This morning I woke up feeling unsettled. Another day stretching out in front of me with too many options, compelled to make each moment count during this unprecedented period of limited ‘outside the house’ possibilities. The pressure to make it work, to make it happen, to get it going –  is enormous. 

Usually I’m able to wrestle this unease to the ground with my meditation, prayer and breath work.

But this morning, halfway through my meditation, I yanked the earplugs out, threw my phone on the bed and sat in my chair, staring at the computer. 

My inner guidance said, “Take a walk. “

Photograph by Heather Hanson, all rights reserved.

I looked at the time, thought about my never-ending to do list. The courses I had signed up for. The grocery shopping. The painting. The book writing. The social media. LinkedIn. Facebook. 

Shit. Which way to go? 

Take a walk. 

Before I could argue further I found myself changing into my gear and leaving the bedroom to go and take a walk, chafing at the idea as I pulled on my shoes. 

I barely spoke to my family. Didn’t trust myself to be civil, even to my children. The unease building in me like a storm cloud, with eruption eminent. 

So I left. 

Telling them I would be back in 2 hours. 

Don’t call me. 

Don’t contact me. 

Don’t text me. 

I left the house, the beauty of the day barely registering.

Photograph by Heather Hanson, all rights reserved.

I pressed play on my book even before I left the driveway. Because hell, if I was going to take a walk, it was at least going to be productive; my desire to ensure each moment is directly or indirectly linked with revenue generation has become an obsession.  

As I was entering the greenway, I heard it again. My inner guidance.

“Take a walk. But take it without the distraction of a book. Take it in silence. Listen to the birds sing. Listen to the wind rustle the leaves of the trees. Look up, child, and see the sun shining through the forest. “

I took out my headphones, the audio stopped, and I got nervous. Did I even have the capacity to be alone, in nature, ‘unproductive,’ wasting time?

Photograph by Heather Hanson, all rights reserved.

And as I started walking, I started crying. Surprised at the tears, glancing around to ensure nobody could see me, ashamed by my emotions, confused but feeling too overwhelmed to stop.

But then the experience began to feel like a release, and I kept moving forward. Kept crying.

I began telling myself that it was OK. 

That each decision I made didn’t need to be bounced up against a money-making decision matrix.  That there were no wrong decisions for me to make on how to spend my day. 

That the only criteria I needed to work from was joy.

That during each given moment, I could check in with my heart.  

That I could consider allowing my emotions to be my guidance system, and serve as my framework for decision making. 

That the outcome of whatever activity I decided to pursue from that place would be exactly perfect because the root cause, the driver of that activity, would be joy.

And this was mine to decide; my power as decision maker in my life.

Photograph by Heather Hanson, all rights reserved.

I came out of the woods one hour later feeling refreshed and purposeful, having spent the majority of that walk re-connecting with nature, and remembering that it was ok to allow my mind to work in service of my heart. 

Knowing that if I decided to paint today that would be ok. That if I decided to bake my Nanny’s jam cake that would be ok too. And that the daily activities I needed to complete, like cooking dinner for the family, or vacuuming the living room, could be done from a space of joy. 

I could decide that I was going to bring joy with me, into whatever situation I encountered. 

When I got home, I felt lighter than I had in days.  

This morning during my ‘unproductive’ time, I evolved my decision making criteria in the service of love, compassion and mercy.  

And vowed to continue listening to and trusting my Self.