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Wandering Authentically

I made a promise to myself.

I wouldn't add one more thing to my to-do list (such as blogging), unless it was an uplifting action. Something from the heart. Something I looked forward to creating, re-reading, and then sharing with the world.

How often do we get to bask in such a luxury? Simply to music...notice beauty...wander off the Beaten Path?

So many of my clients from all walks of life and all corners of the Earth are wandering. Looking for The Answer. The key to more time, more money, to live a more authentic life.

"But how do I do it, 'live authentically?'" asked one of my senior leaders from a large consulting firm last summer. "I don't have the time. And," she admitted quietly, "I don't know how."

Yoga. Check.
Meditation. Check.
Self-Help books. Check-check.

She had it all down on paper, checking off all the hot topics from her to-do list. But she wasn't enjoying any of it. It didn't bring her answers. Or peace of mind. Or authenticity. She was miserable and those she was leading knew it.

"When's the last time you did something you enjoyed?" I asked. She told me she couldn't remember. Years ago she had loved to play the piano but had given it up as she began to climb the corporate ladder. She said it was the one thing she had truly enjoyed doing.

I sent her off from our coaching session with homework: start playing the piano again.

At first she couldn't find the magic. Lessons were too hard to fit in. Reading music felt like a chore. Playing took precious time away from her family. Until she sat down with her 8-year old and they began to create silly songs by ear.

By Christmas they had composed a handful of hits, and invited colleagues and friends to participate in a New Year's Eve concert, sparking a new annual tradition.

At our last meeting it was clear she had undergone a major shift in her work and her life. I asked her what had changed.

"I let go of all the stuff I 'should' be doing, and started looking for things that I 'could' be doing. That's when I rediscovered the love of music with my daughter. Who would have thought I'd be jamming at my piano, singing at the top of my lungs with a 2nd grader? And...loving every second of it."

I often think about the courage it took this woman to let go of trying to find The Answer. The one cutting edge tool or technique that was going to bring her happiness. How ironic that letting go of the need to know allowed her the space to wander, to discover, and find her way back to living authentically.

How often are you able to wander? To give up looking for the answers? To

Wendell Berry said it best in the poem, Wandering Authentically:

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work;
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings."

Sarah Happel, Principal
Intercultural Training & Leadership Coaching


kellyannaustin's picture

Sarah, What a gorgeous story!


What a gorgeous story! Thank you for this slice of beauty to uplift me today.

Wishing you peace,


Susan K.A.'s picture

I love it! Thank you, Sarah

Hello Sarah,

What beautiful advice for us all--to get in touch again with that spark and playfulness that we have when we're doing something we truly enjoy (or used to enjoy). I love how the woman in your story re-discovered her joy in piano playing alongside her daughter. What an incredible bonding-experience for them both to co-create and be silly together. So much wisdom in your post. Thank you for sharing!



"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."

Sarah.Happel's picture

Thanks, Susan

Hi Susan,

I have been inspired by so many of the leaders who have dug deep to find a way to make their lives even better. Am grateful to be in wonderful company with great women like you who recognize the beauty in play, and child-like curiosity. What a leadership trait it is.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts!


Sarah Happel, Principal
Intercultural Training & Leadership Coaching

Susan K.A.'s picture

Thank you!

I appreciate your kind and thoughtful response, Sarah! You're a beacon of encouragement and kindness in a sometimes very dark world. :^)


"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."

Luphurise's picture

I am Moved

Hi Sarah,

I am moved with your story, I started letting go things I dont want and start doing things I want,

And one of the thing I started doing is Life Coaching and Marriage & Relationship Councelling, that is where my heart is, I tthank God for that...

I like your passion...

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