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You wake to your alarm, grab the phone to shut it off, and groan. You feel sort of depressed, sort of sick. You’d pay someone a thousand dollars if you could just stay in bed without facing consequences later. You force your body upright and swing your feet to the floor. You trudge to the bathroom. You shuffle to the kitchen, switch on the coffee pot, stand there in gloom as it starts to rattle and drip. You feel as if you’re in a straightjacket. You ache to do something opposite what you “have to do.” The obligations on your list feel like torture: meetings, paperwork, bills, deadlines, concentration, endurance . . .

When this happens, I believe it’s a signal from our higher selves (call this the subconscious, the conscience, God, your higher power, etc.) that we NEED something different. Those stirrings of discontent mean we’re trying to grow into our true selves.

Do you recall the last time you enjoyed yourself so much you forgot to eat? When you lost yourself in a project that made you ignore the phone and the email? When you woke up excited, bounded out of bed, and jumped right back in without even brushing your teeth? This is all about spirituality.

Remember art class in the second grade? When you could do anything you wanted with construction paper and glue and scissors? Some kids cut animal shapes, others made flowers, and still others made snowflakes by folding and cutting patterns. You looked at their crafts and thought to yourself, “That’s okay, but . . .” Maybe you chopped your paper into tiny bits and created a mosaic. Or perhaps you folded your paper, cut it, and glued it in just the right way to create a three-dimensional structure: a house, a barn, a skyscraper. While you worked on your project, you got a rush of adrenaline. The rest of the world faded into the background. You were at one with your art.

That part of you – the voice inside that says, “I can do better than that,” or “I have a crazy idea!” – is a sacred part. It’s a part that deserves your attention and protection. It has your best interest in mind. This sacred part of yourself calls you to listen and begs you to break out of your routine and find joy.

Here’s an exercise to help you listen to your wise inner voice and discover something that makes you giddy with excitement.

1. Find a time when you have solitude and privacy. Get out your notebook and pen. Get comfortable at a desk or in a chair. Prop your feet up if you can. Get a cup of tea or coffee.

2. At the top of an empty page, write this line: Things I Would Do Today (or This Week) if I Didn’t Have to Be Responsible.

3. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Notice the images that begin to flicker across your mental movie screen.

4. Now fill the page as fast as you can, without lifting your pen. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, logic, or neatness. No one will see this but you. Keep writing . . .

5. When the page is full, read it silently. Then read it aloud.

What do you notice? What does your higher self-seem to be telling you about what you need? (Yes, NEED). To play the guitar? Learn to swing dance? Develop a web-based business? Run a marathon? Volunteer at your child’s school? Get out your paints and brushes and see what forms on the canvas? Get in your car and drive? Plant something in the backyard? Write a haiku?

Remember, these don’t have to make sense in the traditional way. These are beginning stages of alchemy. You are moving toward something good. Breaking out and finding joy . . . which sometimes leads to whole life change. Trust the process.