Thursday evening 6 pm, time to leave the office. This was no ordinary Thursday evening, but I didn’t know it at the time. The office grew darker, storm was brewing. Buckets of water started to pour down from a dark heaven. As I waved my colleagues goodbye, with one arm in my coat and the other fiddling around, the Danish curly-haired boss called me back (there was an Elegant English one too). “Here Andrea, take my umbrella”. I’ve always hated umbrella’s! Maybe somehow I knew, because I have never bought myself one, I’d much rather get wet. Nevertheless, refusing was something I just couldn’t do. He had curly, grey hair growing long to both sides of his head like Einstein, the look of Heidi’s grandfather, he spoke softly with a thick Danish accent and he was my personal all-things-space-related guru.
It was the 2nd of October 2008 and the world was at the start of a global financial crisis. The United States’ Senate had just passed a $700 billion bailout plan and since then onwards news of banks all over the world needing saving, massive bailouts and central banks announcing rate cuts were roller coasting in. On that same day, Thor decided I needed a though-loving wake up call.
As I left the office in Brussels, running towards the bus stop, with my phone in one hand and the umbrella in the other, a lightning bolt touched the earth through me. I remember the moment it entered into my left hand, I was suspended in the air, I remember seeing the umbrella in my right hand in the brightest white light. Then it all went black. I left home a career minded, independent woman in the morning and in the evening I was lying on a hospital bed with incessant epileptic seizures, in excruciating pain and hardly able to speak. After a recovery period in hospital, where none of the staff had experience with lightning survivors, let alone answers, I was sent home to a different life and a different world. Totally confused, epileptic, hardly able to stand or walk by myself and with short-term memory issues, I was my family’s Dory.
October 2008 marks a definite before and after. I changed, but it seemed to me the world had also been struck by lightning.
It took years for me to rediscover myself and my body. In the same time I also needed to understand what the heck was going on in the world … the financial crisis, the rise of terrorism, racism and nationalism, the pattern of budget cuts and growing poverty in wealthy nations and more importantly how it all had come to be and what it would mean for the future. In short “?!???!!!”.
Any sense of security and control I once felt over my life had vanished. I felt I knew nothing anymore and I needed to understand again, so I began searching for answers. I opened up to everything and listened to my body, my mind and everyone with an opinion. I followed several news providers from different countries from conventional to alternative media on a daily basis, I searched for answers on the internet and I spent years in the library reading everything that could provide answers. All this time, I was constantly aware of my body, afraid of what other damage it could have suffered and somewhere in all that searching and listening, I started to hear my heart.
Trying to understand what had happened to the world and to my body was without knowing the key, after that, there was no way back.
At first, my heart was treacherous and cruel, it made me sad and feeling like something was wrong with me and I was out of place. I was sure the crazy song was written for me, but I kept on searching and listening. I lost all my certainties, I even lost my religion, I was angry and afraid, but I kept on searching and listening. After several years, my heart finally became my friend. A loud and obnoxious one, but one that gives me joy instead of pain, hope instead of fear, love instead of anger. It took a lightning bolt and a fast changing society to get me into realigning with my heart and now I feel grateful for all of it.
There is so much fear, anxiety and uncertainty in people all over the world nowadays. We certainly have reasons to, so much has happened since 2008. I’ve not even mentioned climate change, viruses, rising political tensions, etc. I’ve been there too, stuck in all things wrong with the world and myself and maybe that’s why I’m writing this. When we finally made peace, my heart told me not to fear. It told me to always choose hope and love, to do good where I can and put my efforts not in fighting the old, but in creating the new. “Focus on the good and it will guide you, focus on the bad and it will drown you” it sternly told me.
So here we are today in Chile, totally out of routine and comfort zone, to create a conscious life and business. The irony, since we left a successful life in a buzzing city in the heart of Europe for it, but that’s what the heart wants to do. Are we there yet? No. Are we certain our future will turn out how we would like it to be? No. Do we feel we know what we are doing? No. Do we feel in control? Most certainly not.
But… I feel peace, joy, excitement and bursting energy. I feel ready to whether any storms or lightning bolts that may still come. I’m submersed in a creative flow, thinking about ways to innovate, to create, to seize opportunities. I see beauty everywhere and when fear enters my mind, my heart quickly brushes it away, replacing it with trust and hope.
Now, if you can avoid a lightning bolt to hit you before you start listening to your heart, please do! Have courage to venture into the depths and follies of your heart, just know however difficult it may be and however long it takes you to decipher and understand what it’s actually asking of you, it’s worth it. Don’t just take my word for it, here are some fun reads on the heart as a strategic business tool, on the link between happiness and innovation and a very entertaining Tedx talk by Shawn Achor on how happiness fuels success and not the other way around. Please don’t just take my advice, search and listen for yourself. Well maybe not only for yourself, for all of us and the better future we can create together, when we listen to the cryptic wisdom of our hearts.