This lovely, diminutive woman with the British accent, the white button-down shirt covered in green fern prints and bright, messy blonde hair had my heart soaring under fluorescent lights in a tiny room that smelled of a fresh coat of paint and new construction.
It was the last day of the retreat I lead for women every year in the mountains of Panama and this woman who I had asked to come and give us a presentation on how she found her passion, was captivating all of us with her story of how she built a business that sells honey to kings & ex-presidents.
“I was working a very high paying job in London and I wasn’t happy.
I knew this was not what I wanted to be doing with my life. So I quit my job, bought property here and spent the first year that I was here hiking in the jungle & getting massages, trying to find the answer to “what am I supposed to be doing with my life?” Logically it made no sense what I was doing, but I just had this feeling that coming here to this very remote little town in Panama was going to give me the answers I was seeking.”
She weaved the rest of her fascinating tale, sharing with us how, by a twist of circumstances, she stumbled into tasting local honey, then studying beekeeping, then discovering she actually had an incredible talent for it. All along being led mysteriously to all of the answers, simply by following her hunches.
Even when she was cheated by a local beekeeper who sold her toxic sugar and killed many of her bees, she kept going.
“I discovered that I had an incredible palate for honey–I can taste the honey my bees make and tell you exactly what plant they fed on to produce that honey–it’s an odd thing in my physiology that actually makes me incredibly good at what I do and able to produce some of the most high quality honey in the region.
But I really discovered that this was my true purpose when some very hard roadblocks were put in my path in the beginning of my business.”
One year a man sold her sugar to feed her bees that ended up being toxic, which killed many of her bees & made her honey harvest unsellable (because the bees just synthesize the toxins in the sugar right into the honey). While many beekeepers around her were sold the same sugar and still chose to mix the low amounts of toxic honey their bees produced with corn syrup and sold it as “pure raw honey”, she scrapped her harvest and stayed committed to only selling pure, high quality honey from well-treated bees.
“You know you really have a passion for what you are doing when things like this happen to you and you are determined to produce your work the way you feel is right and you keep going even in the darkest moments. Some people in my industry have even been murdered and their goods stolen. You really have to have a passion for what you do, it keeps you going.”
Two years later, she is producing the most high quality honey in that region of Panama. Kings and ex-presidents buy her honey & some even travel across the world to visit her farm and see how she does things.
When I asked her “do you ever worry someone will steal your methods and pass it off as their own?”, she said “true quality and what I do is inimitable. I was born to produce honey in this way and no one will ever do this like I do this. So I don’t worry. You can’t create replicas of high quality work with cheap shortcuts and supplies. No one can be me except me”.
When she was done telling her story, I was nearly in tears of inspiration.
And this was not the only time I felt this way during the retreat I was leading here in Panama.
A few days earlier, I had taken the participants to visit a local, eco-sustainable coffee farm, run by a husband and wife team.
The husband led us on a coffee tour and told us the story of how he was led to his coffee business, as we sipped some of the most delicious dark roasted coffee I have ever tasted, at the top of a mist covered mountain bursting with tropical flowers and coffee plants.
Their stories were actually strikingly similar.
“I was going to retire in Italy and came to Panama on vacation. When I saw Panama I just knew I wanted to retire here. I began looking at properties to purchase and build a house on, where I could retire in peace with my wife. I knew absolutely nothing about coffee. One day a man called me to tell me there was a coffee farm for sale and did I want to look at it as a property just to see it? I instantly fell in love with the property. I had no intention of growing and selling the coffee, but I followed my hunches and developed an interest in coffee.
A few years later a coffee shop in Seattle bought 500 pounds of my coffee and called me a week later to ask for more because they had completely sold out of my coffee in just a few days!
When I found out they had sold it for six times what they paid me for it, it just didn’t feel in alignment to work with them anymore. Even though they offered me a lot of money to sell more to them, I turned them down.”
People from around the world flew down to Panama to visit his farm and beg him to sell them his coffee. Each time he would turn their large sums of money down because it didn’t feel aligned. Until one day a man from Denmark arrived.
“He actually cared about how the coffee was grown and that my workers were well treated & taken care of. He took a true interest in what I was doing to improve working conditions for coffee harvesters in this region and was fascinated over the fact that I actually grow my coffee in accordance with the moon cycles.
I think we should leave things better than we found them. And there are so many people who come here, grow coffee and make tons of money but don’t give anything back to the community or put chemicals in the land. I didn’t want to do things that way. I’ve always made high quality my priority.
After that man’s visit I ended up selling my coffee for $30 a pound to that man from Denmark.
We sell out of our harvest every year since. Coffee experts from around the world come to taste my coffee now and learn.”
My heart could have burst hearing this man’s story.
And the honey woman’s story.
This year has been a difficult year for me in many aspects and a wonderful one too. Many things that were previously in alignment with my soul suddenly stopped being so.
