Reading about another person who follows his or her heart's true path can be inspiring, encouraging and informational. Meet Kristin Haagensen, a special education teacher whose path has led her around the world. Photos courtesy Kristin Haagensen.
There are 2 things that pop into my mind when I think about this question:
Running makes my heart happy. I'm able to run wherever I am in the world. It's something that I can incorporate into my everyday lifestyle. I love the feeling I have when I'm running. My head is clear and I do my best thinking during a run. I feel confident and ready to do things that may be difficult (e.g., a difficult conversation with someone or making a difficult life decision). Everything seems a little simpler and easier to tackle when you get those endorphins into your brain, not to mention the stress relief!
International travel also makes my heart happy and full of purpose. I am a special education teacher and I have taken full advantage of my summers off. I find a lot of fulfillment in travelling to other countries. I've travelled all over the world and I cherish every one of those experiences. I'm fascinated by how people in other cultures live their lives. I feel like it puts your own life into perspective and reminds you that you are just a small little speck in this enormous world filled with so many different people and cultures. It makes your own "problems" and difficulties seem like "not such a big deal" in the big scheme of things. It also helps you to be mindful and appreciative of what you have in your life.
How did you discover your heart's true path? How do you continue to discern what is true to your heart?
I'll speak to my heart's path to travel and my quest for language fluency in Spanish. For a very long time, throughout my travels, I have become completely fascinated by languages. I'm amazed every time I meet someone who is able to speak more than one language. Listening to others speak in their native tongue is so interesting and amazing to me. I always think to myself, "Wow, that actually makes sense to them?" It's such an intriguing concept to me. It is one of my life dreams to become fluent in another language. I'm more than halfway there with Spanish. I would like to teach Spanish in the future. Who knows, maybe I'll tackle another language once I master Spanish. I love language!
How do I continue to discern what is true to my heart? This is an appropriate question at this time in my life. I lived in Spain for 3 months last spring and I adjusted past the homesickness and grew to really enjoy living abroad. I wasn't ready to come home when my visa expired, so I immediately started making plans to return. My life's direction was never clearer than when I came back from Spain. I applied to a master's in Spanish program, completed my TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language), and put my house on the market. I would like to go back to Spain next year and teach English while working on my Spanish master’s degree online. Now that I have been home for several months, I have lost that "Spain high" which is how I describe the feeling. I'm comfortably back in my life here, but I told myself to remember that feeling I had right after I returned from Spain when I was completely focused and my "true path" was so clear. I have to remind myself on occasion.
What rituals do you practice that help you listen to and honor your heart?
I go running! Like I said above, running makes everything more clear and it gives me mental strength.
Also, I knew that the feeling you have when you are freshly back from an international trip would fade. I remember consciously telling myself to remember how happy I was and how focused I was on my next direction in life. Now when I'm feeling insecure about selling my house of 10 years, down-sizing my car, taking a leave from work and then leaving the US for a whole year, I remember that feeling of clarity and then I know I'm doing the right thing in moving forward with my plan. I'm making huge changes in my life, but I know it's the right thing for me. Another thing I have learned in my world adventures is that change is good. Sometimes change can be so hard, but it is usually good in the end! Other rituals I practice are talking to my supportive friends and family members. I know who those people are that understand my somewhat unconventional life and will say the right things to help me stay focused.
Tell us about your heart's community: Who are your supporters? How have you found people who believe in you, accept you and cheer you on through your journey?
I am so lucky to have many people in my life who support me and cheer me through my journey. If not for them, I couldn't do any of the things I'm doing. When I'm away in a foreign country, it's my friends and family back home who I think about. I know they genuinely care about my well being which brings a sense of peace over me when I'm feeling really far away or lonely.
What is a book, song, artist or quote that inspires you?
It's not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.
I love this quote because it reminds you to be mindful and to live your life to its fullest while you can. Why wait until tomorrow when you can do something today! …and it's very fitting for the new Lincoln movie!
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. —Mae West
I also like this quote because the concept is the same as the first one. Live it up while you can!
Favorite Book: The Diary of Anne Frank. I absolutely love this book. It's one of the only books I have read more than three times. I even read it in Spanish while I was in Spain. Again, it reminds you of how fortunate you are and to live your life to the fullest.
Connect with Kristin here: Kristin's travel blog