I have always wanted to live in California. In 1989, after graduating with my certification in elementary education from Clark University, I packed my car with everything I owned and headed West to follow my dreams.
I set off on my adventure in February and took the southern route from Boston to California. I was so excited to find a fun place to live, get a great teaching job, and start my new life! The trip was fantastic. I visited all sorts of friends and family along the way. Once I reached California, I got scared. The fear of doing it all on my own was so strong that it pulled me back home to the safety of my family.
I moved back home with my mother, in Boston, and eased into my teaching career. Like others who abandon their dreams, I had to push away that ever-present feeling of regret that I didn’t stay in California. The regret became more distant but it never really disappeared.
Fast forward, ten years later, I was still in Boston and getting my masters degree, when my mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I became her primary care giver. It turned my life upside down, and yet I cherished the time I was able to spend with her.
When my mother passed away, I was devastated. It underscored the rut I was living in. I wasn’t satisfied with my job, or anything, really. I felt stuck, and my heart KNEW there was something else.
A decade later, in 2009, I went to a personal development workshop. The facilitator asked: “What’s something that you’ve tamped down, pushed away and told yourself, ‘No I can’t do that’?”
What immediately surfaced was going to California. It had been 20 years since my cross-country journey. That very moment, I decided to go back. Instantaneously, I felt the weight of regret from all those years lifted. I was so excited!
That night, I woke up to the “old, nagging” voice of doubt and fear: “Who the hell are you? You can’t do this. You have a perfectly good job; your family and friends are here. What will you do? Are you nuts?”
Then another voice appeared (from the movie, “The Princess Bride”): “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”
I thought I was going crazy. The voice kept repeating that phrase over and over again. What was going on?
All of a sudden I heard myself saying, “My name is Ruth Wishengrad, you killed my spirit, prepare to die!”
The voice of doubt kept echoing in my mind. So I screamed louder, “My name is Ruth Wishengrad, you killed my spirit, prepare to die!” I kept repeating this until the “You can’t do this” and the “Who do you think you are” voices were gone.
Finally! I heard what my heart wanted me to do. I was going to California, no matter what. I didn’t know WHERE in California I was moving to, or WHAT I was going to do, I just knew I was doing it.
Once I made the decision, things started showing up to support my dream. My friend, Kate, said she had some vacation time and would love to accompany me. Then another friend said I could ship my car to where she lived in Arizona. Amazing things continued to appear.
It felt like that scene in “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade”, where he stood at the edge of the cliff, not knowing what would happen, and knowing that if he didn’t take that step into the unknown, it would spell disaster for him and everyone else. So he took the step, and the path magically appeared before him. This kept happening over and over for me. Every time I would stop, listen and say YES to me, things showed up, every time. I kept ‘taking a leap of faith’.
A year after I moved to California, an opportunity came for me to take a songwriting class for free. I was terrified to take it. I couldn’t even press ‘send’ on the registration form because my hand shook. What was I afraid of? The class was free, after all. Maybe I was afraid to let myself become who I truly wanted to become. I couldn’t let myself be afraid of that, could I?
So, once again, I took that leap into the unknown, and the rewards have kept coming ever since. That was the beginning of my breaking free of my fears and allowing my voice to be heard in so many ways.
It was fifteen years ago this week that my mom passed away. Back then, I was devastated and thought my life was over.
In the last year, since I have found what makes me happy and makes my heart sing, my mom has been visiting me more often in my dreams. It feels fitting to honor my mom’s passing with the birth of my dream. I was determined to make a change and live the life I love and I HAVE!
I’m now a singer and songwriter, creating music that heals and touches the lives of children and adults. I call them Songs to Change Your Tune™.
What dream have you been putting on hold? Take the leap of faith and your life will never be the same.
Ruth “Wish” Wishengrad is a vibrant singer and songwriter. She’s passionate about the benefits of positive thinking and empowers others to do the same through her songs. For years, Ruth had these songs in her head. When she finally started to listen to their positive messages, she realized she was really listening to songs of her soul.