What Your Heart is Telling You (and how to act on it)

Why am I here? What am I meant to be doing? What gift have I been given to share with the world?

Although these are some massively scary questions, we owe it to ourselves to live the life we were born to live and I truly believe that our hearts know what that truth is. We just have to listen and brace ourselves for the answers.

Tweet it out: We all have the courage to be the person we’ve always dreamed of being. It just takes guts and a whole lot of patience. – @be_healthful

Me? I’m drowning in questions, dreams, opportunities and a deep desire to define my purpose. But other than being pulled in a bunch of different ways, I’m not really sure how it all fits together.

I feel like something big is coming. I have my hook out, net in hand, waiting for something, searching for anything. I’ve been reading a book a week, meditating twice a day, doodling business plans, planning backpacking trips around the globe, searching for workshops, opening myself up to yoga, working with a vocal coach… I don’t know what I’m looking for but I’m on the hunt for answers and I’m ready to accept whatever comes to me.

This hunger began when we moved and it’s been getting stronger with each passing day. I know we were supposed to make this move, but I don’t know why. I feel lonely, get discouraged often, indulge in a couple of bold cry sessions weekly, doubt myself, question my sanity, and journal… a lot. Doing all of this feels good, like I’m meant to be here, but it’s foreign and uncomfortable.

The move forced me to push a lot of familiar things away. It slashed at my ego – catapulted me into a new life of less money, a smaller home, and less stuff to fill my days.

There are moments where I just want to run away from all these crazy emotions but I know I can’t. I have to stand my ground, build self confidence and believe that I have the courage to become the person I’ve always dreamed of being… even if I’m not 100% sure what that is, yet.

I’d planned to make soup for the blog on Tuesday. It was a horrible day, Tuesday was. The sink broke, my photos looked like crap, I dropped a bowl of completed soup all over the floor, I was unhappy, unbalanced and I just wanted to give up. I lay in a puddle of tears on the floor wishing life just wasn’t so darn difficult.

Then, completely out of the blue, I began singing I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty. A sat there on the floor of my office with soup all over me just singing my little heart out. If you don’t know the lyrics, check them out. Maybe belting out this song was my heart’s way of telling me I should be the next Canadian Idol star? Or perhaps the message was that I just need to stand my ground, keep on trucking, enjoy the journey that I’m on, stay conscious to my intentions and continue to express what my heart was feeling.

Either way, I’ve come up with a couple of tips on how we can all get in touch with our hearts, connect with our truth, realize our deepest desires…. and become them.

5 Steps to Connect to your Heart and Act on it!

  1. Ask tough questions.
    • Are you happy? Don’t consider anyone else while asking yourself this question. Are YOU happy?
    • If you had endless money, time, etc. what would you be doing with your life?
    • What daily activities make you smile and give you a deep sense of belonging, comfort and clarity?
    • When you were young, what had you always dreamed of doing when you grew up?
  2. Embrace the answer. You asked and you’ll receive when you’re ready. Journal about your experience, fears and reservations about potential change. Understand what living a happy life would do to you. What parts of your life would need an overhaul?
  3. Fear won’t hold you back, jump. You’ve always made it out the other end, right? You’re alive and kickin’ to prove it. Just do it.
  4. Don’t back down. Believe that you can do what you want to do and you can be who you want to be. The universe will provide for you.
  5. No body said this would be easy. It’s hard to follow your dreams. It’s scary to do things that don’t feel right but that you know are the next step in your life. You may cry. It’s okay.

I’d love to know, are you living from your heart? What steps have you taken to get to where you are? Or, what steps do you think you could take to bring more truth to your life?

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  1. Love, Love, Love this.

    I’ve missed your ‘life’ posts! I’ve been in the midst of an existential crisis for years now (what do I want out of life, what makes me happy, where is my purpose…). While it’s not always easy, I’m proud of myself for even asking those questions because you’re right, they are hard.

