“Even if you feel totally clueless about what/who/where/why divinity is, it doesn’t change the fact that something’s still there, twinkling in your world, illuminating meanings, urging you this way and that, winking and whispering and just waiting to contradict, to surprise, to undress. All you have to do is get quiet inside, hear that whisper, resonate with that sunset, and allow yourself to realize, Aha, Here I Am.”
Sera Beak, The Red Book
Working out at my regular health club one morning, a woman asked our trainer, “I’m switching from potato chips to pickles for my snack food, is that a good thing?”
“Yes,” our trainer replied. “Much better. Just make sure to buy the pickles from the refrigerated section.”
“Oh, and while you’re there,” I heard myself add, “get some sauerkraut.”
A group of us then delved into a discussion about our relationships with sauerkraut. Some loved it, others hated it, a few hadn’t ever tried it. My mouth watered the whole time.
When I left, I went to my local coffee shop.
“How’s your day so far?” the barista asked me.
“Good!” I said. “Just trying to stay warm.”
“Yes, me too. I’ve been thinking about making some soup in my crockpot, maybe have some sauerkraut on the side…”
“Sauerkraut? Oh my gosh, I was just talking about that.”
“Oh, I love it,” she said. “I haven’t had it in forever.”
“You have to go to there,” I pointed at the co-op across the street, “and buy the Bubbies® brand. It’s delicious.”
When I left the coffee shop, I called my husband. “When was the last time you thought about sauerkraut?”
“I dunno, a year or more? Why?”
“That’s what I thought. It just came up twice in one hour.”
“You’d better go buy some.”
I drove to the co-op across the street, went straight to the refrigerated section and picked up a jar of Bubbies® sauerkraut. I went home and ate a bowlful. It tasted delicious. It was 9:00 am.
I smiled and thought to myself, “Dang, I’ve come a long way.”
Sitting in conversation with a new friend some years ago, we realized we had something in common: we had both recently been hit by a truck. I, metaphorically. She, literally.
We talked about the warning signs that had come and gone before our respective “trucks.” We admitted how we had written them off as coincidences or nuisances. But we could both see that in the end, the course of our lives changed for the better. We hoped with time and practice, we would need only a fly to land on us to know that something needed to change in our lives. No more trucks, we vowed.
My “truck” is idiopathic chronic urticaria, or hives. The “idiopathic” means that doctors don’t know what causes them. The insinuation is that somehow, somewhere, I’ve done something wrong.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve experienced these episodes. When one hive appears on my body, I know I will soon face a body full of hives and months of struggle. Over those months, the hives don’t miss a day nor an inch of my skin. Daily doses of Prednisone, a steroid, is my only relief and despite its long list of side-effects, I take it gratefully. It’s either that, or lie naked on a cold bathroom floor all day.
I know by now that I do not break out in hives because I ate fish or changed my laundry detergent. Hives are my soul’s personal messenger. They go away only when I steer a portion of my life in a new direction.
Sometimes it’s obvious what’s out of balance. Though it’s never easy to make the change, I can point to a stress in a relationship or a strain in a work environment. But this last time, I had a budding Ayurvedic (alternative health) practice and my personal relationships felt mutually beneficial. I felt content with the direction of my life.
Until one day, sitting with a client for a consultation, I said, “Our body always lets us know what it needs, if only we listen.” At that exact moment, I was refraining from scratching my red, welted skin.
I knew what my soul needed me to do. A month later, I slipped the key to my practice under the locked door and walked away.
After leaving my practice, my life got eerily quiet. Shortly after that, my hives disappeared. Then, I finally heard the message that had been knocking from within.
“Write a book,” I heard my soul say.
“Funny,” I replied. “I’ve always wanted to write a book. Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
My soul sighed.
I got to work on the project I had always longed to do but got sidetracked by all the projects I felt obligated to do. There was nothing wrong with me offering Ayurvedic services to the public, and even much that fulfilled me. But it wasn’t the work that my soul was calling me to do. The smaller signs had long been present, but it took the hives to win my full attention.
Only time will tell if my new approach will prevent any more hive outbreaks. But it certainly lends itself to a more communicative and joyful relationship with my own soul and the universe. Because now, if a book comes to my awareness more than once in a week, I read it. If a topic of conversation scrolls up my Facebook feed two or three times in a day, I ponder its meaning. And when I hear sauerkraut mentioned two times in an hour, I don’t hesitate. I go buy some.