When You Don't Know Which Way to Go, Go Within

Take your business as it is, child, and praise Divine Love that there is a strong wise way out of your dilemma. 
Emma Curtis Hopkins

I received an email from a friend who is considering a move. She is not happy where she is living and is looking for a new start. This reminded me of what has been going on in my own life recently, including having fantasies of moving away to find the “perfect” life. There may be no such thing as a perfect life, but fantasy can paint a pretty convincing picture of the wonderful life and perfect people and no problems that could be “if only.” Of course, if I know how to live my life well, I can have a wonderful life without having to pack everything up and move to the other side of the country. Having felt as if all the pieces of my life have been tossed into the air in the last year, I am seeing a few pieces beginning to land and create a new pattern for my life right here in Nashville. While I had fantasies of moving away and starting a pristine new life during these months of feeling disconnected from my old life (especially when facing the heat and humidity of a Nashville summer), I have come to realize it is not what is around me that makes the difference, it is what is inside me. 

Remember the saying “Wherever you go, there you are?” If I am only moving "away from" I'll be recreating the same problems in the new place. What I am goes with me. New faces and situations can just become new variations on an old mindset. If I’m giving my power away by blaming others or telling old stories of defeat and anger, I will find a way to recreate those negatives in a new location. If I’m always creating drama and chaos, I will do the same no matter where I move. Moving is not going to change my life—it is changing my thoughts and beliefs about what life can or cannot be that makes the real difference. 

There is a story told of a wise man sitting upon a hill next to a busy road. A traveler came by and asked the wise man about the people in the next town--what were they like? Was it a good place to live? The wise man asked the traveler, “What were the people like in the town you left?” "Oh, they were quarrelsome and difficult, hard to get along with, and not worth my time." The wise man answered, "They are the same in the town that you are going to." Later in the day another traveler stopped to talk to the wise man and asked him about the people in the next town. "What kind of people will I find there?" he asked. The wise man asked him, "What kind of people did you find in the town you came from?" "Oh, they were friendly and helpful. Everyone was so wonderful. Such beautiful people and I was sad to leave them behind." The wise man then said, "You will find the same kind of people in the town you are going to." 

That said, moving can be a powerful catalyst for breaking old thought patterns and negative habits—if you are already committed to doing your inner work right now, right where you are. Your commitment to the life you already have will help you make the right move at the right time for the right reasons. Here or there, your inner work, your choices, your thoughts, will create a life you love or a life that reflects your negativity. 

I moved to Nashville in 1993 to fulfill my songwriting dreams. It was country music boomtown at the time, with Garth Brooks at the top of the charts and an amazing community of like-minded dreamers who had moved from all parts of the country to pursue the same dream. Ninety-five percent of the people who come to town for the music leave in two years. They come excited to conquer the music industry, and leave after discovering that the music machine rolled over them. Nashville can be a tough town, and dreams can sour. Those who stay and become ten to fifteen year “overnight successes” usually find that it is the community that keeps them in town, not the career. 

I wouldn’t trade anything for the experiences I’ve had in Nashville and the music I made. But the elusive songwriting deal never manifested, and other hopes and dreams faded in the reality of making ends meet. There are signs that the Internet infrastructure is finally beginning to help artists find markets and support themselves with their creative work. But most of my songs are still sitting on the shelf, and even my book career has been a roller coaster ride instead of the steady climb I had hoped. I still hope. I’m working to make my creative dreams a reality and to live a fulfilling life using my best gifts and talents. And I adore the songs I wrote with incredible co-writers. I am thankful for the wonderful people I’ve met, and friends who have stayed and friends who moved away. I am glad I moved to Nashville when I did so I could experience that magic time. It was like falling in love. It was also, at times, like being in a bad relationship. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I found a community of like-minded people when I moved to Nashville, but as the years went by the community changed and so did I. I have enjoyed lasting friendships, but I have also seen a lot of people come and go. The music industry not only went into a bust cycle (it's always been boom and bust) but imploded, and most of the people I know, even ones who were getting deals in the early 90s and making hits, are struggling to survive. Many gifted and deserving people who are great performers and writers, people who should be on radio and TV, are relieved right now just to have a day job (if they have one). There's a standing joke in town: How do you get a songwriter off your porch? Pay him for the pizza. (I still remember one hit songwriter and producer telling the story of hearing his first song on the radio after a particularly dismal pizza delivery in the rain, with no tip from a very tiresome customer. He climbed into his truck, turned the radio on, heard his song being played for the first time, and laid his head down on the steering wheel and cried. He went on to a stellar career and his pizza delivery days were over. Love those Cinderella/triumph over the odds stories.).