    I’m still working on figuring it all out but in the meantime I think I’ll be rocking some Tom Petty today :)

    • I’ve missed writing them, too! I’ve been feeling a lot of things but haven’t been able to write them all down until now. As you mentioned, it’s scary, challenging and not all that easy, especially when you’re writing it down and sharing it with the world.

      Yes, you should commend yourself for even asking the questions. Many don’t!

  2. You have no idea how excited I was to see the title of this post in my reader this morning. I have an email coming your way, but for now I’ll just say I’ve been nodding ‘yes’ to every point in this post! Some days it feels like everyone around me has it all sorted out, but it’s so comforting to know that you have the same kind of days as me. Maybe we can help each other figure it out… with Tom’s help, of course. ;)

  3. These words really spoke to me…i am in exactly that same place! yesterday i quit my job…so come January anything could happen. I know people will think i’m crazy but inside its what i had to do. if i didn’t break away from my comfort zone it was literally going to break me. There are lots of potential options in the pipeline but one of the biggest for me is to put as much as i can into my blog. I know there will be times i cry and want to settle for the norm but i’ve got to give it a shot there is no other choice! p.s I’m a long time sporadic reader but new subscriber so you may see me pop up in the comments a bit more now ;-)

    • Wow, good for you Jo! People think I’m crazy all the time. But hey, it’s your life, not theirs and you only have one to live so living for others just seems bizarre. Good on you for embracing your passion and jumping even if you have absolutely no idea where you’re going to land. This journey will strengthen your spirit, I’m sure of it!

  4. What a lovely, unexpected gift this post is… For at least the third day in a row, I’m sitting at my desk at work dreaming about the work (that often wouldn’t feel at all like work) that I would be doing if I weren’t here. Much of this post sounds like it came straight out of my thoughts – I have been exploring and searching and waiting and learning and trying, trying, trying to apply myself to creating a different future.

    My dream is pursuing a vocation in which I act as a bridge-builder, teacher of bridge-building, and bridge-collapser in workshop-style classes. It incorporates my loves of writing, storytelling, crochet and myriad other art forms, the outdoors, athleticism, yoga & meditation, and mindful eating. I see myself acting in the capacity of welcoming people to a place where they can begin to find and manifest their hearts desires, to move from one place in their lives to the next, higher, more vital place. I don’t know the “how” yet and I’ve mostly made peace with that because the vision itself is getting clearer each time I repeat it out loud (or in print) and I take great heart that that clarity means I’m going in the right direction.

    What steps? I’m in the “just do something, ANYTHING” phase – I ordered business cards yesterday that will double as product tags so I can sell some of my crocheted items so I can use the money to attend a retreat with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Colorado in September of 2013 called Original Voice: Storytelling just after my 39th birthday. I drew up a spreadsheet that showed how much I could save between December and July if I stop eating breakfast and lunch at work – besides the money, it will be tons healthier, too! I have been slowly redesigning my Etsy/Facebook presence and considering what blog presence I’d like to create from the two or three scattered blogs I have out in cyber space. I have been studying was of being more organized and action-oriented and though it’s slow going, I have seen some improvements in my behavior over the past year. I still slide, sometimes for days at a time, until I realize my family needs clean underwear and the bills aren’t going to pay themselves automatically (well, some of them will, but a fair few still need my attention).

    All in all, I’ve had the physical resources to move forward for some time… I lacked two things: 1.) a clearly defined goal and 2.) self confidence. I have been defining my goal, knowing that it doesn’t have to be written in stone, that it remains as malleable as I allow it. And I have allowed myself a modicum of confidence, allowed myself to believe that I have the mental, spiritual and emotional tools as well as the support system I need. As Louise Hay might say, I am supported by life in all endeavors I undertake and find success wherever I search for it. :) Thank you for giving yourself and consequently us, your readers, the space to share these visions, hopes and dreams together today. Namaste.

    • Wow Michelle – you know your dream, what you’re after and you’re making it a reality. Thanks for sharing the Louise Hay quote. It’s so perfect for this journey. Thank you!

