Have you ever made a decision that you knew would benefit you but later lived to regret it? 

This is my story.  I registered for a four-day writer’s retreat in Montana. When I heard of the course, my first instinct was, not for me! Yet, I dismissed the voice of my heart and intuition and the louder voice in my head sold me on a story as to why going to improve my craft of writing was the way to go. By the time I boarded my flight I had been dreading going on the trip for some time. 

Ignoring My Heart’s Intuition

My heart aching with sadness, I thought, There’s no turning back.  Why do I feel so much resistance for this trip? Is it fear? Is it that I am not meant to do this at the time? I struggle to understand, hoping for guidance, for answers from a higher power, but nothing comes through. In retrospect, maybe the answer is in plain sight. Nothing that is good should feel like a chore and it sure shouldn’t cause such anguish

My heart’s intuition spoke to me all along. Sadly, I ignored its message. My ego was in the way. Be mindful of that! The chattering noise can overpower your intuition. It is difficult to hear your heart’s voice among the congestion in your head. I read somewhere that prayer is the way you ask the Universe, (the term I use to refer to God, Source, Life) for answers and guidance but quieting the mind long enough is the way you hear the Universe’s answer. I had no chance. My mind was in full control. I am surprised. This is the stuff I teach and yet here I am, not following and applying my own advice. It’s easier to connect the dots looking back, but not when you are caught in the middle of an emotional storm. 

The Battle Begins

Anxious and agitated, my mind reviews the earlier events at security.  I see my carry-on is pulled to the side. Shoot, come on, I am going to be late, I said almost out loud. 

“Is this your luggage?” Asked the security man    

“It is.” 

He opens the zipper and pulls out my large Ziploc bag full of travel-size toiletries. He then hands me a narrow and small Ziploc bag.

“You have to fit all your toiletries in this bag and whatever doesn’t fit, has to stay.”

“You are joking, right? I really need all these things. I made sure they all are travel size and comply with regulation amounts.” 

“If it doesn’t fit in the bag, it can’t go through.” 

Looking intensely at him my breathing accelerates, my voice changes from calm to a high pitch, 

“This is ridiculous. Nothing fits in this tiny bag,” I protest pouring all the contents out of my large Ziplock. I sigh a few times and shove as much as I can into the small bag. 

I resented every aspect of going to this retreat. So why go, you may be wondering? Perhaps it’s the pressure of losing my large investment. Perhaps the shame of quitting even before starting. Winners never quit, popped in my head each time I thought about canceling or perhaps the worry about what my family and friends may think of me for not going. Perhaps it was one of those or all the above. Isn’t that why people suffer through things they don’t want to do?

After boarding the plane, I pull my iPad from my bag underneath my seat to do my usual writing. My fingers make contact with the keyboard but they don’t move. Nothing is coming. I am too anxious to think creatively. Coming into full awareness by the impact of the airplane touching down, I am pleasantly surprised at how fast four hours passed. 

My Heart and Brain In the Heat of Battle

“There seems to be a brief delay in traffic control here in Denver, but we will be at the gate momentarily.” The Caption spoke. 

More thoughts proliferate, Oh my God I am going to miss my connection.

Yes, you will!” Sermonized the critter in my head. 

“Calm down,” followed my voice of reason. 

There’s a full-blown conversation happening inside my head between my voice of reason and the mean, critter one. It’s United and they are partners with Air Canada. I bet both airlines are side by side in the same terminal and you will make your flight just fine. I really wanted to believe what I was telling myself.

 The flight chime bings loudly through the speakers. Phew! I sigh in relief and stand to retrieve my overly heavy carry-on, snatch my backpack and retrieve my gym bag from underneath the seat. I am ready to sprint as soon as the airplane door opens.  

I disembark with my heavy gear sweating from my armpits and enter the terminal. No problem, Waleuska. Just a few more steps and your flight must be just around the corner, I keep talking myself into calmness. But my intuition knew I was just kidding myself. I’m not going to make it. My next leg to Montana on United is scheduled for 11:15 am. 

“Excuse me, is United in this terminal?” I ask the Air Canada agent outside the door hoping, praying it would be so.

“No. It is in Terminal B but be sure to check the monitors for your gate number,” he recommends.

