Have you ever felt as though you are being guided? You read a book that feels like it has been written precisely for you, you watch a film that reflects that exact question you have been pondering for ages, you hear some random words of wisdom that unequivocally show you what is next for you. It might take some time to learn to stop and listen to the signs -- I found out the hard way -- but when you do, you realize that the breadcrumbs were there all along for you to follow.
After being very ill with severe myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) for over the last 18 months, I am now writing to you, and I must add, I am writing in full health. This blog post talks about the first of many breadcrumbs that I encountered on my journey and that I am now called on to share with the hope of shining some light on how rediscovering your purpose and shifting perspectives in your life can lead your way to healing and happiness.
Unwelcome Chaos: Who am I?
I had been overworking all my life, constantly gasping for more time to get everything done; pursuing I don't know what exactly, approval, fulfillment, survival, happiness, dreams, security, independence, success, all at the same time -- although everything, as always, is much more complicated than that. Sound familiar? I knew it was wrong but I did not know there was a different way. For the last five years I worked the longest hours as a university lecturer, I started pursuing my dream of becoming a writer and I completed an MA in creative writing and a yoga teacher training course. I did many other things, too. I was always active and had thousands of interests. Then, suddenly, I could do nothing. I crashed about a couple of years ago. Kidney infection, miscarriage, flu, bronchitis, a few more minor infections, extreme exhaustion and, finally, I was diagnosed with ME. I was bed-ridden for a few months and housebound for almost a year.
The suffering felt never-ending, catastrophic. My life appeared shattered in front of me, or what was left of me. Among all that devastation the first question burst in, Who am I now? I can't work. I can't teach. I can't talk. I can't read. I can't write. I can't do yoga. My thoughts escape me. My body screams in constant pain. Nothing that I do or don't do relieves me. I am a burden. I'm of no use to the world. My body is a waste of space. My life as I knew it has ended. Who am I?
There was one thing I could do, meditate. During meditation, I discovered the true essence of yoga. I repeated to myself -trying hard to dismiss the evidence against it -- I am still a worthwhile human being with a purpose to fulfil in this life. Day in and day out, I would sit on my half-moon cushion listening to Deva Premal's mantras. Only through meditation I could find that space inside where I could be me again. A place with no pain, no illness, no suffering, a breather, a place where I was taken care of, the seat of pure bliss, for an instant. In this space, the second question came up one morning, clear and loud, the question wasn't anymore who am I? The question was how can I serve? My overactive, logical-mind chuckled. You can't even brush your teeth without feeling exhausted! However, every cell of my body relaxed at once. They knew, before my mind did, that I was heading towards the right direction.
My life purpose strongly pointed towards my lifelong passion: writing. But how could I write now? Short quotes on Facebook -- that's all I managed, and that's what I did. Hardly a writer's ambition. One day somebody thanked me for something I had posted. I had made her day, she said, my words were exactly what she needed to hear. More comments followed, my words made some people smile, think, dream. No matter my state of health, even if I never recovered, I felt my life could still have a purpose. I could serve others through my words. My healing process had started.
Odyssey Films Ltd
It was not a straight line. It was chaotic, confusing, scary but also deep, transformational, and luminous. My gratitude goes to Ayurveda, Mickel Therapy, yoga and meditation, mantra practice, perfectly timed books, inspirational films, a black cat who appeared in my back garden and never left, nature, and the love and support of my loved ones.
There is no better medicine than to stop navel gazing and start looking at the world around you. With the power of an ancient mantra, the same old question kept being chanted from within every cell of my body, how can I serve? The answer was becoming louder and louder. Write.
Odyssey Films Ltd. was born in this process. I teamed up with my husband, Rory Herbert, an experienced script supervisor who was ready to make his first step as a director. We shared the same vision, to produce films that were thought provoking, insightful, fiction and non-fiction that would ask the deepest questions about ourselves and about our journeys in life. We are currently working on our first project, The Eagle, which shines the light on surviving domestic violence through the empowerment of yoga.
A new life
Through my healing process I have experienced the biggest shifts and the greatest miracles (full recovery!) by redefining what a happy and successful life is to me. Success means now health, boundaries, honest expression, connection, sharing, creativity. After months of darkness, life has become a bright path that I cannot wait to walk and breathe.I hope you can follow me on my journey to recovery and also share the breadcrumbs that make your life shine with truth.