Following Your Arrow

The lyrics to Kacey Musgrave’s recent country music hit song, “Follow Your Arrow” connected with listeners, thanks to the life-affirming message of being true to yourself.

I whole-heartedly believe it’s part of our responsibility as humans to continually re-assess, re-evaluate, and move forward with positive change. My journey into running, yoga, fitness, and a healthier lifestyle began when I saw the need to make those lifestyle changes.

I recently returned from a life-changing trip to England with my sister-in-law Ann visiting Ann’s cousin, Anna, and her husband, Will. In addition to seeing a lot of London, Ann and I took a bus trip through the English countryside, visiting Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, the quaint village of Lacock, and the lovely city of Bath.

Ann had traveled to London before and actually lived in Naples, Italy for several years. She is an experienced traveler, but it was my first time traveling out of North America. I wondered whether I’d be able to adapt to life in a foreign country, including London’s Tube system, different currency, and strange foods. I was proud to discover that I managed just fine; in fact, on our last day, a man asked for directions on the Tube and I was able to help him.

On the long flight home, I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, chronicling her one-year experiment with finding ways to achieve greater happiness in her life. The book resonated with me because I’ve been on a similar journey following my breast cancer and Richard’s illness and subsequent lung transplant. Once I finished the book, the 9-hour flight gave ample time to ponder my life and contemplate my next steps toward making it even happier and more fulfilling (because my life is already pretty darn great).

I decided to try two new things:

First, I’m going to re-learn how to sketch and take some classes at Nashville’s Watkins Institute to help me achieve that goal. While in London, I bought a book on sketching and supplies at the Tate Modern art museum gift shop. As a kid, I was an artist of fair ability but years of not drawing have caused me to lose my meager skills. So I’ve been sketching a little bit every day in an attempt to get my hands and eyes back in shape until I can take a class.

Second, I’m going to learn French – this one might take me awhile. After visiting England, I’m itching to visit France and want to be able to speak and read their language. Although learning French is an ambitious endeavor, I discovered a local place that teaches French classes; hopefully, they will be able to teach me to say more than “Bon jour” and I’ll be heading to France!

What do you want to do that you’ve been putting off? Whether it’s salsa dancing, cooking, woodworking, or whatever you dream of doing, our world is more filled with resources to make those dreams come true than ever before.

Over the last year, writing my blog and leading running tours pushed me to rediscover writing and inspired me to learn Tennessee and Nashville history. Through these new activities, I learned that a motivated adult who is willing to put in the time to practice and study can still learn and grow.

There’s much more to happiness than learning a new activity, however.

Making yourself (or maybe just myself) more happy comes from within.

Personally, I have two bad habits that I struggle with. Actually, I’m sure I have MUCH more than two bad habits, but these are the two I’m working on now.

1. Lack of patience; and
2. Irritation with any deviation from schedule.

My mother has been counseling me that “Patience is a virtue” all my life. My husband teases that I’m a “planning maniac” – once I come up with a plan, it aggravates me when something disrupts the plan.

Sometimes I have to remind myself both about who I want to be and who don’t want to be.

I want to be cheerful, helpful, generous, friendly, and encouraging. I want to be a supportive friend and a loving, caring, fun wife.

I don’t want to be bitter, easily irritated, jealous, impatient, and bossy. I don’t want to be a critical friend and a demanding, angry, insensitive wife.

Friday morning, Richard had trouble sleeping and I ended up awake with him. My first instinct was to get angry at Richard for waking me up, but then I started to enjoy the time awake with him and our dog, Romeo – the three of us cuddled up in the bed together before it was light outside. We laid there talking in the dark, listening to Romeo’s soft dreaming grunts and barks as he slept. It was precious time with my husband and it happened because (for once) I let go of my “issues.”

If you are searching for greater happiness in your life, I encourage you to read The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin has many excellent suggestions for making improvements in your life that can lead to greater happiness.

The best way to become the person you want to be is by simply being that person. Start now – life is short and we only get one shot at it.


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