“Reaching for something in the distance. So close you can almost taste it…” ~ Natasha Bedingfield
One of my favorite visualization exercises is the one in which you picture your ideal day.
Starting with how you envision yourself waking up in the morning, you imagine everything about how you would want your perfect day to look. What time you ideally wake up, who wakes up with you — a sacred partner, a furry friend, rambunctious kids — and then how you get your day started.
For me, it always started with a brisk walk on the beach at sunrise, which always makes me laugh because I don’t think I’ve been a morning person since I had children — oh, and I live in a landlocked state with no beach in sight. (And no, reservoirs are not at all the same.)
I’ve always loved this exercise because it’s about the details. What senses do you notice throughout your day? What do you hear? What do you smell? Does your home have the natural light you love? What does the energy in your home feel like? What does your ideal work look like, even if you can’t name it? How do you feel in your body and in your heart as you move through your day? Are you connecting with people along the way? How are you nourishing your body, mind, and spirit? And how are you nourishing those around you? Do you take time to go within and check in with yourself? Is your home filled with soul friends, or is it a sanctuary for you alone, where you can recharge? What time do you go to sleep? Do you fall asleep with a happy heart?
The way we visualize the answers to these questions is the way we create our ideal lives. The lives we craft intentionally, instead of unconsiously accepting the ones that are handed to us…that are expected of us.
When I got divorced, I realized that it was time to create my ideal life for myself. But with our family’s plan for nesting, I also knew it might look a little different than it had in my mind when I pictured myself single again. So I set out to create a haven for myself to go to when it was my ex-husband’s turn to spend time in our family home with our kids.
I rented an apartment that was just big enough for me and could be the sanctuary I needed as I grieved the end of my 25-year marriage. And then as I tackled the deep, personal work of looking inward, facing my own shit head-on, and healing my heart.
For so long, I felt like I was in limbo. Before the divorce, knowing in my heart and soul that it was coming. During the divorce, as I held space for my kids and tried to love them through it as best I could — while we all still had to deal with the real stuff of life. And after the divorce, as we faced even more challenges in our family. And all this while hustling for several years to rebuild the career for myself that I had been longing for.
There was a lot of darkness during this time in limbo. Not only because I was facing my own shit, but because there was so much going on around me, too. Close family and the dearest of friends were dealing with the unimaginable heartbreak of everyday life. The golden light that I felt had been shining on my life for years was suddenly no longer golden. (Or at least what I thought was golden.)
The hard thing about going through a period of darkness is that, for me, the longer I was in it, the harder it was to picture coming out of it. I was white-knuckling my way through the hard stuff, and felt all alone in it.
In all of it.
Every time someone would ask me how things were going, I felt my breathing get shallow and I would immediately look around for some wood to knock on. Because every time I felt like things were getting better, something else would happen. Someone else would get sick. Someone else would need a light in their own darkness. Someone else would crumble. Someone else would die.
Every time I felt like I could breathe again, something else would come along, wrap its rough, callused hands around my heart and squeeze until I couldn’t breathe again and until the tears started to flow. Again.
It was all-consuming, the darkness. And it wasn’t my darkness.
Until it was.
Coming out of those suffocating shadows was not easy. For any of us. We needed help. A lot of help. Not only from an army of therapists, but from friends and family who loved on all of us and held us up as our knees buckled under the weight of all we had been carrying for so long.
During those days, it was all I could do to just focus on the one next thing that I had to do. One of my best friends and I reminded each other of that on a daily basis. What is the one next thing we have to focus on? Because that was all we could do in that moment.
Just like that, things changed.
There was a glimmer of light that didn’t make me knock on wood. There was light and laughter surrounding us again. There was authenticity and truth and love and honesty. There was a career boost I had been working toward for so long. There was a beautiful stranger who took things slow, held space for me as long as I needed, and then gently asked to be the boss of me when I needed it the most. And there was a circle of giant-hearted friends that grew wider and tighter and more loving than ever.
Suddenly, there was hope. Where there wasn’t any before.
And finally, finally, finally, finally, finally…
It was time to start visualizing my ideal life again.
And then — a stupid, jerkface global pandemic came along and affected us all in ways we could never have imagined. Tragic ways. And simply inconvenient ways that reminded us of our first world problems.
Suddenly, no one was traveling. Including my ex-husband. Which disrupted our carefully crafted nesting arrangement. After 25 years of traveling at least 50% of the time for work, he was home for the foreseeable future. And if I wanted to spend time with my kids, it would either have to be at the house with him, or at my apartment, which the kids had understandably shown no interest in up until now.
But the kids started coming to my apartment here and there, mostly for the change of scenery and to be stuck inside a different set of four walls instead of being stuck at the house all the time. We started creating mini-moments for ourselves — and I think we all started seeing little glimpses of what our life could be like together. Just the three of us. And then all four of us agreed that we were ready for that change.
Now, that’s all I want. It’s all I’m visualizing on a daily basis.
So my daughter and I went to look at a home this week that we were both excited about. She commented on how we used to do this all the time when she was younger — go look at model homes together. It was our thing. We both smiled at the happy memory, and as we stepped inside and started to look around the home, a song that’s quite special to me came on over the speakers.
I sighed out loud when I heard that song playing…
…as my white-knuckled grip loosened.
And I let go.
Of all I had been holding onto. Of the heavy weight on my shoulders. Of everything I had been carrying for so long.
That song. A wink from God, for sure. A nod from the Universe.
I knew that in my heart.
Reassuring me that it was time. Time to surrender. Time to get back into the flow of life. Time to trust again. Time to dream.
Time to manifest some fucking magic.
Now, my ideal life that I’m visualizing looks brighter. Happier. Lighter.
It looks like a light-filled home with a great room for gathering and enough space for all of us to be together.
It looks like kids who have set schedules with mom and dad they can count on, and that give them the time they want and need with each parent.
It looks like a girl who is already thinking she is going to get that snake she wants…and a boy who has begun campaigning for a new PlayStation 5.
It looks like a mom who is actually thinking it could be fun to cook dinner with her kids — when she has never liked cooking.
It looks like working from home in a beautiful space, for a dream job with a company doing good things for the world.
It looks like taking the devil dog for a walk and stopping by Grammy and Grampy’s house for a cup of coffee.
It looks like soul friends coming over and sharing a soft, loving space that is filled with positive energy and happy, happy vibes.
It looks like…love.
And happily even after.
“I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned…” ~ Natasha Bedingfield