August 31, 2011

Is there a balance in passion?

If you are able to check the "very
satisfied" box, you are fortunate.
Many people are still pursuing
happiness and passion. So what's
so hard about finding your passion?
I had an interesting conversation with a life coach in training last night (a very excited and passionate one) about balance. Although this dialogue lasted but a few seconds it made me think about passion and life balance....are they complimentary or can passion suck the life blood out of pursuing balance?  When I had asked what he does for fun he answered, "I work is my fun."  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, I remember the days when I used to answer the very same way (that was before my first mental breakdown of course).

In my 20s, I was in love with teaching exercise, talking and studying exercise, working out, hanging out at the gym, and the people I worked with.  I began my career at the YM-YWCA of Greater Victoria and for about 5 years I gave them everything I had to give (and loved every freekin' minute of it). I supervised approximately 80 volunteer instructors and when one wouldn't show or couldn't teach, I would teach their class for them. I was teaching up to 20 classes per week, training new fitness instructors and personal trainers, training clients, and being the best damn Health and Fitness Coordinator the Y ever saw (plus a full time student in Kinesiology)

TV is probably one of the biggest
diversions to finding passion and
happiness. If I complain of not
having enough much time
do I have to watch TV? Which is
more important for my health?
That was until one fateful morning when, after answering the phone to learn my 10 am "Seniors Fitness" instructor couldn't make it, I curled in a ball under my desk and wept like a small child lost in the woods. Rocking back and forth, I was wondering what the hell was happening to me. I was shaking, I couldn't stop crying, I felt exhausted....and it was only 9am. I had finally reached the end of my wick...I had burned my candle out. My passion for fitness was gone and all I wanted was a hole to crawl in and never come out of.

Passion is a tricky thing. If you have it you are lucky as many people don't find their passion.  Passion is the thing that makes you shake with excitement and feeds your soul. Passion is what motivates me to continue to read book after book and study after study on fat stigma. It's what drives me to go back to school to learn how to be the best counsellor I can be. It's what keeps me up at night thinking of ways to motivate change in others. It's also the thing that makes me say yes to every opportunity that comes my way. But it is also the thing that slowly chisels away at my energy leaving me in a heaping pool of gooey stuff on the kitchen floor....right next to that fossilized old raisin I'm still trying to remove.

Bad burn out can happen to good
people. Unfortunately, their
exhaustion can make everyone around
them miserable.
It's one thing to love your job so much you consider it your fun, but it is another when you disregard the importance of rest, re-creation, and rejuvenation for your mental and physical health. For that reason, I decided to take two months off this summer.  For July and August, I wasn't going to read, think, research, network, or plan anything to do with Real Life Health (my business). I wasn't going to outline another article or submit to another periodical, or think about my 5 year plan. Instead, I bought a ton of John Saul books and planned to sit on the porch and read every creepy one (yes, I have a passion for horror movies and judgement).

I am happy to report I managed to do this for about 1.25 months...and then I had to go searching for my brain. Since then, I have read a few books on eating and health, but have managed to avoid sitting at my computer or thinking heavily about my next move. I have cleaned up my art "studio" (I do actually have a space where unfinished paintings and mosaics sit waiting to be touched again) and have renewed some of my childhood passions again. The result? I feel rested and ready for a very busy fall season (and maybe a little trip to Vegas for good measure).

Fear is a big reason many of us do not
pursue our passions. I know it's one of
my big reasons. If I wasn't so fearful
of the worst case scenerio, I
could be anything I want to be.
To have passion for life, and in life, is one of the best gifts you can receive. I also believe, many times, you have to search for it as it may not just come to you.  But once you find that thing that drives your heart rate into its' training zone be very aware of the importance of rest so you can continue feeling this natural high. Burn out is a bitch and something that doesn't go away overnight. Just like exercise, you have to rest to become stronger. Integrate other hobbies and interests into your life (preferably something that is unrelated to your work) so you may recharge and become even stronger at your passion.

Meanwhile, enjoy the last day of August. September is favorite time of the year.


Although there are some very superficial thoughts above (i.e. "if you don't like your job, quit") I do believe in many of them. I particularly like; "getting lost will help you find yourself", "life is about the people you meet", and instead of asking a new person why they do for a living...ask "what's your passion?"

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