In the course of my business as a Passion Coach, I have had the privilege of talking to hundreds of women about passion, sensuality, and sexuality. In all of these conversations, the best way I have heard “passion” defined was by a dear friend in California. She said to me,
“Passion is what allows me to breathe, and yet it is passion that takes my breath away.”
In that simple, and yet profound statement, she summed up the two sides of passion. On one hand, it is the essence of life because it makes us feel alive and connected. It underpins our hopes and dreams. It is the “why” to our “what” and “how”. It is the inner compass that we were given so that we wouldn’t lose our way on the journey of life. It points to the unique direction that we are supposed to go. Robin Williams’ character in the movie Dead Poet’s Society described it as “sucking the marrow out of life”. Bon Jovi described it as waking up to “French kiss the morning.” It allows us to breathe.
But passion can also be a lightening bolt that hits us out of the blue. Being blown away by a performance. Bursting into tears while listening to a song on the radio. That “ah-ha” moment where everything is just snaps into focus and is crystal clear. A look across the room that just makes your knees weak. It takes our breath away.
Unfortunately, we often allow passion to drop to the bottom of our priority list. It gets drowned out by the details of life. We sacrifice it on the alter of the convenient, the immediate, the proper, the conventional, the expected.
And so now it is…
…Simpler to make sure that little Susie gets to school on time than to realize that something that we dreamed of in our own childhood has been neglected for years … safer to plop down in front of the tube and see other people’s passions play out on screen than giving life to our own passions … easier to become roommates with our spouse rather than putting in the effort to reignite that spark that drew us together in the first place.
I am an adamant believer that passion doesn’t have to disappear. But, in order to stay alive, it must be nurtured. Or, as the author Erwin McManus puts it, “the better world you keep waiting for needs you to accept your life’s calling and responsibility, and then to create it.”
If it has been so long since you paid heed to the inner compass of your passion, you might need some help rediscovering it. Here are some exercises that you can do:
1. Spend an hour at the park with a journal. Watch the kids on the playground and remember what you were like as a child. What did you dream about? What made you most happy? What did you want to be when you grew up? What captured your imagination? What did you find interesting?
2. Watch your favorite movie. What do you love about it? Why? What draws you to its characters? Why do you like/hate them? How does this movie inspire you to live? Does it reflect anything that you would like to emulate?
3. Listen to music that deeply moves you. Reflect on the meaning of the words to you. What is it that evokes emotion within you? Why do you cry or laugh when you hear it? Not sure which song to choose? Here is a suggestion: “I Hope you Dance” by Lee Ann Womack.
4. Remember your first date with your spouse. What did you enjoy the most? What did you laugh about together? Where did you go? Have you ever gone back to that place? What did you talk about? Why did you decide to go on a second date?
5. Go to a card shop. Browse through the aisles and read cards for various people and occasions. Who are the people dearest to you? What are your fondest memories with those people? Have you slowed down enough to truly let them know how much they mean to you?
6. Park near the airport in a place where the planes are visible. Watch them taking off or landing and think about places you have wanted to visit, things you have wanted to see, and people you have wanted to meet. (Hint: this makes a great date too!)
7. Take an art class. I recently had a friend tell me that she had taken an oil painting class. While she does not consider herself an artist and would not classify what she did during the class as “good” in the retail sense of the word, it was an amazing eye-opener for her as to what art can draw forth. She took the class during a difficult time and her emotions came out on the canvass. It enabled her to express herself at a time when this was very difficult.
8. Think about the messages your parents gave you about passion. Was it important in your household? Were you told that you were being silly, or did they open doors to help you discover your passions? How have you incorporated these messages into the way you think now? What are the messages that you send to your children? Are they the messages that you want to be sending?
9. Buy an article of clothing that makes you feel incredible. How does it feel against your skin? What do you love about it – is it the colour, the shape, the fabric, the way you look in it? How does your lover respond when you wear it?
10. Take a moment to think about your spouse’s passion. What have you done to nurture it? Have you actively campaigned against it? Do you even know what his/her passion is? What type of person would your spouse be if he/she was fully living out his/her passions?
P. 19, Wide Awake: The Future is Waiting Within You.