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Everyday Passion

Text by: Jennifer Hunsaker

I think we all have an adolescent view of passion that is spurred on by countless "romance" novels, aimed at the teenager in all of us. You know you've read the continuing saga of Bellatrand and Tedward — the star-crossed lovers who could never be together, because one of them is undead. A big chunk of you have probably oggled the big screen version of the 17-year-old boy who plays Jacoby, the other undead creature in love with Bellatrand. This franchise and thousands like it make millions of dollars a year, tapping into that adolescent inside of us that is convinced that if we had a partner like him, our lives would be more passionate. While I think too many women fail to realize that these works are fictional, I do agree with one precept— women, as a whole, lack passion in their lives. Yet the very word evokes a fantasy world of whispered conversations with a handsome man who only wants to cuddle. Passion is not the same as lust or anger. Passion is a driving force that propels us to be better versions of ourselves.

Think about the last thing you were wholly devoted to. Your family? Your job? Your laundry? Women keep an internal checklist of things to do every day. Usually that to do list exceeds the limits of time and a person's abilities. Day after day we dutifully check them off — wake up the kids; get them ready for school; make lunches free of gluten, wheat, eggs and dairy; go to work; do laundry, and clean up after everyone. Then there's dinner, soccer, dance, homework, gardening; volunteering, resolving the Middle East conflict, and achieving world peace… Every one of my friends has made this comment in the midst of raising young children: "There has to be more to life than just this." And they are right. There should be more to life than an endless and unattainable checklist. We must find something that drives us, something we are passionate about. Once we discover what that is, we have to devote time to achieving it. And once we have succeeded in achieving our goals (at any level), we have to set even more in order to keep us driven.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

We all need something in our lives that excites us to even talk about. It can be gourmet cooking or feeding our family on a budget. It could be running a mile or running a marathon. A wise man once said, "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before." That is not to say we must all become artists or culinary experts, but even if what we want to create is a better outlook on life, we are still a part of the creative process. I think of the single mother who drags her bones out of bed every day to work two jobs to provide her children with food, shelter, and clothes. She is creating a home. I marvel at the woman who becomes a crusader for breast cancer or leukemia, because her family has been affected by it. She is creating awareness. And I also think of the man who runs a marathon after losing a hundred pounds. He is creating a healthier life.

But conquering a fear or creating something beautiful does not happen overnight, nor does it happen by accident. We must devote time to it. I know many people (women especially) who claim they don't have time to devote to one more thing. They are so busy living in their cars, shuttling children back and forth, and balancing work and home that they cannot fathom spending more time doing anything else. We must stop making excuses for not devoting ourselves to something we are passionate about. Women are all about guilt. We loathe it, but at the same time, we welcome it, because if we feel guilty, we can be self-deprecating. And if we are self-deprecating, we can let ourselves off the hook when we aren't perfect. I want to stand on the rooftops and shout, "ENOUGH!!!"

That same wise man also said, "What you create doesn't have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don't let fear of failure discourage you. Don't let the voice of critics paralyze you — whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside." Letting yourself train for a marathon won't throw the universe off balance, although it might give you a great body. Giving yourself permission to bake in the evenings won't send your children into a tailspin, although it might help to teach them fractions, formulas, division, and chemistry. Raising money for cancer research, volunteering with a charity, painting, or writing will not detract from other aspects of your life. It will, however, enhance them. You will find that having time to yourself, devoting yourself to something you love, will have a rejuvenating effect on every other aspect of your life.

I received my Masters degree when I was 22-years-old. It was the first major goal in my life that I had set and worked years to achieve. I was so happy when it was finally over, but at the same time, I spent the next few years lost. I got married and moved to California, and spent most of my professional life filled with dead-end temp jobs. I knew that I needed something to occupy my energy and become passionate about. So, I started performing again. And while I did not find satisfaction with my job, I found happiness singing and dancing on stage. I finally felt alive again. Passion is something we must rediscover over and over again. The thing we were passionate about 10, 20 or 50 years ago will not be the same today. We are not the same people we were decades ago. We must continue to try new things and set new goals so we can spend our lives doing more than crossing off items on a "to do" list.

© Jessica Ceason Photography, Felicity Maria Photography (Bottom Left)

So tell your adolescent view of passion to take a hike. Stop making excuses for not pursuing that dream. And for heaven's sake, stop wishing you were in a novel, and start creating your own story. Your ending is guaranteed to be better than any "bathtub novel."