I enjoy being part of a wonderful and diverse community here in Nashville. Some of my friends are songwriters, but many have little or nothing to do with the music business. My community is more varied now, a product of my years here and my involvement with activities and organizations and ongoing friendships. Though I was willing to move away (or get a day job, or do whatever Spirit might be guiding me to do) and open to making big changes in my life, I’m discovering that small incremental choices are leading me to the new life I crave. Little roots are being re-established in this town. If I’m supposed to leave Nashville, it’s not at this time.

Now my window of “not knowing” is beginning to close. I’m doing less anxiety reading and more focusing of my energy into creating the life I want to live. I’m currently in a “build it and they will come” mode as I embrace taking ideas out of airy nothingness and bringing them into manifest reality. An e-book, building my website and Internet presence, and settling into a new routine are all the focus of my days now.

I am choosing to stop looking for outside answers to my question of “What do I do now?” As all of my clients of almost 20 years have melted away due to the financial meltdown and changes in the publishing industry, I had been looking everywhere for new sources of revenue. Recently I realized that I was beginning to feel like a crazed gerbil trying to find its way out of a Byzantine maze. Let me tell you that panicked gerbil thinking will get you nowhere fast. When the old answers don’t work (and believe me, they don’t work any more at this moment in my life) it is time to approach things with a different mindset. 

I recently decided to spend some concentrated time in prayer, re-centering my energies, and getting quiet inside so I could hear the still small voice of God. Since what I had been doing was ineffective anyway (if they’re not hiring, they’re not hiring) I decided to look inward, concentrating on my inner light and on God as my Source. Knowing that all other doors closing could be the guidance I’ve been asking for, I took time to think about what I really want. While financial solutions are important (and essential) I could see that they might be found in doing what I love to do instead of forcing myself to fit into some preconceived notion of what I should do. I have given my best effort to finding conventional work and nothing has worked. Maybe those closed doors are a sign that I should follow my heart and trust the process, even if everything still feels amorphous and ambiguous. 

As I choose this path with heart, I realize I have everything to gain and nothing to lose in following my heart and doing what I love to do. So here I am again, writing my blog. I’m working on my first e-book and plan to get it out as soon as I learn how to do all the things you need to do to publish and prepare for market. “Build it and they will come.” I’m building. I have also been learning the ropes on social marketing. I’m on Facebook now, just beginning to build my public page. I’m not quite ready for Twitter, but as I build my infrastructure I’m sure I’ll eventually be tweeting with the best of them. I’m looking at ways to offer some of my best and most beautiful photos to the marketplace. I’m reading what others are saying about this brave new world of finding your tribe on the Internet. I’m learning new skills, opening my mind to new ideas, meeting new people. 

As well as doing an intense amount of work, I’m also disciplining myself to take time out and to give myself some breathing space for creative renewal. Taking long walks after hours at the computer has yielded fresh ideas and larger perspectives. Being with friends has become an essential, not an option. I may not know how this will unfold, but I’m building a creative space and believing that my tribe will find me. 

Instead of moving somewhere else, I reinventing my life right where I live, here and now. Instead of looking for the permission of others, I’m giving myself permission. And instead of expecting instant answers, I’m taking this one small step at a time, believing that I am guided as one thing leads to another. I’m asking myself “How can I contribute to the greater good? How can I create value? How can I use my best gifts and talents to create something heartfelt and authentic that will encourage others and remind them of the good, the true, and the beautiful?” 

