I have always liked to know what’s going on, what’s coming next, and am not a fan of surprises (unless its like the raging surprise party that happened in Norway on my 30th birthday, feel free to keep that kind of love coming). I think part of it comes from my Mom getting diagnosed with MS when I was 6 and becoming aware at a young age that life changing bombs could drop at any time and trying to get ahead of them.
So with that I’ve always liked to look around the corner and in some ways run my own chess match with the universe in my head trying to essentially outsmart it, and not give up any control, trying to maneuver and figure out what comes next. I’ve always done this with a weird sideshow running on the side of feeling like the Days of our Lives (shout out to any American soap opera fellow lovers from the 90’s that get the reference) egg timer having sand running through it and needing to figure the right move out before time ran out.
Oh and in case you were wondering what anxiety looks like, staring at that egg timer with sand rushing through it, is where it is at.
I’ve had a couple of interludes in my life that I’ve dropped control of things and gone with my hunch or my gut and had amazing things happen. Which you think would lead me to just totally give up control but for some reason old habits die hard and the “let go muscle” is a muscle that I’m continually trying to locate and work on.
I’ll tell a couple of stories on some epic dances flexing the “let go muscle” with the universe, one that happened over a decade ago, and one that happened fairly recently.
The first magical dance happened around 2006. I was playing women’s soccer and running girlsCAN my little business, and had about a total net worth at the time of about $5000. I was hanging out with my friend Nat who was going to naturopathic medical school and she was telling me about her classmate who was a single mom. This woman would show up to class in the mornings, huge dark circles under her eyes and as Nat and her friends started to get to know her, they found out that she was a single mom that had left a domestic abuse situation and this woman was working over night to support her kids while trying to go to school in the morning. I had tears in my eyes listening to the story.
Suddenly a voice in my head said, “Ciara give this woman $1000”. While another voice said “First voice are you fucking crazy, that’s about 20% of your net worth, plus you don’t even know this woman.” And the first voice again, louder, stronger, said “Ciara give this woman $1000”.
More because I thought it was such an outrageous notion and I like a good outrageous action, I thought to myself, I’m gonna do it, just to see how it feels. And so I told Nat, what do you think if I gave the woman in your class $1000. And Nat said, you’re crazy, but that would be amazing.
So in by far the best way I have ever spent $1000, I wrote this woman a note, told her I was touched by her story and I just wanted to give her some encouragement, and folded in the check for $1000.
I received back the kindest note from the woman telling me that she was about to quit school and was looking for a sign to continue and she couldn’t believe that a stranger would give her $1000 and it was the sign she needed to keep on going. We established a friendship for a short time after while I was still at home and the whole situation was just the coolest.
I’d like to say that it propelled me to start really leaning in and trusting the universe and doing crazy awesome stuff to help people out, but it was an anomaly.
That being said, a year later, what I later realized was, exactly to the day, I was in a bad state financially, and trying to figure out what I was going to do, when my Mum called me and said a family member had sent me a note, and had I received it. After a while we realized that the note was at my parents house and I went over to collect it, wondering why my family member had sent it and what it would say.
I opened the note, and in shock realized that my family member had sent me a check, exactly a year after I had given away $1000 – and this check was for $2000 with a note saying he was so impressed with my courage in running my own business and following my dreams and he just wanted to send me some encouragement. Crazy right? I still shake my head at it, knowing with certainty now that it wasn’t just a random occurrence. No one has ever done that before or since in my life, and as I’ve wandered through this crazy journey called life, I realize that there is a massive metaphysical undercurrent for all of us and every action that we choose to take.
I’ve had a couple of other crazy things that I’ve learned when it comes to the universe also in terms of situations in dealing with other people.
When I lived in Norway, I had a pretty awful situation that a friend betrayed me in a fairly epic way and it caused me a lot of grief for months. At one point, on my spin bike in Oslo, listening to my instructor scream instructions in Norwegian, having deep anger and upset towards this person in my mind, I again had the quiet voice say to me, “Ciara you need to forgive her. The only person you are hurting by not forgiving her is yourself.” And with that, I made the decision to let it go, and messaged this friend and told her that I wanted her to know that I wasn’t mad at her anymore and that I had forgiven her. When she thought that now it was time to be best friends again, I had to gently tell her that no I didn’t want to hang out and it was going to be a different friendship than it had been before, but I truly forgave her, and in my own mind I let it go.
Literally days later, now fully feeling moved on and cleared of all the upset or negative feeling that included wanting her to experience a semblance of the feelings she made me feel, you could say that poetic justice happened in a manner that I couldn’t have written an ending to if I had tried. But instead of caring or feeling invested, I just observed it from a place of ambivalence, almost as if the universe said to me, you don’t need to carry this burden, let it go and I’ll take care of it all in a better way than what you could have ever come up with yourself now that you truly don’t care and have let it go.
But again the letting go, an anomaly instead of what my normal has been since.
So you’re saying, well Ciara, you’ve learned these lessons, you should just trust the universe, look how well everything goes. But guys, in one of those weird paradoxes of life, you can have the game plan in front of you, but old habits die hard. And emotions and feelings and reactions are truly a muscle that needs to be exercised to gain any traction and forward movement.
But fuck is it a beautiful journey, and I’ve been inspired as I see other friends of mine, following their hearts and opening their minds and doing what I’m trying to do every day, which is to tell the universe my heart from a quiet peaceful, fearless place, and then fall back into the universe, eyes closed like one of those team bonding exercise and trust that the universe will catch me, like my own giant trust exercise with the world and let things manifest and unfold and believe it can all happen perfectly and as it is meant to.
