By Lisa Marchant

When we say we want to live an extraordinary life, what does that really mean?

Let's just say I had to go through a deeply emotional, soul-searching experience to remember what it meant to me. Sharing this does not come easily, as I have always been a very private person. But, I hope by sharing my experience that it will resonate with you in some way and be a source of inspiration. I believe that we are always guided to find what we need, so if you are reading this right now I hope that it provides something meaningful.

Two summers ago, I went through the most profound and transformational shift of my lifetime. I was working at a corporate job in New York City, and what had once been a thrill, a challenge, and a tremendous learning experience, had transitioned into something that I no longer found enjoyable. I learned a great deal from this experience, but I had outgrown it. I was tormented by the thought of Monday morning and I dreaded going to the office. I felt trapped, exhausted, and like my spirit was being crushed. A little piece of my soul was dying every day.

Commuting to work had become a nightmare. I was underground, in the dark and dirty subway, surrounded by low and oftentimes hostile energy. I witnessed so much sadness and despair below ground. I wondered how many of these people shared my feelings and my situation. How many of these people felt trapped in a career or trapped living a life they were not happy living? To exist this way takes a tremendous toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing, and quite literally drains the life out of you.

Just over 4 years ago, I moved to New York City. I had insatiable excitement and optimism. I was over the moon. This was the home of Sex and the City, and Gossip Girl, and now it was my home too! I believed New York was a magical place where anything was possible. The energy was explosive and unlike anything I had ever experienced. I fell in love with the city and the idea of creating a new life here. I believed I would create magic. I believed I would achieve success and happiness beyond anything I could imagine. I didn’t know how yet, but this is what I believed with all my heart.

Somehow I had wound up in a very lost and sad place - spending my days and virtually my life doing something that no longer held meaning or inspiration. Trust me, this is not the way you want to live your life, even for a minute. And when you continue living this way, day in and day out, it sends a clear message to the brain that says your happiness and wellbeing do not matter. Maybe at first, this message is subconscious, but it becomes a conscious choice the minute you realize how unhappy you are and still do nothing about it.

This is the act of ignoring what is best for you - and what your heart truly wants. This is where deep sadness comes from. It is no surprise that I found myself breaking down more and more often. For someone who doesn’t cry much, I sure was getting good at it. I had a huge emotional battle going on inside. On one hand, I felt like I needed to stay at this company and continue my corporate career because to leave would mean to fail and give up. On the other hand, I was unhappy and it was slowly sucking the life out of me. This was not the life I envisioned or wanted. The emotional turmoil was making me feel like I was seriously losing my mind. I was sad, scared, and confused.
It took hitting a wall before I made a monumental change. I had to get to the very end of my rope and risk losing myself completely. One day I woke up and just knew I couldn’t do it any longer. At this point, no amount of money or promotion would get me to stay. It had literally come down to two choices, this job or my happiness and sanity. I decided to honor myself and my happiness.

But now I needed to figure out how I would get out. If I quit my job, how would I survive and support myself financially? Would I have to leave New York? Would I have to start all over somewhere else? Would I have to give up my dream of an extraordinary life in New York City? What would people say? What would my family say? Was I a failure? I had so many fears and questions running through my mind. I was at my breaking point and facing a huge life-changing decision, and I was freaking out.

The good thing about being at your breaking point is that you will do just about anything to find a solution. It forces you to take action. I wanted a solution bad, and I wanted it immediately! I longed to experience freedom and happiness again. I wanted to love my life again. I missed knowing myself and realized that I no longer knew who I had become. How could I have chosen to ignore my own happiness? How could I let myself get so far off track? I missed the version of me that felt excited, alive, and inspired. I craved freedom and the opportunity to reconnect to the things I loved. I longed for peace and solitude. I longed to begin a journey of rediscovering myself and I was ready to leave everything else behind.

So I booked a trip to Portugal! This trip was the turning point. It was the best thing I ever did. I might even say it saved me.

I lost track of time as I sat mesmerized by the sea. There is just something so soothing about the ocean that cannot be conveyed in words. It contains so much power and mystery and beauty. I felt like I was transported to another world and suddenly nothing from my old life mattered. I just let it go, and it was easy to let it go. In this place, it all happened so naturally. It was the most freeing experience of my life. I felt like I was a bird that had been let out of my cage. I spent days contemplating my very existence. Who was I now? If I wasn’t someone who cared about climbing the corporate ladder, blending in with society's mold, or someone who cared about achieving the “New York” standard of success, who was I?

The sound of waves crashing at my feet and birds overhead, were therapy for my soul. With each moment, I felt more connected and more alive. It was like this veil had been lifted and everything was becoming crystal clear. I started to hear my own voice again. I believe my soul spoke to me in these moments and days, and because I was no longer distracted and consumed by what I had left behind, I was finally able to hear it.