 I look at my watch again. Oh Gosh, it’s 11:05. A rush of blood pumps through my veins. My flight is leaving in a few minutes. I feel the pressure escalating. I can’t breathe. Every minute accounts.  I rush to desperately look for my gate number. I hear the beating drums of my heart as if it’s outside my chest. I scan the hundreds of flights. 

I pace back and forth between monitors. I can’t locate my flight. I am too frazzled, my mind is foggy. I keep desperately looking with a laser eye focus.  After what felt like an eternity, I see it. I dash down the hallway frantically looking for any sign that points to Terminal B but I am too altered to coherently read or find things as my mind is now in fight or flight mode. At a fork, I stop momentarily and see a terminal employee. 

“Excuse me. I need to make a connection on United. Do you know which way is Terminal B?” I humbly asked.

“Yes. You need to take a train to the next terminal,” explained the person.

What?? My head explodes inside. I can see neurons go into smoke. What happened to, Don’t worry, United and Air Canada must be side by side? I questioned with indignation my previous self-talk. Controlling the fluctuation of my voice, faking calmness I ask, “Which way is that?” 

“The escalator is not working so take the elevator,” the person says pointing their finger to the right.

I missile like a mad woman. Now my mind is in overdrive, alert trying to find the elevator. 

Time seems to be against me. Every second feels like an eternity. Every millisecond counts. I’m late. I’m late. I keep thinking.  I look to both sides of the shuttle train tracks and the train isn’t there.  Fu*k! By this time I am swearing. The train is two minutes away.  I’m in a full panic attack, tired, hungry, thirsty, panicking, and gasping for fresh air, through this mask we have to wear due to Covid, my heart still pounding out of my chest. Finally, the train arrives and I enter hoping and praying I will make it.

The voice of reason speaks again, 

“The airline probably informed United that passengers are delayed. I am sure they will wait for you.”

 After a few moments, the train door opens and I bolt through the corridor with all my heavy gear.  I desperately look for signs to my gate.  I keep running and as I approach, there are no passengers in line. Everyone is already on board. No problem, I say to myself as I glance to the left at the big glass window and see the aircraft is still there, connected to the gate. The agent lifts her head towards me. Without wasting any time, I extend my hand with my ticket while loudly catching my breath. She looks down at my ticket and says,

“I’m sorry but the flight is closed.” 

A bomb explodes inside my head. Like in my childhood Looney Tunes, smoke is fuming out of it.

“What do you mean? I see the aircraft is still here,” I question while clenching my suitcase handle ever so tight. 

“Boarding is now closed. It’s about to pull out.”

“But it’s not my fault. Air Canada was delayed.” I utter hoping that knowing it’s an airline issue, she would do something about it. 

She shakes her head still looking and holding my ticket.

“I need to get on this flight. I have a course that begins this afternoon, and the plane is still here!” I pointed to the obvious. 

My voice is breaking, my throat is tightening. My body temperature goes up and now I feel I am a human pressure cooker and I’m about to blow the lid. Oh God, I can sense a scream or a massive display of tears. Either way, I am not going to be able to hold them, one or both are coming out! 

Is this freaking happening? I’m screaming internally. Oh, here they come… I burst into tears! I am sobbing so loudly that I can’t stop myself. All the built-up pressure over this trip finally found its way out and erupted. I can see the face of discomfort in the agent.

“I can put you on the next flight to Montana,” 

Finally, she’s trying to be helpful, I note. I wipe my tears with my shirt sleeve. Oh, ok! I say to myself. It’s not ideal, but ok, I can work with that. The voice of reason is processing it all very quickly. I will just get there a few hours late.

“Ok,” I say hopeful. She looks through her monitor and says, “The next flight to Montana is at 9 pm.” 

My heart leaps out of my chest. The agent frowns as she sees my face of shock. 

“I’m sorry but there are only two flights a day.”

Defeated and Lost

“I can’t wait at an airport for 10 hours,” I burst out weeping. “By the time I arrived in Montana, I would have missed the first day of the training.”

Screw this. I say. I won’t go. This is my sign. I am going home.

