with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Life Makeovers – Pursuing Your Passion

At the last meeting, we discussed ways of finding your passion. Remember, passion comes in many forms. It provides us with keys to our heart. The power of passion will provide you with the fuel to enjoy a new hobby, create a new career, and do something that serves others in a very powerful way.

I believe that many people are living their passion already, but they just don’t realize it. A passion is a powerful force and the universe thrives on such energy, so it is highly likely that in some way your passion is all around you and you just have to play a little "Sherlock Holmes" to discover it. Let me share with you Ruth Alfi’s story which she shared at the last meeting.

As a young child, Ruth felt she was ugly. Her mother died when she was nine, leaving Ruth to care for eight brothers and sisters, and her father wasn’t the most encouraging of souls. Moving her family to a kibbutz to help care for the children, Ruth felt unloved, unwanted, and ugly. Her move into the teenage years didn’t help. As in most fairy tales, the ugly duckling grew into a stunning woman often mistaken for Elizabeth Taylor. Yet, inside, Ruth was still the awkward, unwanted duckling. Her move into the cosmetology industry was a try at finding her own unacknowledged beauty, but it also came from the need to help others find their own beauty. For more than 30 years, Ruth has been bringing beauty out in people as a top cosmetologist, working in California, Africa, France, England, and finally coming home to Israel.

Consider this for a definition of passion:
Passion is focused energy
that turns the light on in your soul.

When I asked her what she thought her passion was, like most of us, she had no idea. As I got to know her better, it was clear exactly what her passion was, but still she didn’t see it. One day she called me up all excited. She had been working with a young teenager for many months with terrible acne and skin problems. In addition to working on her skin, Ruth had started a slow campaign to get the girl to eat. Unable to deal with the stress of her family life and school, exacerbated by the hormones, the girl had become extremely anorexia. "She told me this morning she had gained weight and was actually proud of it!" she practically yelled into the phone. As she spoke, I could see her standing next to her desk, formal in her white clinic jacket, but dancing around, her eyes sparkling and her hands waving in the air. When she calmed down, I told her that this was her passion. Stunned, she thought about it and proclaimed that indeed it was.

"All my life I thought I was ugly. I felt that nobody loved me. When I work with these girls, I tell them over and over again that I love them and that they are beautiful, using my words and my work, until they begin to believe it themselves. You are right! This is my passion! I have been living my passion my whole life!" While her work is not limited to teenagers, this is indeed where her heart lies, healing the teenager inside of her while she heals the teenagers around her.

Teaching self defense and sexual assault prevention for women is a big part of my own personal passion, which is making a difference in the world around me. Last night was the first night of the six week class and a magical joy filled me as I stood in a circle with the women in the class, our hands in tight fists ready to punch out the invisible but well know assailants in our lives. I felt such anticipation, a vibrating rush of adrenaline, hot and cold and yet a radiant warmth. Afterwards, when my husband met me at the door of our apartment, he stood there with a smile on his face, seeing the glow in my own. He held out his arms for a hug and said, "Come here, my self-defense destructor," his joke play on words for self defense "instructor". I don’t know who gets more of a kick out of watching me live my life’s passion: me or Brent. Such is the joy you can bring into your life when you begin to live your life to its fullest, living your passion.

Now that Ruth has realized what her passion is, she is doing what she has always done, her job, with a new energy and vitality. Are you living your passion? What is it about what you are doing with your life that makes you feel good? Is it your work, a hobby, a volunteer effort? What are the characteristics about it that makes you feel good? What keeps you doing it? Take a look at the clues around you that you have been living your passion, in some form or another.

It’s no good running a pig farm
badly for thirty years while saying,
‘Really I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’
By that time, pigs will be your style.
Quentin Crisp

Cheryl Richardson offered several tips to help you find your passion:

Play Detective:
You only need to pay attention to the clues that surround you each day. Consider these examples:

  • Books – Take a moment and check out your bookcase. Books will provide many clues about what inspires you most.
  • News – Look for patterns in what you are drawn to in the newspapers, certain kinds of stories that pulls at your heartstrings or fills you with triumphant hope.
  • Movies – What movies have inspired you? Are there certain movies that you watch over and over again? Why? Once again, look for common themes.
  • Scrapbooks or Memory Boxes — What clues to your passion have you kept locked away in a storage place? Are their clues to things you once were passionate about stuck in scrapbooks or boxes with memorabilia. Why not clean a closet, attic or two and see what clues you find from your past?
  • Passionate People – Who are the passionate people in your life? Is there someone you can think of, right now, who inspires your passion?
  • Service – Have you overcome a major challenge in your life? Could you use this knowledge and experience to serve others? Being there for those in need can be a powerful way to experience passion.
Brainstorming Sessions:
One of the best ways to determine your first steps and search through the possibilities is by calling upon the wisdom of others. A brainstorming session will give you new ideas, great resources and plenty of energy to get started. Use your small groups to do some serious brainstorming.
Pay attention to the clues
Notice your intuition, the hints and clues within yourself. Trust a hunch to call a certain person, a surprise suggestion from a friend, or a great idea that you stumble upon in a magazine. Act on these clues – they will open doors to your next step!

The Life Makeovers year long project has completed in Tel Aviv with Lorelle VanFossen and Ruth Alfi, but you can get involved or start your own group through the author of the book, Life Makeovers, Cheryl Richardson.

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