  5. Wow. It is like you saw into my heart and wrote what you found there. I feel the exact same way! I know that the reoccurring lesson for me is patience. I just read somewhere that you will find what it is you are looking for when you stop looking for it. Easier said then done.

    • Ah, patience… yes! I struggle with that one, too. Enjoy the journey, Kerrin :)

  6. I really was happy to read this today. Emotional changes as well as life changing experiences have sent me to yield for two year s ‘ 5 Steps to Connect to your Heart and Act on it’ questions, I have said yes to every question. Time to reconnect with myself ,listen to my internal voice and try and push fear away. Thanks for the great post, very comforting. I’ll be listening to Toms’ song even more

    • You’re so right, we can go through those steps time and time again but if fear limits us, we’ll go nowhere. You can DO it!

  7. Take a minute to look at who you are and what you’ve accomplished. All these people read your stuff everyday cause YOUR AWESOME! Stop and enjoy yourself!

    • Thank you, Jessica! I think we could all benefit from your suggestion.

  8. Just stumbled upon your blog and wow, I really relate to all the things you’re saying here. I think a lot of us dreamers also feel we’re on the verge of something big. Your 5 steps are really awesome and inspiring. Definitely bookmarking your site … love it!

    • Hi Scott – thanks for stopping in and saying hello. I’m glad that you found me and enjoyed this post! Have a fabulous day :)

  9. This is a really great post Leanne. Its nice to see into the lives of others and know that everyone has tough times. But like you said its all about how you look at it. And this really portrays a lot of intelligence from you which I really, really respect. I too have gone through some hard times. Im currently 16 years old and about a year and a half ago, I had to make a decision that changed my life forever, and for the better because I was sick and tired of getting made fun of all the time and being depressed. So I made the decision to start exercising regularly and eating very healthily. And the right kind of healthy, not the kind of weird “healthy” that the media portrays and to say the least when it comes to medias portrayal of healthy, theirs is a flawed concept. And through a lot of very hard work, blood, sweat and the occasional tear I lost over 100 pounds. I made that decision about a year and a half ago like I said and now I’m 16 years old, fit, happy, I feel attractive, girls want to date me, and I still have that powerful affinity for food and now I have combined it with my new found passion for health. And after going through what I went through I learned all of the things you listed the hard way. But you listed them all out for the people who still need to make that journey and I think that’s a really great thing. So again really wonderful post Leanne. I look forward to seeing more life posts from you. And of course mouth watering recipes!

  10. Your post really spoke to me. I am going through exactly what you have so eloquently put into words. I recently moved from southern California to the Deep South, I mean Deep! I am adjusting to a new lifestyle and I constantly scream at my self, “What is your purpose?” I want so badly to find it. I, too, just recently took up yoga and it has been amazing. However, I have noticed that what I need is patience. And, to ask those questions and be open to the answers. I find that the book, “I Am,” by Howard Falco is comforting during these times. There is an emphasis on being open to allow the universe to tell you what you want to know. It truly is amazing that if you ask the questions, the answers are there for you. You just have to let go of the fear and worry and allow them to speak to you. Love your post and I think you are doing your purpose. You are providing great information to many and touch our lives as you do it. What better purpose could there be. You are experiencing life and leaving behind your footprints in others hearts. Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Amber – thanks for the book recommendations and kind words about my work :) It sounds like we’re on a very similar journey and you’re right, letting go of fear and being patient are some of the most challenging things to do!

  11. Sometimes I fear asking myself these questions but I know I owe it to myself. I am happy you wrote about connecting with the heart because I needed a little push to finally realize that I should reconnect with my mind and heart. I need to take time to finally face my fears…

  12. I have to agree with this post and the many comments I’ve seen.

    I’m 25 and a few months ago a fight with my husband turned into him moving out and filing for a divorce. Its definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to say, but when he asked me, “Are you happy?” I answered honestly and said, “No, but I’m trying.” Maybe things weren’t meant to work out. Obviously, I was angry and said things I regret after he left but now that its been a few months, I’m trying to take some time and do things that make ME happy. even if thats as simple as crying.

