Chasing Dreams & Facing Fears Head On

And when you want something, the entire universe conspires to help you achieve it.
— Paulo Coelho

Not too long ago, my wise & cheerful best friend was going through major life changes.  At times she felt less-than-wise and not-so-cheerful, but she persevered and showed us all how it’s done.  Read Amanda's thoughts on initiating change here: When Change is Brewing on the Horizon.

Now, here I stand, in the eye of my own storm pursuing my own major life change. I am experiencing self-doubt, sadness, excitement, positivity, and hope - all in one. I can feel good things bubbling and brewing.  I am taking a leap from six years in a school district (that I LOVE) as a school social worker to entering private practice at a small and adorable counseling office. I am pursuing my dream of providing therapy and facilitating healing and wellness, while also working to obtain my clinical social work license AND broadening my scope and practice as a yoga teacher. I am pursuing my passions, following my dreams, and creating even more dreams as I go along.

At times, this seems like too big a bite to chew. Way too big...

At times, I feel like I don’t know what I am doing or where I am going with my life…

At times, I wake up panicked because - WHAT AM I DOING?

These feelings can be quite uncomfortable and discombobulating. However, there are a couple guiding beacons that are helping me through.

1.  My Loved Ones

My husband, family, friends, yoga business partners (shout out to Joella, Amanda, and Stacy), coworkers, my boss, yoga students, acquaintances, and even community partners are all wishing me well.  This brings me so much tearful joy. I have the best people in my life empowering me and reminding me that “CHANGE IS GOOD”, and “GOOD FOR YOU”, and “YOU CAN DO THIS”!

2. Role models, Books, and Powerful Women

Recently my father-in-law was reading the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  After hearing about my change he asked me if I had read the book - to which I replied: “Of course I have!  I’ve been reading a lot of stuff like that. What do you think gave me these wacky ideas?!” Then we both had a good chuckle at that realization.  I read Daring Greatly almost a year ago, and clearly it has stuck with me.

When I finally verbalized my desires out-loud (which, by the way, Author and Life Coach Sarah Seidelmann insists is the first step and she’s right!), my friend Amanda ordered and shipped me the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  Yup. Spot on.

We invited Duluth Author, Life Coach, and Shamanic Healer Sarah Seidelmann to be a guest speaker at our Fall Boreal Bliss Yoga Retreat last October.  She led us on a journey to find our spirit animals aka beasties. Her story of pursuing her passion is compelling and drew me in from the start, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why at the time.  Well, it turns out, that leaving a practical career like hers (physician) and pursuing her dreams in shamanic healing, writing, life-coaching, and public speaking is pretty daring, awesome and totally calls to me. In her books Swimming with Elephants and Born to FREAK, she refers to instances of literally not being able to stop doing certain things.  In her case, it was researching and learning about animals and the messages they have for us.  In my case, it’s yoga and creating space and opportunity for healing. I simply can’t stop dreaming of ways to pursue my passion and make it a bigger part of my life. So it turns out, I needed to just stop and listen to myself. My favorite line of Sarah’s (that Joella, Amanda, and I frequently recite to one another) is:  “How good are you willing to let it get?”

In February, we invited Nora McInerny to our Winter Boreal Bliss Yoga Retreat.  She is the author of It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) and she is releasing a new book soon (can’t wait to read it!). Nora’s story is quite different than mine at this point in life -  although death, dying, and grief will heavily and greatly affect us all, it’s just a matter of when. However, her current story of pursuing her passion calls to me.  She is an entrepreneur, author, and compelling and inspiring woman. She creates space and opportunity for others to connect and heal. In her book, as mentioned above, she has a chapter entitled: “Just Quit”. She quit her job and moved on to greatness. She couldn’t fully know or predict that things would turn out successful.  She now owns and operates a non-profit, hosts an award-winning podcast, has authored two books, raises a gaggle of children with her hubs, and still manages to be super engaging, funny, and inspiring in public speaking events.

Not only do these speakers/authors inspire me, but my best friends and business partners REALLY inspire me - above and beyond! Joella and Amanda of Boreal Bliss Yoga Retreats are my partners, source of creativity and inspiration, and source of soul-filling fun.  I cannot believe all of the things we have come up with.  When we are together, things just simply flow. Actually they POUR out of us.  We never lack ideas.  I love these gals.  Joella is younger than Amanda and I and she frequently amazes us with her life experiences and pursuits. Joella also recently wrote an inspiring blog about becoming a healer.  If you haven't read it already, I highly suggest it! You can find it here: Life as A Healer

Most recently. Literally today.  Amanda sent me an article about Oprah and a commencement speech she gave to a recent group of graduating millennials.  Oprah’s sage words of advice? She told these fresh-faced grads to simply ask themselves one question: “What is the next right move?”  

Powerful right?  Thanks Oprah. We don’t need to “know what we are doing with our lives”, we don’t need “all the answers”, we don’t need to have a grand master plan with three perfectly sculpted short-term goals and two long-term goals with 15 attainable and measurable objectives.

We just need to… Pause.  Reflect. Listen. “What is the next right move?”

Thank you Oprah and all of the other amazing role models and support systems in my life for giving me courage.  I think I can figure out this “next right move” thing….for now.

P. S. Thinking about pursuing your passions but it sounds scary?  Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Swimming with Elephants by Sarah Seidelmann, Born to FREAK by Sarah Seidelmann, It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho are all books I highly recommend.  If you need someone to send you inspiring articles and books that perfectly remind you that everything is going to be okay - Amanda is super good at that.  Maybe we should start a facebook group. :)

Photo by Bailey Aro Photography

Photo by Bailey Aro Photography

Bryana Cook and, her husband, Dan Ryan live and play in Longville, MN.  Bryana is a yoga teacher/business owner (Northern Namaste Yoga & Boreal Bliss Yoga Retreats) and social worker. Dan is a local fishing guide (Dan Ryan Guide Service) and environmental educator.  Together they make a point of living a life they enjoy in an area they love.  Lake country provides endless opportunities for fun. When not near a lake, you may find Bryana and Dan making maple syrup, playing with the dogs, hiking, traveling, or chopping wood and moving it around.

Bryana Cook