23: Take the Leap

23: Take the Leap

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions

Take the Leap

I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my soul.

~Rumi

In the summer of 2000 I found myself between homes, identities and careers. It had all started eighteen months earlier, when I quit my job in public radio news because it no longer suited me. After that I spent several months working freelance and temporary jobs in New York City before applying to a summer yoga studies program in the green hills of western Massachusetts.

At the yoga center, I found the atmosphere, teachings and community that my soul had been longing for. I stayed on for an additional year to soak up all I could learn about healing, nutrition, Eastern spirituality and personal growth. I cultivated deep and lasting friendships and trained to become a yoga teacher. It felt like being in graduate school, minus the tuition and research papers, and I loved it.

And that’s where I was in August 2000 — finishing up my yoga training, knowing it was time to move on from my radio career, and yet scared to do so. I didn’t really feel qualified or ready to teach the ancient science of yoga or make a living at it. I was eager to leave the countryside and return to the city, but going back to my old life didn’t appeal to me and I didn’t know where else to go. I needed help, so I gathered some friends who were also in transition and we met each week to support each other.

One night during this time I had a powerful dream:

I was determinedly making my way across tall rock formations in the Grand Canyon. As I’m not even much of a hiker in waking life, this was pretty strange, but there I was, boldly trekking. At one point in my journey across the canyon I came to a place where the next rock was too far away for a safe leap, and I froze. I somehow knew there was no going back, yet I was too afraid to take the next step.

Suddenly, part of me split off — like a cartoon character—and jumped, falling hundreds of feet to the ground with a splat. As I peered down in horror, I saw a crowd gathering around my fallen self. What happened next was even more bizarre. To everyone’s amazement, the me who had fallen got up, brushed herself off, and walked away.

Up above, the frightened me was somewhat emboldened by this triumph. Very shakily, I stepped forward into the air. Immediately, a kind of magic carpet appeared under my feet and transported me to the next rock, Aladdin-style, where I safely landed.

And so it went, all across the Grand Canyon.

This vivid dream, which came to me during a time of great change and uncertainty, told me two important things: 1) You may fall (fail), and it may even happen in front of lots of people, but it won’t kill you; 2) When you take a step forward, despite your fears, help will arrive.

A few months later, I left the yoga center and moved to Boston, where I began to teach yoga and personal transformation workshops. I’d landed there without a job, but I had a car, a new set of skills and generous friends with guest rooms. I also had colleagues who let me substitute-teach for them and referred me to places where yoga and workshop instructors were needed and welcomed.

Today I’m a writer, teacher and coach. It’s a career I never could have foreseen from my news-anchor chair at the radio station, and it came about by following my heart in the direction of what promised greater fulfillment, and by having faith. Many of my big life changes have been accompanied by wide-eyed “What the heck am I doing?” moments at 3 a.m. By the light of day, however, if my inner convictions were stronger than my fear and anxiety, I forged ahead.

A few years ago, I saw that the yoga center where I started was offering a new certification program. It looked great, but it was expensive. With a shaky hand, I picked up the phone, heard enough to convince me that this was the right thing for my career, and gave them my credit card number. Within months, the money that I was investing started coming back to me in unexpected ways.

In the end, I believe it’s the things we don’t try that haunt us more than our so-called mistakes and failures. As the poet Mary Oliver suggests, we have just one “wild and precious life” to live, and it’s not a dress rehearsal. As I tell my students and clients, life is always ready to assist us, but we have to take that first, inertia-busting, empowering step.

Since that memorable dream, I’ve taken many more leaps of faith and trusted that I’d be transported with grace to my next adventure. And I have been.

~Kim Childs

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