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Putting in the work...

Jamieson Van Loan

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an art performance by Carrie Mae Weems at Grace Farms. It was brilliant, of course, and I am still digesting her deep message. Thank you so much to my favorite art professor, Danielle, for inviting me! After the show, we were invited to a private event with the artists and Carrie gave an impromptu speech. Besides being an excellent orator, she spoke words that really touched me. She said, and I am paraphrasing, that we all start out with an idea and it is up to us to carry that idea forward. But to truly expand on that idea you need to put in the work: the deep real intense work. And you not only need to put in this very courageous work, but that you never do it alone. The great outcomes do not happen when you are standing alone. 
This concept of putting in the work and really dedicating yourself to, let’s call it your dreams, is understood by all. Rarely do dreams just fall into our laps. We have to work and work hard at them. We have to be diligent. We have to be resilient. We cannot accept failures; we push through them. We learn and we work better. 

On a deeper level, she got my wheels spinning about the internal work that needs to be done. I have come to realize that my late 30s is when all the internal work truly began. We all look back on past years and go "wow, look how far I've come" or "I've changed so much" but this past year alone I have grown tenfold over what I grew the past decade. I focused on my internal struggles and did my best to unpack my life baggage. I worked through issues with the help of a therapist and my tribe. I took full ownership of my demons and stopped projecting and blaming. I tuned into my intuition and dived deep into my spirituality. I realized that my external work, my dreams, would not ever come to fruition if I did not really understand the depths of myself. Where do these ambitions come from? Why do I want to pursue them? What is my purpose?

Although I am still answering those questions, I have constructed the foundation for the work to be done. And I could not have come so far without my tribe. Carrie Mae Weems said it multiple times during her speech that we do not stand alone when we are working towards bringing our ideas to light. It is the people that you surround yourself with that can either push you forward or hold you back. If you find yourself in stagnation, first ask yourself what you need to change within but also ask yourself, who are you sharing your energy, your life with. Are those people bringing out your internal shine or are they squashing your glow? Do not be afraid to release people from your life that are not serving you. Our time on this planet is too short to surround yourself with toxicity. And your tribe will always evolve, as you evolve. It is ok to let go of people but still love them from afar. It is also ok to lean hard on your people. The right people in your life will stand by you and accept you wholly. They will be the major part of why and how your life work gets done. 

For those of you struggling either with the internal or external work, know you are not alone. We all live in struggle city. We are all doing our best each day to work towards our goals. We all break down and get frustrated and stressed. But you pick yourself up, dust off the negativity and you get back to the work. Because life is about achieving your ideas and finding your purpose. It is about taking each minute, each hour and each day as they come. It is meant to be difficult or else the finish line wouldn't be so attractive.

Today, I hope that you take a moment to think about your purpose and not just your to-do list. Find that nagging idea that you want to bloom and take one baby step towards it. Accept the work and the hurdles that lie ahead but know that you will get there. Your loved ones will be cheering you on each step of the way but you will carry yourself over that finish line. 

A work in progress,