What is your life’s purpose?
My life’s purpose it to be a living, breathing, walking manifestation of love.
How are you living your purpose?
By writing and publishing my life story, and by taking such good care of myself that I go out into the world filled up and able to offer love. I believe the key to freedom and joy is living authentically, as the truest versions of ourselves. Only when we truly accept ourselves can we accept others; and only when we truly stop judging and criticizing ourselves will we stop judging and criticizing others.
The Burn Zone: A Memoir is about owning my story. . .all of it. It is about celebrating the skeletons in my closet. And in my doing so, I hope to encourage other people to do the same. I believe we are here on earth in these human bodies to experience joy and we get so confused, so caught up in trying to be what everyone else tells us we need to be. This is a quote from my book that I love:
We are bombarded with messaging that tells us we are not okay the way we are. It is time for messaging that tells us the opposite: there is room for all of us, with all our diversity, and each one of us is incredibly worthy. By believing in and loving and being true to ourselves, we add our light to the sum of light, and we shift the consciousness of this planet from fear to love. Is there anything else more worthy of our time?
How did you find your purpose?
I found it by being totally broken. I had been searching my whole life, without really knowing for what I was searching. In an effort to become enlightened, I allowed myself to be emotionally and psychologically abused and brainwashed. In an effort to get rid of everything “unspiritual,” about me I pushed away everything and everyone I loved. I was completely shattered and barely making it through my days when I found the answer. I write about it in my book:
In New York, I had a quote on my desk from St. Catherine of Siena. It said, “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
I would look at that quote every day and say to myself, sometimes out loud, but always in great emotional pain, “I don’t know who God meant me to be. I have no idea what to be, what to do with my life. I am so unhappy, and I feel so small. If I knew who God meant me to be, I would do it. I would love to set the world on fire.” And then I would go about my day.
One day, my eyes landed on that quote and Love popped into my head. Simply the word Love.
And then I got it.
God meant me to be love: a walking, breathing, living manifestation of love. God meant for all of us to be love. When we love ourselves, we love others. And when we love others, we bring out the best in them; we create a beautiful safe space for the vulnerable, gooey, raw parts to come out from behind the ego and shine.
And the truth suddenly showed itself, after I had spent a lifetime searching: Love.
My search for God led me through hell and back. I destroyed myself. I destroyed all I loved. And the most important thing I got out of all of it at the end was this: when I love, I feel God. When I’m grateful, I feel God. When I’m giving and kind and patient and caring and compassionate, I feel God. The rest doesn’t matter. Nothing else matters. And the key to feeling love and kindness and patience and compassion is loving and accepting—completely accepting—myself.
God made me. S/he wants me to be me. With all the flaws and cracks and broken bits. And s/he wants me to be happy. S/he wants all of us to be happy. And s/he wants us to love each other. When we love each other, we create heaven on earth. When we don’t, we create hell. It is up to us. It has always been up to us.
At least, after all my searching, this is what I now believe. It doesn’t mean it’s true. It doesn’t mean I know exactly what God wants. It doesn’t mean anyone else has to believe it. But imagine if everybody did…
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
I would say you have to follow your heart and your own inner guidance. You have to be willing to be alone rather than with people who try to control you or ask you to be a certain way to please them. You have to risk “not making money” but the truth is: once you find your true calling, the money will come rolling in. You have to be willing to say “no” to everything that isn’t right for you. You have to take the baby steps each day of doing the things that make your heart sing. You have to be willing to stop making excuses and start today living a life you love. And you have to believe you are worth it; that you are worthy and you deserve to live a life of joy and abundance. And, if you think that’s selfish, then imagine all the good you can do for others once your life is overflowing with abundance.
We never know which day will be our last so we must start today creating a life we love. The desires of your heart are unique to you, they are Divine seeds planted inside you, and as you follow them, as you allow yourself to experience the joy they bring, you bloom. So, in a nutshell, start with the little things that make the child inside of you sing: spend your day off under a blanket watching movies rather than cleaning the house, treat yourself to a vacation rather that using the money for something “appropriate,” sign up for the class you have always wanted to take. The day at home or the vacation or the class are all doorways that will open and expand your life in unforeseen ways. This self-nurturing also adds increments of joy into your life and before you know it a life that bored you or a life you hated becomes a life of joy. And with that joy comes energy and with the energy comes clarity and with the clarity comes opportunity—an upward spiral of light that leads to life purpose unfolding magically before you.
What resources do you recommend?
I recommend a few books (in no particular order, choose the ones that resonate with you):
Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman
Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie
Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss
This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You Love by Tama Kieves
You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Heal Your Body by Louise Hay
And, of course, my book: The Burn Zone: A Memoir by Renee Linnell
Renee Linnell is the author of The Burn Zone: A Memoir (She Writes Press; October 2018). She is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and cofounded five companies and has an Executive Masters in Business Administration from New York University. Currently she is working on starting a publishing company to give people from diverse walks of life an opportunity to tell their stories. She divides her time between Colorado and Southern California.
Image Credits: In Her Image Photography