“I went up to the cabin in the woods and I made a record. It’s sort of odd to look back and see it as magical, because it felt like a lonely few months at the cabin, where I plugged in the laptop and fucked around.”
~ Justin Vernon, Bon Iver
Follow the Road of Your Intuition.
Three years ago, I fell madly in love with Bon Iver, specifically Justin Vernon. It was love at first listen. There was something so honest about the sound of his voice. I wanted to know how this dude made such pure music, how he drilled so far down into his soul.
As I always do, I started investigating, and what I found has stuck with me. Basically, Justin got his ass handed to him while living in North Carolina: a bad break-up, a band that was going nowhere, and a whirl with mono (just a little infectious disease, you know, for fun).
So, what did he do about it? He moved to his dad’s cabin in Medford, Wisconsin (population 4,326) and stayed there for months, alone. There he cried and drank whiskey, punched the walls and hung out in town. But more importantly, he self-released an album, For Emma, Forever Ago.
The album was listed at number 92 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Albums of the ’00s. They called it “One of the all-time great breakup albums, not to mention one of the era’s surprise success stories.” Um, Holy Christmas. He did it. He saw the doors slamming in his face in North Carolina, and something inside him said, “Go, get the hell out of here. Hibernate, write, heal yourself.”
I can hear the naysayers now:
“You are going where?”
“Why would you do that?”
Thankfully – for me and millions of other fans – he followed his instincts. And he was rewarded in gold for listening to his gut. I have learned this time and time again in my own life. I have trained myself like a ninja to connect the dots — even when the dots look sketchy.
“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”
~ Frank Zappa
A couple months ago, I decided to write a book. This, in and of itself, is a miracle. Writing for the public and speaking to the public have never been my strong suits.
Something shifted recently, bringing about a real urge to communicate my feelings — both on paper and in front of an audience. Actually, it has started to feel like a deep need, an if-I-don’t-get-this-out-of-me-I’m-going-to-explode burning desire.
My mother helped me write my papers in college. Sure, I had ideas. But she was a poet with mad word skills, utterly amazing in every way. We had a blast drinking wine and spending hours with Thomas Aquinas, Emile Durkheim, J. Krishnamurti, and everyone else in the religious studies crew. My theology major / women studies minor required long, mind-bending papers. Tests were not part of the curriculum. She cleaned up my words, and I was no longer lost in translation (my favorite movie, by the way).
I leaned on her for encouragement and clarity. With her help, I made mostly A’s in college, which was pretty shocking considering I’d struggled with writing. At the same time, I was the girl that got a D in her 8th grade speech class. Public speaking felt like a nightmare to me. My mom was the speaker in the house. She could stand up at a church, an auditorium or theatre and just send out her poems, no problem. Me — not so much.
One day I wake up and next thing I know I’m speaking at Harpo Studios. I was explaining my experience with Transcendental Meditation to Oprah Winfrey and her executive producer, Sheri Salata. How did that happen?
Like a boss, I spoke my truth. I looked Oprah dead in the eye, and with everything in my soul, I told her that her new found Transcendental Meditation practice was going to make her feel boundless, free and happier than she had ever been in her life.
I shared pieces of my journey to hell and back after my beautiful mother’s death. Still numb, still broken, I was just coming up for enough air to make it through the day. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I meant every word I said.
Channeled information poured out of me with pure passion, fearlessly. My meditation practice had saved my life, but by no means was I 100%. This thing that was happening to me was clearly coming from a higher place. When I got done talking, Ms. Winfrey looked at Sheri and said, “I want what that girl has.”
I interrupted her:
“You will have it, if you keep meditating, it will come,” I told her knowing that either I was bat shit crazy or this was all meant to be.
I can see now it was fate. That day — that decision to share my story — changed my life, and I never even saw it coming. So, as I continue to connect the dots and write this book, I have felt like Justin. I have felt the walls closing in around me in Chicago. For months, I kept saying, “I can’t think in the city. I can’t get the words on the page. I need to be in the middle of nowhere to do this!!”
I knew I needed to get out, to find my cabin in the woods and just bleed all over my laptop.
I’d casually bring it up to my too-cool-for-school friends at dinner. “Yeah, so I’m kinda thinking about getting a place in Iowa to write and meditate.”
Silence, blank stares, and the occasional, “Are you okay?”
Yes, I was more than okay. I was fantastic — the best I’d ever been and that realization gave me the strength to follow my gut. Secretly, I started looking for homes. I kept finding myself in a small town in the middle of Iowa — Fairfield, Iowa to be exact.
Most of the town meditates, check; there are nice restaurants, check, check; I have lots of friends there that have super creative energy, check, check, check. And my mind is on fire when I’m there. I can write like Hemingway is at the wheel. DING!! DING!! DING!! Winner, winner, turkey dinner. Then one day, the house I wanted seemed to just show up. Fell out of the sky right into my lap. A beautiful cedar house on 13 acres in the middle of nowhere. I signed the lease that day. I told no one. I just did it.
“Live in the feeling of being that you want to be and that you shall be.”
~ Neville Goddard in Wayne Dyer’s Wishes Fulfilled
I can see my book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. The awesome reviews on Amazon. I can feel the sheer joy percolating throughout my cell tissue. What an accomplishment! So much satisfaction! And all I’ve done (in the physical realm) is sign a lease on a place in Iowa. But, it was so much more than that.
I listened to the voice deep down in my soul.
And on the surface, it doesn’t make much sense. But I don’t have to understand everything, and I’m glad that I don’t. I don’t need that sort of responsibility. After all, I’ve got a book to write. I’ll leave the driving up to God.
Our gut instincts are our internal GPS navigational systems. I’ve learned time and time again that when I follow the road of my intuition, it always leads to happiness. So, to those skeptics who have given me the what-the-hell-are-you-going-to-do-in-Iowa look, I say:
follow my destiny,
maybe change the world,
and — if nothing else — live my truth.
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- It’s Not My Job To Fix You… I Will, However, Learn From You. - March 6, 2015