About a year ago, I had hit a wall. I wrote about it at that time here. It was a turning point for me. I didn't really recognize myself in my reflection. In addition to the physical slide I had experienced, there had been too many late nights pondering purpose and dreams and how to use my God given talents. It was time for a shake-up.
I also started working out with my ballet instructor Micaiah Lausche who is also a personal trainer.
I changed my diet. A lot, but that is a whole different post.
Now a year later, I don't recognize myself again, but in a good way. I have lost a sizeable amount of weight, I feel healthy, strong and calm. I feel purpose and direction in my gifts. I feel a strong sense of zen.
I have reflected upon what building a "brand" (Oh boy, I still have trouble with that term) and what working with Amber meant for me. I realized after a lot of reflection, that what she gave me was permission to be myself. She honored and validated that I was, and always had been, an artist. I never saw myself as that person. I didn't hang out in coffee houses, being angsty wearing berets. Sure I like the Indigo Girls and a good latte, but I had gone to school for the furthest thing from art: science.
But in our discussions it occurred to me this was always who I had been. I had originally gone to college for communications and photography. A High School boyfriend had received an entire scrapbook of images and sayings as a gift. Several of my wedded friends had been gifted albums of images that I had taken from two different cameras (one black and white, one color.) Most of my gifts given arise from my own hands, which always made me fear I was the "Aunt Clara" of A Christmas Story fame.
Who I always had been, who I still was, was just out there... waiting for me to come and reclaim her. And trust me, the more vehemently I proclaimed I was NOT doing photography, (because it seemed everyone and their cat was a picture taker) the more shoots fell into my lap. And I loved them. And I couldn't believe this could be profitable! But the reality is, when asked the question "If money was not object what would you do everyday?" the answer would be: Make stuff. Create. Photograph. Write.
Paid or not paid, I would rather be making things with my hands than anything else.
It is crazy how this realization of purpose had been fulfilling not only emotionally but also physically. Sure I hired someone to kill me twice a week and promise not to make me puke, but it wasn't just the planks, plies and squats. The need to bury myself in a bag of Pita Chips slowly slipped away. When I started honoring myself not only in my God given gifts, but also God given body, a shift occurred. I consciously tried to FUEL my body, not fill it. I pushed it to do things I did not think were capable and I started to look at food as nutrients, not as something to fill the void. I started to move and move some more, especially through dance.
I always wanted to dance. I skated for about 17 years, but I really wanted to dance. This is my public confession that I would take my brother's Footloose tape, plug the boombox into the outlet attached to the yard light and blare Bonnie Tyler's "Holding out for a Hero" doing my own dance moves through the grass to her longing lyrics. My dance moves through my college years got me many "Wow! You are drunk!" to my response of "I'm stone sober, but this is ABBA!!!" If you are someone who can not help but move to the music, you get it. If there is a dance-worthy song within earshot, to not move is like asking you to not breathe. It is just who you are.
I doubted if what I wrote was inspiring or frankly any good, but the more I wrote, people would message me or comment that my words struck a cord with them. Words don't consistently come to me, but when they do, they roll fluidly and fast and these musing come together. I have tried to share AH-HA (not the amazing Norwegian super-band responsible for the greatest video of all time...) moments that I have experienced as words and insight through my words and photos. Because the reality for me is the words just keep rolling around in my mind until I finally get them out, as if they are longing to be shared with others.
So what is the main message I am trying to express? You need to honor and pursue your passions. When you discover that which you would do, even if there was not reason to do it, you discover your purposes and your reason. And when you discover your passions there is not effort in maintaining them because you would do it regardless of the reason. They are just who you are. When I tapped into my passions, a powerful alignment occurred for me, emotionally and physically. I did not quite draw the correlation between the two until I sat one day and really looked at how my life, my health, my behaviors had changed. I thought about my mood, my energy level, my response to situations. The reality is it had all improved. I am still a "tired mom of 3" and there have been plateaus along the way, but overall I am different. There is an underlying contentment that serves to buoy me through most days. A contentment that has risen from an acknowledgement and pursuit of my God-given gifts.