    I, like everyone else in life, have good days and bad days. A good hair day sometimes can make me smile, and I’ve cried when I’ve spilled coffee all over my clothes on my way out of the door to go to work. I’ve also had some good laughs, thinking about happy memories. Like when my husband dropped and entire gallon on milk on the sidewalk.

    I found this great ad in a health magainze years ago and while cleaning out my husbands things, i found it and put it on the wall. I can’t remember them all, but a few things that stuck with me::

    “Experience the power of pure silence.”
    “Every moment of suffering brings an opportunity to build resilience.”
    “Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back from making a change.”

    • Wow Joli, thanks for sharing your story with us and for the amazing words of encouragement. They’re so powerful!

  13. I’ve been working on an email to you the past few days, not quite sure what to write, but hoping you would address these very topics and answer these very questions. Life isn’t easy, but you’ve created this wonderful space for people to connect, learn from and lean on each other. You are a very strong woman, Leanne. Pouring your heart out and letting the world in amidst the emotions you’re feeling is a very brave thing to do. Thank you for being you!

    • I’m happy that you liked it, Sam! Thank you for your beautiful words of support and encouragement :)

  14. Don’t worry Leanne…it wasn’t just you! The Lunar Eclipse yesterday has everyone feeling quite ‘off’ this week. Don’t forget, Lunar Eclipses are 10x more powerful than a regular full moon, so emotions are running very high.

  15. Very inspiring post ! It comes at the right moment… Your “five steps” formulate pertinent questions : the basic problems are to be strong enough to look for the answers and to accept them, then to reach what you want/are. Thank you Leanne.

  16. I totally know where you’re coming from. my whole life I felt like I didn’t belong where I was (I was born and raised in canada – lovely country and I love being canadian, but it doesn’t feel like home to me.) so two years ago I quit my job, moved to the UK without another job lined up or even a home to live in and things totally brightened up for me. I made tons of new friends, I felt a real love for my living, had a boyfriend, got to travel, etc. it was absolutely brilliant and I was so incredibly happy there.

    then, my visa expired and I’ve had to move back to canada, I’m unemployed, I’m not happy living here (I moved back to canada in september) and I can’t go back to the UK to live unless I land a really high-paying job or marry a british person. life’s cruel sometimes; it gives you a taste of perfection and in the next breath pulls the rug out from under you.

    • I had something similar happen to me going to a college in the south. Loved it, did not want to move back home but everything fell apart and moving home was my only option. But what I did gain from it was that I COULD be happy! I was starting to question that since like you, my home never felt right. Two years after moving back home, I met my husband. And, if he had found me in college, I wouldn’t have known how good he was for me. After getting married, we were ready to move and start a new life somewhere else, but it wasn’t meant to be. I needed to face the secrets and issues that I had with my family. I had stuffed these things away and they were making me miserable. And, 13 years later I am in the south again. I’m experiencing live in the south, like I always wanted to. But if has taken me time to understand why these things have happened in my life. I am sure it will all make sense years from now for you, as well. Hang in there, your answers will come to you if you let them.

      • thanks, amber. I know there’s a plan for my life I just can’t see it right now. I’m glad you’re getting to live the life of your dreams :)

  17. I totally got where you where sitting in your office with soup all over you. When Jack Lalanne died I decided to do a memorial post on him and I couldn’t thing of a more fitting food to do it on than fresh juice. I whipped up a batch of carrot beet celery ginger juice and was taking it into my room to take pictures of it and I tripped and spilled it all over the white carpet in there. it took tow weeks of scrubbing and a multitude of cleaners and finally a professional carpet cleaner to get it out. The post never got done. occasionally I think back on that and wish I had preserved and didn’t back down and went and made another batch of juice and took the pictures in the middle of mayhem. But I was too busy cleaning that carpet to think of that at the time.
    On another note, You sound like you need an astrological reading. It would be very interesting to see what is going on in your chart. There is a LOT going on up there and putting a lot of pressure on all of us to evolve or die. (in a nut shell) I do readings if you are interested or get someone you know, but I think that would be a great investment in yourself and explain a few things that you have questions of. Good luck my dear. Keep that tail high!

