There are those who know as early as high school their path in life, and they move straight as an ash-shafted arrow through event after event. Then there are those like me, whose paths meander like the Amazon River, through deep forests, taking sudden turns, only to plummet like a cascading waterfall hundreds of feet below. I didn’t mind the meandering and found I could hang on as tight as the best of them. I thought if I stayed the course long enough, kept paddling my life’s canoe hard enough, I’d arrive at the place and know it to be home. The promised bliss of this elusive place kept me moving.
Initially, my journey took me to West Point where I helped carve a new path for women. The Army only began allowing women to attend the academy a few years prior. Leaving West Point early, felt like one of the cascading waterfall moments. I knew it was the right move, however terrifying. After college, I meandered through banking, where I worked as a branch manager and a loan officer.
My path veered suddenly with the breathtaking experience of motherhood– twice. Changing direction again, to accommodate small children, I embarked on an interior design business I ran from home. Then divorce– another churning, jaw dropping, waterfall. This catapulted me around a wide bend, a new man, and inspired me to teach yoga and meditation. I traveled to Costa Rica (with my new husband and our business partner) and together we saved 150 acres of rainforest. Stopping only briefly, to try fire walking, sweat lodges, and other kinds of meditation, I continued onward. A trip to India gave me a tiny glimpse of the ever-elusive bliss and served to inspire me to open, with the help of my husband, Franklin Yoga & Wellness.
While each experience fulfilled me in some way, I knew I had not yet arrived at the place of ‘promised bliss.’ This desire continued to keep me moving, searching.
Until, it did not. At one point, in 2007, it seemed like the river stopped flowing. I ceased to move forward. Feelings of angst and anxiety settled in and my energy ebbed away. My good friend, Pamela, recognized the symptoms of my slump and said to me, “You aren’t creating, are you?”
She was right. I knew exactly what I was not doing – writing. So, I started the Julia Cameron way, with ‘artists’ pages,’ three hand-written, stream of consciousness pages, every morning. I began to feel better. Little by little my canoe began to move. I felt my energy return and along with my desire to follow the elusive promise of bliss once again. I embarked on writing a memoir and gave four chapters to my writing coach, Lisa Tener. On June 21, 2008, Summer Solstice, she pointed out that what was chapter two in my memoir could be an entire novel, and a more compelling story.
“That’s it!” My internal GPS signaled, “You have arrived at your destination.”
My book was to be about Joan of Arc, told through the window of my brief experience at West Point. Joan wanted me to share her journey of unwavering courage and faith, her love of her people and country, and illustrate the potential of feminine power when balanced with the male. I realized she traveled with me all along, only I could not see her. I was too close. It was as if I stood, my nose touching the arrow in a billboard pointing ‘this way.’ When I stepped back I could discern the image, the words, and finally her message.
The process of writing Joan’s incredible story has brought me a surprising amount of joy. As I travel this short distance with her, I find energy, bubbles of happiness and, the not so, elusive feelings of bliss visit me regularly. My path is straightening out, settling down. For now, the river is deep but calm, the scenery a little scary, but beautiful, and my heart is finally at ease. My soul can rest. I am sure circumstances will change but that is okay with me. I know I can brave the rapids and survive the dry spells only to arrive at another oasis of creativity in the future—as long as I keep my eyes open, have faith in my journey and continue to paddle.