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Don’t Know What You Want? Read This.

Group of friends on a boat.

12 years ago I had this deeply embarrassing moment.

It was unsightly, unseemly, shameful…
AND it was a turning point in my life—one that plugged me back into one of my favorite things ever.

Bottom line: I was super jealous—like green-eyed monster jealous—of one of my friends.
Let’s call her Frida. 

I’m fairly certain Frida didn’t know I was harboring sour thoughts about her as I observed her life, but I was obsessed by something she had that I didn’t: travel.

Every time I encountered her or even heard about her, she was taking her family Europe where they would drive around for two months in a vintage VW bus they rented—or heading to New Zealand to explore, or Pategonia, or someplace cool I felt like I would never, ever see in my lifetime.

I had a realllllllly good story going about this woman—one that fed my green-eyed monster a steady diet of Ring Dings and Doritos…crappy junk food stories that fuel self-righteousness.

I bet she’s got a trust fund.
Or her husband does.
She comes from money—so someone else is probably bankrolling her travel.
She’s pretending she doesn’t have money, but she totally does.
She doesn’t need to work for money, that’s just something she does for fun.

She was lovely—which made it even worse, as I felt like a wretched shrew for thinking green-eyed thoughts about her.

(Yeah, really unsavory stuff. You’re welcome for being honest.)

But you want to know my real mistake?

I was making this about her and not about me.

It was always about me. Silly, Lael…

One day, after Frida left for yet another EFA (Epic Family Adventure…again? WTF!), a friend overheard me kvetching, bemoaning, and beating the angry-sad drum of jealousy while I told myself unconfirmed stories and grieved the loss of something I believed I would never have.

Watching me point and cluck and roll my eyes, my friend said something so simple and yet so powerful, it’s like she cleaved me open and I peeled like a banana.

“Oh, Lael….you wanna travel…..”

Wait what!? I thought we were talking about Frida…? I wasn’t talking about me…or was I?

Because as she said that simple statement to me, hot tears filled my eyes and proceeded to roll down my cheeks without my permission. My mouth fell open. My chest swelled up with desire at having named an unrequited love that had been living—caged—in my heart.

This is the moment I look for every day when I work with my clients—knowing tears arriving on the scene, the fluid harbingers of inspired action.

One of my clients once instructed me to watch for her to tear up, because she knew her truth lived inside her tears—and that’s what she was after. Her. Truth. Her. Desire.

The parts of her life that were waiting to be lived.

So what could I say to you now that would call forth tears of desire to your eyes?

What could I point to? Where could I call you out? Where are you caged because you’re not allowed to want what you want? What are the unconfirmed stories you’ve got going about other people that are keeping you right where you are?

It’s okay—and not surprising—if you don’t know the answers to those questions. You don’t have to.

Where you are jealous will point you in the direction of your longing. If you are curious, go there. Inspired action will follow—even if it’s a small step or symbolic gesture.

That was the case for me 12 years ago when my friend asked me, “So do you have an active passport, Lael?”

I left that conversation with my friend and swung by the US postoffice on the way home to pick up one of those ridiculously antiquated application forms you fill out to start the process.

That form sat in a pile of papers for—I kid you not—about 6 months. I knew it was there. I could feel it there, calling to me.

  • Sometimes mocking me: Who do you think you are!? you don’t have any money to go galivanting about Europe….
  • Sometimes daring me: You realize if someone GAVE you a ticket to travel outside the country you couldn’t go because of me…?
  • Sometimes inspiring me: Baby steps, Lael, baby steps…just. this. one.

That was the linchpin, that one #$@% form. That was the keystone, the magic button that opened the vault of my desire and let it out into the light of day.

A year later, we took our young family to Canada (it’s a start!) to ski.
10 years ago, my husband and I went to Paris to celebrate our 20th anniversary.
4 years ago, we took our family of four to London to celebrate my 50th—with four days notice (thanks to a hurricane in NC that left us with a vacation and no destination—and travel insurance).

Good thing we had those passports ready, eh?

And today? 12 years after that awful and awesome embarrassing moment of jealousy?
We’re headed to Scandinavia as a family to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
We’ll be renewing our vows in front of our boys by a fjord in Norway, thank you very much.

So those unsightly, unseemly, unsavory thoughts and feelings you have—see if you can name them.
And then own them as yours. Use them as fuel to wholeheartedly want what you want.

You’re more than welcome to continue to make up stories about someone else (do you have them about me now?), but somewhere in there, get curious about your own story.

The story you have not yet lived—but desperately long for.

That’s your way forward. And it might start more simply than you think—like filling out a form.

Take it from me—and Frida.


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