A month ago I was vaguely following the news and the latest version of “the flu” outbreak in China. Like most people I took most of the info in stride and literally said to husband, “As Gilda Radner would say, ‘It’s always something”. (If you haven’t read her book, It’s Always Something, or better yet, listened to it on audio book as she actually reads it, you should.) Today, four weeks later, I am crossing off Day 12 of seclusion in an effort to be part of the solution and not add to the problem.
I’m calling this Plan B.
Okay, so the wild, crazy bounce-off-the-wall girl was Plan A. I needed to find the Plan B girl. The first three days I did what a lot of y’all did. But instead of living in my jammies or sweat pants all day, I wrapped a sarong around my chest and called it good. I sat on my balcony and even went for a couple of walks on the beach. By day three I’d eaten enough calories to last me through the millennium, and I was plotting how to get a hold of a bottle of Xanax. I was going nuts. Seclusion is not my thing.
The Plan C girl emerged.
I decided to clean everything. I cleaned my condo top to bottom, inside and out. Then I walked across the street to my studio, a slightly bigger challenge, and started cleaning there. As everyone knows, creative people are rarely tidy. My studio looked like the perfect “Preppers” hoard of the coolest arts & craft supplies in the history of forever. There were tubes of paint, bolts of fabric, and more projects than I could ever do in a lifetime all over the place. My computer desk had piles of stuff everywhere. The sewing room had no visible floor. And my hula room could no longer accommodate even one dancer.
But, the isolation suddenly had its perks. With my life unexpectedly simplified, this busy, wacky woman who thrives on the energy of new ideas, projects, passions, and challenges, cleaned everything. It took 3 days. Now what?
With projections that our seclusion might be even longer than originally thought, I needed another plan. I decided I was going to emerge from this ordeal with more than a clean house, organized studio, and an extra 20 pounds. I wanted to be better for coming through it. And then I thought, what if I don’t come through it. What if I end up being one the 3-5% that didn’t survive the virus? Well, I wasn’t finished… I had a lot more living I needed to do.
I decided to not waste another minute.
I signed up for free online classes…one of them to learn a new language, downloaded free audio books and created a list of podcasts and TED talks I wanted to hear. (Oh, that reminds me. I want to write a TED talk! Note to self: Add give a TED Talk to my bucket list).) I prioritized art/work related projects, hobby projects, writing time and even dance time. Then, most importantly for me, I put it all on my calendar so each day had a project, purpose and plan.
Am I making you tired just thinking about it?
One of my friends I was video-chatting with told me she was exhausted just listening to me. I get it. I can be a bit much! Choosing a life of passion is definitely not the path of least resistance. Living a life that simply keeps pace with the flow is far easier (and has significantly less drama!) But, deep within my heart, I always knew that if I’d simply taken the easy path, I would find myself feeling like I’d inadvertently missed out on some of life’s most spectacular fireworks.
“What’s really important?”
My daddy used to often say to me that true passion is about asking yourself, “What’s really important?” and then having the courage to structure your life around that answer. He had no idea I would take him so literally. Some of my leaps of faith landed me in his lap and like a true dad, he helped me put back the pieces of my life. But he knew for me, there was no turning back. I was driven.
It ain’t easy!
But don’t think for a minute that it was ever easy. There were many times over the years I trembled with fear but knew I had to push on. For me it was… and still is…. about boldly reaching into the darkness, even when I felt too scared to make one tiny move. It’s about fanning the flames of what set my heart on fire, knowing that even the smallest spark can make a difference. And for me, as a bonus, it’s about igniting the desire to do the same within others.
How do YOU define your passion?
For everyone it’s different. My point isn’t to get you to be like me and start bouncing off the walls. It’s more about encouraging you to find what sets your heart on fire. Is it peace and quiet? Is running a marathon? Is it reading, learning, mediation? Is it endlessly creating new crazy things or is it about living a serene, contemplative life? The important thing is to figure it out and do what is right for you. But do it by design, not simply by default. If you have the courage to embrace your passion, whatever it is, that momentum will change your world for the better.
Fan the flames of what sets your heart on fire.
You can do it. You don’t need anyone’s permission but your own. And when the embers of your passion finally do take flight, the night sky will forever twinkle and shine. It’s not going to be an easy road to travel. But, oh, my friends, trust me, it will so be worth it.
So what is your plan?
I’d love to hear about not only what fans the flames within you but also what you’re going to do about it. What plans are you putting in place so a decade from now when we all talk about this… and you know we will… instead of rehashing all the whining going on in social media, you’ll light up the room and say… what?