When I was a young girl I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to be independent and free.
The problem was I didn’t know any artists.
I also knew I didn’t want to be limited by restraints and expectations my parents and everyone around me seemed to be following.
In my teenage years, it seemed to me that everyone I knew was kind of unhappy and they argued in their relationships and generally, they weren’t thrilled about what they were doing. I was terrified of being doomed to lead a dull, listless life. I was craving, that is until I got to know my English teacher Mrs. Bright.
She saw my thirst for wild and unknown things and gave me books, two which I remember, Neitche and Dolstoyevsky. Heavy stuff for junior high. And then there was my art teacher who introduced me to the rich splendors of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Claude Monet and Beethoven.
These artists catapulted my imagination from the neat and staid suburban doldrums into a mystical world full of radiant nudes, cornfields, starry nights and heavenly lily pads. My spirit was ablaze in color and symphonic rhapsodies. I was saved by art from what I then perceived as a soulless life, devoid of meaning my body was lit, not by schoolbooks and tests, or even boys, but by courageous stories of artists who suffered and who risked everything to create something sublime.
So I secretly decided to be an artist, and I determined to dive out of the suburbs and to somehow find this unknown world of shimmering beauty.
But I didn’t know any artists, and my family had no idea what my mind was up to. And I was scared that art was just a frivolous fantasy that you could never make a living at.
But I immersed and obsessed in art day and night anyway for a few years, and I taught myself by copying masters and drawing everything I could.
I remember Mrs. Bright saying that if you master one thing you can be anyone you want.
Then an opportunity came. My great suburban high school offered a scholarship to study art in Europe. I won it and went to France, and so for the first time, I met a real Swiss artist named Michelle. I also had my first secret affair with a young French farmer, but that’s another story….
That summer I attempted capturing the light of Southern France on canvas, and to be honest, I failed to paint like Monet. Now I know Michelle wasn’t just trying to show me how to paint, he was showing me how to live.
It was our walks in the orchards, watching the stars at night, sipping red wine and laughing while we cooked that taught me about being happy. It wasn’t merely what we were painting – those things are all gone. It was the joy of friendship we experienced that made a deep impression on me.
After that, I began asking different questions, like who am I beyond what I make and do? What was there about making art that could translate into any endeavor?
Gradually, over the years I hunted for people who were passionate and happy. I studied them and discovered some remarkable things they had in common.
I remember meeting an extremely wealthy friend and I asked her what she attributed her success to.
It wasn’t her wealth I admired, it was her vibrancy, and it was the way she delighted in sharing her success with her friends and family that I loved about her. She said, ‘give back to the people who help you generously and be grateful for what people have taught you.’
Was it possible that these kinds of values, which I consider to be the cornerstone of how one generates a constant flow of abundance could be crafted into the mastery of living? And could I find it?
I’ve pursued this question all my life, and here is what keeps happening. I’ve achieved the freedom to live with passion every single day, and I realize I owe this to my parents, and to the many people who have taught me what matters.
I never studied to become a teacher, a writer or a coach and yet I am all three. I didn’t ask for permission to do these things, I just harnessed all my resources and poured myself into doing whatever I was to the very best of my ability. And the cool part is, people are willing to pay me to do what I love.
Now I want to give back. And one of the first steps is to share some of the principles and practices I’ve learned that work.
In other words, if a girl from the suburbs can find teachers in the secluded mountains of China to open the mysteries of life for her, or if you have mastered playing the drum, or how to make a soufflé – anything you know and can do with joy HAS VALUE.
If you know how to sew, drive, write poetry, sing or listen well, YOU have a gift to share. If you are willing to work to hone any ability, you can become a teacher, a writer, an artist or an entrepreneur. You don’t have to wait for permission, you just have to get very good at whatever you do.
Do you have something you want to share with the world? Are there seemingly things that keep getting in the way?
What I know is that if you want to advance in life, you’ll need a stream of support, challenge, and encouragement from people who can guide and inspire you to reach for victories and make it through the defeats that go with the territory of discovering who you are when you dare to share your gifts with the world.
Go out and master self. If you haven’t already, find what you love to do and hone that craft. And share with the world by finding a community that aligns with you and will continue to uplift and support you through your peaks and valleys of life and through this your impact will be felt by the world.