Navigation Tools for Life, Part IV, Practical Application

The past three posts have been about navigating life with tools like centering and grounding and the internal guidance system. In this post, I’m going to bring it down to practical application with a recent example from my own life. It’s one thing to describe the tools and quite another to practice them, particularly at difficult moments. I know this all to well from my own experience. But I might have a few years of practice on some of you, so I’m going to describe how I managed to avoid being a traffic fatality (okay, that may be a bit hyperbolic), or at least managed to get to a speaking engagement with plenty of time to spare and without an accident.

Those who have experience with Colorado weather know that March is our snowiest month and that fifty and sixty degree days are often puntuated by spring storms that rip the nascent leaves from trees and take the branches while they’re at it. Last Thursday was one of those spring storm days.

We have had drought conditions in Denver this winter so any moisture is a welcome sight. The problem was that I had plans, long set, to speak at CIPA College on Thursday. (CIPA College is the annual conference put on by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. It is a major event that draws speakers and participants from the four corners of the U.S.) I was scheduled to head up a panel of editors at “Newbie” College, the half-day session for new and aspiring writers/publishers. I had selected the topics and I had selected the panel. I was responsible for the session.

News of the forthcoming storm on Wednesday had me scrambling to book a room at the hotel for Thursday and Friday. I have had enough experience with Colorado snowstorms to know that having a warm port in a storm is a good idea. I got my gear together. (I’m a woman. This takes time.) I planned to leave relatively early in the morning, even though my panel wasn’t speaking until about 3:00 p.m.

There was rain mixed with snow by 6:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. The streets were still warm enough from the previous day’s sixties to melt anything resembling snow when it hit. But within an hour, the rain-snow mixture was more snow than rain and it was sticking. I hurried to get myself together and my gear in the car and left my home by 8:00 a.m., within an hour of the switch from rain-snow to snow. I could see that conditions were deteriorating rapidly and wanted to find myself drinking coffee and schmoozing with other speakers by 9:00 a.m.

The roads were snowpacked and slick. SUVs were already in ditches. I had some faith in my Subaru Outback and my driving (ah, crawling at about 25 mph), but I had less faith in some of the yahoos speeding by me in cars that didn’t appear to have four-wheel drive like mine.  It was already a horrific drive and I was only a few miles from home.

I had heard from one member of my panel and knew  she was bailing. I suspected that she wouldn’t be alone. I was prepared to be the sole speaker (and have done enough speaking gigs that I knew I could easily pull it off), but the only thing that was really keeping me pointed onward was the fact that I was the moderator. It was my panel. I felt responsible.

Still, I contemplated turning back. I had only gone five to seven miles (and had another fifteen or so to go), but didn’t want to make the rest of the drive if it was going to be as harrowing as the drive thus far. Before making the decision, I checked in with my internal guidance system.

It was a smart thing to do. I received a very clear message: The road behind you is more dangerous than the road ahead. I couldn’t really imagine that being true, but the message was very clear and kept repeating itself. I decided to go forward.

And the road ahead was, indeed, far less dangerous than the road I had just traveled. (There may be more meaning to this than just one drive to one speaking engagement, I’ll admit.) Within a couple of miles, the roads became more wet than snowpacked and the snow gave way to rain-snow.

I made it to the hotel in time for that morning coffee.

If I had not listened to my internal guidance system, I might have turned back. If I had done that, I would have missed my talk because the roads became increasingly problematic as the day wore on. In fact, I probably would have missed the Friday morning session of CIPA College, too.

As it turned out, I had one panel member with me and we gave a great session. And before the weekend was out, I had won another EVVY Technical Award for Editing and my clients had snagged an additional seven awards for their books.

Am I happy that I listened to my internal guidance system? What do you think?

I would love to hear your personal stories, too.


Copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall

Tags: , ,

10 Responses to “Navigation Tools for Life, Part IV, Practical Application”

  1. Lara Robinson Says:

    You’re right… it’s the taking time to listen to the internal system that makes all the difference. As well, knowing the lay of the land can be extremely helpful. Knowing that you were coming from the hardest-hit area and traveling into a lesser-hit area can help too. The lay of the land is important to know, when using your own “mapping” system.

    I’m glad you got to be at at the conference, and congrats on your new award!


    • Melanie Mulhall Says:

      Yes, taking the time to check in is important. Remembering to do so when you are in a pinch can be difficult, but extremely important.

      During that drive, I had no way of knowing that I was coming from the hardest-hit area into a lesser-hit area–except from my internal guidance system. It was all unfolding in the moment. If I had not checked in with my internal guidance system, I would probably have turned back . . . and wouldn’t have known until later that conditions were worse north than south-east (at least at 8:00 a.m.).

      Thanks for the congrats!



  2. Margaret Pevec Says:

    I love it when the message is so clear…like when I changed back to my maiden name, or decided to move to Boulder. I hate it when I’m getting mixed messages or can’t focus, or just feel so confused I want to go back to bed. I’ve had both experiences plenty of times. Carolyn Myss said once that she thinks every decision is guided, even to which apples we select at the grocery store. In my better states I agree…


    • Melanie Mulhall Says:


      The messages are not always so clear, are they? Carolyn Myss might be right. The trick is to be a clear enough receiver of the messages. Shamanism is a wonderful tool for clearing ourselves internally, but there are many ways to accomplish it. And even then, as you know, sometimes we are clearer than at other times.

      Thanks for commenting on the reality of this shifting clarity.



  3. Kristin Says:


    In your case, I am glad to know that you listened to that guidance system and made it safely. That was one killer storm.

    In my case, I am getting to know this internal guidance system better, and thanks to some external guidance, have realized the great importance in following this voice. That is to say: thank you for listening, and for your words of advice. I do appreciate them greatly.

    Kristin Smith


  4. Kathy Kaiser Says:


    I had a strangely similar experience to yours that same week. I was visiting friends in Fort Collins on the Wednesday before the Thursday storm and from there was going to drive to my cabin near Estes Park. But every time I imagined driving those roads and being at the cabin for the next two days, it felt wrong. Heading toward the road where I would have to turn off to go to the cabin, I kept checking in with my internal monitor and kept getting the same negative response.


  5. Kathy Kaiser Says:

    (Hmm, something I just hit saved the comment without me finishing.)

    To finish my story, I aborted my trip, and I experienced a strange feeling of almost euphoria.

    I definitely believe in listening to that inner voice.


    • Melanie Mulhall Says:


      Thanks for taking the time to finish the story. I would have been emailing you for the rest if you hadn’t. I suspect that you and I were not the only ones being given guidance last week during the storm. It makes me wonder how many of us actually heeded the guidance.

      That feeling of euphoria you felt is what I sometimes refer to as the angels popping champaign corks when we listen.



  6. Maria Weber Says:

    Hi Melanie,
    I remember that morning well. It was my first time at CIPA. I had arrived from the south on I-25 where people were driving way faster than I through inches of slush. I couldn’t see the lines between the lanes. I was very glad to finally reach the Red Lion Hotel and the conference. As I was getting ready to enter the 1st workshop that morning, you came to the door and were warmly greeted by a CIPA member, who kindly introduced us. As you mentioned to her that you had followed your inner guidance to get there, I felt the connection in our way of thinking and operating. A kindred spirit. Meeting you was perhaps a synchronicity, since I had felt guided to come to that conference.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: