I have been thinking a lot in the past few days about the concepts of destiny and passion. In my lifetime there have been three life events that I believe have defined my own destiny, changed my life, and have put me in exactly the place I needed to be. And for each of these changes to happen, I had to have the extreme passion to do everything in my power to overcome whatever I had to overcome in order to move forward into that chapter.
The first of these milestones was my marriage to Fred Ellis. I had had a first marriage, and it had been pretty much a disaster. I say this with no disrespect to the person I was married to. Many marriages are a mistake, especially those that happen when people are very young. By the time I met Fred, I had been living single for five years. I was just on the verge of giving up on the hope of finding someone I could actually have a sane and loving relationship with. Fortunately, and with the help of a good therapist, I did believe that sane relationships were possible, just wasn’t sure I was ever going to have one. Very early on in my days of being around Fred I knew without a doubt that he was the one for me. The concept of sharing a life had become very important to me, and I could see us building a good one together. Because I am six years older than Fred (he was 29 and I was 35 when we met), I was more ready than he was. It took 2 1/2 years of me playing it very cool for him to come to this conclusion. But, knowing Fred as I did, I knew that once he said “I do” he would mean it and it would be worth the wait. I had a passion, a true spiritual passion, for Fred. I knew without a doubt in my mind that we would be together forever. I still feel the same way. I am thankful each and every day of my life with him. I know that being with him is my destiny, and I also know that without passion, that might not have happened. Passion to me means that you just won’t settle, you won’t quit, you won’t give up your focus and determination—no matter what the circumstances seem to be.
The second great milestone of my life was when I quit a secure job and started designing jewelry. I had always been a frustrated artist, just unsure of how to pursue expressing whatever that meant. Once I learned to make jewelry I knew that was what I was meant to do. It was just really hard to see how to do that and earn a living. This was 1976, and there were no role models for me to follow. I was aware that there was a movement in New York of what was known as Art Jewelry, but breaking into that scene seemed impossible to me. I struggled with this desire for about seven years, until it overwhelmed me. Finally, right before I turned 40, I knew that no matter what, I had to give it a try. Amazingly, Fred was supportive. He was supportive even though my income at the time was an important part of our financial picture. (By then we had been married for two years.) I had no idea how to do what I was going to do. Again, I had no personal role models. This was long before there were so many jewelry designers about town. There was no one to tell me how to do what I wanted to do—design expressive, sculptural jewelry that would work as a statement of fashion. I knew what I wanted to do, and I had an extreme passion to do it. I simply decided that I could not fail. It was very difficult to get that show on the road. I went immediately to New York and hit the streets with a bag of my first designs over my shoulder. I had multiple rejections, but I had so much passion for what I was doing that I was able to shrug them off. I was sleeping on a friend’s kitchen floor in the early days of my sales trips to New York. But I was getting up, dressing to the max, and going on cold calls like I was a rock star. I was driven by passion. I knew that I was stepping into my destiny. I was doing what I had to do. I had no choice. I know this sounds terribly dramatic, but I think that is the only way that something like this can be expressed. Without the passion, it would have simply been impossible. While trying to achieve something that seems impossible can be a royal pain in the ass, it is also such a blessing to have this much desire put into your heart. So many people never figure out what it is that they really desire, and how to support themselves by fulfilling this desire. I had thrown caution to the wind and it was exciting and terrifying. There is a verse of scripture that I really can relate to, and that has been an inspiration to me…Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” To me, this means that the true desires of your heart are put there by the Universe; they are divinely inspired. Once you can see those desires, then if you hold on to them with the faith that they are meant to be, and they will be fulfilled.
The jewelry designing translated into running a business, which I did (with Fred’s help) for nearly 30 years. I achieved what I wanted to, and I enjoyed it. But, over the years it grew a bit stale for me, and towards the end, I was no longer feeling the passion. I found that I was looking a little too forward to the three weeks each year that we spent in Mexico. I was staying home from the studio to work on my photography, and I was being drawn to another dream; spending more time in Mexico, and doing something entirely different.
It took a couple of years to realize that spending more time in Mexico actually was going to mean living in Mexico. Fred and I both came to this conclusion after our six month road trip that ended in April of this year. It was a bit of a process that ended with the knowledge that we needed to sell our house, clear out all our belongings except the things we really love, and say hello to the next chapter. It has taken a lot of work, physical and spiritual, to pull this off. It has meant leaving the house that we have loved for nearly 40 years, selling our favorite cars, and being apart from some friends that we love like family. I will write more specific details another time about what it actually takes to figure out how to move to another country. Suffice it to say, the main thing it has taken for me has been passion. The absolute knowledge that we are fulfilling our destiny and starting the next chapter of our lives doing what we are meant to do. I’m not sure what this will look like. I only know that today the movers come, and in a couple of weeks we’ll be heading across the border for a new life to begin. I feel that one of my purposes at this stage of my life is to inspire other people to dream, and then to live those dreams. As the years go by, there is one thing I am very sure of. Life is, in fact, short. I see so many people taking the safe road and missing the joy of just throwing caution to the wind, and jumping off into the deep end. If you can see it, and believe it, then you can achieve it. This sounds trite, but if I believe anything, I believe that we create our reality by our thoughts and our words. This is one thing that I know… We all have a destiny, we all have a dream. Stir up your passion, let go of your fears, and see what happens next.
(Thanks, Kirk Manz, for taking this mysterious picture of me when you and Missy visited San Miguel de Allende last fall.)