Coddiwomple: A Word to Learn and Live By

Donlyn Turnbull
7 min readApr 10, 2021

Improve your life by embracing the art of traveling with purpose toward vague destinations.

(Watch the video version of this article on YouTube here.)

Have you ever heard the word coddiwomple? I’m going to go ahead and assume that you haven’t. I had never heard of it until about a month ago, and I’ve considered myself quite the “lover of words” for the majority of my life.

I learned that I’ve lived by the principles of coddiwomple for at least a fifth of my life. The good fifth.

Kismet, serendipity, and lollygag remain safely at the top of my list of favorite words. Still, coddiwomple has busted into the top five for and here’s why.

The textbook definition of coddiwomple is to travel purposefully towards an as-yet-unknown destination.

Its original implications are obviously toward the act of traveling, and I admire people who can take off on their travels full of purpose but have nary a clue of where they are going.

That makes me break out in hives.

I saw the movie An American Werewolf in London. I know shit can go sideways when you don’t plan where you are staying while backpacking through the U.K and why you need to stay off the moors at night.

I’m a planner — sometimes an over-controller. I’ve been working on that issue. Most of the time, I want to know the exact path I’m going to take and then produce multiple bullet points to help me arrive at my chosen destination.

The problem is, I’ve learned the hard way that’s not how life works.

That’s where the art of coddiwompling comes into play, and this is how it literally changed my life for the better.

Here are some important bullet points that I want to share with you just go with it this one time.

Leap of Faith

The greatest rewards that I have found in my life show up when I’ve dared to take a leap of faith.

Did you see the very last Indiana Jones movie? No, not that one. Not the fourth one. We don’t speak of that one. The third one — Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Toward the end of the movie, Indie has to survive a series of deadly trials to find the holy grail, save his dad’s life, and get the girl. Or in this case, let the girl die.

His best-laid plans are halted when he comes to a giant canyon separating him from the cave with the grail — and a creepy old knight.

It’s impossible to pass. There’s no way he’s going to make it. He’s going to die and the entire franchise with it!

He possesses the cryptic clue that “Only a leap from the Lion’s head will prove his worth.” With a clutch of his heart and mustering the most courage he can, he steps out in faith.

This is one of my favorite life lessons that I’ve learned. (I know I always say that.)

The path almost never appears until you begin.

It’s true! It’s one of life’s secrets. It means that you must step out into the unknown before your path appears.

Can I tell you how freaking scary that is? I’ve kept myself stuck in horrible amounts of emotional pain because I couldn’t see the full path in front of me. It felt safer to remain than to risk stepping out. I was wrong.

I wasn’t stuck. I was scared. I lacked courage and trust in myself. But when you channel the courage to coddiwomple with purpose in a vague direction, you will stand on solid ground — a magical ground of possibilities.

That magic didn’t always appear as quickly as I would have preferred, but it did always appear.

It requires courage and learning to let go of the reins and see where life takes you. You can learn to trust that you will be able to handle whatever situation is thrown at you. Maybe not a werewolf, but I’m confident pretty much anything else.

What First Step?

What if you don’t even know what your first step should be? It doesn’t matter. Choose a step, any step, and take it and watch how the Universe responds to your courage.

In the opening scene of Under the Tuscan Sun, a successful writing student gives his teacher, the main protagonist Frances, credit for his success. He said that she gave him the advice to take one of his terrible ideas and make it work.

I want you to know there is no wrong step. You don’t fail. You learn. Moving in a direction is what matters — any direction. Take one of your terrible ideas and go for it.

I cannot fail. I can only learn.

And dang, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned the directions that I don’t want to go in anymore, and I’ve made a course correction.

Sometimes I wanted a direction for a spell, but u-turns are allowed in life. I’m not the same person I was a decade ago. I want different things now.

By taking active steps, those new paths and directions have appeared. There is a multitude of options that I couldn’t see ten years ago that revealed themselves to me as I traveled on my journey.

In an interview, Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, talked of surprise at her success. She understood how to coddiwomple and noted that “If you can expect it and predict it, it’s not as much fun.”

You have endless possibilities that you can’t imagine.

Let Go of Your Need to Control

What I’ve learned is that control is an illusion. We remain in control of ourselves and nothing else.

Ouch. That’s a lot of truth. Just sit with it. Don’t freak out. Get a paper bag if you can find one these days and take long, slow breaths.

Attempting control where we have none can make us feel crazy. Life doesn’t work when we try to force things.

Please stop trying to control outcomes and learn to live in the space of acceptance and gratitude of where we are at that moment. We are right where we are supposed to be. We don’t even have to like it, but we can be grateful for it. We may be there to learn a great lesson that will serve us well in our lives.

Our lives begin to work once we let go.

More of the path is revealed, and we are calm and appreciative of all the unexpected delights appearing before us.

Letting go is empowering, and those endless possibilities I mention arrive when we remove our small minds from the equation.

Lighten Up Francis

Everything doesn’t have to be so serious. I was going to try really hard and not include the obvious traveling metaphor about how “It’s the journey, not the destination.”

Yet, here we are.

It’s SO about the journey and not the destination.

But here is an equally important point about the destination.

The destination will likely be something completely different than you had planned anyway.

Years ago, when I had first escaped abuse while living in Florida, my future best friend Karen suggested that I move back to Texas. It’s where I grew up, and she thought would maybe be a good place for a new beginning.

First, I got angry. Then, I cried. I was so upset with the suggestion because Texas only represented pain to me. I swore right then and there that I would NEVER move back to Texas.

I’ve been living in Texas for about six years now, and I’m as happy as all those clams you hear about. Not sure why clams are so happy. Maybe they moved to Texas.

I never planned on living in Texas, yet my journey brought me here. It took time to learn to go on my journey without worrying about the destination. I ended up exactly where I was meant to be. Even if it’s not where I thought it would be.

Watch with anticipation, not trepidation, with what the Universe has in store for you.

Go with Purpose

Confucius said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” This is the most important step of any coddiwompling that you have planned.

Once you take a leap of faith, choose your first step, let go of control, lighten up, you go — and you go with all of your heart.

And, you don’t stop!

There’s no stopping a person who is committed to their purpose even when their destination is vague.

They travel with a smile on their face and peace in their heart. They are a force to be reckoned with, and others see it.

Naysayers will challenge you on it, but they will not sway you. Because your soul is enmeshed with purpose, and no detractors can stop you.

It’s pretty freaking cool.

My best advice to you is to quit lollygagging and take that serendipitous step preparing to be met with kismet on your journey as you coddiwomple your way through life. (See what I did there with the “favorite words”?)

To Recap:

  1. Muster up the courage to take a leap of faith! You won’t regret it!
  2. If you aren’t certain what step to take first, choose one. You cannot fail, only learn.
  3. Let go of your need to control and watch endless possibilities appear.
  4. Don’t take everything so seriously. Watch with anticipation, not trepidation, with what the Universe has in store for you.
  5. Wherever you go, go with all of your heart. Passion and perseverance will carry you far.

A magical journey awaits!

I’m glad you’re here!

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.



Donlyn Turnbull

Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today to write about this thing called life. (Life transformation writer.)