    • Wow, something about spilling things just pushes us over that edge, doesn’t it? I’m convinced it wasn’t a coincidence that the soup went all over the place.

      I don’t know much about astrological readings, sounds very interesting. I’m assuming the information is on your website? Thanks for the suggestion!

  18. This hit home for me. I recently moved out of my parents house and 2 hours away [around the same time you moved] after dealing with a lot of health problems during the past year and started a new job along with a completely new life. I know I’m meant to be here, but there are times when I am so lonely [the joys of living in a huge 1 bedroom apartment!] and my job is so hard one me physically that it feels utterly ridiculous.

    The best part of this whole transition for me [that i have to keep reminding myself] is that I have never been happier despite all of the lonely times and major struggles I face. I was actually more lonely at my parents house because I was home by myself for the majority of each day with nothing to do and I had no friends close by. Here I have a job, friends and a new found LIFE to keep me busy. Before I felt like I was just here; now I feel like I’m actually living.

    Thank you for reminding us that we are not alone in this. Hang in there sweetheart!!

    • Ah yes, I feel the SAME way about our new home. I’m smiling more, I know this. But I think I’m scared to admit that I am happier here. There’s resistance there. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found your little spot in the world and began to define what makes you smile!

  19. Oh, Leanne, what a courageous post. The things you wrote really resonate with me – I left my job in 2010 and have vacillated between utter elation and complete terror ever since. Despite all the struggles, two years later, I don’t regret it and am grateful that I made the decision to follow my heart.

    What I have found helpful is posting a few reminders above my computer, where I see them every day. The first one is ‘I am doing exactly what I need to be doing’. Whenever I begin to stress or worry, I return to that reminder and it’s very soothing. Remember that your heart is leading you to the right place!

    • That’s a great idea, Sondi. I’m going to add a couple of post-it notes on my wall today!

  20. So awesomely put Leanne! Your words really touched a heart string. It can be difficult to be totally and completely honest when answering “Are you happy?”.
    I went to university for computing engineering and while I enjoyed the classroom problems, I found that I simply had no passion or motivation for it in the real world. I felt useless and unhappy and that’s when I started researching the baking and pastry industry. I decided I would try and apply to a baking program first and see if I get in. When I was accepted, that was when I really had to decide. Would I give up this comfortable good paying career for something labour intensive and low paying? What about opposition from my parents? I took a deep breath and made the leap.
    Now I’m attending SAIT in Calgary and loving every minute! It was very scary to move so drastically outside of my comfort zone but I knew this was the right move. Just like you said, it’s not easy but if you believe in who you are and what needs to be done, then it can be done. :)

    • Wow Jamie, good on you for setting aside the beliefs and expectations of others and jumping forward toward your passion. Seems silly to follow a life we know deep down inside that we don’t really, really want!

  21. As someone who suffers from an eating disorder and struggles with manic depression, I really enjoyed the purpose of this post. I may not be able to do what truly makes me happy yet, but I know God has a plan for me and as I’ve suffered, I’ve also grown spiritually and I’ve seen the world more for what it is, which is a blessing even though growing up is hard and I miss being a child with rose-tinted glasses through which I viewed the world and everyone in it. You are doing so well and your passion and dedication is boggling to me because right now I have no such dedication in the things I love, and you continue to inspire me. Remember that loving other people is just as important as finding out more about yourself. xoxo, Waffle

  22. Such a perfect and beautifully written post. I love it so much I even bookmarked it so that I can return to it during those tough and confusing times in life (which is quite often these days). I’ve been asking myself “are you happy” often these days. It helps keep me grounded, realistic, and sets my sights to the future.

  23. If nothing else, know that all of the above comments have shown you that you’re not alone. We’re all on a journey <3

    I'm currently struggling through the last of a yoga teacher training course. It's been SO much more than I ever could have imagined. As far as a spirituality deepening practice (even if I never actually teach a class) it will have been completely worth it. Completely life changing. Definitely recommend. Can't be worse than the CSNN program, right (certainly shorter anyways!) ;)

    • You’re totally right, Kristin. I love hearing the stories from others and realizing that; even if everyone looks to have their life together, 99.9% of us are on a journey to creating ourselves. There’s comfort in that for sure.

