Mid-Year Check In

Living Like Prince … it’s a QUEST.
“Don Quixote and Sancho Panza,” 19th century, Honore Daumier.

With June coming to a close, my year of Living Like Prince is halfway done, a realization that causes a pang in my stomach. In a word (or six): I don’t want this to end.

Despite the fact that I have loved and admired Prince and followed his music for some 40 (!) years, on January 1, 2019, it was far from guaranteed that living like him was within my grasp. My lifestyle is nothing like Prince’s. I’m a suburban mom after all, and he was a global superstar. And from what I do know about him from my research and interviewing people who knew him, my personality couldn’t be more different from Prince’s personality — with the possible exception of a shared dry sense of humor.

As it turns out, the simple act of trying to replicate Prince’s behaviors and decisions — even when flat-out failing (ahem, the fasting days where I caved in to the hunger and ate) or floundering around feeling ridiculous (the photo shoot when I attempted to channel my alter ego) — has elevated my game. I’m no global superstar, but even in my small world, I’m surprised at where I find myself only six months. Even when I’ve failed, such as after those first wobbly efforts at fasting, I’ve gone back and revisited it. This month, I went back to fasting, this doing intermittent fasting with the support of a couple of friends. And after that terrifying first photo shoot, I even did a second one, this one for the Chicago Tribune. Was I ever happy I had a little experience under my belt!

This is a quest, and no quest worth taking is free from obstacles. Or, as Prince put it in his speech at the 1985 American Music Awards: “Life is death without adventure, and adventure only comes to those who are willing to be daring and to take chances.” (Way to throw down the gauntlet, Prince).

Here’s my assessment of the year to date, and my hopes for the second half of the journey:

SCARIEST MOMENT: I’ve spent six months experiencing discomfort in all forms, from hunger to stage fright in front of a camera. (Have I mentioned how hard it is to be in front of the camera?) The same goes for the videos I did for Facebook, and the media interviews, from my on-camera interview with Prince’s Friend to “Why this self-described suburban mom is living like Prince for a year” by Heidi Stevens of the Chicago Tribune. All required me to step up and be seen. And despite Prince’s distaste for the media, my experience has been the opposite: It’s been a gift to have my story reflected back by talented members of the media.

MOST EXHILARATING: Is it any wonder that EVERY SINGLE ONE of the scariest moments turned out to be most exhilarating as well?

BIGGEST SURPRISE: I experienced a phenomenon that I dub the “exhilaration hangover.” When I received the proofs from the photo shoot, I found it painful — literally! — to look at the resulting photos, and even after selecting the ones I liked best, I had to force myself to share them online. My brain was drunk on a shame and fear cocktail, as recriminations like “who do you think you are?” And “you look ridiculous doing a photo shoot all dressed up (fill in blank: at this age, at this weight, with these wrinkles, when you’re a mom ).” The inner backlash is real. Conclusion: All you can do is ignore it and keep moving.

BIGGEST LAUGH: The day I launched a “Prince Name Generator” on social media and Facebook friends played along. Prince was famous for changing the names of his proteges from your basic every day name to something over-the-top that could land you in a James Bond movie. New Power Generation keyboardist Thomas Elm became “Tommy Barbarella. Tara Fitzpatrick became “Carmen Electra.” I doled out some 35 Prince names that day! Exhibit A: Jacqueline Gonzalez became Jackie Splendid. Exhibit B: Liz Malmquist became Alessandra de Alba. And I, plain “Laura,” became “Aurora.” It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

BIGGEST INSIGHT INTO PRINCE: Prince did not become “Prince” overnight. In his early photo shoots, he looks a little awkward (I feel you, Prince). He wasn’t perfectly groomed. He had a toothy grin, like any twenty-year-old in front of a camera. Becoming Prince of the sly, knowing smile took practice. In the interest of science, I’m compacting lessons Prince had a lifetime to perfect into 12 months. Honestly, though, I should really repeat the months again next year, if my family wouldn’t disown me.

BIGGEST INSIGHT INTO MYSELF: The biggest realization I’ve had is that I was hiding behind what I’ve come to call “suburban camouflage.” I was living a perfectly pleasant life, but I was playing it safe and trying to blend in rather than stand out. I needed to step up and share my gifts.

Whether the person you most admire is Prince or John F. Kennedy or Mark Twain, my greatest insight so far is this: Don’t just admire someone. Take a walk in their shoes, because we’re all capable of so much more than we think.

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