So here’s just a few things I’ve been reminded of in this period of my life to truly let the universe move through you and guide you to some epic places of peace and fulfillment, which I think at the end of it is really all any of us are asking for in this life, and where true success lies.
1) Figuring Out What You Want
This is something I’ve truly struggled with. I should add, “figuring out what you want when you’ve got the noise of the world and all of its fucked up messages around you.” I think again as an ADHD person, that’s a control freak, the hardest part sometimes is sitting still and just asking for guidance and really getting a sense of what it is you want to do and how you can make an impact that gives you your highest purpose. It can be being a Mom, it can be being a leading business person, it can be in an amazing relationship, it can be just making one person happy every day, or a combination of many things, but the most important thing is that it is authentic to you and what you truly want and not influenced by fear or what other people think. There is no wrong or right answer to this, but I think the goal is to get to the deepest part of your heart to extract the answer and that really requires sitting still and thinking about it, hard to do when the control freak just wants to get to work solving all the problems and not thinking so much.
2) Set the Intention and Then Let the Universe Make the Path
So I had another insane thing happen to me about a month ago. I had met a friend from high school randomly in a coffee shop, and after an epic chat, he had told me that I should get this book called “Five Minute Journal”…that he had found it life changing, and he did have a really super positive, genuine vibe about him that day that we chatted that made me really take heed of what he recommended.
So I bought the book.
2 days in, after an unexpected hit to my finances that included a $2000 car bill, waking up not knowing how I was going to get through that week financially, I wrote in my journal under the heading, “something that would make today great,” an “unexpected amount of money.” I said it because it truly would have made the day great, and threw it out there, but didn’t really have any fathomable idea how it would happen.
Long story short, that afternoon I went down to my PO Box and found a bunch of mail there that I hadn’t checked since I had left overseas a few months before. In it was a letter from the State of Connecticut, and my first thought was oh crap, what bill is this for. I opened the check and couldn’t believe my eyes. A refund check from 2014 for $1764 US. I cried in shock and gratitude all the way to the bank to cash it. It was amazing.
On the love and relationships front, I’ve just had one of my best friends get engaged to her dream guy at almost 40 and another friend that struggled for so long in relationships do some major work on herself, set the intention of exactly what she was looking for in a man and a relationship and had her work manifest a guy who sounds epic beyond words. I could just see this insane glow off of her when I saw her last week in a way that just warmed my heart and gave me my own affirmation in my journey that the universe works on its own timeline and is stronger than going on every dating app in the world. She said that both of them set the intention of what they were looking for and found each other within a month.
That kind of thing makes me so stoked and realize that the timelines, the worry, all the stuff that forces us into inauthentic paths, or forcing people or situations that aren’t right for us, doesn’t need to be a choice that any of us need to make. And how brave it is to shut out all the noise and just trust that as new agey as it sounds that with a heart full of intention and total trust in the universe that the most amazing things can manifest. It’s a show that we shouldn’t deny ourselves the pleasure of experiencing.
I have been trying to get into the practice of setting an intention and letting the universe run with it and manifest it and I continue to be amazed that stuff continues to unfold in the most insanely awesome ways. It’s so much more fun and rewarding than trying to pull the puppet strings of my own life.
3. Embracing being 5-0 down and the magic that it brings
As I’ve been so immersed in soccer, I often find myself going to soccer metaphors to explain things in life to myself.
So I used to have a ton of anxiety when I played, for many years, utterly crippling anxiety.
I’m not sure why.
But that being said the odd time I was in a game and we were getting blown out, I fucking loved it. Why? Because there was nothing to fear, no outcome to worry about. I could just play, and enjoy it, and if I tried something and messed up, no big deal. I think the key to life is learning to play like you’re 5-0 down, and realize that really we’re all in this life for a time, and then we’re gone. Win, lose or draw none of it really matters and there’s really nothing to lose by stepping back and letting things flow, and trying things that we feel led to do. We’re not taking anyone or anything with us. And if we do, bonus, but for me anyways, thinking like that allows me to frame life in a way that allows being present and gratitude and appreciation in each moment without worrying about all the stuff we’ll never have control over. A much more enjoyable way to do this life.
4. Our ducks will never be in a row. Embrace it.
I was talking to a good friend this week. She’s distracting herself by throwing herself hard into her work and every time I talk to her the last year she tells me that she’s going to quit, but that she acknowledges how scary the thought of not being on the corporate wheel will be on many fronts.
When I told her I was worried for her and for her health and well being in this insanely stressful job, she told me that she was just trying to get her ducks in a row.
But right away I told my friend, and something I realized in the moment of talking to her…our ducks will never be in a row. They may look like are in a row, we’ve got the great job, the great relationship, the great family, the great house, but in any given moment everything can be thrown completely upside down. This would make the control freak (hello), absolutely lose their shit. But this is what life has taught me in the turbulence of the last few years.
Like being on a boat on calm clear waters, we may be lulled into a sense of security thinking things are ok. But the power is in acknowledging that at any moment a storm could roll in and turn everything upside down, but the peace, the nugget, the calming drug for the anxiety driven control freak, is that no matter what happens, whether the ducks or in a row, or if they are not, we will always be ok.
The little voice inside of all of us, if we calm the noise and listen carefully enough, is always there to remind us of all of that.