On the eve of another new year I can't help but look back in wonderment at what a difference a couple of years can make. Two years ago this time I sat at my parents' house on the couch and asked them if they would look after Otis for 6 months so that I could sell all my worldly possessions, leave my entertainment career in L.A. behind and move into a house in the middle of nowhere in England, a little cottage on the estate that I'd never seen before.
I am a huge fan of leaps of faith. The bigger the better. But even for me this one was a doozy.
To be fair, it wasn't exactly the first time I'd done this. I'd dropped a job at Microsoft to move to New York and be an actor. A few years later, I listened to my heart and pitched the acting career and followed a short, slightly twisted path into script supervising and a life in L.A. But each of those leaps had been, in my view at least, wildly successful. Not necessarily the outcomes I'd dreamed of on embarking – I didn't win the Oscar I set out thinking I wanted – but they were life changing and made me stronger and self sufficient and shaped me for the better in more ways, significant and subtle, than I think I could ever really name.
I do think that taking the leap becomes easier the more you do it. You become braver. You see that there's something to be earned, and something to be learned, whatever the outcome might be.
I jokingly say that my parents were supportive of everything we did as kids as long as it wasn't illegal, but there's a huge kernel of truth in that. As the child of two adventurers, a sailor who has been around the world at least twice and a former nanny who crossed the ocean from a small island in Finland to live in New York City, following your dreams and being willing to make huge, albeit calculated and educated, life changes was somewhat the backbone I think of what you could call a family life philosophy. Perhaps even family lore. So it never occurred to me not to go or that they wouldn't want me to go. You can always go back. You can always return to the status quo. But if you don't take the risk, you don't get the reward.
If you never buy a lottery ticket, you'll never win the lottery.
One of the things that I've had to learn to rely on and to trust, most importantly of all, is my own intuition. Female intuition or just, perhaps, human intuition. Whatever its source, through the years I've learned to believe in my own instincts. To have faith in myself. In my intelligence. In my own abilities. In my stamina and resourcefulness, to deal with what comes at me and to look for new opportunities to grow and prosper.
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade there's a moment where Indy realizes that one of the tests to get to the grail is to take a leap of faith. Step onto a bridge that he can't see but he is sure that is there. In his case, there's both a mental and physical leap to be undertaken, but any leap of faith is a decision to believe in your own judgment, that what you believe to be true is true and what you are doing is the right choice.
And having faith in yourself and taking big risks are what dreams are made of.
Here, now, it's both fascinating and revealing for me to look back and see how right that choice was. Two years on, I'm challenged, interested, enthralled, curious, motivated and excited about where my life is, on both a personal and professional level. As if all the experiences of my life before this point have been a set up to get me to where I am at this moment, eager to move forward and see what the next adventure will be.
So, as my friend Molly recently said, let 2012 be the year of doing.
Let's see what we can achieve when we take a little leap and have a little faith...in ourselves.