What do you feel passionate about in your life? Food? People? Career? Kids? Wine? Parenthood? (and wine while parenting!) ... perhaps a worthy cause, Baltimore (or your hometown), crafts, talents, skills, boating, baseball, horses, baking, politics, golf, patriotism, faith, religion, a lover, cookies, helping the underprivileged … the list is long and unique as each of us. We feel passionate about ALL kinds of things. Do you work, volunteer or spend time in some way living your passion? I hope so.
What is passion? Passion doesn’t always correlate with a sexual connotation. Besides the romantic feeling, passion is also described as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something. Passion enthuses us. It spurs us on. It excites us. Passion can help us to complete our ideas to fruition.
What does passion consist of? I made up this acronym:
Purpose and pleasure
Associate ourselves with it
Satisfaction of living it
Seduces and stimulates us
Identify with it
Oh boy! We know it when we find it
Never enough of living it
My four greatest passions are: FAMILY … WRITING … BEING ITALIAN … and CANNOLI. I mingled three out of the four to produce my book, Baltimore’s Little Italy: Heritage and History of The Neighborhood. (If I could have eaten cannoli simultaneously without getting cream filling all over my keyboard, I would have.)
I deeply love the motherland of my four Italian grandparents; I have visited Italia six times since 2001 – and I’m not done yet – I’m heading back in September. I love being there because it feeds my passion of being Italian; I simply can’t get enough of Italy! In the tiny ancient town of Luras, Sardegna, staying in the house of my nonni, amidst the town’s crumbling stone houses, authentic corner stores, cobblestone streets, and listening to the beautiful language of rapid-fire Italian … all of my senses are alive.
And when I can’t be in Italy, then I drive 35 minutes to Little Italy – a neighborhood I adore because of everything it stands for, including the start in America for two of my four nonni.
As director of the Promotion Center for Little Italy, I work way over 40 hours a week – for free. Pro bono. Volunteer. Ask my husband and kids how much I am in my home office. Why? This particular work fuels my passion. It doesn’t feel like work.
One of my favorite quotes:
If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
That's the way it is with our passions. We 'feel' them. We can't get enough of them. We're 'into' them. And when we aren’t, it feels dull, black-and-white, witless, one big Y-A-W-N.
Yet when we have our noses stuck in something that we love, something that attracts us and interests us … it is reviving! Stimulating! We keep it near, we pour over it repeatedly, and we can't wait to get back to it. Passion.
When we feel uninterested in something, it's mostly because it feeds none of our passions; it bores us. We want to discard it, walk away. It’s a drag … an obligation … a wet blanket. Can you think of an example of that in your life?
And sometimes … even though we have a passion, we are not utilizing it in the best way - or using it at all.
Why do some people work in a position in which they feel no passion? Is it complacency? Laziness? The decent salary? Great benefits? Is it procrastination? Five weeks vacation? That's an understandable tradeoff some people make for trudging into a workplace day in and day out, lunch bag in hand, 8 to 5, Monday thru Friday, year after year … even though they feel nothing for the job. They get zippo satisfaction – except the paycheck. No passion exists for their work.
If you dislike your job or a situation in your life, is this why? On the other hand, maybe you LOVE your career because you feel passionate about the work? Is your work your passion?
As a writer, when I write about something of which I feel passionate, I cannot stop. The words flow freely and fast; the story pieces together easily.
I have heard many times from friends and acquaintances that they’d rather be working elsewhere. My first question to them is – What do you really want to be doing? And when they answer “I don’t know,” I say, “Yes … you do know. What is your passion?”
Because everyone has one – at least one. If tomorrow you could walk into your ideal job, without thinking about any of the details of how to create it, or how much it paid, what would that look like? And when you know that answer, BRAVO! That’s your passion.
That doesn’t mean you have to immediately quit your job or give up a salary – that may not be feasible unless you want to, or can. However, it might mean you could volunteer in some way related to your passion. Or join a group. Or begin a project. Anything is possible. It’s never too late to START – at whatever age.
We must go create what we want, what spurs us, enthuses us, excites us. No one is at our doorstep ringing the doorbell to offer it to us. No one is going to do it for us and make it happen. It’s up to us. It is our duty to us – our rightful responsibility – to follow our passions.
And because our passions come with that “strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement” it should be easy to go get it. Because what better way to drive ourselves forward if not for our excitement over something?
Now we will sit here and offer all kinds of excuses; and those excuses will stop us. We will get in our own ways. Do any of these sound familiar?
“oh yea right”
“easier said than done”
“but what about …?”
“I don’t know how”
“my passion won’t earn money”
We can IF it, we can BUT it, and we can say yea right, yet when we want something badly enough, when we FEEL it, when we are enthused over it, we can learn to go get it – and live out our passion. Only you have that power.
Thinking back on 2014, I ask myself how the heck I managed to write a book, amidst some major life events that occurred in our family while completing the tedious process of researching, writing, editing, collecting photos, and the proofing process with my publisher between February and October. These life events were, just to name a handful:
My passion for writing and for my Italian heritage helped me to finish the book in the midst of that CRAZY and EMOTIONAL whirlwind of a year. I was that enthused and that excited over this project. This is a true example of how we can function and be distracted while still being guided by our passions.
I am not the only person with such a passion for being Italian or with such a passion for Little Italy, Saint Leo’s, playing bocce, the Little Italy Lodge, and Pandola Learning Center. The same passion runs deep for hundreds of volunteers in Baltimore’s Italian community that keep it all rolling like a well oiled Italian machine. They (you!) return again and again tirelessly.
Our immigrant ancestors felt such a passion for their family to have a better life, to follow their dreams, that they risked everything to jump on a ship and sail the countless miles between Italy and America. To arrive here, only to be heavily discriminated against for years, and to find not much better conditions as they labored and struggled to rebuild their lives. It takes PASSION to spur on someone to make a major life choice like that.
I challenge you to identify your passion, to feel the enthusiasm and excitement over it, and to follow it.
Whatever it may be … live your passion.