Markers Along the Journey: How to Find Your Path When the Journey Changes

I write you today with a late summer sun dipping behind me. My shadow falls evenly across my laptop, screen fogged by the light, as my fingers tap at the keyboard. The days are shorter now in Southern New England, and the nights are cooler. Autumn is here, and I must face the inevitable. Another winter is inbound.

I may be a solar-powered human for my love of sun, and light, and long days that never end. But here with winter looming, I must accept that the brightness is destined to get dimmer. It’s a change I hate to accept. I want to fight it and curse the Universe.

But I know deep down that what I’m really cursing is that there’s change happening that I can’t stop–and must accept.

Seasonally, and otherwise.

And that’s the crux of my letter to you today.

I would be lying if I said that for the last three months I have not felt more lost than found.

All of my identities have been changing all at once, and I’m left with little recollection of who I am when I look in the mirror. If it weren’t such a familiar feeling to me over the years, I might be very worried.

Though I’ve been celebrating my new book just published (and waxing poetic about making the journey of life you’re greatest reward), it’s months like these that I am always open to sharing. I’m proud of the path that I am on, and grateful to spend my time teaching yoga and creating art. But that doesn’t mean that someone like me does not spend hard weeks and months in deep question about his path, his purpose, his journey.

You see, every journeyer needs his markers.

Every journeyer needs to pause just as much as he feels called to move.

Every journeyer needs her moments of reprieve–to stop fighting onward, so she can afford to look back.

And it’s in these long stretches of change where I feel compelled to stop, slow down, and build a little heap of rubble by the roadside. It’s a marker along the journey. A landmark so that I can see where I myself have been. It’s in these moments that I discover the peace, quiet and vital solitude to deeply consider where I’ve come from, and assess if this place is where I mean to be.

For the writer in me, I lay down a mess of ink as I might a cairn along a trail. These words, scattered thoughts and ideas, help me understand where I am. Someday, I trust, I may find myself looking back here to remember that this is where I once was. The chances are good that wherever the journey may lead next, these markers will help me look ahead towards wherever I will be heading.

And so here I stand today, not marching on or journeying, but slowed to a crawl to mark the side of this path. I’ll construct this “pile of stones” before your eyes if you feel called to do something similar, yourself.

Three months ago and in the span of a single weekend, my relationship of the last half year ended, and so did my yoga teacher training experience of that same half year conclude, and so with that did two good friends pack to move cross-country.

Though the summer was still young and the days were almost their brightest, change of many levels and planes–emotional, spiritual, personal, romantic and beyond–felt terribly daunting to embrace.

But summers have their ways of making dark days feel brighter.

The sun scooped up early each morning and refused to rest till late. And so I would wake early and engage my days immediately, falling into yoga this morning or writing the next. There were walks in the park to be had and days on the beach to sit back, unwind and (at least pretend) to relax.

And summer days refused to sleep. Evening yoga classes would end and the sun was still shining, so friends and I would go to one bay-side restaurant or another bar with it’s windows flung open. Live music and a salty breeze wafted across a vibrant alleys and bustling Main Streets of Small Town, U.S.A.

But three months later, and here I sit.

The sun setting lower behind me than yesterday, and all the changes that I fought hard and well to avoid have come around. The seasons’ change has shown them to me again.

And so here I rest using what tools I have around me to understand what has been happening within me.

It begins…

Step 1. Use the Words

Writer in training.

Speak Life into the Feelings/Experiences

Use the words. “Use the words!” I can still hear my friend Christina in her Greek accent, with feverish but gentle determination. She said them to me just over a year ago when we spoke about using the language that we are afraid to speak aloud. To “use the words” means to speak life directly into the feelings and experiences. Using the words releases the pent up tension around the feelings/experiences. Using the words releases the power that the quiet feelings and internal thoughts have held.

So let me use them.

I feel myself being reborn again. Into a new identity. Maybe more than one. At least, I hope that’s what has been happening, and why I’ve felt so lost lately. It scares me and it invigorates me. Because part of rebirth is death–letting go of what’s known, forgetting shreds of “who you once were.” Only good things will come of my heart’s changes, I trust–if I honor it with openness and kindness, patience and awareness. But in the meantime, my eyes must seem vacant and uncertain, because many friends in my company are quick to ask me what is wrong, and why.

— My fire died off for a while. For these few months, I’d say. This summer was one of few victories, though full of many niceties, pleasantries, moments of fun and times shared with friends, yes. I have probably taken them for granted. But my fire died down the longer I went without a feeling of victory. Conquering. I am a far cry from a conqueror, but the feeling of conquering is one of “purpose, on point,” and I need that. My belly now aches for victories, not fondue bites of pleasure.

— I wonder how fully embodied I am as a creative–and as a man, and as a human being. Embodied as in, being my best and fullest self. Integrated, aligned, whole. Exemplifying what I believe and living it every day, every moment. Is my work where it ought to be? What kind of a man am I–what kind of a human being? I often assume that I’m doing my best, without doubt. Now there is doubt.

