Updated: May 1, 2019
Last week I felt pulled in a million different directions. By the end of it, I was thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t write a blog about the course about this week - I’d rather wait until I have more progress to share.” Then I realized being nervous about sharing my progress isn’t an excuse not to write; rather, it makes for a perfect opportunity to practice vulnerability. So here we go!
Creating Your Environment
Module 3 of Living Off Your Passion is all about surrounding yourself with people who support and inspire you to do "impossible" things. LOYP calls these people "passionate people." Passionate people come in many different forms. It could be individuals who are working on the exact skills or goals as you, or people who share the same core beliefs as you and apply them to a completely different set of skills. It could include people who you gravitate toward because they make you feel loved and valued, which is probably an indicator that they love and value themselves, and are able to then extend that feeling to others. If you feel great about your group of friends and the people you spend the most time around, there are likely to be passionate people in that group. If you feel held back by the people you hang out with or work with, this module provides a variety of tools for finding those people and building your community, as well as kindly moving away from people who suck energy and passion from you and make you feel like you cannot achieve the things you set out to do.
Here's a shortlist of some of the suggestions in the module for getting passionate, inspiring people in your corner. These are the ones that resonated with me most:
Being vulnerable, and sharing your struggles as well as your successes
Making connections with people you genuinely want in your life, instead of superficial connections that are purely for career advancement. This one really hit me - I’ve always disliked the term “networking” and the idea of superficial connections, and LOYP suggests that you shouldn’t make any of those. Anybody you connect with, you should actually want to keep in your life. Along those lines, they also suggest that one should "connect long before you want something...No one wants to connect with someone who’s just out to get something.”
Creating a routine that gets you to hang out with the friends you already have that are passionate and/or inspiring, like working out together, or making dinner together once a week
Listing the passionate people you know and some you don’t, and identifying which ones you want to spend more time with or reach out to
Finding opportunities around your town or city to meet new passionate people
I think I’ve filled my life so far with a group of pretty inspiring friends and colleagues. It was easy to list friends and family who inspire me, so acting on this module was a matter of starting to spend more time around those people.
Wins this week
Reached out to a few inspiring friends who I wanted to spend more time with: my amazing grad school flute professor, Marianne Gedigian, and my friend Adam, who has built and rebuilt his own career around his emerging passions in music, photography, videography, technology, writing, and many other pursuits.
Met up with a good friend and colleague of mine, composer Nick Clarke, to discussed a musical project dream that I have but have up until now been too afraid to fail to get started (Conduction). We identified some baby steps I could take to get it rolling in a manageable but meaningful way! More on that to come.
Spent over an hour chatting with my downstairs neighbor this weekend, which is an amount of time I certainly would have curtailed if I hadn’t been reading about how beneficial it can be to just spend quality time around good people. It was a great discussion about humanity and politics that I’m glad I didn’t miss out on in favor of the errands I had planned.
Continued with healthy practices I’ve started recently: morning meditation and journaling, and going to the gym with my good friend Dom.
Learned how to set up my new backpacking hammock and bug net, then hung out (pun intended) by the creek for a couple of hours - a major step toward my “3-day solo backpacking trip” goal.
Drafted a budget for monthly expenses for living on the road out of my car, and officially put in notice with my apartment complex - I’ll be moving out at the end of June! This is a milestone for my “live on the road out of my car” goal.
Reacquainted myself with the alto flute in preparation for an upcoming performance of a chamber opera, In Light, for the Cohen New Works Festival. The alto flute is a sultry, sexy instrument if I’ve ever heard one, and I loved picking it up again so much that I started thinking about how I could get one of my own...
Came up with some alto flute grooves and melodies to work into future compositions
Composed a short instrumental break for one of the band's new songs - I'd been afraid to write this particular break for over a month, but once I sat down and made myself do it, it wrote itself in twenty minutes. More validation that facing my fear of failure is a worthwhile pursuit.
Started applying my nerdy love of planning and scheduling to FlecHaus band practices, to help us prepare enough music for our four back-to-back shows at the end of April.
