Personal · Prayer · Self-Improvement

I Love You, Cheryl Strayed

I needed answers. I was quite literally walking around my house with absolutely no direction or intention except trying to quiet the relentless ticker tape in my mind playing the same sentence over and over:

“What should I do?”

So I stopped. I literally stopped and I said out loud, “OK. God, Dad, Aunt Patty, Randomly Assigned Guardian Angel- literally anybody listening up there- I’m over this. Just tell me what to do.”

And somewhere a little voice said,

“Go take a walk.”

So I put on my Dad’s old sweater as a kind of armor/hug and I walked. I hadn’t even made it three blocks when it started drizzling (in Los Angeles!) and a woman came up behind me and said, “Ooo it’s about to rain!–Wait a minute…You’re my student! You’ve been to my studio before, right??”

Lo and Behold it was a yoga teacher I’d been to a few times whose studio is right up the road from my house. It’s a 10-minute walk and yet for some reason, I can’t seem to get my butt in gear and go to class. I always make super weird excuses for myself, always seem to be busy right when class time is (EVERY DAY, for 3 classes a day!). I call bullshit on myself.

I look at her and it is all I can do not to cry. “Hi- yes- I have, yes-”

She grabbed onto both my hands and smiled, “Well, you need to come back. Come back to class. Come back to your practice.” I was stunned speechless. “2016 is going to be a beautiful year for you, I can feel it!” And with that, she skipped away out of the rain pausing only to yell back over her shoulder, “Come back to class!”.

But…wait. I’m sorry. What just happened? Did I literally just have a prayer unequivocally answered? THAT’s THE BIG ANSWER? GO BACK TO YOGA???

Mulling over this encounter, I crossed the street and got a too-small, too-expensive lunch from my local health food store. I sat outside under the awning and tried to listen to the rain instead of my thoughts. And then, “Hey! Hey, Kelsey is that you?”

I look up and a friend of mine I met on a movie set who has since been a lovely cheerleader from the sidelines of my life was standing there smiling broadly at me. “I just came from the gym, so fist bump instead of hug today!” We fist bumped. We exchange some minor ‘heyhowareyous’ and then he says, “Dude, girl. You’ve been KILLIN’ it lately”.

Have I? Cause I’m pretty sure I just feel like a worthless lump 99% of the time. I respond saying something like “Oh that very nice of you to say, no really, I haven’t been doing much at all, I mean it’s just the one thing and I’m making it a bigger deal than it really is…” and he stops me.

“No. It IS a big deal. Whether you think so or not, you’re doing things a lot of people only get to dream about.”

To which my only reply can be, “Huh. I guess you’re right.”

We then exchange more ‘nicetoseeyoukeepintouches’ and I continue my mini-walkabout and end up at my personal mecca: The Bookstore.

I walk in the doors and I say, “OK, God, Dad, Aunt Patty, Randomly Assigned Guardian Angel, Etc- if all this stuff is from you, if you’re trying to tell me something, give me one more sign. I know that’s greedy but I’m in a lot of pain and I don’t know if I believe you yet.”

I go up the escalator I’ve gotten on a million times, up past the magazines and the music to the floor of Books. And right as I get off the escalator, right in front of my face is a display proclaiming I am smack dab in front of the “Self Help” section. How have I never seen that before?

I walk three steps forward and I say “God, I am going to pull a random book off this shelf and turn to a random page. Whatever it is I need to hear most, put it on that page.”

I grab a small, square book with a beautiful bright green cover. It oozes happiness. On the front in gold letters it reads BRAVE ENOUGH / CHERYL STRAYED.

Well isn’t that just peachy keen. The woman I’ve been looking to for inspiration for the past year, the woman who in many ways inspired me to start this whole journey of self-discovery by setting out to hike the Inca Trail, the woman I love/hate because I never know if I’ll ever have as much courage as she did is literally looking me in the face saying I am brave enough.

With shaking hands, I close my eyes. I hold the book tenderly, even almost caressing its cover for a minute, completely aware I must look like a crazy person, but I don’t care. And then I say my prayer again: “tell me what I need to know right now”. And I open to a random page.

And this is what I find:

“It isn’t too late.

Time is not running out.

Your life is here and now.

And the moment has arrived at which you’re finally ready to change.”

 

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

God seemed to be smirking down at me saying, “Is THAT enough of a sign for you? Geez, Louise, kid!!”

I took a picture of the page and put the book back on the shelf with eerie calm. I walked home in the now steady downpour of rain and I breathed deeply the whole way. I was ready to change. It didn’t matter I was almost thirty. It didn’t matter I didn’t know what was going to happen next. In those moments all I knew was that a big shift was about to happen in the way I go about living the rest of my life. And it was OK if I didn’t quite know or understand the change that was coming. Simply acknowledging the fact that I was ready for it and that I was not alone, was, and is, enough for now.

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Buy your own copy of “Brave Enough” by Cheryl Strayed HERE:

brave enough

 

Buy your own copy of “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, The book that inspired the Oscar-winning movie starring Reese Witherspoon, HERE:

Wild Amazon Link

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5 thoughts on “I Love You, Cheryl Strayed

    1. Yes, definitely. It all adds up. It’s a mental shift more than anything; the actual puzzle pieces in my life still have to catch up, but I’m getting much better at recognizing what patterns of thought are beneficial or harmful to my overall happiness =)

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