— My path, without a feeling of service, feels hollow, unmotivating, unimportant. Just speaking of “service” has come to feel shameful, for how little I feel like I have served with my own two hands. Speaking of it is like a highway billboard that few care to read. Service, though, truly serving, is built with hands. Less preached, more done. Service is the soup in a bowl that satiates, here and now. I need more service to fuel my path. But how, and where?

— I can and must do better work, and more work, for people (and thus for myself). I find a sense of pride and honor in doing great work for people. It feeds me. Of late, the work that I have been doing has been plenty–but not enough to keep me full. Why?

Step 2. Self-Reflect

He wanders alone.

How long have I been feeling this way?

— Erratically, for 3 months or so. That’s when everything really changed. But if I think on it, perhaps this spate of soul-deep discontent dates back further into the springtime, even.

Step 3. Look Back

Yoga teacher training reunion.

What are the root causes?

Seeing the symptoms is one task, but curing their cause(s) is another. First, I look back to what has been happening most recently.

— The changing seasons. Autumn is a time for contemplation and turning in. The change of the seasons has prompted me to slow down and confront the changes that I have been neglecting.

— Publishing my book. With the end of a creative project, there’s always a fall-out. A period of pause and reflection. With every publication, act of art or instance of creativity, what always comes with it is a time to refill and replenish the cup from which you poured your soul. Now I sit and wonder, how, creatively, do I begin to refill so that I may soon “pour” again?

Now I find myself thinking back now to when everything felt differently. There was a pivotal weekend when things clearly began to change–that seems obvious enough. I think back to 3 months ago and how much change unfolded in a few days…

— End of relationship. We had an amazing experience together. We ended on good terms and amicably. But the end of my recent relationship has still been something of struggle to work through. For a half year, my long-entrenched identity as a single guy who only did his own thing 24/7 had dramatically changed, and my day-to-day life changed quite a bit along with it. I feel now as if I am returning to myself, and to my Self. I think being in love meant my attention was quite focused elsewhere.

— End of teacher training. Graduating from a period of growth and evolution before you fully understand how you’ve changed–that was the sudden end of a half-year endeavor deep into the recesses of Self, new friends, life’s many struggles, and the healing art of yoga. I became a teacher in title and started teaching in practice, and I think I am finally understanding what it means to live the life of a teacher, beyond hollow title.

— Ends and changes of friendships. When my friends McKaila and Heston moved away within minutes of our teacher training ending, it signaled a larger change to friendship dynamics and social circles that I had grown to deeply rely on over the last half year. It was not that they would all be gone suddenly, but changing deeply for certain, as change always does. So many paths merged and melted into one, and in what felt like a flash they all diverted again.

But is it possible that there has been slower, more gradual undoing that I’ve been missing for some time? Before that weekend when so much change began to happen, where was I?

— Closing (temporarily) The Literati Writers. In April, I closed my writers’ group for a while to improve how I could help people express themselves, write more and best embody their freedom and self-determination. I didn’t realize just how much my clients served me through the service I offered them. I’m desperately anticipating the relaunch of the new and improved writers’ group soon. In the meantime, I do still feel a sharp void.

Step 4. Sit Presently

Layers of color. Dirt road. Full sun. Quiet but for crickets. Beautiful Friday in Rhode Island yesterday.

Are my values being honored?

— Creativity/Artistry. With my latest book published and being well received, the artist in me is already starting to yearn for what is next. It could be a dangerous cycle, but it is a natural ebb and flow for a creative who knows the importance of “just keeping on.” My creativity is being honored, but it could be honored some more. Value verdict: 7/10.

— Contribution/Work. Here’s a rare chance to see a self-employed creative saying how much more he wants and need to work–yes, it’s true! My life is not meant to be slaved behind a desk or in a cubicle, but I did not become self-employed to not work. I crave significant contribution to the world and the lives of others. With the impending return of The Literati Writers, I am so eager and excited to invite dozens of new writers to rediscover the love of written word. Value verdict: 5/10.

— Service/Giving. Needed more, and more forefront. To piggyback upon my earlier mentions of The Literati Writers soon returning (though, no date yet), I am brainstorming charitable causes that could directly benefit from each new member of my writers’ group joining our program. Value verdict: 2/10.

— Community/Connection. My value of community and connection is rich, dare I say saturated. I’ve been adjusting to spending more time by myself, and with it, reconnecting to my sense of Self. Value verdict: 9/10.

— Teaching. Being honored, and quite well. I have been teaching yoga at Laughing Elephant Yoga here in Rhode Island since July. I do want to return to teaching my creativity workshops, however. Value verdict: 7/10.

— Wealth/Abundance. I willingly closed a $20,000 source of income in the spring when I put The Literati Writers on hiatus. I hope that taking one step back in this regard will lead me into two steps forward. Value verdict: 4/10.

Step 5. Moving Forward

#Virabhadrasana II, Warrior II, today's #letushinethru.

What do I want/need more of? Less of?