At the end of last year, my dog Lucy’s death broke my heart and left me reeling, questioning so many things about who I was truly called here to be and what actually fulfilled me.
I found myself questioning everything I had built and a bit frightened that many things that previously felt in alignment were no longer feeling nourishing to my soul.
I couldn’t figure out the answers, but what I did know was to follow the hunches of my soul. My soul told me to travel. My mind said “how the hell is that supposed to help you find your answers?” But I did what my soul told me to do anyway, even though I felt afraid. Years of NOT listening to my soul have taught me that it never ends up well when you don’t listen.
So off I went. To Bali, Iceland, Alaska, California, Panama, Italy & Santa Fe.
To lands that took my breath away, emptied me out, filled me with rivers, star-crowded skies, ancient glaciers & the vast emptiness of the Universe.
And in each place I visited I found a little piece of my soul. A little piece of the puzzle. The space and silence to hear the answers I needed to mend the shattering Lucy’s death brought into my life (which I am so grateful for), Great Soul that she was in the tiny body of a dog.
And I saw myself and the stories of so many in our community here, reflected in the stories of these two amazing people.
What these two stories had in common were that NEITHER of these two amazing people had ANY idea that what they were now so passionate about was what they were meant to do.
In fact, at a quick glance, it seemed they had “stumbled” upon their passion & purpose “by accident”.
But actually, I knew better.
I’ve been teaching creatives and visionaries how to live a soul-aligned life (and as a result create a soul-aligned business) for over 5 years now.
And as is with everything we are asked to be a mirror for in our work, I have been walking and deepening into that path myself, too.
I’ve guided a lot of people in finding their purpose by now and what I’ve discovered is that finding your purpose is not a logical process.
In fact, it is all about creating the space to hear the voice of your soul & then having the courage to follow what it says.
When you listen to the voice of your soul, you will be led into many unknown places. Places your brain can’t “figure out”. Your “hunches” will often make no logical sense and often the hunches reveal only the next step, not the entire plan.
Stepping into the unknown like this can be very scary to our egos. Our egos need security, plans & an exact “how to” guarantee that it will all turn out okay.
But finding the work of our soul is hardly ever such a clear-cut path.
We can make plans, but they won’t always go as planned.
In fact, it’s something that can never be “figured out” in the mind and guaranteed to work. If you wait to “figure out” things before you do them, you will never do anything.
Often, doing the work of our soul looks the opposite of neat & figured out. Mostly, it looks like messily stumbling around in the unknown, trying different things to see how they feel…until one day we find the thing that lights our life on fire, the kind of fire we long to be consumed by.
Both the honey bee woman & the moon coffee man had just followed their own internal hunches without always having the answers or the next steps in the plan and as a result had been led down a magical path of alignment.
In fact, both of them told me “it’s really amazing how when you’re doing what you’re meant to do, all sorts of helpers show up to support you and help you move forward”.
The honey bee woman has attracted heads of state to her honey and the coffee man tells me people who teach him new things about growing his coffee show up to his farm tours every month and stay afterwards to show him how to make a certain process more efficient etc…
They both care about the environment, the land & the eco-system in which they had built their businesses. They care about high quality & leaving their surroundings in better conditions than when they found them.
There were many temptations to abandon their principles and make money the “fast, cheap & easy way”, but they chose not to do that.
Instead, they chose to do what felt in alignment and integrity with their souls. And the results spoke for themselves–their offerings were highly regarded around the world and the blessings continue to come.
I tell you this story today, my love, because this is what it is to live a soul-aligned life.
And this is the one true thing I know about living your purpose:
The road ahead of you may sometimes be covered with mist, the exact steps may not be clear beyond the first step, your mind might question the direction in which you feel pulled…
but if you follow the gentle pull of your soul, if you make it a priority to create space every day to hear the voice of your soul and you heed your soul’s gentle guidance, you will be naturally led into your passion AND you will succeed.
Galaxies will line up to support you in flourishing through that which is in alignment with your soul.
The same thing happened to me this year as I took one step into the other, often with no visible road ahead, just trusting my hunches as they guided me. Little by little synchronicities showed up, people showed up to support me on the paths I felt newly called to explore in my work. Deeper clarity slowly began to come and a stronger connection to my soul.
Because, as I reminded my retreat participants this week, the entire Universe is just waiting for you to step into alignment with your soul so that it can finally shower you with the support and abundance it was born to shower you with.
So if there is a gentle voice that has been whispering to you, beckoning you like a siren song in a new direction…
please listen to it.
The magic that is awaiting you is something that you can’t even imagine right now, but it is there nonetheless, waiting to unfold.
In the comments below I’d love to hear what your soul has been pulled to lately and whether or not you are honoring that gentle pull. Are you struggling with fears of stepping into the unknown your soul beckons you into? If so, how are you dealing with it?