Recently, I went on a well deserved, yearly girl’s trip and the conversation we had climbing and descending a mountain in the Pecos Mountain Reserve was very poignant, timely, and hit my soul like lightning. The conversation was between one of my best friends of 30 years and our ranch, horse guide. Both women had lived through their initial “who am I” and “what should my career be” stage and had now decided the first part of their lives would be very different than their second part of their lives. Two powerful women who said their lives had purpose, but they weren’t sure their lives had passion. One woman had spent many of her early years being a Mom and being on a plane most of the week as she was a travelling consultant. She said her passion got side-tracked when she was to begin work on a Ranch in Estes Park, CO., but shortly after finding out she was pregnant. The other woman was also a Mom and had started a career with her husband creating web pages. Although she loved her job and her ability to be creative, she never knew what her passion was until she found Yoga. Now studying to be a Yoga instructor, she has said she never knew how much Yoga would change her life not only from a physical stance but a mental stance.
So you can only imagine what I saw on a sunny day in New Mexico. What I saw was two women in their glory. What I saw was sunshine across two women’s faces, a jump in the air elation, and joy that bounced off each and every word as both women said – this is “where I am now”. The cattle herder and rancher said she works a ton more hours now and makes a ton less money, but she is a ton happier. She said to her being out in nature with her horse does not feel like work. The other woman said she is not giving up her other job completely, but this job as a Yoga instructor is what will complete her. She said she has never been more excited to learn.
So my first question is why do we give up our passions? I watch my 9 year old daughter and she has every dream in the world. Every day she may have a different dream, but she dreams. So why do we put boundaries on our children or boundaries on ourselves? Why do we say to our children what they should be? If I am honest, I would say I am the worst offender. Everything my daughter “does” I want it to be her “thing”, but in many cases it isn’t what she wants to be “her thing”. At the beginning, my daughter may express interest, but then she can change her mind like sand by the ocean. Again, the rancher and cattle herder taught me a great lesson as we were horseback riding up a mountain (which was a great symbolism for my own life) – she said we “can’t be great at everything”. She also said – we have to find what we want to be “great at.” I think many of us live our lives by what other people have told us “we’re great at”, what we feel like we “should be great at”, or what our parents or spouses “want us to be great at” instead of determining where our passion says “we want to be great at”.
The common answer to giving up passion is life’s many twists and turns. We explain life and all of its challenges causes us to leave, lose, or have lack of passion. We come up with every excuse from we can’t afford our passion or we’re too old to have passion. I remember a quote Oprah Winfrey once said; which was “Find what you love and you can make money at it.” You can baulk and say it is easy for her to say this now, but her history will tell you life did not just fall in her lap. Oprah found what luckily was her passion meeting hard work and meeting opportunity. You may ask does “passion” take sacrifice? Honestly, finding and meeting your passion will usually take you to the cliff of sacrifice. Oprah has said she knew following her passion meant it was best for her to not be a mother in the conventional sense. However, she is now a mother figure to many of the young women who have stepped foot in her school in South Africa. The ranch and cattle herder has said she has had to sacrifice many of the material things she thought was important, but she also said her soul comes at a much greater price.
As I am getting older and I see some grey hairs peeking through my hair line, I am realizing two things. First, life isn’t worth living if you are not passionate about something. I attempted the un-passionate route for awhile since it was hard. I gave up writing and I gave up volunteer work. I gave up writing because my books weren’t selling as I hoped and I gave up volunteer work because my mind said my daughter needed me more. I dove straight forward into my consulting career and did not look back. I will tell you this route wasn’t healthy. Although, I love my current client – losing myself made me a different person. I became someone at home no one wanted to be around. I became angry, frustrated, judgmental, and not me. The solution is not to give up consulting 100%, but to also not give up what makes me tick. My second lesson learn is you are never too old to change. Being an organizational change consultant, the word change is permanently in my vocabulary, so, I do not fear change. However, I don’t always embrace change like I should. The rancher and cattle herder and my friend the yoga instructor had my heart beat a little louder that day when they discussed just taking the leap and not giving up. The rancher and cattle herder said she had to beg many cowboys to let her herd cattle until she found someone who gave her a chance. Now the cowboy she works with has said – he only wants to work with cowgirls. She said when she initially had made her decision to change careers, it took months for anyone to take her seriously including all of her friends and family. My friend the Yoga instructor never liked exercising until she found Yoga. She said she’d laugh if she ever thought of herself as an instructor in the physical sense, but now she can not think of ever doing anything else. She said she had not found this passion until she was older, so, if there were rules around when to go for your passion – she said she would be missing out. Now she believes she can conquer the world.
So what now? What if you are like the Rancher and Cattle Herder and you’ve always known your passion but haven’t pursued it yet or you are like my friend the Yoga Instructor who has just found her passion. What do you do? In both instances, I would say pray. listen to your inner voices, and make a plan. The answer is not to give up or to consider yourself unworthy or too old to dream and have a passion. You first have to believe in yourself and you have to believe you can find or realize your passion. This blog is a story of 3 women, but I believe there are many, many more women out there who have taken the leap. With my level of Faith – I always believe it’s God’s plan for all of us to realize both our passion and our purpose. I believe every creature was put on this Earth because of our purpose and our passion. No one can convince me otherwise. In conclusion, don’t wait 2, 3, or 4 years from now to make a plan. If you do, you’ll be the woman on a horse climbing up a tall mountain instead of the woman riding into the sunset on a horse with a glow on her face jumping up and down with joy and living out what was her God-made purpose and passion!