      I’ve always wanted to take teachers training but struggle with what form of yoga I would pick. There’s so many that I love! So amazing to know that the experience has changed your life dramatically. One of these days I’ll do it!

  24. Leanne, as a young mom who spends most days at home with Elmo and Curious George, I too find myself asking questions like yours at times. Am I really doing what I am supposed to? Am I doing what I was created to do? And I felt compelled to encourage you that I think those are THE most important questions we can ask in this life. I’m so excited that you are asking them! I was especially challenged by one of your last questions, “What steps do you think you could take to bring more truth to your life?” I was so struck by that, as I am learning that the only thing that rescues me from despair is Truth. I believe that the answers to all of those questions can be found in the source of Truth, the Bible. It might sound old-fashioned in this discussion, but it makes sense that the God who created us would provide us with all the answers our hearts crave! Some people may view the Bible as simply a list of rules, but I firmly believe that it holds everything we need to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Praying that you continue this journey of seeking out the Truth! Thank you for your honesty and posting what was on your heart.

  25. Looooove this post. You are speaking to exactly where I am at right now and I can relate 110%. After a crazy busy and overly stressful year, I’m making huge changes to my business for 2013 and quitting some big projects. Walking away from something that I have built takes a lot of guts – probably more guts than it took to start it in the first place – but my heart just hasn’t been in it. Thank you for this powerful reminder about listening to ourselves (and only ourselves!) when we ask the big questions.

    • You’re right, walking away is hard, especially when it’s something you’ve built up over a long period. Guh, I know the feeling exactly! Glad my post resonated with you, Sonnet :)

  26. So… I’m reading this post and the comments looking for some inspiration and answers. I currently work in an unfulfilling, soul sucking job with people that are unsupportive, condescending and at times, mean. However, my job is secure, pays well, and allows me the opportunity to do schoolwork in down time (I’m an adult gone back to college). I was just offered a job (not a dream job, just a job), with less pay, better schedule, seemingly better working environment not dealing with people’s personal tragedies every day. I am so torn!! I’m doing what I know to find the answers within myself. I’ve always believed happiness prevailed and is more important than money. BUT now that i’m actually faced with that i’m finding it hard to make it that simple. Do you have any tried and true tricks that help you find the truth within you? I love this post and the comments, It seems so simple . But is SO hard taking a plunge! (Sometimes changing lifestyle is difficult.. as it’s easy to get into a certain way of living). SO DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!

    • Hi Trisha – I believe you KNOW what to do, you’re just scared to do it… and that’s okay! Gosh, I’m terrified of the next chapter of my life and find it difficult to commit to things when I have no idea what the outcome will be. Something that’s helped me is if I write down everything I’m scared of with a new opportunity, in your case, leaving the secure job, and then go through each item and assign a feeling to it, scared, embarrassed, upset, etc. Then, I go through each one individually and say, “I am scared over XYZ because I see something that is not there.” It’s almost like I am releasing the emotions from that thought. Because at this point, all it is is a thought, nothing more. Once I’ve done that a couple of times, my mind is a lot clearer and I can make a better decision for myself. No matter what you choose, you’ve been faced with challenges before, and look where you are now… it’ll work out. Always does!

  27. i love this post. as i stumbled on it a bit late, it is never too late to ask these questions. sometimes i think we will never find the answers to these questions as the the answers will always be changing as we change. i love how you say you are trying to become the person you’ve always dreamed of becoming even of you’re not 100% sure what that is. i can completely relate. it kind of reminds me of this quote i stumbled on awhile back (i love quotes!) “to try to be better is to be better.”
    even though we may never be perfect or ever fully answer all the questions we ask i think that just having the courage to ask is so important.
    i really enjoy these life posts. and i really enjoy you :)

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