positively present picks: august 23, 2013!
positively present picks: august 30, 2013

what's your road to freedom?



Tell me which road are you travelling,
which road are you travelling on?
Tell me who will you turn to
when the light has gone?
I hear somebody calling
I hear somebody calling to me
With so many roads to travel,
there's just one can set you free

There's just one road
one road to freedom
There's just one road
one road to freedom
Just one

In my life I have been blessed
In my life I have been cursed
I have lived the best of times
I have suffered the worst
Do you know which road you're travelling?
Do you know where you want to be?
With so many roads to travel,
there's just one can set you free

Ben Harper
"One Road to Freedom" 


When I first heard Ben Harper's "One Road to Freedom," it got me thinking about what my road to freedom is. What is it that sets me free? What makes me feel as if I can cope with all the ups and downs of life? The more I contemplated the lyrics, the more I realized that what sets me free is what I'm passionate about. What sets me free is putting the pen to the paper or the words to the screen and writing. What sets each of us free is the one thing that motivates you to keep going, that thing you've been passionate about forever and don't ever see yourself getting tired of. 

You can be passionate about things, actions, people. You can be passionate about feelings and abstract concepts. You can be passionate about just about anything. And when those passions are pursued, freedom is achieved. Pursuing what you love sets you free—free from worry, free from regret, free from feeling as if life is without purpose. 

Passions aren't always easy. We may feel strongly about something, love it with all of our might, but that doesn't mean it's going to come easily to us. Some of the very best things in life take a lot of hard work and dedication. Some of the very best things in life requiring being brave and pushing ourselves beyond boundaries. For me, my passion is writing. It's the one thing I've always loved and the one thing I probably will always continue to do throughout my life. But as much as I love it, it's not always easy to do and it's definitely not always easy to share it with others.

Even when it's difficult to get in touch with your passion (or make it part of your daily life), it's worth the effort to identify and cultivate that passion. In doing so, I truly believe you set yourself down a path to freedom, a path we all deserve to be walking down. For each of us, that passion is unique, but for all of us, there are ways to access that passion and get closer to a feeling of liberation. Here are my suggestions for connecting with your passion and putting yourself on your own person road to freedom:


  1. Narrow your vision. If you're anything like me, you can get excited about something and want to take every little bit of it in. I want to write a book, want to write poems, want to write blogs and articles and journal entries. I want to do it all. It's a great feeling to be to really want to dive into something, but one of the best ways to cultivate your passion is to narrow your focus. It's tempting to try to do it all, but if you spread yourself too thin, you'll find yourself overwhelmed and probably not doing much of anything. Start small. Figure out what you're most interested in and zero in on that. In the future, you can always expand your vision, but start off narrow. If you feel completely overwhelmed and don't know where to start, make a list of the things you love about whatever you're passionate about and rank the items. You'll quickly discover what matters most to you and that's where you can direct your narrow focus. 

  2. Integrate it into your life. Passionate about something? Don't hide it from the world. I used to say I was a writer because I was sitting at home in my apartment typing away on my computer. Yes, I was a writer, but I was a writer in hiding. I used to write only for myself and never share it with anyone (other than the occasional English teacher), but back when I started Positively Present, I realized that I was missing out by not sharing my passion with others. I soon learned that there were like-minded people out there in the world with whom I could converse about what I was writing, and I also found that there were many people who benefited from what I had written. It can be hard work (and, at times, pretty intimidating) to share what you're passionate about with others, but the more you share and put yourself out there, the more opportunities you'll have to make your passion a major part of your life. 

  3. Work as hard as you can. Just as nothing great was ever accomplished without passion, nothing great was ever accomplished without hard work. If you love something, you have to work at it. You have to do it as frequently as you can. For example, I make it a point to write every day (even if I don't post it here) because it's what I love to do. Hard work can be daunting, but if you really feel passionate about something, the work you put in will be worth it. Often we don't think of freedom when it comes to working hard, but I've found that the more work I put into my passion, the more freeing my life feels. When you are true to your own path—your personal road to freedom—the hard work becomes a form of liberation. 