Started reading Take Risks by Joe and Kait Russo, a couple who left the corporate world and financial stability to travel full time in 2015. While I’m not going to live in an RV like they did, a lot of the concepts from their account of the year leading up to moving into the RV are relatable to my plans for living on the road, and it’s been great to feel like I’m in good company and that other people have faced the same struggles as I have and emerged victorious on the other side. Thanks Mom for sending me the book!
Being open to making new connections: I have a hard time keeping in touch with everyone I already care about, so the idea of continuously making more genuine connections with people and maintaining those connections is daunting. I haven’t had to deal with this concern yet, since I have lots of people I want to reconnect with who I already know. At some point I think I will have to face that, though, so if you have an idea of how to approach making more genuine connections when you already have a lot that need to be better maintained, I’d love to hear it. Slowing down: last week I said I would make a conscious effort to slow down so I could nourish my health and creativity. These are two of my main values in life, so I know I can’t feel good about completing the course if I push through it without taking care of those things. Even knowing that, I had a hard time slowing down this week. Between work, music rehearsals, the gym, a few doctor’s appointments, and some unexpected setbacks, I felt like I barely had time to go over the course material. This made me start to seriously reconsider how much I pack my days with activities. I don’t actually have any big insights into how to combat this, other than, for now, continuing with my morning routine of meditation and journaling practice. I’ve loved being busy since I was very young, but I’d like to let go of that a bit and spend more time on calming activities like prepping and enjoying meals, taking walks, reading a book, or spending time with friends. I know this would also help me move forward with my ambitions for this course without getting overwhelmed. If you have any ideas, let me know! Embracing the unexpected: The week took some unexpected turns, including a day of cat allergies and an incident in which my wallet was at home and I was miles away and nearly out of gas. It took a lot of mental effort to reframe these events - a lot of reminding myself to be present, not dwell on the past, and be open to the next experience. When I did allow myself to go with the flow, though, it was worth it. In my wallet-less moment, I used my phone to unlock one of the electric scooters that have been multiplying like bunnies across the University of Texas campus, and traversed the city in a delightful forty minute ride where I was able to appreciate the feeling of the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair, and the marvel of urban infrastructure and transportation.
There’s one concept from this week that’s very profound for me: networking is not separate from connecting. The module suggests that you should foster connections with people who inspire you and who you genuinely want in your life, and that extends to professional / business-related settings! It's a complete change of perspective for me when it comes to getting to know people in the music industry, or who might be able to help me build out my musical career. Even if I'm seeking out a new person specifically because I need something - for example, advice on the legal and financial side of cowriting songs - I should treat that person with the openness and curiosity of a new friend. Of course, that doesn't mean throw out professionalism, but the mental approach to making a new professional contact is shifted in a way that makes everything seem more meaningful and important.
I can always use a reminder to just spend time with good people, and this week it was very welcome. Hang around just for fun with people who inspire you, or who are inspired by similar things, without any designs or plans or expectations, and all sorts of ideas might blossom. Even if they don’t, you’re still having a great time with great people! It suddenly seems like no coincidence that there are groups of friends of incredible artists, scientists, poets, filmmakers, etc. throughout history. In the late 16th-century, Sir Walter Raleigh, playwright Christopher Marlowe and astronomer-mathematician Thomas Harriot were good friends. Surrealists Salvador Dalí and Luís Buñuel befriended each other before working together in the 1910s and twenties. In the 1970s, filmmakers Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Brian de Palma, and Francis Ford Coppola hung out and compared notes and ideas. All of these groups produced amazing things, but I wonder if any one of them would have produced similar works as solitary artists. It’s a relief to see this anecdotal proof that I don’t need to create alone to make something meaningful.
Do you have a group of friends that inspires you? Are there things you feel you’ve been able to accomplish, or positive experiences you've had, because of their support and inspiration, that you might not have otherwise? Next post: Live Off Your Passion Journal Part 4: Dream without Limits