There are days when I dream of going off-grid in a tiny house with chickens and solar panels and a wall of herbs in the kitchen. And then there are days that I see myself hiking the Appalachian Trail or living out of the back of our tiny car while traversing the countryside or backpacking through remote sections of the world. Oh, the fun adventures I can come up with!
And then there are those times that I find myself on such an adventure, snuggled inside a tent in the woods, listening to the owls, thinking about how I missed the Farmer’s Market that morning and wondering if Mr. Wade had brought any of the good lettuce.
Yeah, that happened. Last week, as a matter of fact.
We were camping in Chattanooga. We were supposed to be camping in St. Louis before heading on to Arkansas, but my mom was not feeling well so we decided to stay closer to home (just in case we needed to come back quickly). At least that’s what I told myself when I changed the plans at the last minute. (And by last minute, I mean I was still trying to decide where to go as we walked out the door.)
Perhaps it was just me being worried about my mom, but I really did not have a good time on this trip. Sure, there were fun moments – like going to a baseball game and sitting around the campfire – but the whole time, I kept thinking about being at home and that was a hard pill for me to swallow. Angie and I love to travel. We both have adventurous spirits and we get a natural high out of seeing new places and experiencing new things. To think that I’d rather be home than on a trip…it felt like something was wrong with me.
Listen to the owls, don’t worry about the lettuce. Enjoy the experience. Nothing matters more than this moment…
Believe me, I know all of these things, but this isn’t a post about mindfulness and staying present in the moment because sometimes, it’s your heart that’s in the wrong place, not your mind.
This is a post about listening to your inner voice. Each of us has one yet most of us ignore it. Sometimes we even call it selfish, especially when it seems to be telling us to do something outside of what’s expected from us. And sometimes, we dismiss it simply because we can’t understand what it is saying. I’m guilty of all of these myself. For some time, I knew that I did not want to go to St. Louis. I could feel it inside, yet I couldn’t come up with even one good reason why, so I didn’t say anything.
On the night before our trip, I was so agitated, I couldn’t stand myself. My inner voice was screaming at me and I put in ear plugs so I wouldn’t have to hear it. The result? A lot of tears, one crazy, last minute scramble to come up with somewhere to go that wasn’t St. Louis, and a miserable camping trip that resulted in a fire-sale of equipment when we returned. (Yes, we sold the brand-new tent we just bought in February!)
If I had it to do over, I would be a better listener…to myself.
As it turns out, my heart only wanted to be by the ocean. It wanted to spend the week with friends who share our same crazy passions. It wanted to eat sandwiches in the sand and talk about dumpster diving and the books we were reading. I guess it just wanted to reconnect with our tribe. Even after 3 years of living in Tennessee, being away from our friends is still the hardest challenge we face every day.
So why not just go there instead of Chattanooga, you’re probably wondering. Our original St.Louis to Arkansas route had us returning through Memphis, TN, where I had booked two non-refundable nights at a hotel and baseball tickets. I thought it best to try and salvage that part of the trip – spend a few days in Chattanooga and the rest in Memphis. But even that did not happen. We came home after 4 nights, forfeiting the money we paid toward the Memphis stay. Oye! Yet another reason to listen to oneself!
Our inner voice is there for a reason. It is the way our heart and soul communicate their needs, which sometimes can differ greatly from what our mind convinces us we are supposed to be doing. Ignoring our inner voice can have a serious impact on both our physical and mental health…and on the quality of our life in general. I can’t think of a single of example where someone has ignored their inner voice and had circumstances turn out for the better, can you?
Last week was a bust, that’s now a fact for the record books. I can’t go back and change it. I can only move forward and strive to give greater audience to my inner voice, to learn it’s language, and not be afraid to say, “I changed my mind”.