I’m listening and present in the Presence, asking for God’s help and guidance. When you don’t know which way to go, go within. You’ll find solutions, help, and unexpected resources appearing in your life. And maybe, just maybe, some of the answers will find you, drawn by the law of attraction and your willingness to believe in and invest in your best dreams. 


People aren’t reading books so much. They text and Twitter and Google a lot—anxiety reading—but they’re too jumpy for books.
George Dawes Green (novelist quoted in Publishers Weekly interview 7/13/09)

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Buckminster Fuller

The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Peter Drucker

Within me is the unborn possibility of limitless living; mine is the privilege of giving birth to it.
Eric Butterworth

Sooner or later, you must put God first in your life, that is to say, your own true spiritual development must become the only thing that really matters. You will find that you will do a great deal less running about after things that do not matter, when once you do.
Emmet Fox

There is a state of awareness possible in the mind which rises above all confusion, apprehension, fear, or doubt, and, looking over the obstructions, can dissipate them by the divinity of its own God-like glance.
Ernest Holmes

When your inner spirit is in harmony with Nature, it can adapt readily to all events and possibilities.
Marcus Aurelius

True magic, divine magic, consists in using all one’s faculties, all one’s knowledge, to bring about the kingdom of God in oneself and in others.
Omraam Mickhael Aivanahov

With our inventive powers, we can be passionately for each other and for the whole living world around us.
Ben Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander

God does not ask anything else except that you let yourself go and let God be God in you.
Meister Eckhart

I have spent my time stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.

When we create from the unity of body, mind, and spirit, we are one with our muse, and our work is always original, always powerful.
Jeanne Carbonetti 

Find your own quiet centre of life and write from that to the world. 
Sarah Orne Jewett

Affirmative prayer

I love this beautiful affirmation by John Donne reminding us that God’s answers are not bound by times and seasons, but always fresh and available, always ripe and ready in God’s Perfect Time. 

All Times Are His Seasons

We ask our daily bread, and God never says, You should have come yesterday. He never says, You must come again tomorrow. But “today if you will hear His voice,” today He will hear you. If some king of the earth have so large an extent of dominion in north and south as that he hath winter and summer together in his dominions, so large an extent of east and west as that he hath day and night together in his dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgement together. He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light. He can bring thy summer out of winter though thou have no spring. Though in the ways of fortune, or misunderstanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damp and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon, to banish all shadows; as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries. All occasions invite His mercies, and all times are His seasons.
God made the sun and moon to distinguish seasons, and day and night; and we cannot have the fruits of earth but in their seasons. But God hath made no decrees to distinguish the seasons of His mercies. In Paradise the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in Heaven it is always autumn, His mercies are ever in their maturity.
— John Donne

Inspiring friends 

Right now I’m making new choices to pursue new opportunities and new ways of doing business. I just downloaded this e-book package http://artmoneyguide.com/ (Picasso version) and I’m gobbling the information up. I have been following Chris Guillebeau at http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/ for guidance and inspiration on building my Internet business. His free PDF 279 Days to Overnight Success http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/overnight-success/ has been a model for me. I found his site on Seth Godin's blog (courtesy of a tip from a fellow musician) and have been learning and linking ever since (see my May blog for more details).

I took my first trip to Santa Fe in early June. I met some wonderful people and saw some inspiring places. Look for more later as I share photos, encounters, and more fabulous folks with you. 

Check out this totally inspiring presentation: Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it -- and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. Watch his wonderful talk on music and passion on the TED website: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html
Or go to his website at http://benjaminzander.com/


  1. December 27, 2009 5:55 PM CST

    Candy, I want you to know....I grew when I read this and I am feeling peaceful, hopeful, secure and excited about living my life! Thank you for knowing just what I needed to read today.

    - Sharon Kasserman