A road trip through the HEARTland.

by Maren Day Woods

In the spring of 2002, it may have appeared as if life was good for me. My husband and I had been married 12 years and we had three healthy (beautiful) sons age, 18 months, 7 and 11. We lived in a lovely home in a quiet neighborhood in the Midwestern town I grew up in. And thankfully, I had a supportive network of friends and family that were there for me as my marriage was unraveling and I was in a full-blown physical, emotional and spiritual crisis.

The reasons my marriage was in trouble aren’t as relevant to my story as the invaluable takeaways I got from it, that I’d rather share with you. For starters, I believe he was the man I was supposed to marry and have three children with. And we agreed on one thing. These three amazing human beings we created together were our greatest treasures. The fact that he never got me, became yet another invitation for me to look within myself to realize my own value.

My body’s reaction to the stress of my marriage ending included severe migraines, advanced TMD (Jaw Joint Dysfunction) that caused jaw pain. Insomnia, depression, and weight gain were just a few other factors that were negatively impacting my health.

I confided to my friend Carol how overwhelmed I was at what a divorce could mean for the boys and me. She asked, “What’s one step you can take in that direction?” And out of fear, I asked, “Are you suggesting I leave my marriage now without a job, a place to live, and while the boys are still in school?”

No, she said, I’m just wondering if there is one smaller step you could take.”

A few days later, during yet another sleepless night, I got up and decided to do some stretches to relax and quiet my racing thoughts. As I glanced out the big picture window of our living room, I did a stretch that wasn’t part of my normal routine. I knelt, raised my hands in the air and sent out an SOS. I asked for a Sign of Spirit to appear in my life to guide and support my family through this transition. I had nothing to lose by surrendering “any illusion of control” I felt I had.

My spiritual path began in the late 1980’s, but accelerated during my pregnancy with my youngest son Jack in 2000. I had an insatiable appetite for books in the spiritual genre. However, I took a step beyond reading and thinking about spirit. This time, I called on spirit, and spirit answered.

The day after I sent out my SOS flare, a close family friend kept coming to mind.  After the 3rd reference made about her from people I didn’t even know knew her I decided to give her a call. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to say to her.

After we caught up a bit, I decided to ask her if she would be willing to act as a reference for me since I had recently begun a job search.

She agreed and then asked, “How are you?” My throat tightened as a wave of sadness rippled through me. I confided that I was seriously considering giving up on my marriage. Her response silenced me.

She said, “I’ll give you the same advice my sister gave me when I was at a similar place many years ago. Go get Doreen Virtue’s book, Healing with the Angels, take your C- and run like hell for your life. This college professor and friend gave me a passing grade. Yes, I had made some mistakes. But I had gotten a lot right too. In my heart though, I really felt as if I had earned an A for effort. But, maybe a C was the perfect grade to help me to own my part. The minus didn’t sit too well with me. I considered calling her back to find out if there was extra credit I could do to bring my grade up to a C+ but decided to let it go. There were much more pressing issues to address, namely maintaining my sanity.

But, “Healing with the Angels?” I had just recently read many spiritually enlightening books. I just hadn’t made the angel connection yet.

Since I needed something big to lean into, I trusted the guidance (comparatively speaking) and simply acted on it. I bought and read the book. Perhaps more importantly, I bought in to the existence of angels. When I looked back over my life, I recognized the evidence of divine assistance that had been available to me. And as a new Angels Advocate, angelic assistance became even more apparent to me once I was watching for it. The signs ranged from subtle to blatant, playful to powerful, always creative, and sometimes perplexing.

My mom had invited me to Minneapolis and I gratefully accepted. The short trip would allow me the quiet time I needed come up with a plan.

So on that crisp October day with a clear blue sky, I reluctantly left my 8-week-old baby boy for the first time. I got in my car and drove away feeling like a terrible mother. But I needed my mom too.  I knew he was in good hands with his dad.

I left town hoping for a miracle, and ironically, the miracle I ultimately received was hope. It was beautifully packaged in a revelation that permanently shifted my perspective from that day on.

I turned off the radio and attempted to tune into my own frequency.

For fun, I decided to plan a hypothetical 50th birthday party for Oprah. On a recent episode I had watched, Oprah talked about this fast approaching milestone birthday. Now was my chance to take a creative detour and plan her party. I threw caution and modesty to the wind and appointed myself with any event planners’ dream assignment.

First, I asked myself, “What kind of an experience do you plan for a playful, generous, evolved soul who has attended and hosted some of the most glamorous events on the planet?

I pondered, what would be THE most meaningful gift to give Oprah? Then, I expanded the question to, “What’s the most meaningful gift you can give anyone?” After a few moments of silence, surprisingly the words self-acceptance and self-love came to mind.