I have the urge from my heart saying, let’s head home, and the urge of the call of duty and responsibility from my mind saying, you can’t waste the money and the course. It was a war of wills. Which voice do I listen to? I’m torn. I dial my daughter.

“Victoria,” I say in a desperate crying voice.  “I missed my flight to Montana and it’s 10 hours before the next one. I want to come home, but I am worried that you will think of me as a quitter.” I can’t hold the tears and burst out crying on the phone like a child. There is silence for a few seconds that seemed to hold time still. 

“No, Mommy,” says Victoria finally. “I understand.”

Hearing her say that, lifted a massive weight from my shoulders.

I try to compose myself and approach the agent again,

“Can you get me back to Toronto today?” The United agent checks her computer system and says, 

“Yes. There is a flight to Toronto on Air Canada at 4:40 pm and I can book you in business class.” 

“Is this the earliest flight?” I press for a different answer.

“Yes, it is.” She confirms as she prints out a ticket for me.

Now what? I ask myself. You still have five and half hours at the airport.

“Our United lounge is just around the corner. Feel free to go and stay there for some refreshments until your flight,” she suggests in a kind and gentle voice.

With my new ticket in hand, I walk away from the gate feeling sad and defeated. When I head towards the United lounge, I get a feeling, an intuition, don’t go to the lounge. Head back to terminal A where Air Canada is located. Hmm, at that moment I am filled with extraordinary mental clarity. I am acutely aware of this feeling-voice guiding me.

 My heart keeps saying, “Let’s go home.” 

I could hear it loud and clear. 

“But what about the thousands of dollars you’ll lose if you don’t go? What will your girls think of you when they see you not finish what you start? Is this the example you want to give them?” 

The loud and unbearable critter whose only purpose is to shame and annoy me, kept tormenting me. I sigh a few times, deep and slow. My chest aches thinking of how long it takes to earn back the money that is now lost. 

I walk without a concrete direction looking for a place to sit and compose myself as the tears still flow down my cheeks. I have a heavy heart lamenting that all this could have been avoided had I just listened to my heart.

Oh, shoot! I have to inform the coach in Montana.  I send a message. 

“I missed my connecting flight from Denver to Montana and the next one is 10 hours later. I have decided to return home. I am sorry but I will have to miss it. My heart is just not in it.” 

That was a powerful moment. Saying those words, “My heart is just not in it,” resonated in my soul.  It was a truth that emerged from deep within me. When our hearts are not in something, we can’t be at peace. We can’t embrace the adventure. I feel that the Universe is teaching me a lesson and forcing me to finally listen to my heart. Remember I said that one can only connect the dots looking back?  I can now see how a series of events had to happen to set in motion a powerful lesson for me.

Was it Coincidence or a Sign from the Universe?

Did the Universe hear me say that if I miss the flight I would take it as my sign? Were circumstances arranged in such a way for that to happen? Or was I so dreadful about this trip that my mind’s power of attraction caused circumstances to manifest? Those are the lingering questions in my mind even today. I have no empirical evidence for what I believe happened. 

Was it just a coincidence?

In my line of work, nothing is a coincidence. I believe that everything is orchestrated to get us to the path that is meant for us. Yes, the Universe respects our free will to make our own decisions and follow a different path, but the Universe will continue to set in motion detours to recalibrate our path to push us in the right direction. That day, stranded for 12 hours, I chose to finally listen to the voice in my heart, the voice of the Universe in me! I believe that the divine communicates with us through our heart, through our intuition and I had dismissed it all along because I was in my ego. My driving motive for going was not to perfect my craft. Instead, the story I told myself was that going to this course can be my ticket to finally getting an agent and a publishing deal. 

Still stranded and in disbelief of what has happened, I take more deep breaths. I have not eaten all day, nor drank anything so I buy a bottle of water. The contact of cold water in my throat felt like water in a dry desert. Ahhh, I needed this, I say as I take another gulp of water. I hear a booming voice through the loudspeakers and stop to listen.

“This is the last boarding call for flight AC1038 to Toronto leaving at gate A43.”  

At this moment I have no idea how close or far I am to that gate. I am in the middle of this busy and mammoth airport but my heart jumps and automatically, I start to run. I don’t even know how I knew that running that way was taking me to the right place but I run as if my life depends on it. I keep running, listening, hoping to hear the announcement again. Did I hear correctly? The United agent had assured me that the 4:40 pm flight was the earliest. 

