The theme for my summer seems to be something about losing and then finding things. First my daughter wandered off at a lake, and then I temporarily lose my car in Washington, D.C. A distracted parent? Absent-minded in general? Maybe a little of both. Here's what happened in D.C. a few weeks ago that uncovered some powerful lessons (because in tough times a lesson is lurking in there somewhere).
On a trip to visit my brother in Virginia, I took my four-year-old son to the Museum of Natural History in D.C. After looking for on-street parking, I finally pulled into a parking garage. We quickly left for the museum, and the garage and started walking, using the map on my phone. Then it dawned on me. I had not checked the name of the street where we had parked. I noted in my phone where I thought we’d parked, and decided to figure it out later.
After leaving the museum, we walk back to the car and to what I believed was our garage. Not it. We go into to another nearby. Nope. We’d been walking all day and Arran’s legs are tired. Mommy, are we going to find our car? Of course we are, buddy. I silently ask for guidance. I decide to find a taxi to continue our search. We go to about five more garages. In each, Arran and I hurry in, and I ask the attendant if it’s the right garage. Several times, we think we have found it. Then, I start to get angry: I asked you, powers from above, for assistance - where are you?? I call the rental car agency to see if they can track the car. No, they can’t. I text my brother. He can come pick us up. But we cannot leave until I find the car. And my phone battery is dying. Great.
An hour has gone by since that first garage. I feel like panicking. What if I can’t ever find it? How can I keep it together for my son? We go into another garage. Instantly I know. Arran, I think this is really it! We run and see our car. We found it, Mommy!! We high-five, drive outside and find our cab driver. I laugh with him and part ways.
Back in our car, I silently re-hash the ordeal. What the heck just happened? What am I meant to learn from this? Here are five little lessons I uncovered:
1. Pay attention to your present surroundings. In my rush, I did not note where we were until it was too late. My sense of urgency clouded my ability to observe. Many of us careen through our lives, especially in times of stress. When we notice the present moment (we train our brain to do this in meditation), we become more focused and aligned, raising our energetic vibration and aligning with our inner goodness.
2. Pause, breathe and trust your first instinct. Or just pause and breathe. If I had stopped to reflect, I would have realized that I knew where I was parked all along. We often listen to to our ego voice (or what I call the “mean crowd” - our negative internal voices), instead of the quiet whisper of our true wisdom. Count to five while focusing on your breath in a stressful situation. Ask your higher self to show you the way (sometimes literally!).
3. Fake it when necessary. At one point I almost lost it, but knowing my son was watching forced me to stay (mostly) composed. “Keep it together. It will work out,” I told myself. Sometimes it's important to express and release emotions, but this was not one of those times. When you feel like freaking out (in a situation where you really know it would be best not to), tell yourself to do the opposite (like flipping a switch in your brain). As if a coach were inside your head pushing you along. Create a mantra that works for you. Write it down and say it regularly. Even if you don’t really believe it, your brain doesn’t know the difference and will start to believe it’s real.
4. Don’t rely on technology to solve human problems. Using the map on my phone disoriented me. Never again will I look to technology for essential guidance in times of crisis. When we rely on smartphones for answers to life’s challenges, we become disconnected with other humans. Reach out to someone in person. Your soul will thank you for it.
5. Expect and prepare for hard times – and ask for help! Major life events promising a reward often involve disappointments and false starts. Support from others, whether supernatural or earthly, along the way is essential. Would I have found the car without the parking garage attendants or the taxi driver? Maybe, but maybe not. Trials like these are milestones along life’s journey, and we shouldn’t try to conquer them alone.
I'm not sure if I'd call myself a hero in this situation, but let's go with this analogy. Like the hero in a journey as described by Joseph Campbell, my quest that afternoon for a lost car thrust me into a new world that tested my stamina, my emotions and my trust. As in all good mythological sagas, the hero understands that to appreciate the value of the prize (finding my car in my case), s/he cannot avoid the ordeals along the way. These can be valuable lessons – we just have to delve in to what we might learn from them. If we don’t, the same lesson might come again later in another form - until we finally decide to pay attention, grow from the experience and get one step closer to that sweet place of self-actualization.
(Thinking about self-actualization? Or maybe just contentment? This may help: an Eight-Week Virtual Coaching experience called "Uncovering Your True Inner Self: Creating The Life You Crave," offering individual guidance with me, group guidance sessions and an individualized plan for your specific life situation. And a more basic version, without individual but simply group guidance with me. The course starts next week Monday, October 3rd!)