“When your life awakens and you begin to sense the destiny that brought you here, you endeavour to live a life that is generous and worthy of the blessing and invitation that is always calling you.”
― John O’Donohue (From Eternal Echoes)
Exactly four weeks ago to date I landed in a country that I had never visited before, knew nothing about linguistically other than Obrigada (thank you), had no friends, and accepted a job offer that was nowhere near what I was looking for the past year. Do I regret any of it?
Not. At. All.
My mother always believed that I was destined to live a great and unusual life, and no truer words were ever spoken. No matter what I may have suffered as a child or struggled with as an adult, my life has been a series of adventures that became the building blocks of who I am today. After all, you cannot build resilience without pain or sorrow. This is the yin and yang of life. The darkness and the light define each other, one cannot exist without the other.
John O’Donohue’s book Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Hunger To Belong has been in my personal library for the past 20 years or so, but never before have I referred to it as much as these past weeks. My intrinsic need to belong somewhere is deep-seeded, stemming from a nomad life of having moved around 18 times in my lifetime. I yearned to put down roots somewhere and for my soul to recognise that know that I am finally home.
Those of you who have followed my blog since its inception in 2009 know that my relationship with Berlin was tenuous as best, and I never felt that I belonged there. Sure, it was home, and the precious little apartment by the river was my sanctuary for the entire time I lived there, but as farf as cultural and emotional identity goes, it was never mine to stake a claim to. During the two times I lived there I never seemed to take flight and flourish, feeling insecure and mediocre at best, questioning my own skills and abilities more than once. I survived it, yes, and forged some priceless friendships along the way, but it also broke me, brought me to my knees financially, professionally, mentally, and emotionally.But there are two things Berlin never managed to break within me: faith and spirit.
I prayed for deliverance.
I prayed for a breakthrough.
I prayed for steadfast endurance.
I prayed for recovery from the unholy mess I got myself into.
I prayed for strength and courage to never fail me.
I prayed that I never again be backed into a corner and feel threatened.
I prayed to never again be dominated and defined by anyone.
I prayed that my artistic soul lead me to my true port.
I prayed for signs during my journey, and the wisdom to recognise them.
I prayed for the ability to heed Destiny’s call when she came knocking.
Well, I ended up staying five years in Berlin instead of the intended short -term stopover. There was a time between 2016 – 2021 that my life was all about the D words: death, devastation, destruction, deceipt, denial, divorce, derrailment, and disruption. The losses were greater than the gains, but through it all, I managed to come up for air and tread water with every fibre of my being, and brick by brick I have re-built. I have replaced the D-list words with destiny, dreams, destination, dramatic, daring, dauntless, decisive, dedicated, devoted, determined, developing, discerning, and hope to be disarming, delicious, distinguished and divine without being too ditsy and dorky. (Thanks to KH for this list!) But for now, Diva will do.
So when Destiny came knocking five weeks ago completely out of the blue, how could I possibly deny that which I have been praying for all along? Sure, it was a hell of a risk and leap of faith to turn my entire life upside down within five days, but there was something about moving away from the devastation and into the unknown that spoke to me on a level that defies logic; and here I am – on the threshold of something incredibly bold and unchartered, but intrinsically comforting welcoming.
I keep being asked how I feel about living in Portugal now. My answer from Day 1 has been that I was brought here for a reason that i have yet to discover, but if there is one thing I am sure of: i belong.
FOR A NEW BEGINNING
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
– John O’Donohue (From Benedictus)