 I run looking for gate A43. I am on my version of the four-mile run for love —I want to be with my girls. I see a few agents at the gate. Again, no passengers in line. Everyone has boarded. 

Dejavú? Umm!

I can hardly speak as I am completely out of breath, “Excuse me, I heard on the speaker that this flight is leaving now for Toronto. Did I hear correctly?”

“Yes, but the flight is full,” shares the agent.

“I have a ticket for the 4:40 pm flight but can you get me on this one, please.”  I hand her my ticket. She and her partner start to look through their computer. I begin the river of tears again.

“Please, can you do anything for me? I really need to get home.” More tears flow without any care as to who is watching. She glances at me. I can see by her facial tightening that she is worried about my distress. Who knows what she is imagining. 

“I am sorry, business class is full.”

“That’s ok. I will take any seat you have. Put me on the wing if you must but please get me home,” I pleaded. 

Now both agents are looking at the computer monitor and shaking their heads so I know it is not an easy fix. My body temperature is rising. I am fanning my face with my hands to get some air. I need the pressure cooker to reduce as my heart is beating with the force of a thousand drums. 

“The issue is that I have to downgrade your ticket and the system is not letting me,” she says looking at me. 

I am crying even more. I know she feels compelled to help me. She reaches for her radio and instructs the aircraft.

“Hold the door, please, I have one more passenger.” 

My Heart Grabs Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

Ah! Magic words of hope for me. She reaches for the phone to ask for her supervisor’s help who guides her while the agent works on the computer system, and voila, she hands me what in the moment felt to me like my ticket to happiness. I am in! I am going home!  As I enter the plane, every eye is on me. Crap. They are upset that I delayed their flight, I presumed. I recognize some faces. It is the same crew that brought me to Denver. Crazy! 

“I am back,” I said trying to be light which didn’t go well given my display of tears running down my cheeks.  

“What happened?” she says.

“Long story.”

The flight is completely full. There doesn’t seem to be one empty seat.

“Where are you seated?”

I am too nervous, so I give her my ticket. She glances at it and says, 

“Follow me.” 

She guides me to the back of the plane. You could drop a pin and hear it. The full airplane seems to have all eyes on me, perhaps not because I was the last one on, but because they see my tears, red face, and hear the exhaustion in my breathing.  She points to my seat and I am smack right in the worst seat in the house. But I don’t care. I am going home!!

When I finally make contact with the seat, the weight of the world rests. I wipe my forehead full of perspiration. My heart is pounding from all the commotion and excitement all at once.

My breathing is fast, shallow, and deep. I am trying to gasp as much air as I can through my exhausted lungs. I rest my head on the headrest and close my eyes to catch my breath.  As the plane makes it to its altitude, my heart is full of gratitude. Thank you, Universe. I am going home. I keep repeating it in my head as my prayer song. Tears still falling but this time, tears of joy, now in disbelief that I actually made it. Twelve hours of having my heart bursting out of my chest, twelve hours of melancholy, with my stomach growling to remind me it needs food, stranded between flights and airports. Many lessons came out of this experience for me.

Each time we don’t listen to our hearts, we suffer. I learned that we must be vigilant to hear the voice of our intuition. Our hearts are in constant communication. Don’t let the loops of logic, fear, shame, greed, vanity, and guilt talk you into doing something your heart is hesitant to do.  Scientifically, it is a known fact that the brain receives more instructions from the heart than it sends. I was stranded for 12 hours to realize this powerful truth. My advice is that should you find yourself caught between your heart and your brain, choose the voice in your heart. It will never steer you wrong. There is a reason we are gifted with this intuitive power.

Finally, the magic sound of the wheels releasing from underneath the plane. Thank you, God, I am home.  As I leave the plane, I am all smiles. 

I find it interesting that my experience with both flights went the way it did. One agent refuses to let me in as if she knew my heart was not in it. The other, radios to hold the plane as if she knew my heart was all in. 

Coincidence? Or was the power of my heart so strong as to accommodate circumstances to manifest as they did? 

You decide.

With Gratitude,
Waleuska Lazo