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Follow your heart, and let it surprise you

A covey of quail skitters across the lawn, spooked by my arrival. Or maybe my lack of makeup.

A dozen finches wait turns at the feeder, chattering like tourists in a buffet line.

A breeze rustles the palm fronds and sunlight streams through silver clouds to shine like beacons on the desert.

I wish you could see it.

On a springlike day in the dead of winter, I’m sitting on my patio feeling lucky. I’ll tell you why, after a bit of background.

I spent my first 20 years in the mountains of the Carolinas, one of the places God meant when he looked at his creation and said in effect, “Oh my.”

For the next three decades, I lived on the coast of California, another “oh my” kind of place, in a house near the beach with three headstrong children and their basketball coaching father.

Then the children grew up to be headstrong adults, and we lost the coach to cancer. So I spent some years alone in my “family museum,” with four bedrooms, five sets of dishes, a silent basketball court and a whole lot of great memories.

During those years, to my surprise, I discovered that “alone” can also be an “oh my” kind of place. Or so it was for me. I had family, friends, a job I liked and, as we say, my health. It was a good life, vastly different from the life I had loved for so long, but it was good nonetheless, with an abundance of blessings to keep me humbled and grateful and happy. I had no need, no plans to change it.

Then, as the old Elvin Bishop song says, I fooled around and fell in love. Dangerous, I know, but don’t even try to tell me you’ve never done it yourself.

Next thing I knew, in a blind leap of faith, I remarried and moved with my new husband to the last place on Earth I ever dreamed I’d call home: the desert outside Las Vegas.

Perhaps you’re wondering what sort of woman grows up in the Bible Belt, rears her children in Paradise, and ends up on the outskirts of Sin City?

That would be me, a woman who has tried, come hell or high water, to follow her heart wherever it may lead.

I blame my grandmother. Growing up, if I felt confused (as I did much of the time) she’d say, “Honey, follow your heart. It’s a good heart. Trust it.”

I had no idea what she meant. I’m not sure I do even now. But in Sunday school, I learned that the heart is a repository for love – the love of God, the love of family and friends, the love of all that we hold dear – and that it speaks to us with the voice of love, always in a whisper.

In time, I learned to listen for that whisper. It’s hard to hear it sometimes over other voices – logic, anger, envy, jealousy, insecurity and such. They don’t whisper. They yell. But listen closely. You can spot it.

What it tells you might not be easy to do. In my case, it almost never is. But when you hear it, you’ll know it’s right. That’s the test. The right thing always and only comes from a place of love.

So why do I feel lucky? Here I am in an “oh my” kind of place on an “oh my” kind of day. I followed my heart from the mountains to the coast to the desert where – with a good man who makes me laugh and slow down to watch sunsets – I’m living a new chapter of my life.

I miss family and friends and mountains and beaches and seasons, especially fall. But I visit them often, if only in mind.

There is peace in knowing that today, for now, I’m where my heart led me to be. Who knows where it will lead me next?

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow’s a dream. All we have is this one, sweet, lovely “here and now.” Why not enjoy it?

This morning I heard from young woman asking advice on a life-changing decision.

“Follow your heart,” I told her. “It’s a good heart. Trust it.”

Here’s wishing her and you and all of us an “oh my” kind of life.