  4. Make it tons of fun. Sometimes when people are passionate about something, they become so focused that they lose sight of the fun. To make sure you don't miss out on the fun, take a step back from engaging in your passion and figure out how you can make it enjoyable. If you become too focused, you may forget what it was that really inspired you in the first place. No matter what you feel passionate about, there is a way to make it fun. You may have to be a little creative in some cases, but don't let yourself miss out on the fun just because it's tricky to identify. One way to make it fun is to include others in your passion. Whatever you love, there are probably others out there who love it too. Find them and start a group or club. If you don't have people around you who love what you love, find a way to share it with others in a way they can enjoy. 

  5. Be innovative and creative. As you're spending time on your passion, remember two things: innovation and creation. You already have the drive and desire to talk about, think about, and work on your passion. Now you need to take it to the next level. You need to be creative and innovative. You need to think about how you can push yourself out of you comfort zone and try new things. Find some way to do things differently—and that may mean differently for you. For example, I've always been interested in writing. I've done it every day for as long as I can remember. But one day I decided I was going to share it. It wasn't the most mind-blowing discovery and it probably didn't mean all that much to the few early readers of my blog, but to me it was huge. It was life-changing. It caused me to break out of my routines and to push myself way out of my comfort zone. It's made me better at what I love to do and, importantly, it's held me accountable for what I do. You too can find ways to break out of your own mold. It doesn't have to be some crazy never-done-before thing. All you need is a challenge that helps you explore your passion in a new way. 

  6. Share your ideas with others. It's really important to share what you love with others. It may be hard to do (plenty of people have quirky things they're passionate about or, like me, have trust issues that prevent them from wanting to share their work), but sharing one of the best ways you can cultivate your passion and start down a road to freedom. When I first started blogging, I was scared that no one would want to read my blog or, worse, people would read it and hate it. But, in so many ways, this blog has changed my life for the better. If I hadn't taken a leap of faith and put myself out there, I never would have experienced some of the great things I have over the past four and half years. It still scares me to death sometimes when I think about people reading my posts, but I do it anyway. I push myself to be better than I think I can be, even when I'm scared. And you know what? It feels good. It's freeing to break out of my comfort zone and to be rewarded with such inspiring feedback. You may not want to share your passion initially, but it's such a great way to make the most of what you love. 

  7. Give yourself a break. As much as I love to write, one of the best ways I've found to making the most of my passion is to take a break from it. When I first started blogging, I was writing a new post almost daily. I was super excited about it (and had so much to say!), but as the number of readers grew, so did the pressure. I felt like I had to post all of the time and I was overwhelmed. I realized that I needed a break so I created a new schedule so I was posting only 2-3 days a week, leaving me more relaxed and more able to really enjoy writing. Keep this in mind as your exploring your passion. You don't have to be doing it 24/7. You can (and should!) take a break. It's tempting to work nonstop on something you're excited about, but one of the best ways to make your passion a freeing (rather than restrictive) activity is to take a step back every once and awhile. 

Passion is something I believe everyone should strive for in their lives, though I don't think I realized quite why I thought this until I heard Ben Harper's song. The reason passion is so important is because it creates a sense of freedom. It leaves you at liberty to be who you are and to do what you love most. What you're passionate about isn't always obvious, but I believe everyone has something he or she is (or can become) passionate about it. It's just a matter of figuring out what that thing is (which you can do by trying new things and paying close attention to what makes you feel happy and alive). Once you've figured it out (and, yes, this might take some time), use the ideas above to help take your passion to the next level. One step at a time, you can make progress and use your passion to fuel your journey down your own road to freedom.


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you're extremely inspiring, and your wisdom encourages me to continue blogging about my seemingly quirky activities. i love staging public interactions, photographing and writing about the encounters, and then blogging about it -- but it's can also be incredibly scary to put myself out there. i recently had a cake party in the streets ( http://apartment-wife.com/2013/08/03/naked-cake-party-in-the-streets/ ) and although lots of people told me it was odd&strange, i had a great time doing it :) or, as you would say, 'tons of fun.' :)

Jennifer - Thank you! I'm so glad to hear my words inspire you. I just took a look at your cake party in the streets and it looked like so much fun. Good for you for doing something scary!

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