The Universe Speaks [Loudly]
“Ya Maria Fe, just put it back, you already have a million unread books at home.” This is me, talking to myself, out-loud. I do this often.
I’m one of those people who gets excited and buys five books in one go, reads at least two at the same time, and often leaves a few unfinished, wanting to jump to the next one (or let’s face it, stop reading altogether). So here I am, standing on the side of the road, in front of a deserted bookshelf, trying to, you know ‘grow’, and not bring another book home. But something in me really wants to take it. What is this feeling? Then, I see it. And my heart stops.
It had been a couple of months since I left my job at a tech start-up and I was taking care of my 8-month old son while I tried to figure out what to do next (sound familiar?). Existential-crisis had found its way back home and made itself cozy, smack in the middle of my chest. I yearned for more purpose in my career but felt so lost as to what that meant. So the previous night I found myself deep in an Oscar-winning pity scene as I vented to my husband. I was tired of my mind ping-ponging from sexy-start-up-maybe-this-time-in-something-motherly to the drop-everything-and-move-to-costa-rica-dream, and no inspired grounded option in between. (By the way - it’s Costa Rica, Bali, or Hawaii - any tropical whimsical paradise really, I'm not picky...)
“If only” I’d said to him in the darkness of our bedroom, arms crossed over the duvet, defeat seeping through every word and cell in my body, “I could just open a yoga studio here in LA. That would be perfect.” At the time, this was as far as my ego could stretch. A perfect combination of my experience in business with my passion for spirituality and yoga. A vision of myself which was tugging at my heart.
That ‘if only’ referred to the small detail of me not being allowed to, given my work-visa status at the time. But it took only one response from my very practical, very grounded, very Taurus husband to wake me up from my daydreaming mode:
“Don’t worry about the Green Card. If that’s what you really want to do, we’ll find a way to make it happen.” said the man who follows the rules but also reads between the lines.
Chills. Really? I could actually make that happen? Enter Excitement, and Fear instantly cuts the line and jumps ahead. Because let’s face it, visa nuances weren’t the only thing holding me back. That was part of it, yes, but deep down I knew it was also a surface-level excuse to many other fears: Had I really spent my whole career in the big corporate world to now leave it all behind? What would others say? Had I really gone to business school to ‘just’ want to manage a small business? Being an entrepreneur in my world meant you were scaling a shiny soon-to-be-unicorn, not managing one local brick & mortar. What about money? And what if it didn’t work out? It was easy to claim that I wanted to do something different. But now, if given the chance, would I really follow through? I realized it was time for me to give myself permission to pursue a new path, to change my own definition of success, change my life, and not be afraid of what others may think. Or at least try to.
I was both giddy and nervous. “Ok, I’ll sleep on it” I said, eyes wide open, stomach stirring. I lay there awake, hypnotized by the spiraling ceiling fan, adrenaline pumping, mind and imagination running wild. I really wanted this new beginning to be different, to actually listen to my gut and go after the meaning I’d been aching for for so long. But I was scared and overwhelmed. I ‘wasn’t 20 anymore’, I ‘had responsibilities’, I had life-long ingrained ideas of who I was (or should be). How could I be sure making this shift to open a yoga studio was the right next step (amidst Covid, mind you!)? So I turned to the Universe. I closed my eyes, dropped into my heart, and asked whoever might listen: ‘if this is the right move for me, please give me a sign. If this is the right move for me, please show me an old yellow beetle’. (This classic car in my favorite color had become a little totem of mine. In Peru I’d probably see five in a day. In LA, I’d have more luck asking for a lime-green Lambo.) And I went to sleep.
Now here I stood the next day, holding this book.
I had taken my son out for one of his bajillion stroller naps around the neighborhood; airpods in, podcast on, a ritual I now had on autopilot (if you know, you know). This morning however, I turned right at an earlier corner and went down a different street, not sure why, barely even noticed that I did. I was stopped by the glimpse of a lonely bookshelf that had been left on the curb with a "Please Take" sign on it, along with five or so used books. A red one, its pages snakelike from water damage, caught my eye. I wanted to take it but I didn’t need it. The back-cover summary sounded intriguing, but I was in a heavy self-help rabbit-hole (most recently satisfied and ignited anew by Untamed - because I am a goddamn cheetah!) and knew I wouldn’t dedicate time to it. I had put it back and had grabbed it again. There was an urge, it asked to be taken, but I was trying to talk myself out of it.
That’s when I SAW it - my jaw dropping, my conscious mind finally catching on to what my eyes had already registered: illustrations of two small delicate yellow beetles framed the text… Oooh shit. Well there we have it, folks. I’d even forgotten about my ask, but now here it was, staring me in the face, bringing a jolt to my body, butterflies to my stomach. Butterflies that started as nerves and quickly morphed to excitement. Of course, I took the book. I was ready now to take the leap. A leap my body and soul knew I wanted all along but the voice in my head had kept yelling, stealing the show, asking the wrong questions or giving them too loud a roar. Finding this book was the nudge I needed in order to say: I hear you monkey-mind, and I'm going ahead anyway.
And I did. The next day I sat up tall at a coffee shop, energy buzzing, laptop open to a new blank spreadsheet, and titled it ‘My Studio’. Here I was, proud, kicking off a P&L, the part that came most natural to me. Next up, just a - ehemm- minor detail on the checklist: learn more about yoga. I joined a Yoga Teacher Training with my favorite studio, the studio where, up until I became pregnant, I was volunteering cleaning the hot room and bathrooms in exchange for free yoga (and good company). The training blew my mind. Little did I know how much I didn’t know; how little my P&L mattered and how much other questions did. I loved this team even more for inspiring me further. And guess what? Fast-forward five months from finding that book and something amazing happened: I was offered a job managing the three LA franchise studios for this community. Work visa sponsored - check. Juicy cherry on top? I got to become part owner as well.
The serendipity of it all felt so big and I really came to understand that when you’re aiming in a direction that is aligned with who you are, plus take action to embody the energy, things flow and the stars align. And what arrives may be even bigger and better than what you could have dreamed of. That’s the trust that keeps me going today as I kick-off a new adventure. It doesn’t mean there’s no fear involved, but it speaks into my ear less often, and when it does, it only whispers.
Still, if I need a nudge, I close my eyes and ask for a sign. I usually get my answer. You will too.
(Better bet I asked for my daughter’s name, even how to spell it... and the Universe delivered!)