In my newsletter this month, I set the intention to explore the concept of passion, and it’s definitely a concept that has played a huge role in my life over the past handful of years. In fact, infusing my days with passion has been one of the biggest factors in being able to shift from having a life that weighed heavily on my shoulders, that left me feeling drained and shut down to one that is uplifting, playful, and joyful. How did I do this? Well, first I got sick of the way I was living. I realized that I was going to need to make some major changes in my life, and that the process would be challenging and even scary at times, but that it was a commitment I absolutely needed to make--for my happiness and really, for my health and overall wellbeing. Then, I got to work.

Tuning In

My first step was to begin taking note of my internal experiences as I navigated different circumstances. I had spent so much time forcing myself to do things that I didn’t enjoy, but thought that I “should” be doing, that I had become completely shut down and disconnected from my own experience. I had to make a very conscious effort to check in with myself frequently. Whether I was at work, at a social event, or spending time at home, I would pause regularly and ask myself what was going on in my mind, my body, and my heart. Was I present and if not, why? What part of the experience was triggering me to check out? What was I daydreaming about? Was there something that I would rather be doing or even a simple shift that would allow me to more fully enjoy my circumstances. To be honest, this process was overwhelming at points and I found myself surprised by what I found. Things that I thought I enjoyed, like being hypersocial, turned out not to be as nourishing as I had believed them to be, while other things that I never knew I would have liked, like spending hours at a time by myself out in nature, I found to be incredibly healing. By getting curious and keeping a beginner’s mind, I was able to learn so much about what actually supported my happiness and what did not.

The Wisdom of the Inner Child

This transition really began in a big way after I dropped out of grad school, and if you had asked me at that time what made me happy, I couldn’t have told you and that really scared me. As I began to try to figure out what brought me joy, I started thinking back to being a kid and how I liked to spend my time before I started getting bogged down with adult obligations. I remembered drawing and painting. I remembered making “magic potions”, sometimes with ingredients I would smuggle from the kitchen and sometimes with a combination of sticks, leaves, berries, and puddle water. I remembered blasting music in my family’s living room and dancing wildly with my sister until we were laughing so hard that we could barely stand up. And I remembered writing--everything from journaling out my feelings to creating fantastical stories that prompted my teachers to tell my parents that I had an unusually vivid imagination. I wasn’t sure how all of these things would come together, but I knew that I needed to start infusing my life with these elements once again, so I enrolled in dance classes, I spent more time cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, I dug more deeply into the study of healing arts, and I began to write at every opportunity. And as I did these things, I noticed my heart beginning to feel lighter, my days began to feel more playful, and inspiration started to flow.

Simple Pleasures Are Where It’s At

Shortly after leaving my graduate program, I moved back to Los Angeles and it would not be an overstatement to say that I was in a full-blown crisis. I woke up most days feeling lost and fairly panicked about my future. I knew I had made the right decision to leave my Master’s program, but I had no idea what to do next. The fear was visceral and incredibly uncomfortable, so in order to cope, I started focusing in on every positive experience that I could find. Simple pleasures like feeling the sun on my skin, the fragrance of fresh herbal tea, or the natural beauty of flowers and plants became touchstones for me. I would really dig into my gratitude for these tiny moments, and that would give me just enough reprieve from my struggles to feel like I could keep going. As I began to get my bearings and felt more secure about my path, I continued to hold onto this practice of seeking beauty everywhere I went. Instead of hoping for happiness to happen to me, I began to hunt for reasons to be happy, and more and more, I found that they were everywhere. I also found that this practice massively amplified my levels of inspiration and passion for life. I highly recommend it to anyone who is suffering from a serious case of the blahs.

The Gut Knows

The more I tuned into my sensory experience through really engaging with the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of life around me, the more I became aware of the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) cues that my body was sending me. I began to notice that these sensations were not random firings, but were actually quite precise and intelligent responses to what was going on both around and inside of me. I started allowing my body to be my guide and made decisions more from my gut than from my head. At first, this felt really foreign and kind of scary. I was certain that my body would lead me astray. But, over time, I realized that my body was much better at discerning what would truly serve my happiness and health than my ego-dominated brain. And choosing what truly nourished my body, mind, and spirit also nourished my ability to be curious, creative, and excited about life.

Make Your Yes/No Count

Once I developed my ability to be really clear about what lit me up and what didn’t, I had to start backing up that awareness with aligned action and that meant only saying yes to things that truly inspired me. That doesn’t mean that I gave myself a free pass to never have to do anything that I didn’t 100% want to do ever again, but it does mean that if any activity isn’t directly connected to or serving something that I’m passionate about, then it doesn’t make its way to my to-do list. It took a little time and some very honest inventories of different areas of my life, but I eventually was able to let go of all of the things that I was doing out of a sense of obligation or “should” or a need to live up to someone else’s expectations of me. The more I let go of things that weren’t lighting me up, the more space I was able to create for things that did and before I knew it, there wasn’t an area of my life that I wasn’t passionate about.

If you’ve read this far and are sitting there thinking, “Well, that sounds great, but it’s a whole lot easier said than done,” then what I want to say to you is that you are absolutely right. It’s not easy to tune in, to stay dedicated to keeping your focus on the beauty in your life, and to make truly aligned choices because that often means deviating from the beaten path and blazing your own trail. It can be scary. There’s a lot of grey area and you’ll sometimes have to rely on blind faith in yourself and whatever higher power you believe in. But I can also say, as someone who only becomes more and more true to myself as each year passes, that there is nothing more fulfilling than creating a life that is a vibrant embodiment of your values, hopes, and dreams, to wake up every day and know that you are honoring your truth, and to be fueled by passion with each step you take.

If you find yourself feeling disconnected from your life or you ever wonder how you got to where you are and aren’t sure if it’s where you want to be, I encourage you to start this process. Maybe you can’t go all in today, and that’s okay, but take little steps. Reconnect with your spirit. Find out what it craves. Search for ways to honor it. If you know that you need this in your life, but truly don’t know where to begin, then I’d love to work with you. Set up a free 20-minute consultation or jump right in by signing up for a coaching session. There are embers burning quietly inside you, just waiting to be fanned. Let’s help those babies burst into flames.