It is amazing how clear things become when you stop doing the things you don’t want to do and start creating space for what you want. I cried tears of joy. I thanked the gods, the ocean and the sky. I had been set free! I felt deeply connected to myself, to nature and overwhelmed with joy. Peace and happiness flooded my heart. It had eluded me for so long and now it was back. I knew underneath it all, it was me that I missed. Somewhere along the way, I lost the connection to what mattered most, my connection to my heart and soul. Losing that connection had caused me to lose sight of my happiness. Somehow in my desire to create a better life and achieve what our culture describes as a success, I lost sight of what mattered most. I realized that I had been chasing something that I no longer desired. This epiphany was deeply profound.

Portugal gently guided me back to my happiness. It was my wake up call. In the time I spent there, I found my happiness, I found myself again. I got crystal clear about who I was, what was important to me and what I wanted my life to look like going forward. I began to experience a new reality, one in which I was in complete alignment with my heart and my soul. There are no words to describe the peace and joy I felt in coming back to this existence. The sun seemed to shine brighter, the ocean seemed more beautiful, the flowers more vibrant. This was truly the biggest transformation of my life. It deeply moved me. It changed me. Standing by the Portugal sea, I rediscovered myself and what life was all about. I knew my truth. I knew what really mattered. I knew what I wanted. I knew anything was possible for me. I no longer felt stuck or lost. The confusion and pain were gone. Everything had changed. I knew what I had to do!

I flew back to New York City and quit my job the first day back. I didn’t have a plan. Sure, I was scared and unsure of my future, but that didn’t seem to matter. All that I cared about was following my heart and my happiness - and it was screaming to get the hell out of there. I didn’t know how, but somehow I knew everything would work out.

The next 6 months were pure joy -- magical, invigorating, insightful, full of surprise and entirely blessed. The shift I experienced was a beautiful transformation that brought me to levels of joy and happiness I had never experienced. I experienced such clarity. I just knew the answers to my questions about life - instead of hoping to discover them or asking someone else. I knew my truth, I had access to this seemingly infinite wisdom.

I knew my path and understood why I had come to this planet. I felt connected to all living things and I was buzzing with energy, ideas, and inspiration. I had this newfound love and respect for all living beings and for nature. For once in my life, it truly didn’t matter if people understood me or agreed with me. The world around me seemed to fall silent and there was only peace. I felt the love and light of the universe within me, I felt its infinite power and creative force. I felt so light, I could float off the ground. It was as if part of me existed in this world, but the other part of me was connected to the entire universe - connected to all things. I no longer felt alone.

Music had a stronger effect on me than ever before, it was as if the music was literally playing inside my head. I felt intense emotions of love and joy and cried the happiest of tears. I was celebrating life in a way that I never imagined possible.

My perspective of the world and everything around me changed. My daily life was a magical and almost euphoric experience. This was a totally new experience. I remember thinking that to experience peace and love on this level must be similar to what the gods and the angels feel. This was the most profound shift I have ever experienced. I wanted to remain in this state forever! I can only try to describe it as feeling completely vibrant, whole, happy, loved, powerful, and complete. All my fears, doubts, and worries disappeared. It was almost as if I started to experience life as my soul instead of the human part of me.

I wrote daily in my journal, meditated, and walked in the sun. I recorded memos of my experience, wanting to capture every moment of what was happening to me. I felt the source of universal inspiration running through me. I felt tuned in, alive, and empowered. I felt the divine part of me and knew I was connected to something much greater than myself. I knew I could create anything I desired. I understood that I came to this planet with a purpose and now I knew what it was. My heart was overflowing with love and I wanted to share it with the world. I wanted to be a source of inspiration.

We all get lost at some point in our life. But I have come to believe that this is one of the biggest blessings we can receive. When we lose our way, it often creates deep sadness, pain or depression. At some point, we can no longer endure these feelings and it forces us to stop and reevaluate our life. This gives us the opportunity to make a shift and experience profound personal and spiritual growth. We can start fresh and reinvent ourselves. This realization is incredibly exciting.

Having the courage to do what you love, fulfilling your purpose and living with joy, awareness, and intention, is what it means to live an extraordinary life. It means existing in a state of love and wellbeing. This is how we are meant to live. We start to experience pain and sadness when we are out of alignment with who we are because we are not living authentically.

If you are not experiencing love, joy, and wellbeing, it is time to stop and ask yourself why. Change is always within your power. You do not need to prove anything to anyone when you realize your own worth. Stop trying to achieve what society believes to be a success. Instead, set your own standards. You are here to live the life of your choosing. You can create anything you desire and intend to create. YOU are powerful and extraordinary.

To contact Lisa Marchant