“You Serve the Best, By Doing What You Love the Most”
I believe the above quote best sums up the lesson I learned from an absolutely amazing person that God hand selected to put in my path while exploring the woods and mountains of North Carolina. After making the decision to travel from Charlotte, NC to Asheville, NC, I decided that I wanted to go for a hike in the Pisgah National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains. The trail was a 90 minute drive from Asheville, but I had this strong and unexplainable urge to visit the trail. I had previously written about my divine appointment with a hitchhiker (You Can Read that Here), but God had a full schedule of appointments for me that day.
After dropping off my divine appointment, I shifted transportation modes from my car to my feet as I began my hike along the Laurel River Trail. The trail was absolutely beautiful and I found a peaceful and serene place to attempt to sit cross cross applesauce (attempt is the key word) and meditate on a rock next to the rushing waters. At that moment I was certain that my purpose for taking the journey from Asheville to Laurel River Trail was meet the hitchhiker and share my battle with Thyroid cancer to help calm him of his worries. What I didn’t realize was that the purpose of this journey was yet to be fully realized. I was in for another Godcidence (God’s version of a coincidence).
After clearing my mind, thanking God for the appointment, and turning some fearful thoughts into loving thoughts, I continued along my hike. As I am walking along the trail taking in the peaceful energy the hike was pouring into my soul, I spot a women taking pictures of flowers along the path. My interest was immediately spiked and I stopped to say hello:
“It is a beautiful day for a hike,” I proclaimed.
With a camera hanging around her neck, the women turned to me and responded:
“It is a gorgeous day out and the flowers are really talking today.”
I was unsure of what she was referencing, but I took a glance at the flowers she was photographing I noticed their beauty, but I was thinking maybe I was deaf as I didn’t hear any of them speaking. The women, with excitement in hear voice, began showing me the flowers and the light that was reflecting off of them.
“When the light reflects perfectly off the flour it is the energy and natures way of communicating with us.”
My initial narrow minded thought was “Ok, sure,” but since I started my new practice of meditation I have focused on how I can interact with people to a higher level with the aim of allowing me to get the most out of every personal encounter. I found that every person communicates in a different way. Some people communicate through language, others through art, music, touch, and even the energy that someone gives out. When we lack the awareness that communication can come in many different forms, there is a high probability that we will lose out on conversations that could potentially have a profound impact on our life. I decide right at that moment, that I was going to fully indulge myself into this conversation and interaction. There was something about this women’s energy and the passion I could feel for what she was explaining. While she continued to show me flowers and point out the reflection of energy coming from them, I opened up my mind and my heart and the lessons I learned were ones that I will carry on with me for a lifetime.
The very special soul’s name was Sue Wasserman and the wisdom she dropped on me that day was as marvelous as the flowers blooming along the trail. A moment quickly turned into 30 minutes and we were still standing on the trail deep in conversations about flowers, the universe, our lives, God’s plan, and more. I could feel Sue’s energy and it was radiating, much like the light bouncing through the flowers.
As our conversation went to new depths, I started to realize why Sue had so much passion for nature and its beauty. Sue was an extremely talented at fencing, so much that she earned a fencing scholarship to The Ohio State University and upon graduation she did what most of us do, she got a job and worked her way up the corporate ladder. Her love for natures photography happened, by what some might say accidental, but I believe by divine intervention. A bad back and an impending corporate layoff caused her to find peace through exploring nature.
“There is Something about being laid off that messes you. It was in that whole process that I needed the photography. The photography piece was what was happening while I was in the woods and these flowers were calling out to me, It was inspiring.”
While in Sue was following her peace seeking explorations, she found herself listening to the flowers and she decided to grab a camera to catch natures language through photography. After finding a new love, her new passion turned into a purpose and she began publishing books sharing the gifts that God was placing in her life.
The journey, like most of us pushing to chase our passion, has been a struggle filled with roadblocks attempting to halt her attempts at pursuing her life purpose. It has been a challenge for Sue to leave the cushy corporate world, but it is one that she ultimately surrendered to.
“You have to give yourself permission to not do what everyone expects of you and it changes you. Through this process, some of my friendships have changed. Not everyone understands.”
