“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it!Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
-Howard Thurman, American Author
I love this quote because it speaks to the essence of life. Why are we here? To feel alive!
We’re only on earth for a short time. Why not have it be the richest and most enlivening experience possible? That is my vision for us all.
Now you might be thinking, well that sounds good, but isn’t that a pretty lofty goal when we have real life to deal with? Have you seen my “To Do” list lately? Feeling burnt out from being endlessly plugged into 10 different devices and apps all sending me alerts. The never-ending mountain of errands and deadlines at work? It is exhausting!
I totally understand that. I’ve been there. I’ve felt overwhelmed, even lost at times. The truth is we are never going to get around having to take care of the everyday tasks of life. AND I’m here to tell you there’s more available beyond that to feed our souls.
From drowning in a life of doing, I found my way back to living life fully. I had a simple but powerful, life changing experience. How I went from a life of burnout to living a life of beauty, love and inspiration. And the lessons I learned along the way that might inspire you to reconnect to that aliveness in your own life.
I have to admit, I’ve always been a “type A” over achiever. I went to college at age 16, got an MBA from the Harvard Business School and had a successful career rising quickly from the entry level Marketing Assistant position to Vice President of Marketing for 2 major corporations, Nabisco and Coca- Cola.
From the outside, it looked like I had it made. But behind the scenes, it was another story. I routinely spent 10-12 hours a day in meetings, traveled for work on weekends, and was frenetically trying to get it all done. All the while, I felt empty inside. I’d come home at the end of a long workday physically and emotionally spent. Somehow on the path to finding success, I lost myself!
Whether we realize it or not, we all need to be restored from the daily demands of life. I learned this life lesson from my boss. One day he noticed I wasn’t myself and asked, “What’s wrong with you? I’d been feeling like I wasn’t making an impact at work and still healing from a sudden breakup with my boyfriend. My boss shared some advice that forever changed my life. He said, “You need something besides work and men, because you can’t control either one of them.” What he was saying, in a nice way, was GET A LIFE!
That lesson was the jolt that woke me up and became a turning point in my life. He said, “You need something that replenishes you. You need something you can count on to restore yourself, no matter what is going on in your day to day life”. The truth is we all need this. We all need something that will help us rise above the circumstances we can’t control. We all need to be able to find ourselves once again when we’re consumed by the demands of everyday life.
I had no idea what restoring myself could look like but one day, seemingly out of nowhere, I found a copy of the Artist’s magazine, just lying on a table. I opened it up and saw an ad that said, go to Provence and paint for two weeks. I only had recently started painting but something said go do this. I booked the trip go paint in France with all of 3 months of painting experience under my belt. Going on that retreat turned out to be a life- altering experience. Not only did I realize how much I loved being totally immersed in painting, but I had a true awakening. I experienced a heightened sensitivity to the beauty all around me. My eyes were now open seeing colors, light, shapes, shadows and the miracle of nature in a new and enlivening way. It felt so good. Beauty was what could restore me!
From there my hunger for learning to paint grew and after much soul searching, I determined my true purpose in this world was more than to make a paycheck. What I wanted my life to be for was to create and share beauty, love and inspiration. With that now as my true north, I had to acknowledge that the place where I spent 60+ hours a week had nothing to do with beauty, love or inspiration.
At that point I started developing a plan to transition from life as a corporate executive to life as an artist. I didn’t do this overnight. It took time. My goal was to leave my corporate job by age 43 to pursue my passion for painting full time. And that’s what I did. In 2002, I found the courage to go out on my own as an artist. Some people thought I was crazy leaving what would be many people’s dream job, but I knew it was imperative for my work to be aligned with my higher purpose in order to realize a deeper sense of meaning in life.
Since then, I’ve been leading a life driven by passion and purpose. I paint, teach painting and take people on painting trips all over the world. I’ve led 18 painting trips to Italy, France, Spain and New Zealand. I’ve also written a book, “Bella Italia, Italy through the Eyes of an Artist”.
I’m clear that my mission is to create and share beauty, love and inspiration. I am gratified to be able to use my talents as a means to uplift people. I feel energized and alive. I strive to put that life force and passion into each of my paintings.
Can you remember a day when you came home and just put your head down on your pillow thinking, I’ve been on the go all day, getting things done so why do I still feel empty inside? There’s got to be more to life than just checking off things on your to do list.
Our lives were not meant for emptiness. We are here for abundance, for joy and for growth.
Maybe looking for these things, we don’t find them in our career or on our to do list. We need to look somewhere else.
For me, art and beauty was the access to a richer life. For you it may be something else, but whatever it may be have the courage to follow your heart and your purpose. You have one short life to live. Live it in a way that has you truly feel alive each day!