for you.
I hear mine just before my menstrual flow. My soul starts to stir me again. And say "come on Susan, are you going to live with your whole heart?".
So I want to share this with you.
You don't have to wait.
You can give yourself permission.
Because no one is going to give you permission.
Why? Because we have been taught to NOT do it or be it. We have been taught not to listen to ourselves and certainly not to BE ourselves. We have been taught to stay small, don't make a fuss, that we are not that special, that it is safer to choose a life of relative security rather than go after that crazy and beautiful wild dream! Society has conditioned women to follow the trend, that you have to be soft and mild tempered, to please, to be selfless, to put everyone before yourself or else you are selfish or too big, too ambitious or too wild.
And so this is where I found myself in the middle of all of this in 2014. I ignored as much as I could all the voices. I literally removed myself from them. After leaving a career that I enjoyed and was good at, but never once genuinely lifted my soul I set off on a journey to break, or at least stretch the shackles. And lets be honest here, while I went outside my comfort zone I didn't go exactly crazy.
I explored a 12 week mindfulness programme, went to Stanford Business School for my confidence, fell in love with Yoga With Adriene all over again, camped in Uganda, learned to mediate in an ashram in India, sold my beautiful home in London, set up a community to empower myself and other women, did my yoga teacher training, met new friends and allowed some friends to fade, connected to my menstrual cycle which meant I embraced my own body and started listening to her and started studying ayurveda.
And so here I am. So much more alive and grateful than ever. All the experiences led me to here. Sitting here with the greatest gift of all. The gift of listening to myself. Truly hearing what I want and desire.
Family, friendships, fun experiences are all vital to a happy life. But there is one thing that will stop you ever feeling truly fulfilled. You need to be able to hear yourself and listen to your desires. You have to find a way to truly listen to your desires. And it probably isn't running a chateau in France or living on a deserted island (maybe it is!). It starts with living truthfully with yourself. Living with an open and full heart and answering your souls desires.
Going after your desire is scary. It does mean having tough conversations and asking others to respect even if they don't understand your decisions. It is scary. I know! Don't I know it!
You know what though? Not going after them and living a life of waiting is more scary.
And so I am off again to take my next step to living my whole hearted and scary desires. Are you coming?