Are You Paying Attention To These Signs?

When I was 17 years old, I had a really difficult decision to make: which college was I gonna go to? At the time, I’d applied to the two colleges I visited that I actually liked, St. Bonaventure and Utica College.

Both schools had their pluses and their minuses, but overall I could see myself at either place.

And that was the problem. I didn’t know which one to choose.

Secretly I hoped I’d only get into one, so I wouldn’t have to make any decisions–it would be decided for me. Except I got into both, and then both offered me a great financial aid package, including several scholarships.

I didn’t know what to do. But I had a deadline–the decision had to be made and it had to be made before the deadline lapsed.

I wasn’t sure what to do, so I decided to marinate on it.

I believe in marination. I think it’s really important, especially when you have to be make a big decision, that you marinate on it and give it time to hang out in your subconscious. Because if you do that for a little while, there will start to be signs for what to do.

Up to that point, I’d always heard of seeing signs, but I never paid any attention. Until really weird things started happening…

The first one happened when I was at Burlington Coat Factory, working part-time as an associate in the men’s department. It was the end of the night and we were all in clean up mode. The faster things got cleaned up, the faster everyone could go home.

The home decor department was short staffed that night–and linens were a mess. They asked me and several others if we could go over and lend a hand.

As I picked up a pile of curtain panels packed in plastic that had been knocked off the shelf and onto the floor, I got my first sign: the name of the curtain company was Utica.

I thought it was kind of odd, but I brushed it off as coincidence. Until a few days later when it happened again.

Walking up the stairs at school, on the way to my next class, I was staring at the back of the person walking in front of me when I noticed something. He was wearing a shirt that said Nautica across his shoulders, but the “Na” was folded over slightly because of how his arm was bent from holding his books, and so his back said Utica.

Again, I brushed it off.

And not long after that I was in my seventh period jewelry class and we ran out of rubberbands. We were making cuttlebone casts and pouring hot metal into them, and you have to carve the cuttlebone on both sides and then wrap it with a rubberband to hold it back in place.

The art teacher went into the back to grab another box, and when she brought it out and put it in front of me I nearly shrieked out loud. Across the front of the box was written in bold black letters, and I kid you not:

Rubberbands
Utica, NY

I got chills. This series of signs was pointing me to where I needed to go and what I needed to do: attend Utica College.

This was the first time in my life I ever remember seeing signs for something I’d been thinking about and needing to decide on. But the truth is, the signs are always there, if we’re willing to pay attention to them.

But many people aren’t willing to. They brush things off as coincidence or fight against it because they’re afraid.

Or maybe they are willing to pay attention, they’re just not willing to act.

Because when you’re undecided about something or you’re not sure what to do or how to move forward, the signs for what to do will always be there. Always.

All of the answers you need are right there inside you. And they’re also being projected back to you from the world around you.

Sometimes they come as actual signs, like in the case of my big college decision. Other times it’s more subtle, like a pattern of numbers that keeps repeating. But the signs are always there.

And you can also ask for a sign. You can say, “Universe, send me a sign for [insert whatever you need support with].” Declare it and the sign will show up for you.

It may not happen immediately. It will likely be when you’re not at all expecting it.

But it will show up.

The key thing here is not just paying attention, but then also acting when the signs are there. Because without action the sign is meaningless.

If I’d gotten all three of those signs that pointed me to Utica College, but then I ignored it and went to the other school or I decided not to go to college at all or something, who knows where I’d be right now.

But here I am, because I saw the signs and I followed them.

I believe in divine guidance and know that the Universe is always talking to us and giving us direction and showing us the “how” for all of the things we want to create in our lives. We just have to be willing to pay attention and take action.

That’s your job. To figure out what you want, ask for help and then believe it will show up. And when it does, you have to act.

You have to take action and you have to take it right away.

If you don’t, you’ll just keep getting signs, and the signs will get louder and bigger and more noticable. Sometimes they even get so big they’re like flashing red lights you can’t possibly ignore.

The signs are pointing you to your path. They’re showing you the “how” to get you to your goal, whatever it may be. Which is why, when the signs are there or you’re getting little nudges from the Universe or there’s a voice inside that gives you an inspired idea, you must act.

Acting is your job.

Taking action is all you can ever do to bring into reality whatever you want for yourself and your writing and your life. Without action, all you have are big dreams and an empty bank account.

Because dreams and desires alone are never enough to get you where you want to go. You must take action and take it consistently.

And you’ve gotta have faith and trust that when you make a decision and when you choose to follow a sign or nudge you’ve been given, that it will all work out. The more you do this, the more your dream life will unfold and your reality will be transfomed before your very eyes.

I did end up going to Utica College, and I had the time of my life learning and growing and getting to have so many amazing experiences, both personally and academically. It put me on the path to where I am today.

Pay attention. Trust in the signs. Listen to your inner guidance. If you do it will lead you to everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more.

Dream life or bust,

The Pro Writer Mindset Podcast, Ep. 6: An Interview with Memoirist Marion Roach Smith

Listen on  iTunes or Stitcher

Guest Bio:

Marion Roach Smith believes that everyone has a story to tell. The author of four books, all of which contain a large degree of memoir, her most recent book is The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing—and Life, an irreverent, quirky, provocative product of the countless memoir classes she has taught for more than a decade.

Under the name Marion Roach, she is the author of The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair; the co-author with famed forensic pathologist Michael Baden, M.D., of Dead Reckoning; and of Another Name for Madness. A former staff member of The New York Times, she has written for The New York Times Magazine, Prevention, The Daily News, Vogue, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Discover, and The Los Angeles Times. Since 1998, she has taught classes in writing memoir and now does so both in person and online. She can be found at MarionRoach.com.

Show Notes:

I had the pleasure of not only hearing Marion speak on memoir writing at the 2016 TRIBE Writers Conference, but I also was lucky enough to sit at a table with her for three days. She is FANTASTIC and has so many incredible insights about writing memoir.

Here are some of my takeaways from the interview:

  • Memoir is about moments of transition and transcendence–this is one of my favorite pieces of memoir-writing advice Marion shared. I’ve always thought memoir was a genre I’d never touch, and now she has me thinking about writing a memoir (listen to the episode to hear the topic I’m considering!)
  • Write from a place of phobia–I loved hearing her say this, because I’m someone who overcomes fears by facing them head-on.
  • Read above you–rather than reading at the level you’re used to, if you want to learn how to write better, you must read above you, by finding authors who are better writers and studying what they do.

Be sure to check out Marion’s book–The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing and Life, available now! 

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