Instinct says that I need more…

  • Self. Self-trust. Self-determination. Self-care. I forgot about my Self for a while, and now I need to reclaim that. It begins by spending more time with myself and feeling less angst to fill my alone time.
  • Service. Packaging that aforementioned will to give and serve into dedicated action. Smartly, and in ways that prove meaningful–beyond theory. I want a centerpiece cause to build my business around.
  • Receiving. As much as I want to give, I need to receive. Selfless self-care comes in many shapes and forms, from wealth and financial well-being to being more prudent about schedule, sharing time with others and taking previous space to oneself. I’m inviting the Universe for what opportunities may unfold.
  • Wealth. I have long yearned for steady financial well-being as a form of independence, self-care and abundant-mindedness. It’s all about being responsible, taking care of oneself and supporting others–but, with that, also embracing an abundance mindset that courts more openness, sharing and giving. I am intent on making the next year to be my healthiest business year ever.
  • Newness. “New” is a big buzzword for me these days–it puts excitement in my belly. Newness could come in many forms, from travel to connections, work and spending the day-to-day in new neighborhoods.
  • Fluidity. Living with more fluid, responsive, intuitive motion. Reacting like water to what unfolds, chosen or otherwise. How does that look in practice, though?
  • Risk. The feeling of reluctance (from taking risks creatively/professionally to personally in my day-to-day life) wreaks of shame and preemptive failure. A little more reckless abandon would be good to serve my soul.
  • Adventure. New trips. Getting out to visit friends, taking up yoga retreats, and so on. Adventure will fuel growth and confidence.

Step 6. Now, to Begin.

How I will integrate needs/desires through actions, goals and practices.

Now, the fun part. The real work.

After so much reflection and self-analysis, it’s time to set some goals, enact plans and put ideas into practice.

Here is a look of what my next few months already hold…

— Starting a new book. I am in the earliest stages of working with Tom Morkes of Insurgent Publishing on my next book, which will be a guide to creativity and using creativity to live your best life.

— Relaunching the new and improved Literati Writers. I’m ready, baby. A new and comprehensive site is being built by the SiteBuilder.io team, and although I have no launch date yet, I’m pressing forward to get this project out into the world to help writers reclaim their love of writing and make great strides in their personal and professional creative practices.

— Starting to teach a new class, “Creative Flow” at Laughing Elephant Yoga. It’s a weekly all-levels Vinyasa Flow class starting on Monday, September 29, that will emphasize key areas of creative energy in the body and conclude with an extended savasana for suggested use as a quiet journaling time. This class is one of my newest ideas and I’m looking forward to seeing how students respond to it in practice.

— Traveling to India this October/November. How’s that for newness and adventure? In late October, I’ll be traveling across the globe to India with about a dozen fellow yogis for a retreat in the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh, India. I also intend to make more domestic trips through the spring. I hope to visit Nashville, and perhaps the Pacific Northwest.

— Website/brand evolutions. I’m cleaning up some old copy and design elements on DaveUrsillo.com to “catch up” with the changes and evolutions that I’ve been going through (again, both personally and professionally). Honing and simplifying, I hope to create a more interesting and engaging experience for readers who see clear channels to get involved with tuning into their own creative energy.

— Offering a new, free journaling program for subscribers. Piggybacking on the above, I started today to create a simple but fun and helpful program for email subscribers. This journaling-based program will prompt you to explore your Self in personal writing while teaching you related yoga poses, breathing techniques and energetic motions that play off of chakra energy locations in the body. By combining body movement and self-expression, I hope to help you stoke creative energy in your life with ease and simplicity. If you’re interested, subscribe to the blog now and ensure that you get your copy.

Step 7. Seeds Planted? Water, Take Care, and Harvest.

This guy.

Time and patience are needed to reap the seeds now sown.

I saw this vibrant green-yellow grasshopper a week ago. He was timid, but allowed me to inch closer and closer to him to take a picture with my phone from only a few inches away.

I didn’t think much of its symbolism when I saw it, but just now I thought it might interesting to conclude this piece by looking up what the grasshopper represents

  • “The grasshopper is said in Native American folklore to speak to artists, musicians and dancers.”
  • “The lilting song this creature emits is an inspiration to our muse…”
  • “The grasshopper chooses those of us who are innovators, forward-thinkers, and those who progress in life by unorthodox methods… by using tremendous leaps of faith…”
  • “The grasshopper keeps itself to the ground. As such, this is a grounding totem, and the grasshopper can teach us stability, patience, security, and solidarity…”

Well then, doesn’t this describe just about everything I want and need the most right now?

I think I like you quite a bit, little grasshopper.

In a time where immediacy is expected all the time and highly overvalued, the truth is that planting seeds of change in your life takes time, patience and plenty of honoring. Change takes time. Love takes time. With so much change on my mind over these last three-plus months, I know it will take three more months or longer to start to witness how these desired changes that I am expressing aloud to you today will affect me and my life.

As always, I look forward to sharing what I experience with you along the journey.

And so, this is my cairn.

A pile besides the path that I stopped to erect, made up of lessons that I’ve been learning and knowledge that has been hard-earned.

Someday soon I may well be back here, witnessing where I had once been standing.

But now I must stand, dust myself off, and keep on walking.

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