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Live the Life You Want – Inspired by Ann Rea

Evolving Creatively Ann Rea via Good Life Project
Ann Rea decided to do what everyone else said was un-doable. She went around the system and created her own path to become a successful painter, entrepreneur and now mentor to other artists trying to do the same. – See more at The Good Life Project
Ann Rea is a woman doing things that others say can’t be done. She is living life in full alignment with her deepest desires. For those of us who are not living the lives that are burning inside of us, we know just how revolutionary it is to stop making compromises and to reject the limitations that keep us from getting what we really want. 
The reason we can identify her as a wonderful role model today is because she is wildly successful! Her paintings sell for thousands of dollars and she helps artists enhance their creativity and earning potential with her coaching business. 
But she wasn’t always the mega-powerful creator she is today. I had the pleasure of hearing her story on a Creative Live workshop on storytelling Power Your Podcast With Storytelling. Ann was an audience member, there to up her storytelling game, and agreed to participate in a live workshop as an interviewee. When instructor Alex Blumberg (of This American Life) pulled her up on stage, I was really excited to hear what I assumed would be an interview on how Ann has created a successful art career and business. Ann did share that story, but not in the way I thought. 

Ann’s Story

By the age of 4, Ann self-identified as an artist. She loved to make art and delighted in beautiful, creative environments. As the child grew into a young woman, she looked around and saw that almost everyone around her dreamed of staying close to home, getting married and securing a job at the local grocery store. It was the life that they believed would bring them happiness, but she knew it wasn’t for her. The child of immigrants, it was expected that she would pursue a traditional career and make money, but she knew that she wanted to be an artist.  When the time came, she followed her own calling and went to art school.

After school, she met a cute guy and they got married. They both dreamed of moving beyond Ohio, and after visiting California, they decided to move to San Francisco. They picked California with the hopes of being happy, free, and hopeful. Ann said she felt all these things while they were driving cross country. She felt the fullness of limitless possibility.
When Ann and her husband arrived in California, they were detoured away from San Francisco for her husband’s new job. Ann found a 9-5, corporate job to help cover their mounting expenses, living in the suburbs of Elk Grove, California.
Below the surface, darkness was brewing. Both Ann and her husband came from abusive, alcoholic families. Ann expressed that, “our normal was unhealthy.” At the core of the dysfunction was an inability to express emotions in a health manner. The pressures facing their young family triggered frustrated silences, angry outbursts, and put an end to their promise to share a sober life together. When Ann discovered her husband was secretly drinking, he threw her across the room, ending their marriage.  
When her marriage ended, she decided to stop aligning with what the world told her was possible and decided go full-throttle into creating the life that she sensed was possible.

Your Internal Compass Is Your Best Guide

I want to dig a little deeper Ann’s experience BEFORE she was “successful” because I think that many of us can relate to her story. It’s obvious that she ebbs and flows between bravely living life in alignment with her deeper desires and making choices that compromises her own happiness and are out of alignment with her desires. 
Ann said that she didn’t have any great, wise mentors in her life. In fact she had alot of people advising her to do the things that were not making her happy. They thought they were helping, but they were not the wise mentors she needed because they had no experience in creating the type of life Ann wanted to create for herself. Ann was trying to create things that didn’t yet exist in her life…she wasn’t going to FIND this life, she had to create it. In this case, her own internal compass was her best guide and TEACHER.
Evolving Creatively Ann revolutio ebb and flow

The challenges you face ARE the groundwork to creating the life you want, your responses are the process of up-leveling your life, they are the EVOLUTION that make the bigger dreams possible. When you encounter a limitation, see it as a development opportunity. There is external development to build skills and abilities, and there are internal shifts that empower us to make choices that might seem crazy to the outside world.
As you get comfortable with creating what you want, more parts of your life come into alignment with your deepest desires.  It is no longer normal to live out of alignment with your desires, and when you are, you actively work to get your life into alignment with what you want. Sometimes you have to work with compromises, limitations, and set-backs, but you no longer have to live with them or accept them as your only choices.

Limitations Are Your Development Opportunities

Post-divorce, Ann was living in California, though not yet in San Francisco and unemployed. She went to art school, but she wasn’t working as an artist. When it came to creating her life as part of the working world, she was facing some deep seated blocks that she needed to overcome. There’s a strong narrative that says “artists don’t make money”. Ann’s parents believed that, and for a time, so did Ann.  After everything fell apart, Ann made the decision to start fully aligning with what she wanted to create. She wanted to have a full, abundant, and stable life as a full time artist, in a healthy relationship, in the city she loves. Ann made the most powerful, simple move that anyone, anywhere can copy:  she got curious.  
Ann moved to San Francisco and set to work on clearing the blocks around becoming a professional artist. She decided to stop aligning with what the world said was possible and start fully aligning with what she felt in her gut was possible. She’s talented and makes great work, so how could she start making a living from this talent? She did the work: she explored all her options, she talked to people, she made a business plan, she learned some new skills, and finally, she succeeded at transitioning to a full-time artist.

Lessons From Ann’s Story

  • There is no roadmap when you are creating things that do not exist or that you have no model for, making life-building a process of development and discovery.
  • Because there is no direct route to the life you desire, your focus should be on building your power (your ability to follow you desires, be brave, stay focused on what you want, and take inspired action)  and making choices that move you closer to the life you desire.
  • Let limitations become your development opportunities. All of us have have desires that we are not equipped to manifest. Instead of being depressed and dejected by limitation, develop them into an action plan of skill and relationship building. 
  • Like the rest of us, Ann didn’t have total control over her life.  She had bills to pay, she followed a man and a job to a place she didn’t really want to be. What Ann did do is use the freedom she had to create the life she wants. 

Ann’s story is an inspiration for anyone who wants to live the life they dream of. Like Ann’s, your journey, your life will be full of twists and turns. When things feel off track, allow yourself to learn from the situation and start the process of aligning with what you want.

Ann posted the edited interview with with host Alex Blumberg here. I wholeheartedly suggest you listen to the interview, it’s a great story. Prepare to be inspired.

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