Is following our heart a selfish deed?

By A.G.Billig
Nov 14th, 2016

15079042_10154777593893982_3416567205067333438_nGreetings from Dublin, Ireland.

I was born in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. A country that due to lack of publicity, you may associate with Dracula only or great athletes such as Nadia Comaneci and Ilie Nastase. Believe me, there is more about this small European country: beautiful landscapes, talented writers and musicians, brilliant scientists, warm-hearted people.

What are you doing in Dublin, you may ask.

I have to go back to my childhood days. My parents hired an English tutor for me when I was three. Somehow, despite still living in a communist regime that allowed us little traveling, they thought that learning Shakespeare’s language was important. My first novel, which I began writing when I was 13, was placed in the US, Phoenix and San Diego, to be more precise. Hollywood movies had a certain influence though not as big as books such as Gone With The Wind or the stories about the Native Americans. The rebellious spirit of rock music, the vastness of the landscape, high energy and optimism of this land added up later.  The English language stayed with me all the way through college and so did French. I ended up with a Masters’ Degree in both languages, yet I always preferred the first. Some people may argue that Romanian is creative while English is precise still I believe that the later if used properly, can offer endless ways of expression. No wonder I would sometimes daydream about living in California.

For a long time, I ignored this calling. Never thought it would be possible. Romanians still need visas to visit the US and, similar to other non-residents, a Green Card to be able to work.

I first visited the US in 2006. People warned me that I would feel crushed, that everything was so different and huge. But the moment I set foot in Las Vegas, on business, I felt at home. You know, that feeling of relief and well-being you have when you are where you’re supposed to. Gambling is not my cup of tea, but Las Vegas is an experience worth having once in a lifetime. Therefore, sitting by the pool, listening to classic rock was more enjoyable than being in a casino. True to my beliefs and programming, I didn’t hope for more. After all, I was just an East European girl with no work permit and little money. What were the odds for me to live in the US?

I wasn’t aware back then that change can’t be avoided. Change can be so subtle that we don’t even observe it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen

For me, everything changed dramatically during the past year. It started with the inspirational presentation Mark Dawson gave at the London Book Fair 2015. Other three stepping followed: going to Dublin for the first time and meeting Laurence O’Bryan from The fire in Colectiv (Bucharest). Traveling to Santa Ana, California. All of these are explained in my book, I Choose Love, which I’ll relaunch mid-December with a new chapter on sexuality and a new cover.

Metaphorically speaking, these experiences shaped me into a new person, more attuned to her calling and true self. I outgrew the boundaries of the homeland and decided to give a shot at living my dreams. Some people accused me of being selfish.

Was I egoistic to leave behind (temporarily, until I settled in) my family, dog and an old flame just about to die? Was I supossed to stay, live an unhappy and unfulfilled life, for their sake,  and make them miserable, too, or go with the flow? What would you have done?

Not growing is a surefire way to shrink. Most people are aware of it but getting out of the comfort zone is such a scarecrow. It can be heartbreaking and terrible in  the beinning. Compare it with walking up a mountain. You will want to go back. But once you see the top of the mountain, you will want to reach it.


What am I doing in Dublin?

I followed my heart. There are things to learn and do here. I’ve already spent in Ireland one month and a half this summer, after another four weeks in sunny California. For a sun and Ocean addict, being on this island is an everyday challenge. The bigger the challenge, the greater the opportunity for growth. Under such circumtances, we learn how strong we are. We get to listen to the voice of our heart, to see the silver lining in everything. Become aware of our thinking patterns and limiting beliefs so we can release them. Learn how to conjure up the sun despite a catastrophic weather forecast.

If we can make it in a place like this, we will be able to make it anywhere.

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