It all started so innocently three years ago. While walking on a beach that my late parents used to frequent when they were dating, I mindlessly gathered a few stones from the sand as a remembrance of my time there. It wasn’t until hours later when I examined the stones I had hastily gathered and pocketed that I realized one of them was distinctly shaped like a heart.
A couple of years later, friends who visited that same beach brought back a stone for me that their young daughter had found. It, too, was heart-shaped. I kept both stones, occasionally holding them, feeling their smooth contours and admiring them for their beauty, but I didn’t think much about them other than their significance as mementos from a place that had been special to my mom and dad. Instead, I kept going on with my life, consumed with the normal daily distractions and focusing on the unfolding of some rewarding and, truthfully, unexpected career opportunities.
About three-and-a-half years ago, I left my longtime employment as a foundation director in order to pursue a new adventure that would ultimately take me into the heart of three organizations, each of which needed a re-boot. My role with those three organizations has been to facilitate those re-boots. Still, I have wondered if this is the path for me. What am I being called to do?
Last spring, while cleaning the previous fall’s brittle, brown leaves from around the evergreen shrubs next to our garage, I grabbed more than a handful of old, dry leaves. A smooth, blue heart-shaped stone mysteriously found its way into my hand.
It was then that I realized my heart was telling me something. The adventure to finding my next professional steps was beginning. I knew I had to start walking, meditating as I moved, renewing myself and opening myself up to clarity while in the sunshine and fresh spring air. Walking helps me silence the chatter, find peace and open space for me to listen for the message that will guide my next steps.
As I began my regimen of daily solitary walks, I mysteriously started finding heart-shaped stones with regularity. Each time I discovered a lone, heart-shaped stone on my path, it was as if it had been waiting for me. I felt as if each one had been lovingly placed there for me – and me alone. Soon, I was finding a heart-shaped stone every day, which then grew to finding multiple stones on some days.
My collection of heart-shaped stones rapidly grew to an array of colors, textures and sizes. I displayed my collection in a vessel on my writing desk where I could look at them, touch them and reflect on them. What had I been looking for? I had been seeking a clear path to my next professional journey. But, what I kept finding were heart-shaped stones. Then, it came to me that perhaps I was on that path after all. Perhaps the stones were guiding me to follow my heart.
If there is one thing I’ve learned along my life journey so far, it is that it is vital that I choose the path that feels right viscerally – a knowing, a “gut feeling” that it is the right path for me at that time.
I have made some choices in my life that may be incomprehensible (not damaging, just perhaps unusual) to another person, sometimes even to me. However, deep in my being, I have known that they’ve been the right paths to take at that particular time and I have had the contentment and faith to follow them.
As I encounter a fork in the road or a serious nudge over and over again in my life, I find myself choosing the road that feels as if it is right deep inside. It may not be what others want for me or expect of me, but it is what feels right for me. It’s a road that celebrates who I am as a person and allows me to become a better and more complete version of myself. I have been allowing the journey to take me to places where I have had to muster up courage to venture outside of my comfort zone.
Now months into my daily walks, I have a sense of peace that my current journey of questioning, once again stretching outside of the bounds of my comfort zone, is the right one from me right now.
As each heart-shaped stone comes into my path, I feel it is telling me to answer the call that speaks to me, to choose to do those things that will give me meaning, that will allow me to grow and that will allow me to give and receive fully. I’ve always liked rocks. Now, I can honestly say that “I Heart Stones.” And I think those little heart-shaped messages on my path are indeed telling me to follow my heart. And so I shall and the answer will be revealed.