shifting gears

— May 26, 2021 —

I will never forget that time when I stalled out and was stuck in a rental car in the middle of a busy road in Limerick, Ireland. I had literally just pulled out of the rental parking lot, on my way to Kildare, driving crossways east across the country by myself. On the wrong side of the road. With a freaking stick-shift.

Panic overtook me, as people were justifiably annoyed at this disturbance in the flow of traffic, and I could not get out of first gear. “You have done this a million times. You can do it, Allison!” I coached myself.

Nope. Still couldn’t move. What is the problem???

Then a clear little voice from within said: “Look down.” Oof, the parking brake was still on. So, with this quick little fix I was off and on my way on a solo road trip across Ireland, cry-laughing my way out of the city. 

I was rattled. I was also wise to the fact that this trip was a big deal. I was overwhelmed, and I had no idea what I was doing, and I was alone, and I was all backwards.

But I am also aware that some part of my subconscious mind was scared out of its wits to actually head toward my destination. No wonder I forgot the parking brake! I had trained my car to follow my ego voice. And I even placed myself in grave physical danger just to avoid taking the next step.


I was going to Kildare to meet Saint Brigid. It was a pilgrimage. I was going there to unite with a part of myself that was, in the cradle of her holy place, precious and worthy.

It is hard enough to get out of first gear. But when you try to move with your parking brake on, well, you are not going anywhere. And eventually you will burn out.

So the real question I have is: how do we move ahead when we are scared?

How can we receive a desire for our self, for our voice, for our artistry, that is fulfilling, satisfying, nourishing? It may be a Big Thing or a small thing. It may alter your career, or just make you feel better.

You know when something is ready to shift because you recognize that something is off. Not working. Funky. Unsettled. Wanting. Hungry. Uneasy.

This is good.

This is a reminder that your voice is here to speak and sing for a good reason. These are the signs that your voice yearns for its expression, and it means that we have something of great value to share. There is a power moving through you, and it has potency. The hymn within you is ready to be born.

What can be excruciating is the silent withholding of that something, of your hymn.

How long will this uneasiness last? That depends on you. I believe it depends partly on divine timing, but also our willingness to step into the I-don’t-know-ness of change and growth along our journey.

I am knee deep in it, my friend. I have done it before, though. I know what is on the other side of soul voice itchiness: release and renewal. And honestly, relief.

But there is a place in the cycle of artistic growth that is akin to being stuck and panicked in the middle of a busy road in Limerick. For me it resembles an inner frenzy, trying to know what is next and make sure it is the Right Thing or else.

But when given enough mental and emotional space, the soul shines through with an inner clarity that says: look right here. Right in your heart. Yes, that’s it. Hold that for a moment: now go.

The heart always knows the answers.

I believe the hardest part for us is the commitment: to commit to the next course along your journey. Even if you do not know what it looks like, or how many miles it may be, or what people will think, or who you will be at the end.

It is so hard Not Knowing. And it is always hard to change. But our practice is honoring the holy place within that is precious to you. That is, indeed, worthy of being expressed. Can you commit to honoring this aspect of your Self?

Don’t worry if you feel resistance. That’s normal. But when you are ready to move, there is only one thing you need to do.

Just release the damn parking brake.



IMAGE: Some impossible road I encountered in Ireland, 2018.

Allison Mondel
Allison Mondel is a musician, philosopher, advocate, and mentor. Her greatest delight is to understand how things work, and share her hard-won wisdom with others. She writes about the higher nature of music and the voice, alchemizing personal roadblocks, and the pursuit of one's creative vocation.

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