Moxie Section of Post and Courier, Friday, January 15, 2011



What do Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong, Mrs. Fields, and WCIV's Dave Williams have in common?  They identified their passion before they were ten years old, then turned that passion into a personally satisfying and financially successful career.  They are well known examples of a scientifically verifiable fact: We all knew as children what we loved to do.


Of course, we may not have realized it at the time.  And we certainly may not have understood what we could possibly do with it as an adult. We just did it.  We instinctively knew something grabbed our imagination, and  we spent hours engaged in it; time disappeared, much to our delight and our parents'.


If the time comes when we tire of our current job or must seek a new one, a good look backward may bring into focus the direction that was there all along.  We become a detective in our own life. The patterns we find can then be applied to future plans. Moreover, we can enlist the advice of parents and long time friends, for they have been observing us for years, too. 


Once such passions are uncovered, however, it is all too easy to dismiss them as foolish, even stupid.  Consider the notables previously mentioned.  How serious is a bicycle, a cookie, being captivated by a hurricane?  What significance could be pulled from a three year old little girl's incesssant talking?  The key to turning one’s passion into action is to think outside the box.  Naturally as Founder of The Hat Ladies, I prefer to call it thinking outside the hat box 


In any case, my personal experience validates my theory.  From the time I was ten years old and found a trunk full of hats in my girlfriend's attic to the time I moved to Charleston twelve years ago, I loved hats. I walked around town with a hat on my head and began to realize I did not walk alone.  Others shared their own passion and that of family and friends. I sensed there was something to be pulled from my hat, but I could not figure out what it could be


I did not want to make hats.  I did not want to sell hats.  I only wanted to wear hats.  Just wearing them seemed frivolous. It took my husband’s encouragement for me to take the names of those who approached me and see where wearing hats might lead. I wound up leading a stylish brigade of volunteers of all ages, who love hats of all colors, who are making a difference in our community.  We are even doing it internationally, as we head to New York next week to host The Hats of The World Luncheon for the female ambassadors to The United Nations.


It took time for this concept to evolve. At first we only wore hats to monthly Luncheons.  But once I looked outside the (hat) box, I saw priceless networking taking place as Ladies from all backgrounds were coming together. I saw self-esteem rising as Ladies put themselves together with a hat on their head and a smile on their face. I saw how looking good and feeling good morphed into doing good.


I literally pulled the most meaningful thing I have ever done out of a hat.  I embraced the simple item I always loved.  I gave it room to unfold and examined it from all angles. Magically hats became the means through which I could do other things I had also loved, such as organize, coordinate, write, and speak publicly.


Joseph Campbell says, “Follow your bliss.”  I say, “Toss your hat in the ring.” We both say it will “…put you on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.” Rediscovering your passion will give you something to hang your hat on.


Archie Burkel of James Island is president and founder of The Hat Ladies, creator of the workshop Memoirs Done Write and a motivational speaker.


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