Ten years ago I created a vision statement for my life. Beacon of light. I want to be a beacon of light, inspiring others, shining a divine presence that uplifts others. But almost immediately I came up against my biggest problem: how do you shine your light when it goes out? How can I inspire others when I am not myself inspired?
I would start out inspired, fueled with passion about a project. But inevitably, I would end up in a vicious cycle of over-extension and increasingly long periods of burn-out, which only ended with the birth of my son. Finally, I had a reason to stop doing. Finally I could let go of the deep unending void that pushed me to do more. Or at least that’s what I thought. But old habits die hard. They creep back in the side door when you aren’t looking, and slowly reclaim their lost territory.
“Come on baby, light my fire” Jim Morrison sang. But as artists and mothers, we cannot rely on someone else to come by and light our fire when the flames go out. It takes constant tending, loving attention, and most of all, a belief in our own self worth. As women, from a young age we are encouraged to place the needs of others before our own. But this is a road to disaster. This is the road to waking up one day and wondering who the hell you are and what happened to your life.
Learning how to light your own fire is not a selfish luxury, it is the most selfless thing you can do, and it could quite possibly save your life. Because if you are not living your passion, you are not yourself. You are just a hollow shell living out someone else’s life.
Deciding on your vision for your life is the beginning. But deciding on how you will live that vision is crucial. What I have learned for myself is that I need to guard my energy zealously. The phrase “no” needs to pass my lips on a regular basis. When I feel the need to give more, I need to stop and ask myself if this is really what I should be focusing on right now. I went through the burnout cycle so many times, and each time it took longer and longer for me to come back. I missed out on so much of my life, so many opportunities to live my vision, because I couldn’t listen to my own voice. I looked always to the future, thinking that if I worked hard, one day I would be happy.
I have heard the phrase “Life is a journey, not a destination” so many times, but I never really got it before. Now I am starting to understand. Every day I wake up to a new challenge. If I want to be a beacon of light, I need to start by lighting my own fire. I need to pay attention when the quiet voice inside me says “slow down”. I need to let go of limiting thinking that says I need to do it now or it will never happen. I need to believe first in myself, and then in the abundance of the universe.
But most of all, I need to know the difference between hard work and struggle. Hard work is tiring, but not depleting. Struggle is a sign that I am not in alignment with my purpose.
Slowly, I am learning. Learning to listen. Learning to tune in to what is important and tune out what is not. Every day is a new opportunity to live my life with intention, honoring my vision and lighting my own path.