Her life as a competitive fencer and a corporate PR executive are the chapters in her life’s book that have already been read and acted out. Photography, writing, and nature are the chapters that are pushing her to move forward, grow, and live life with a new found excitement.
“There is another possibility for a new chapter in our life. This is true for all of us. If you read a book, you are always coming to a new chapter. Life is this way. I think it would be boring as hell to be on this same old thing and be doing something you don’t want to be doing.”
This chapter, while it is exciting, is still filled with her share of struggles and challenges. Sue is constantly growing and developing and learning about who she is and who she wants to become. The wisdom she is attaining are lessons that she never could have learned in school, while working in corporate America, or even from an enlightened master. The insight she is gaining is full of strategic lessons God has placed in her life through the good, the bad, and the overall journey.
“Now I am much better in the struggle. I know that I have what I need to figure this out. It is not magic all the time. You actually learn lessons when it is least magic. There is a gift from the shit. Sometimes there are many gifts. In the last year, I feel like I am making the most strides personally, really believing in this thing I am doing, I can’t really define it. I know I am on the right path, and this world tells you that you have to keep going and climbing.”
“There clearly is a gift and nature is communicating with me. This past year, I have been open to believing it and not struggling with it. Nature does for me, It says just hang out with me.”
Sue has found her gift, she has found her calling. This Gift was not something she ever expected while fencing in college or running the rat race in the corporate world, but it is a gift that has had a profound impact on identifying her true purpose in life. One of the last things Sue said to me had a lasting impression and it kept me in constant contemplation over the next few weeks.
“Today there is a world of hurt happening. I think so much, that so many people are miserable in their lives. If someone or everyone was operating at their best (whatever their best is, it will be different for all of us), things would shift.”
How do we operate at our best? What is our best? How can I create this shift in my life? These questions rang in my ears as I drove from Laurel River Trail to Washington D.C. and continued along my Pursuit of Passion. In fact, these questions still ring in my ear today as I am writing this blog post.
I believe finding happiness and operating at our best can mean something different for every single person. The reason that it will be different for every individual, is because it can only be found through your own soul searching. We can learn, we can grow, we can develop, but until we dig into our soul and really understand what our purpose really is, we will struggle to make this shift in our life. Once we find this purpose we can then and only then truly shift our life.
I reluctantly told Sue that I needed to continue along my hike and head to the next stop in my pursuit, but I thanked her countless times for the amazing conversation. What she didn’t realize at the time was that I was thanking her for much more than an amazing conversation. I had felt that Sue was placed on that trail for me to bump into her for a reason. I was forced to open up my heart and my mind and take in something that seemed foreign to me. When I allowed myself to open up to her world I was rewarded with the gifts of her experiences, her wisdom, and my own self-reflection on my purpose in this world.
Sue Wasserman believes she had the best of both worlds growing up in New Jersey. A lake in her front yard provided the perfect place to learn about the beauty of nature while her proximity to New York City, along with an art-appreciating mother, helped foster a passion for the arts.
Sue’s confidence was bolstered by a talent for fencing, which helped her earn a scholarship to The Ohio State University. Her resume proudly proclaimed that “the pen writes mightily with the sword.”
As a freelance writer, Sue Wasserman has interviewed a diverse group of people from baseball great Hank Aaron and Home Depot Founder Bernie Marcus, to Penland School of Craft Director Jean McLaughlin and renowned NC Potter Cynthia Bringle. She’s written for such publications as The New York Times, Southern Living, American Style, Ceramics Monthly, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Asheville Citizen Times.
Sue became an accidental nature photographer thanks to a combination of curiosity, a bad back, and an impending corporate layoff. She sought solace in the woods and found herself intrigued by the colorful wildflowers she found on her journeys. She began carrying a camera to help identify the beauty she discovered. Identification turned to inspiration. Friends encouraged her to publish the images.
“Whether as a freelance writer or public relations professional, my career has been steeped in sharing stories about people who are passionate about what they do through the written word. I have often joked that it feels like Nature has asked me to be its PR person, but in all honesty, it feels very true. Nature has become an important teacher in my life, and my hope, in combining thoughts and images, is that I can share her wisdom and beauty with others.”