Wandering the desert is inevitable every time one takes a leap out of their ordinary world. It makes no difference whether one’s escaping slavery which was the case for the Israelites in the Bible or a government job, which is cushy, benevolent and keeps one in a golden cage with the promises of retirement benefits.

What fool would give up a stable income and the promise of living like a king in their golden years? Even the slaves freed by Moses started to have doubts wandering the desert and started to torment Moses for taking them down a path of uncertainty. In the times when they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from, God brought down some sort of mystical bread called “manna” from heaven but still the doubts and anger among Moses’s people grew.

So you can imagine what self-doubt, lamentations and fears came up for me in wandering the career desert for the past nine years. I was numb to this at the time, too busy going from one job to another, but every rejection was digging into me, peeling yet another layer. It hurt but I never stopped to feel the pain. I carried on with bleeding insides trying to put myself into yet another marketing role at yet another small business that promised the intimacy of a family.

It took me a literal pregnant pause to realise that what I actually craved wasn’t a marketing career but intimate communication through the written word. When I had my children, I finally got to experience the space and the higher place to look at the landscape of the life I had behind me and saw once again what I’d always known as a child playing with words, that I am a writer.

Like me, there were others who quit the comfort, coffee, tea and cigarette breaks from the spectacular Bosphorus view of the U.S. Consulate. I wondered what their experience had been like in the pursuit of their bliss. I contacted my former colleague Ceren who danced to London and then to Plymouth, Massachusetts out of the confines of the fortress. I wondered if things had been as tough for her. Her words nourished me at a time of running low on faith. She lifted me up with her dazzling dance through life and made me realise there are three things one must prepare to navigate the desert when one has found their bliss and will follow it to the promised land.


From a young age, Ceren knew she wanted to be a dancer. She recorded the famous belly dancer Nesrin Topkapi on a beta videotape as a child and memorised all her moves and declared to the world “I will be a dancer”. Her mum insisted she go to university and to this Ceren responded that she’ll be a dancer with a college degree.

When in new terrain, you need a compass to navigate. Personal values guide us.

Ceren’s value for education saw her receiving a degree from the most prestigious university in Turkey, Bogazici, where she started her serious dance training.


“This crazy journey involved such life-changing encounters with the “maestros” of each form. An example is a workshop I got to attend with Tony Dovolani (of Dancing with the Stars) as an instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studios.”

Ceren also got to dance with her childhood idol, the legendary Turkish bellydancer Nesrin Topkapi, who attracted students from Japan and other far ends of the earth.

Finding and connecting with mentors be they dancers, painters, musicians, writers or any artist, is water for those of us seeking growth. We need so much water when we are wandering the desert. Fortunately, we come across oases, people who care for their craft and teach from the heart, with generosity.

We have to recognise that there are people with gifts to share.  The sprinkling of their care and attention helps us grow.


“My insatiable desire to try out new forms of dance, movement and expression took me from ballroom dance to modern dance, from flamenco to African dance, from modern dance to Argentine tango…each and every form of dance opened up a new world for expression, a new set of challenges for my body…and mind, which really helps you grow multidimensionally.”

I don’t know if you’ve been in a desert at night time, but I hear it gets very cold once the sun retreats. This is why we need our fire, that is our heart’s desire, burning bright.

Fears and anxieties will put out the fire so a positive mindset is a must. I cultivate this through the conscious use of social media to connect with people like Ceren who are creating each and every day.

In her personal life, Ceren practices “somatic” or “embodiment” coaching, where she utilizes movement and body awareness as a tool for self-discovery and goal setting.

Even if you’re a writer or a painter, and feel you don’t need to use your whole body for your art, it would benefit to connect with your body. I found that there’s an intimate link between our body, mind and spirit. I don’t know how else to explain how a brisk walk brings so many new ideas to me which sets my heart racing or how Yoga opens me up to new ways of looking at the world.

This is my prayer for you, who dares to think of wandering the desert, find your compass, supply of water and fire.

Over to you

When was a time you left a secure job or sacrificed your comfort to pursue something that called out to you? How has this experience helped you see life from a different perspective? Tell me all about it, eda@WritePublishGrow.com

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