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Magnetic North: Finding My Flow In Finland

I live in the coldest state in the lower 48.

This morning I woke up and the “real feel” was -15F.

It gets dark at 4:30PM.

And next week I’m heading to Finland. To a town nine hours north of Helsinki, a place where there is less than 6 hours of daylight. To a country that I’ve heard off-handedly referred to as the coldest country on earth.

When I tell people where I’m going, they shake their heads and remind me that people in Minnesota go south for the winter, not north.

I started this year with the intention of trusting my intuition. For someone who has a hard time shutting off her brain, a problem solver who seeks perfection and achievement, whose ego thrives on pushing herself hard, this is a paradigm shift. It means listening to my body and noting the messages.

When the opportunity arose to travel to the Arctic to write, meditate and commune with strangers in the cold, dark stillness, I felt my body come to attention. My heartrate increased and I could feel each hair on my scalp.

I was in no place to take an international trip. It’s right after the holidays, right smack in the middle of a busy work season. My bank account was looking more and more depleted after launching a new business and paying all the bills.

But I couldn’t ignore that feeling of returning to the source, like magnetic north pulling me close.

There is something about going to the limit, to the edge of something that is undeniably appealing. And I don’t necessarily mean the farthest away or the lowest mercury reading. I mean, there’s something about pushing myself to step outside my habitat that makes the blood flow to my cheeks and my breath more resonant. This is a different kind of pushing myself, a gentle nudging, a deep inherent trust that whatever I am supposed to learn, I will. Whatever I am supposed to experience will be magical.

I am closing in on the next decade of my life and what I have learned is this: that rush of blood to my cheeks, that quickening of inhale, it’s irreplaceable and life-changing. Every time I change my perspective I find a new aspect of myself that I didn’t know was there. Whether that’s an inversion in yoga practice, a book written from a point of view that is far from my own, or the shift that occurs when you are in a place you never thought you’d go, I continue to be surprised.

So I’m going to Finland in January and await the new surprise.

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