Heather and I share a lot of common experiences and perspectives – we’re both deeply curious explorers who love to turn over any metaphorical stone we find, just because we’re fascinated to see what’s underneath. And we’re renaissance souls who’ve wandered in and out of a variety of different roles and career directions over the years.
But in spite of my preference for wandering and exploring, it was only in these past months that I finally learned how to be what Heather calls a “happy wanderer.”
While I was still pregnant with Juggernaut, when I discovered that my kidneys were not doing well and there were risks to both my life and our daughter’s life, I immediately de-prioritized everything else and my only focus was my health and our daughter’s health. After we lost Juggernaut, having successfully and thoroughly de-prioritized everything else, everything we were left with felt like it just wasn’t important anymore and I struggled to motivate myself. Knowing that I needed to give myself time and space to grieve, rather than forcing myself back into trying to be motivated and focused about my work, I chose not to return to my business, and I tried to give myself permission to just wander for a while, while I worked through my grief and rebuilt my health.
It was so hard!
Wandering was really difficult for me at first – not because the wandering itself is actually difficult – it’s easy! Wandering was difficult for me because, in spite of my fatigue, low motivation and how much I know that grief needs time and gentleness, wandering through your day without agenda completely goes against the grain of our culture that says that everything has to be efficient and demands that we cram more and more productivity into our day.
For me, the hardest part about wandering is giving up the belief that you’ll get left behind if you slow down and give yourself permission to wander through your day without an agenda.
In fact, when Heather interviewed me for this course, I shared with Heather one of my big lessons I’ve learned these past months that’s helped me to become a Happy Wanderer:
If my experience these past months is anything to go by, that permission-giving requires repetition because you’re going to keep getting messages from the world around you that you should be busy and productive ALL THE TIME. So don’t get disappointed when you falter and find yourself needing to give yourself permission again and again. Expect it to be like brushing your teeth – your teeth get dirty again everyday. That’s the nature of teeth and plaque. So we don’t feel defeated, we just brush our teeth everyday.
Give yourself fresh permission to wander everyday because our cultural plaque that says, “Always be going somewhere – know exactly what you want and go and grab it as fast as you can – or you’ll get left behind!” will gather fresh everyday.
These days, having learned to practice permission-giving, and having gathered numerous real life evidence of the positive impact that agenda-free wandering has on my mood, stress levels, creativity and awareness, I’m finding it easier to shirk the “cram-your-day-full-and-take-the-shortest-route” mentality of society and give myself permission to wander. And I’m a happier wanderer for it.
Heather’s put together a really great resource – a guide and source of inspiration – to help you to keep giving yourself permission to wander, and to learn how to maximize the benefits of wandering. I’ve told my story of how wandering has helped me heal, shared some of my biggest wandering lessons and even a little wandering game I’ve played that’s deepened and broadened my perceptual awareness and brought me many insights. And there are stories and lessons form many other women who’ve inspired me too – Jen louden, Marianne Elliot, Desiree Adaway, Barbara Winter, and more.
So if you’re a wanderer – either by choice or circumstance – and you want to become a Happy Wanderer, go on over and check it out.