When Life calls, do you pick up the phone?

I want to tell you the story of a bracelet that changed someone’s life.

Yep, a bracelet. One single piece of jewelry.

I’m going to give away the punch line right now: small things can have a huge impact on our lives. We need to pay attention to what calls to us, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

I was working at an event, Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Academy, about a year ago. We had set up a pop-up shop selling books, tee shirts, water bottles, bags and jewelry. I remember a lovely woman came up to the counter and asked to see some of the jewelry that we kept in a glass case. She had long brown hair, kind eyes and a beautiful wide smile.

This gal stood there a long time, looking at the options. She tried some on and then seemed to narrow her choices to two. She would hold one bracelet and then another, trying one on and then the other. I could tell she was feeling undecided between these two.

When I asked if I could offer any help, she said, “I really love this bracelet,” holding up one that wraps around the wrist a few times “but it is too fancy for me. I feel like this other one is more who I am” and she held up a simpler, more practical bracelet.

I could tell that she really wanted the first bracelet. There was a sparkle in her eye and a lift in her voice when she was talking about it. There was a lingering and longing in the way she held it.

I introduced myself and she told me her name was Sarah. I looked at her, smiled and said, “Maybe this one – pointing to the bracelet I thought she really wanted – is also who you are. Maybe you just haven’t quite stepped into that part of yourself yet.” I added, “It seems to be calling to you.”

And then I told Sarah my own story of how I became a woman who wears hats.

All of my life I’d seen hats and felt drawn to them. I loved photos from the 1920’s of the cloches and flapper hats. I always ooh’ed and ahhh’ed at vintage hats in thrift stores or in the movies. I loved hats, but I wasn’t the type of woman who could wear hats.

My refrain was always, “I wish I could wear hats, but that’s just not who I am.”

One time when I was with a boyfriend, living in NYC after college, we saw someone walking down the street in a beautiful hat. I said for the umpteenth time, “I wish I could wear hats.” My boyfriend stopped, looked at me and said, “Listen. Buy a frickin’ hat. Put it on your head. Wear it. You’ll feel awkward and stupid for a week or two. Then you’ll get over it and you will be someone who wears hats.”

You know what? He was absolutely right!

I’d always wanted to wear hats. Every hat I saw whispered “Hello” to me and tried to get my attention. I always walked away because I was so attached to my old image of myself that I couldn’t let a new part of me into my life. But some part of me knew. Some part of me recognized itself in vintage hats. Some part of me wanted to come to life – and it kept whispering and calling.

And you know what? I LOVE hats. I love that when I wear a hat, I feel like someone I always thought I wanted to be. I love that they feel joyful and that when I wear one it is my way of saying, “I’m glad I’m here on this planet. I’m happy to be alive. Today is a celebration.” (Because thirty years ago all I could think about was how depressed I was and how much I wanted off this planet.)

Yeah, it was awkward at first. I felt goofy. But it didn’t last long, and the payoff was worth it.

After I told this story to Sarah I said, “Maybe this whimsical bracelet is calling to you in the same way hats called to me. Maybe you will buy it and wear it and feel awkward for a while. But then you will find that you ARE a person who wears this kind of thing!”

Maybe there was something in that bracelet that was really important.

Sarah bought that bracelet. And she wore it – every day.

I saw her at another event about six months later and she came up to me beaming and held up her arm to show me the bracelet. She said, “I love it. You were right. It IS me.” Sarah told me how that bracelet taught her about courage; how it helped her learn to be more herself in the world.

Sarah and I talked about how sometimes the next part of ourselves is trying to call to us, trying to get our attention; but we have to listen. We have to get over the fear that wants to get in the way.

One thing I didn’t tell you yet is that there was a quote inscribed on Sarah’s bracelet. It reads, “You are stronger than you think and the future holds good things for you.”

That bracelet became a touchstone for Sarah.

That event where we met is all about living your best life. It is about stepping into new places, even if we are scared. Wearing that bracelet was a daily reminder to Sarah to recognize her strengths and to trust the future that awaited her.

Just this week I got on the phone with Sarah to talk to her about that bracelet story. She said, “I’m living proof that there are moments and steps that change you forever, if you are open and welcome them in.”

Over the last year Sarah has made huge changes toward the life of her dreams. That bracelet helps her remember to set aside her fear and take steps toward the future. In the same way, hats remind me to feel the joy and gratitude that I wasn’t able to feel back when I was depressed and anxious every day.

That bracelet is practice. My hats are a practice. And it goes like this: “Something is calling to me. Am I going to listen? Can I take a step toward what is calling, even if it takes a little courage (or a whole lot)?”

What calls to you will be different than what calls to me or to Sarah. It may not be something you wear. It may be a piece of art that wants to be created, a book that wants to be read or a new acquaintance you invite to coffee. It may be making a phone call. It may be a sudden turn down a street you’ve never strolled.

Are you listening?

Will you heed the call?

I hope so.

This is one of the biggest kindnesses you can offer yourself.

Small things can change your life.

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