Hmmm. Strange. I convinced myself to trust it since I had asked the silly question. But, self-acceptance and self-love is a gift only we can give ourselves.

This playful diversion had taken a more serious turn. This was no longer about Oprah. This was an invitation for me to test drive my current level of self-acceptance and self-love.

It didn’t take long to realize that my self-esteem tank was on E. My thoughts kept evolving from self-acceptance, self-love to the celebration of self and ultimately the celebration of the soul. The word celebration suddenly took on more significance to me as an event planner. On the one hand celebrations were something I was hired to plan on behalf of others. And now the word celebration and life were one in the same meaning. Made sense. End of life gatherings were referred to as Celebration of Life events.

Every human being is a guest of honor of our Divine Host (higher power/wise self). For me, seeing life from this perspective confirmed what I already knew to be true. That we’re ALL guests of honor in the eyes of the divine. This levels the playing field for all attendees. No person is more a VIP than anyone else. Fame, money, power is irrelevant. Our value is non-negotiable.  All experiences, whether painful or joyful are equally significant contributors to our growth and understanding.

My much-needed mental health road trip evolved into a Spiritual Revival or Self Reunion themed event. It had me wonder, what if I used the framework of the event planning process I used professionally to plan my life as an event?

I left home on a Friday feeling like a victim of circumstance and returned home on Sunday feeling empowered as the event planner (a co-creator with the support of our Divine Host and co-hostess Mother Nature) and guest of honor of my own life experience.

I’d had many magical experiences happen in my life. But this was the first time I was keenly aware of the cause and effect connection between asking for help and receiving it.

When I returned home, nothing about my circumstances had changed. But my perception of the circumstances of my life were miraculously, redivined. The challenge of helping my sons through the transition, the jaw pain, job hunt, etc. were still there. But now I had more of a bird’s eye view of my life and what I needed to do.

The next big step was to find a new place for the boys and I to call home. I told my realtor, (also my aunt) exactly what I wanted. I must have sounded like an 8-year-old rattling off my Christmas list. “I want to live in a white house (I associated that color with the divine) on or near a park, in our same neighborhood and school district.

And I can’t pay more than $90,000. She looked at me to see if I was serious. When she saw that I was, she burst out laughing. I laughed too, but somehow, I truly felt it was possible and probable.

That same day I told my aunt what I desired in a home, I got a call back for a second job interview, which got scheduled for the next day. In the meantime, my aunt called and said she found a house she wanted me to see right away.

She had found a white rambler, on a park, in the same school district, with an asking price of $77,000. The house had just gone on the market as part of an estate sale. The neighbors later explain the former neighbors deep love for his wife who had passed away many years earlier. What a lovely omen.

As my aunt showed my friend Carol and I the house, I silently asked the universe for another sign. I wanted confirmation that making an offer and making this move was in everyone’s higher good.

We decided to drive to a nearby perch that overlooked the river to talk. And as we drove down a hill, with a 9-hole golf course to our right and the river to our left, we headed straight toward one end of the biggest rainbows I’d ever seen. Curiously there was no rain. The sky was mostly blue with a few scattered clouds. The other end of the rainbow seemed to originate from the little white house. I wish an image of our expressions could have been captured in that moment.

When I got home I called my sister and shared this magical experience with her. I explained how guilty I still felt about getting a divorce. Even in lieu of this very , colorful sign that obviously supported my decision. She said, “Mo, I don’t believe the message means a rainbow for you and a black cloud for everyone else involved.” I think the rainbow is a sign for all of you.” This was a good point. Must pay attention to the possibility of becoming self-absorbed.

The symbol of the rainbow carried a great deal of significance for me at that time. I had recently designed a signature fundraising event for a small non-profit organization called, Rainbow Bridge. Their mission was to provide safe exchanges and visitations for children involved in cases of domestic violence. The event was called The Paint if Forward Art Exchange.

The next day, I made an offer, which was accepted. Five hours after signing the mortgage documents, I was offered and accepted a job.

I share my story to help you look for and see the magic in your life. I know it’s there. I believe you will always find what we’re looking for. If you’re looking to see what’s right about you, your circumstances, others and the world, you will see it 100% of the time. The opposite is also true. If you intend to see all that is wrong with you, others, and life, you will see that too.

You’re invited to attend the event of this lifetime as you. It’s a come as you are party. You are the event planner and co-creator of our experience.

If you’re willing to look at yourself, your circumstances, others and life through the pink lens of love, you’ll see how divine you really are.

I hope you will join me as we take 9-steps toward a life event you look forward to showing up to and being fully present at. It’s time to realize and share your gifts with the world. Everything you need is inside.