There are very few situations where I can really say that “there were signs”. However last month there were some things that really stuck out to me. Although… it could be that I have been more open to hearing what the universe is telling me these days. Who knows?!
Kind of on a whim, I decided to take a three week trip to Colombia (the country not the city in South Carolina). And on the last leg of my trip I planned to go to a silent meditation and yoga retreat about an hour outside of Medellin. (Future post about it) For this retreat, the meditation practitioner sent out a list of books and instructed us to pick a couple to begin reading in preparation and to read while at the retreat. Well, as I sat researching each book and stopped on one that caught my eye; the guy I’ve been spending a lot of time with recently, mentioned that he had that exact book. That did make me think that this specific person may be the one, but that’s NOT the sign I’m talking about! He loaned me the book and since then I sporadically read it. I finally got a chance to read a little more than a page and man this sign was loud!
One of the first few chapters it explained that the moment of discomfort is the perfect teacher. If we pay attention in these exact moments we can see how we run and hide from our fears. We do just about anything to keep ourselves so busy that we can’t take it all in. We do this to protect ourselves. It’s right then that if we just simply turn around and stop running we can find a way to open up and relax and just be with our discomfort. As a society we are taught that being embarrassed, uncomfortable, or scared is a bad thing. But it’s then when we grow and more importantly learn about ourselves. Our deep, deep, inner self. Reading the book written by a famous Buddhist named Pema Chodron called When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times I begin to see how this lesson was so relevant to my life.
Low and behold the next day, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts called The Almost 30 podcast and there I heard another sign. This particular day I was listening to a solo episode by Lindsey Simcik and she was talking about this “holding pattern” she’s been stuck in for a while. It’s like your flying above the airport in a circle and never landing the plane. Sometimes we get stuck doing the same things over and over again. These don’t necessarily have to be bad habits but maybe things that aren’t producing any positive results. I took what she said about how she was going to live life with intention from now on in addition to the things I read in the book and began to realize that all the things I was feeling, reading and hearing were all gigantic signs for my own life.
So with these two things on my mind I had a lot of thinking to do. Mind you, I’m in Colombia with lots of stuff to see and do. So, honestly I didn’t really get to process them all that much. Earlier in the week, I had scheduled a trip to go paragliding with some people at my hostel. The day came, I put on my bathing suit and got ready to jump on a boat. Welllllll…… that would be great if I planned on going parasailing. HAHAHA Why do I do these things to myself?? Why do I sign up for things that I know nothing about? When we were driving in the direction of the mountains I begin to realize that we in fact were not going to any body of water at all. I kept my cool and climbed up 100 stairs the side of a mountain. The next thing you know I was put into a harness, strapped to a Colombian gentleman and “practicing” running in place all within 3 minutes. The practicing took roughly 5.5 seconds and I was then RUNNING OFF A CLIFF!!! As we floated and spun, dipped down and soared back up, my eyes closed tightly, my heart sank as if I was riding a roller coaster. I hate rides of any type. Eventually with the help of the stranger strapped to my back I opened my eyes and began to look around. Once the shock wore off, I realized that we were literally flying next to birds, and overlooking the beautiful city of Medellin. As we drifted WAAAY above the trees I quickly became braver and was able to actually watch and enjoy all 15 minutes of the ride. But it came as a big surprise that when we landed we drifted down at the same exact spot that we had taken off from. My adrenaline was pumping at an all time high when my butt was dragged across the top of the mountain to a screeching stop. I jumped up and was soooo ready to do it all over again. Unfortunately, the line was super long and I felt like I had some thinking to do. Physically I landed back where I started but mentally, I was in a whole new universe!
Paragliding was by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Upon finding out about my solo travels to many Latin American countries, people usually call me brave or courageous or even fearless. And I HAVE done a lot of things that scare me, like cave jumping, or walking up to a cute guy and hitting on him, but I am far from fearless. I just don’t really think about things before I do them. I’m a very impatient person and I don’t give the unknown and angst a chance to settle in. Which honestly I think is just as bad as if I let fear stop me from doing things. Both of those things ways to avoid the feelings that fear produces.
What I’ve learned by reading Pema Chodron’s book is that recognizing that you are afraid of something is not enough. What I will work on doing from now on is noticing it, admitting it, and then simply sitting with it and dissecting how it makes me feel. The last part of getting real cozy with fear is where I’ll learn the most about myself. And I think that’s the first step to being more compassionate, patient and understanding with myself and other humans. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we learn about the world as a whole! I want to not only continue to do things that scare me but to actively look for things that make me nervous and uncomfortable. Being a well rounded individual is important to me but getting to know and trusting the deep down inside Jillian is paramount to anything else. That’s why when I heard the podcast about being in a holding pattern my ears perked up.
It’s not only hard to recognize undesirable behavior within ourselves but taking steps to change them can be particularly difficult also. Like I said before, being in a holding pattern, doing the same thing day in and day out doesn’t always mean that you are making terrible decisions. It’s easy getting comfortable in a routine and for a lot of us change is scary. It could be the fear that keeps us in those holding patterns. For me, living in Mexico City, blogging for Venture Road and teaching english was easy, fun and paying the very few bills I had. But honestly I didn’t feel useful. I wasn’t making a difference in anyone’s life, or learning anything new besides more Spanish, and I wasn’t living up to my potential. I wasn’t able to recognize that the fear of failure was keeping me there. Jumping back into the real world after traveling and being so free sounds scary. But I’ve been craving some stability and structure.
So, yes I may have had to accidentally run off a cliff in Colombia to learn some very valuable life lessons but boy am I glad I did! I mentioned in a previous post that I was interested in possibly settling down a little bit in 2019 and I have been working on that. Hopefully I have great news to share and will be landing this bad boy at the airport soon! Stay tuned!