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word of the year

My word for this past year, as the universe chose for me, was purpose. I love looking back at the year through that lens.

To be honest, I’ve thought less about purpose this past year than I have in my entire life.

Purpose has always been profoundly important to me. To find it. To create it. To live up to it. And it’s always been a struggle. Is this it? Am I doing it right? Am I doing enough?

I think there’s a shadow side to purpose. Or at least to purpose as we’ve seen it modeled. The paradigm where you have one life’s purpose and your job is to find it, doggedly pursue it, cultivate it, stick to it, and never ever abandon it.

And I think that works for some. But we’re not all cut from the same cloth.

If you’ve never listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk about jackhammers and hummingbirds, I implore you to do so.

In it, she posits that some of us are jackhammers, doggedly pursuing their passion, determined and focused, without veering, until the end of time.

Others of us, are hummingbirds, floating from this tree to that, trying things out, moving on, cross pollinating, aerating. They draw from an experience broad and diverse.

And there is value in both ways of being.

I have, for most of my life, been a hummingbird trying to be a jackhammer. I wanted to find the one thing. I wanted it to be it. And I would find a thing. And I would be ALL IN to that thing. And when I found myself losing interest or becoming enamored with something else over there, I became despondent. Because I thought I had found my purpose and my passion, but I guess that wasn’t it after all.

It has taken decades, literal decades, but I think I’ve finally accepted and embraced my hummingbird nature. And as I have, I’ve become less and less attached to defining my purpose and my passion. I know my values. Those are pretty steady. But how they express themselves tends to shift and morph.

And the more I can hold them loosely, and allow them, and myself, to shift and evolve and loop back and grow and expand and contract, the happier I am, the more connected and in flow I feel.

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