For singer, speaker, and author Lydia Elle, finding happiness means giving herself permission to live in the moment and to make a pivot even if it goes against "the rules."
How I'm Skirting the Rules
Many people dream of leaving the day-to-day comfort of their life in order to follow a more exciting passion, but few actually do. For singer, speaker, and author Lydia Elle it was that comfort that pushed her to not only move from Alabama to Los Angeles, but to leave a steady job as a Pentagon analyst, write a book about how her life’s darkest moments also yielded her biggest lessons, and embark on a new journey that, she says, she’s still figuring out. “People are attracted to and want to hold on to titles that keep them comfortable in your presence,” says Elle, who wrote And So I Prayed... just months before her cross-country move. “You have to really release yourself from that box of other people’s need to be comfortable, because not too much happens in staying comfortable.” We spoke to Elle about her process of becoming, finding confidence, and the power of changing your mind.
I’m Skirting the Rules by deciding that I don’t have to choose any one path. I can be free in the power of changing my mind. If I decide to leap and do this today but do something else tomorrow, it doesn’t mean I failed today. I don’t think many people accept that permission. That thing you accomplished two or three years ago doesn’t mean you can’t do something else now. Look at Oprah. She left her show when she was still flying high, because she just wanted to do something else. People looked at her like “Why?” And then no one understood the OWN network at the beginning. It didn’t take off right away, and now it’s great. But even if it wasn’t great, that’s okay. It’s about going around the rule of allowing people to box you in.
A time when I found the possible within the impossible is when I was faced with the decision of pursuing my purpose in music and motivation or continuing my career as an Operations Research Analyst. As a single mother, the decision to walk away from my job and go with what was burning in my heart only looked like a great one to me, because it would also model for my daughter, London, how to do the same. My daughter, who had just gone through a terrible bout of bullying at school, needed much more time with me. My demanding travel schedule and career did not allow me to give her what she needed. However, the notion to not only leave my job and move across the country, write a book and start my own business, but also homeschool her so that she could get the one-on-one attention she needed to heal her heart seemed impossible to accomplish, but I was certain this was the right thing for both of us.
A year later, my business is developing and growing, and I love the process of honing my message and speaking to people all around the world about the lessons I’ve learned. I’m singing in places I had once only dreamed of, such as on the Ellen Degeneres Show as a backup singer for Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful,” and my daughter is happily learning about subjects and business.
An example of how listening to my intuition has helped me is that I followed it into my life’s purpose and, ultimately, the best life for me. My intuition guides me in love, which is the wellspring of life. Knowing and going into situations and places that I can love and be loved has set my soul on fire to continue producing at my highest level. Does this mean that everything is always perfect? Not at all. There are still things that come on my path that are difficult, but I know that even in those moments I am exactly where I should be and I look for all that I am to gain in that moment instead of just hurrying the process along and missing all that was meant for me in it. This guiding has shown me that my happiness will be consistent when I look at is as a state to travel in instead of a destination to arrive at.
My secret talent is my ability to solve a problem under the most extreme pressures. For example, a few years ago I was diagnosed with pneumonia. My doctor said I need to strictly rest until my lungs cleared. It’s never a good time to be sick, but I was in the middle of my final semester for my second masters degree trying to complete an overloaded course schedule; working on a very intensive project at work; and was still carrying out my duties as a mother on a solo basis. Despite all of the pressure, I was able to get time off to work from home, complete 15 hours for my masters degree, and, thankfully my daughter was none the wiser.
A woman is most powerful when she is in full ownership of her heart, her mind and her body. She is most powerful when she no longer allows her mistakes to define her, but instead sees the beauty that each step—whether pleasure or pain—has brought to the mosaic of her personhood. When a woman embodies all of her true self and is no longer afraid to stand in her strength or admit to her weaknesses, she is unstoppable. For only then she knows that nothing about her own being will catch her by surprise, she knows who she is, believes in what she does and is ready to change the world with her offering.
What I wish I had told myself when I was starting out is to realize that you are enough now, even in your process of becoming. Just because you don’t have everything the way you want it doesn’t mean that it never will be the way it should. Believe in the beauty of beginnings and endings, realizing that both are a gift in life and have fun in every process because it is in your life to teach you something.
My favorite skirt is confidence. When you decide to be confident, there is nothing that can stop you. I believe that people who lack confidence do not realize that no one is perfect. When you’re okay with your good, bad, and ugly, then it’s a lot easier to appreciate it. Everybody is working on himself or herself, no one has this figured out. You’re only competition is what you haven’t done yet, not what someone else is doing.