The universe shows us – often in painful ways – when we’ve strayed from our path.

Have you ever been in a situation where things just won’t go your way? No matter how you come at the problem, you are continually faced with new and different barriers? Maybe you keep being passed over for promotion at work? Maybe you finally throw your hands up in the air, and say, “it’s just not meant to be” and decide to leave the company.

“It’s just not meant to be.” Is this simply a way to justify and move beyond failure and disappointment? I don’t think so.

I believe there is something to this idea of “meant to be”. It isn’t just woo-woo mumbo jumbo. Humans have evolved in so many ways as a species; we have made incredible advances in the last couple hundred years. Invention, technology, wealth, education, etc. Especially in the United States. As a result, we’ve set up an expectation that anything is possible and within our grasp. Not only is it possible, but that we DESERVE it. It makes sense then that we’d start to believe we are 100% in control of our destinies. And from there, it isn’t a big leap to disregarding the notion of a higher power or the need for connection to something larger than ourselves.

Here’s the plain truth: no matter how much intelligence, strength, money, or luck you have, sometimes it’s just not up to you.

And that’s when you need to pay attention, for your own good.

In these instances, the only thing you can control is to notice, and respond to the best of your ability. And what seems like it may not be going your way, may be 100% for your own good.

5 years ago, I didn’t pay the universe (my higher power) much attention. I was intelligent, smart, lucky, and had some money in the bank. I could WILL most things to happen.

Case in point: I decide we’re going to move to Bend, Oregon! Never mind that we hadn’t visited EVER. Never mind that we knew NO ONE there (correction: I knew a girl from my former soccer team, so one person!). Never mind that it’s a town built entirely on tourism with scant other businesses.

Even though the intention was made; we weren’t entirely insane…we booked a trip to visit.
And here’s what happened, the cliffs notes version:

  1. Our flight out of NY was canceled due to snow, so we got there a day later (after being rebooked through Minneapolis and being stranded there for the night, and then driving from Seattle — a 6 hour drive) 
  2. Our rental car had a broken radio that wouldn’t turn off & was set to a staticky station for the entire time
  3. The road to Bend’s ski mountain was closed due to a 20-car pileup accident
  4. I sprained my wrist cross country skiing in a highly wooded deep snow area which we almost couldn’t find our way out of b/c the sun was going down
  5. We kept trying to meet up with my ONE friend who lived there and narrowly missed her by 5 minutes everywhere we went (the mountain, a restaurant, in town, etc.)
  6. We almost ran out of gas in a blinding snow storm in a national forest with no cell service
  7. Did I mention the blinding snow storm in a national with no cell service AND NO SNOW CHAINS for our 4 cylinder economy size rental car?

The universe couldn’t have sent a clearer message if it had punched me in the face with it. You are NOT moving to Bend, OR. And, ultimately, we didn’t. But it took 7 brutally painful signals from the universe for me to get the hint.

Recently, I’d been thinking about making a change; nothing as dramatic as moving across the country from the Big Apple to a ski town of 90,000 people. I contemplated going to grad school for counseling, and applied to a program. After applying I was invited to interview.

The environment and the players may have been different, but this interview experience was eerily like our visit to Bend.

EVERYTHING WENT WRONG.   I walked in the room smilingly widely, and immediately went to shake the hand of the panelists. One recoiled from me like I was a snake oil salesman. He claimed he was sick so didn’t want to shake my hand, but there was a sense that I’d already committed the first of many blunders. They appeared to hate me on sight.

The other candidates being interviewed alongside me did not feel like my tribe. In fact, I felt like I was an alien who’d just crashed on earth. I felt like I glowed a little too brightly (like neon bright!!).

Even the quality of the air in the room made me wonder what parallel universe or planet I’d stepped into.

I gave terrible, inauthentic answers to the panels’ questions; even as I was answering I didn’t know who was actually speaking. Someone else seemingly had co-opted my mind and tongue. My usual enthusiasm and charisma came out as jangly nervous energy, and my voice sounded tinny. It was like an out of body experience; I could see the train wreck ahead but wasn’t capable of screaming out to stop it.

Well, I’ve grown a lot in 5 years. I don’t argue with the universe as much anymore.
Now I notice the signs, which are both outward from others and inward from myself.

  • Energy (does this stimulate me or drain me?)
  • Body language (open or closed?)
  • Emotions (open hearted or fear based?)
  • Dynamic with others (is there a natural, easy connection?)
  • Dynamic inside myself (am I comfortable and confident as my authentic self?)

Sitting in that interview room, and even reflecting on the experience immediately afterwards, I wasn’t getting a positive answer to any of the above questions. The universe was telling me in no uncertain terms, this program is NOT for you. (Full disclosure: I was rejected a week later, so the universe was real serious! : )

After the interview, I was disappointed. But mostly I was disappointed because I had an expectation of what I hoped the program would be. What I thought it should be. The actual reality was different than my expectation. Translation: my disappointment was simply learning (once again) that I’m not in control. I couldn’t will the program to be right for me.

If you are asking yourself – what’s going on here? Why isn’t this working? Ask those above questions and look for the signs – energy, body language, emotions, dynamic with others, dynamic in self. Sometimes the universe has bigger and better things planned for you.

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