Excerpt from The Road Less Traveled by Kit McCallum:
“For each individual is … unique … and personal.
And that is why … while standing at a crossroads,
Only “we” can formulate the decision for ourselves;
The true direction that lies within;
The choices we must deliberate on with clarity and wisdom.
For it is only through personal reflection,
That we can now choose our destiny;
… Our next adventure;
… And the future we will embrace.”
Pretty much everyone is familiar with Kit McCallum’s poem on the road less traveled. But have you really taken the time to read the words and reflect on them? If I had asked myself this question 3 years ago I would have just shrugged and said, “yeah, it’s a poem about life and how it’s better to choose the road less traveled.” Yes, very profound, but poetry comprehension was never one of my strong suits. When I look back now, I know that I never really understood this poem because I had never chosen the road less traveled. Yeah, I had traveled my own road, but in a way, it had always been paved for me. Now, only after choosing the unbeaten path, do I truly have an understanding of those words and the profound impact they can have on your life.
I took the practical route through college, majoring in accounting because it was something I was good at and I knew could guarantee me a job upon graduation. For the longest time I dreamed about being a successful career-driven woman who kicked ass and took names on a daily basis. The picture in my head was always of me strolling down a New York City street in a power suit. I stayed an extra year to get my masters degree in accounting and studied for an entire summer to pass the CPA exam. At that time I was excited about what the future held and more than a little naïve of the realities of life. I started a job at a public accounting firm and moved to the “hip” part of town where all the young 20- and 30-somethings lived. I had dreams of a fast-paced life filled with chic clothes, hip drinks and hangover-less mornings after nights out on the town. Realistic? Yeah, maybe in a Sex and the City episode.
Slowly over the span of a few years the reality of life and working day in and day out for the next 30+ years sunk in. I began to question my path in life and whether it was something I really wanted. I had a great apartment, wonderful friends and a loving family, but deep down I wasn’t truly happy. At the time I had no idea the reason for this general unhappiness. Was it my job? Was it my weight? I didn’t know, so kept on trudging down my paved path, not truly finding what was missing in my life. I figured that if I just followed this path I had dreamt about for so many years and reaching the success I sought, I would eventually find happiness. But sometimes a girl’s dreams don’t turn out to be what the woman wants…
Then came the first decision leading me towards my own path. After what I can only describe as an intuition that this was the right thing to do, I got a dog. A beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that I named Tucker. I was 25, had never owned a dog before, and had absolutely no idea of the responsibility that came with being the mother of a puppy. While Tucker has challenged me in ways I could never have imagined when I got him, he taught me the meaning of what it was to like to love unconditionally. Despite our ups and downs, I would never take back my decision to get him. Looking back, this was the first time that I truly listened to myself and trusted a gut feeling that this was something I was meant to do.
The second time this happened was about a year later. For years I had dreamed about living in San Francisco. Having visited my family there many times, it was a city I was familiar with yet seemed so different from what I was used to growing up on the east coast. I decided to quit my job, pack up my things, and move Tucker and I to the City by the Bay. Again, deep down I knew that this was something I was meant to do and that I would regret never trying.
I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with family for a month while I found a job and an apartment. I decided to remain practical and get another accounting job that paid enough for me to be able to afford an apartment in a good part of town. It was a gorgeous studio apartment; classic San Francisco (those who are local will know what I mean). Everything seemed to be working out. Then I became lonely and homesick for my friends and family. I realized that I wouldn’t just meet people and have a network of friends immediately. I realized that the long hours at the job I had taken would make that even more difficult. I trudged on, taking Tucker on long walks and hikes to explore the city and my neighborhood.
After a while I realized that I was really tired. All of the time. I also realized, with alarm, that I was consuming a venti Starbucks coffee daily, followed by venti-sized black teas and green teas. And I was still feeling droopy eyed at my desk. I told myself that this cannot be normal. I went to see a few doctors, got some lab tests done. They all told me I was fine. Then one of my closest friends in the city who I knew from college shared with me her health story. It changed my life. She told me that she had once experienced symptoms similar to mine. She recommended that I send my lab results to her naturopath, who took one look at my results and told me that I was not fine. I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid (hypo-thyroid), adrenal fatigue, low levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine that responsible for helping you to feel positive and happy, and a hormone imbalance. It was a lot to take in. On the one hand I was happy I had answers, but on the other hand I was terrified. I didn’t have much of a support structure in the city and was barely scraping by financially as it was.
I began taking thyroid medications and a steady stream of natural supplements to help bring my body back to its natural balance. This friend, to whom I will be eternally grateful for helping me to change my life, also re-introduced me to yoga and introduced me to energy therapy and the impact diet has on your health. I started going to yoga a few days a week and started cooking all of my meals from healthy, natural ingredients, completely cutting out processed foods. I began working with an energy practitioner to clear energy blockages in my body that were negatively impacting my health. It took some time before I started to feel better. While it wasn’t the ultimate goal, I lost weight and began to feel comfortable in my body. Yoga helped me to slow down. Energy therapy taught me of the power of following my intuition and the power your mental state and thoughts have on your health. Both taught me to listen to my body. My diet helped to bring a clarity that I had never before experienced.
I continued living this way for a little longer, slowly discovering how I wanted to live my life and building my future. After two years I decided to leave the city and return home to the east coast. While part of me looks back on my time in San Francisco and remembers the devastating loneliness I sometimes felt, my time there will always forever be remembered as the time that altered my path in life forever. I went to California a lost girl desperate for change that would jolt me into happiness and a feeling of fulfillment in my life. I returned with renewed confidence and better knowledge of what I wanted out of life and how I wanted to live my life.
I decided to return to accounting and moved back to my old neighborhood right outside of Washington D.C. But even though I was returning to some things from my life before my move, there was a key difference – the belief that I was on the right path of what I was meant to do with my life. Today I continue to explore that path. It is never ending and I am okay with that. Every bend has its challenges, but can also bring happiness and joy. I have learned that sometimes life’s greatest challenges lead to some of its greatest discoveries. I have recently taken another step and started a year-long online program to become a certified holistic health coach. Whether this new bend in the path will lead to a possible new career opportunity, I don’t quite know. For now I will just go with the flow, focus on continuing my path to health, nurturing the relationships with friends and family that surround me, and trusting that life will unfold as it is meant to be.