Recently, American Express Canada approached Urban Moms with a question: What does it mean to be a Real Life Potentialist?
They wanted to get our opinion on what it means to live a fulfilling life-one that includes the pursuit of your passions and dreams, not just work, money or life's other committments.
I was thrilled. As it happens in life, this request came on a day when I was having a moment thinking, "Where am I going? What on earth am I good at?"
With Amex suggesting that I am a Real Life Potentialist, I've committed to a two part series exploring how I try to live my life to the fullest every day and try to realize my dreams and passions.
I did not wake up one day living my dream. I wake up each day at the beginning of my life, here to learn, to share and feel alive.
Passion to me is everything. It can make up for any shortfall in skill, credential, previous experience, beauty, wit or intelligence. Passion fuels our desire to be better, do better and share our gifts. Passion allows for imperfection, fills your life with self - love and all love. It allows for authenticity and enables us to honour ourselves. It makes us leap out of bed in the morning, it puts colour in our cheeks, can fill our dreams at night and make them come true by day.
You can't fake passion.
When my youngest was very little, she told me that I could be an art teacher and teach here at our home. I was open to her soulful suggestion and although she was only four, she knew me better than most and saw me in a tremendously favourable light. I make it my business to never take advice from people who are not fond of me or who are confused or limited about who I am. I pay careful attention to my closest people and the signals from them.
And so it began. I love children, adore the creative process and anything related to out of the box thinking and doing. I decided to follow my passion and open my own art school.
It was this decision that proved to me that folowing your dreams is the key to realizing your full potential in life. 8 students a week became 30 then 50 then 150. My little art school became something of which I was proud and something that could support my family. I could be right there for my children, support them and pursue a dream. It had balance and flight. It filled our home and my heart with possibility and warmth.
I said yes to what I was good at and no to what I was bad at. Opportunity knocks in subtle and loud ways; we should not ignore the signals. Our society tells us we should overcome all of our shortcomings but we actually need to lean into what we are good at and look to experts to cover our shortcomings.
Arriving at what you are good at requires looking towards our 10 year old selves. The fist time I read that a key to true adult happiness is to ensure you fill your life with activities you loved as a 10 year old, my eyeballs fell out of my head. At 10 I loved to swim, run, do art, play with and care for children, bake and write. I am doing all those things everyday. These things are what I am truly passionate about.
My turn to become a good writer revealed itself to me when I finally had something to write about- my separation and divorce. The gifts that come from the hardest, darkest times are often the most glorious.
When I live with passion, do what I love and share my gifts, I feel alive. When you have a taste for living this way there is no other way for you, it is deep and profound living and it is addictive and seductive. You will do anything to feed it.
Challenge ensures I have a passionate life. I dare myself daily to do or say what is hard for me. I feared a failed marriage and met with one. I feared loss of privacy but my writing helped immensely with that. I feared waste and my writing made sense of my loss. I feared loneliness and financial instability and try to work everyday towards ensuring neither exists.
So to answer American Express Canada's question: For me, being a Real Life Potentialist means following my dreams, staying open, facing my fears, being fully engaged in my life, doing my best, responding to opportunity and signals and sharing my gifts.
This is the duty we have to ourselves.