Is Passion a Dirty Word?

If it is now, it never used to be. I think passion was a buzzword until it burnout from overuse.

Nowadays some cringe when they hear it. They believe passion prevents us from getting things done. It can be stifling. If we’re not living up to our passion, maybe our lives are useless. And do we even need passion anyway? There are tons of people who are filthy rich and successful doing things they are not passionate about right?

How Important is Passion?

To answer this question, we must first look at what passion is. According to Joan Borysenko in Fried: Why You Burn Out,

“Passion is pure energy-vitality-which is exactly what dies in burnout.”

It is the inner spark, that internal enthusiasm that makes you stay up at night following a dream, what you can’t stop talking about, what drives you despite setbacks, obstacles or fear. It is flow. It is bliss. It is the sense that you could do whatever it is you’re doing regardless if you were getting paid for it. Passion is not deterred by change. It is enlivened by it. Sometimes we lose our passion because we are burnt out, we are afraid or get so caught up in the day to day tasks of our lives that we forget. But it is still within us.

Passion isn’t a luxury, it is our necessity. Following our passion allows us to express the very essence of who we are.

I sometimes think people say, “passion shmassion” (or maybe they don’t literally say that) because they are afraid of pursuing their dreams. It takes courage and faith to not just follow what thrills us, but to find it. Borysenko says it requires two things: listening for external cues and having faith in the unknown.

Maybe people get caught up into believing the following:

Passion = ? (doctor, lawyer, artist, teacher, etc.)

They get bogged down in the erroneous belief that passion requires a specific role or occupation that needs to be filled. Instead The Book of Awakening author Mark Nepo says, “This is not about being a poet or a florist or a doctor or a lawyer or an architect. It is about the true vitality that waits beneath all occupations for us to tap into, if we can discover what we love.”

And passion isn’t just a byproduct of a middle class economy, it is our god given right to pursue it. Nepo beautifully adds that the joy received when we follow our passion is “not an added feature; it is a sign of deep health.”

Remember that the next time someone calls you “selfish” for following your dreams!


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What We Can All Learn from KONY 2012 Filmmaker Jason Russell

{surprise flowers from my husband.}

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t hear about Kony 2012 until Oprah’s Next Chapter. Then I found out about filmmaker Jason Russell’s sharp rise to million YouTube viewers fame and steep drop to a nervous breakdown hell. I’m not going to go into the details here. For that, you can see clips from the original video below.

What I can say is that hearing his story moved me in a significant way. And although I haven’t ever went on a public tirade or garnered a million viewers, I can relate.


Because there is a part of us that deeply desires to make a difference. There is a vast calling within us to fix the injustices of the world. And I believe there is a hidden sense of guilt that passes over us every time we watch the news, pass a homeless person or hear about a tragedy. If given free reign and voice to express our passions, how far would we go to control it? Would it consume us?

We never think about that when pursuing our dreams.

We think about getting there. We drool over the life we’ve been painting in our minds. We pull our energies to focus on what needs to get done. We don’t think about how we will deal with it when it comes.

I think we can learn a lot about Russell’s journey.

To prepare for the life we want, to brace for the wave of pulsating energy coming our way to get us to our dreams, we need to take time now to breathe. We need to surrender to the moment we’re in right now. We need to taste the salt from the ocean as much as we inhale its beauty in our memories.

When the wave comes we can surrender or become engulfed in it. Russell’s story teaches us that the only way to survive the impact is to be present, still and strong in who we are right now. On a small scale, it can teach us how we cope with life. It is the difference between allowing your breath to heal you and wash away your thoughts versus allowing it to obsessively take over your mind. You can relinquish your control over what is or you can use your energy to fight it.

In the end, if every challenge is a teacher, then allow this moment, this current challenge to be the quiz before the big test.

Right now, stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and feel the you that sits in your body. Be present in the knowledge that you are more than the things that you do, the dreams you accomplish and the success you have. You are that and everything else. Be still and acknowledge your perfect existence in an imperfect world. In doing this, you will practice shutting down the egoic mind to hear your true self.

Yes we all need to go to work, to write, to create, to tend to our children, to take care of our lives. But within the busyness of life there is peace. Let Russell’s story remind us that presence and stillness are just as important as achieving and making a difference. When life gets too hectic, remember restoration, rejuvenation and rest are always just a breath away…

Jason Russell: Why the Kony 2012 Phenomenon Was Like a Tsunami

Within 24 hours of its release online, the Invisible Children documentary Kony 2012 had more than a million views. In a week, it reached 100 million. Filmmaker Jason Russell says that what started as a wave became a tsunami. Watch as he explains what was going through his mind when the film became a phenomenon.

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If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed…

What to do when you're overwhelmed

{flickr photo}

Yesterday all was well. But today? Hell broke lose and today’s an all together different story. Suddenly, your work load, your kids, your bank account, your health all need your attention and they need it now!

What seemed easy to put off yesterday, feels like an emergency today. How will you manage the seemingly unmanageable? And as your anxiety holds hands with fear, will you be able to survive whatever it is and make it out okay?

It’s a question that could likely leave most us wishing to be kids again, to want to hide from the responsibility that adulthood brings.

As someone who’s suffered from health issues and constant career fears (I am a writer), I understand the urgency. I know what it’s like to need answers now, to want to wake up from the nightmare that is your current life.

Fortunately there is always another way. I’ve discovered that even in the worst circumstances, light paves the way through the darkest of shadows. We only need to to know where to look to get to it.

Bite-Size Pieces

The majority of the time, we get overwhelmed because we think we need to do it all, and do it all right. It’s only in adulthood where we miraculously believe that because we’re older now, we should be able to tackle each mountain that comes our way. We forget that as children, it took patience, determination and hard work to learn how to roll, crawl and finally walk. Life is still like that. Sometimes we need to take bite-sized pieces and small steps to get what we want. We may not have it all right now. But we will eventually get there, if we give ourselves the time and space to achieve it.

Get Back to the Basics

One of my favorite bloggers is Sarah Wilson, a beautiful Australian media personality who blogs about life, health, travel and more. She wrote once that sometimes when she’s not feeling well, she simply lies down. As in, completely relinquishing to the earth or corpse pose for all you yogis out there. When life hits us hard, there is an automatic reaction in us that says, “Fight harder.” But in reality, the best thing we can do is ride the wave. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, go back to basics. Live simply. Breathe deeply. Work hard against being hard. Like the branches of a tree, be strong in your roots while allowing the wind to move you. You WILL get back on track.

{You can read the rest of this post on my Beliefnet column Happy Haven.}

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