{a self-portrait by sui solitaire}

Here’s part two of my interview with Sui Solitaire, who writes the blog Cynosure. Yesterday, we talked about what inspired her to write the e-book The Thing about Thin and why pursuing thinness prevents us from following our dreams.

Today, she shares the importance of listening to your heart and reclaiming your own power — even though our society seems to encourage anything but. Plus, she reveals two of her favorite books.

Q: In your book, The Thing About Thin, you write that “The purpose of life was to give, help, inspire — to illuminate the world.” How can individuals figure out their specific purpose for contributing to the world?

A: Juicy question! It definitely takes a level of self-awareness and self-trust that, honestly, many of the messages we are fed so often actively work to squash.

It takes self-love and self-trust. If you’re currently struggling with an eating disorder, I beg you to seek treatment first, of course. But if you’re already on the path of recovery, what else could I say, but listen to your heart?

Somewhere down deep inside your spirit, you know what you really want. You just have to trust that it will get you somewhere, you have to trust the universe that if you follow your dreams, your life can only get better.

It’s honestly scary. I think most people already know how they want to contribute, but they’re told that they have to go and work a 9-to-5 doing stuff they hate.

You don’t have to. You really don’t have to.

It’s not so much about figuring out your purpose but actually living a life that’s aligned with that purpose. Now that part’s scary. I won’t pretend I wasn’t terrified to let go and put all my faith into making cynosure my full-time work. But I had to, because this is the best way I can contribute, this is the way that makes my heart sing every morning when I wake up.

Somewhere within your heart there’s something like that for you, too, and you know it. You just have to trust that following that will make your life amazing. And it will! But it’s not without its own challenges, of course. But you can do it!

I believe in you.

Q: What are some of your favorite books or blogs that help readers figure out their purpose and passions?

A: Honestly, I haven’t read many. I mainly just follow my heart. But here are two that are wonderful:

1. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

Note: As an ED survivor, I had to be careful in not veering the other destructive way from fear and pushing myself too hard to work. That’s what happened summer 2011 after I first read this book. I thought: okay, if I binge when I’m trying to avoid something, I’ll just work as hard as I can to resist that urge to procrastinate. But then I pushed myself too hard. So, be gentle, and know yourself. Find a balance.

2. The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

I loved this book because it’s veiled as a book about awakening your creativity, but honestly it’s an entire course on self-love and self-trust. That’s what makes it amazing– that books that aren’t explicitly about self-love, but about finding ourselves and what we need to do, almost inevitably require that dose of self-love. Because it’s all, really, about trusting yourself and reclaiming your power. And that’s definitely vital, it’s definitely necessary.

Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?

A: Is there a fire lighting in your heart? Is there passion in your soul?

I’m betting that there is, not just because people who go through eating disorders tend to be especially creative and passionate (not just my bias, I swear ;)), but because we all have that fire inside of us.

The problem with a culture that encourages eating disorders isn’t just that it makes us mentally and physically unhealthy.

The problem with that– the “thing about thin,” if you will– is that it robs us of our power.

Our power to create. Our power to love. Our power to contribute.

Apparently one of the greatest human needs is to contribute to the world. When people don’t have the opportunity– or the physical and mental stability– to do so, they stagnate and they become even unhappier. It’s compounded with the disordered eating and body image challenges.

Let’s reclaim our power.

Let’s fight back.

Let’s scream from the rooftops: This is my body and I love it– and now I’m going to go after my dreams and live live live and change the world, one day at a time.

The precious gift of being alive is worth at least that much.

More about Sui Solitaire:

Sui Solitaire creates, writes, and captures. She shares her journey on cynosure and helps warriors and revolutionaries love themselves and their bodies more so they can do the work that really matters. She also writes fiction and photographs the love she sees in the world, among many other things. She enjoys being herself, public transportation, and looking stupid in public. She is grateful to be alive, and she loves you. Receive letters from her in your inbox and get your dose of love and inspiration via cynosure. You can also say hi on Google+.

Thanks so much to Sui for sharing her powerful words here on Weightless!

What makes your heart sing? What does reclaiming your power mean to you?