Passion at Work

Pattiy Torno

Pattiy Torno

What would it be like to be excited to “go to work” on a regular basis, to be brimming with creativity and inspiration, to be energized by your own efforts?  I have often asked that question in an effort to find answers to share.  Do you know someone who says they absolutely love their work?  Have you ever heard someone say; “I enjoy this so much I can hardly believe I get paid to do it”?  Who are these people and what do they do?  I found some shining examples during a recent visit to the Carolinas.

I spent an afternoon wandering the River Arts District in Asheville, NC a couple of months ago. “This unique neighborhood along the French Broad River is home to more than 165 artists with working studios located in 18 turn-of-the-century industrial buildings”.  I loved that people are welcome to wander in and talk with the artists, and if you’re lucky, observe them at their craft.  What really struck me was the unbridled enthusiasm of the artists I spoke with. Their passion for their work was a tangible living thing exuding from each studio I visited.  No one tried to sell me anything either.  I loved that!

Take Jonas Gerard for example.  Born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1941, he migrated to NYC and began showing his art on the streets at the age of 16.  Although he spent years working in the engineering field, his passion for his art eventually lead him to pursue it full time.  Largely self taught, he is best known for his abstract art.  He describes the essence of it as:

  • To unfold the spirit of self-exploration by painting (or creating) freely without restraint or self criticism
  • To develop a deeper trust in one’s intuition and instinct as they happen
  • To realize that letting go of set goals opens up a whole world of infinite possibilities

I think these are terrific goals for anyone seeking fulfillment in their work, don’t you agree?

William B.Leonard of Bold Life said; “it would be hard, maybe even impossible to find anyone who is more passionate and energetic about his work than Jonas Gerard.  He is an artist with the heart of a showman and he happily welcomes visitors into his studio to watch him work.  As he paints, he dances in front of the canvas to music that blares raucously from his cd player” and talks while painting saying that he has no idea where the music and paint will take him.”

Another studio I visited was Pattiy Torno’s.  When she was in high school she decided to head towards fashion design as a career.  She says on her webpage, “It was the only career I could think of that would allow me to earn a living doing what I love most—sewing.”  She apprenticed in the fashion industry in New York and then started her own business in the 1980’s as she wanted to get back to “the simple joy of playing with fabric.”  She began making quilts.  (See her picture above with a thimble on her finger and quilt behind her.) 

As I sat in her studio drinking herbal tea that chilly afternoon, I was struck by how much she truly loves what she does.  Pattiy shared her work and encouraged me to touch and try on her creations.  I walked out with one of her lovely fleece hats on my head. Whenever I wear it, I think of the joy of the artist who made it and it makes me feel good (it’s nice and warm too!).

Do you have passion at work?  If you are shaking your head, NO, you might re-consider if you feel or express any of the following:

Empowered, energized, excited, unstoppable, joy, entertaining, creative, evocative, motivated, a sense of flow, giving to others, or sharing your talents.

And, if none of those words apply, you might rethink your career path…. Life is too short to spend more than half your waking hours in passionless work.

 

Manage Holiday Stress, Bring Joy

De-stressing the season

De-stressing the season

I was pleased to be asked to present three workshops on Managing Holiday Stress for a local company recently and thought I’d share some of the tips from that presentation with you.  

Prevent Overwhelm

If you are at all like me, you want to prepare and orchestrate the warmest, nicest holiday experience you can.  This can lead to unrealistic expectations for your own “performance”.  Trying to have the “Hallmark” holiday with all the decorations just so, homemade food, beautifully wrapped gifts, and a perfectly clean house for guests can put tremendous stress on you. Prioritize your tasks and be realistic about your energy levels.  (ha ha, I have company arriving tomorrow and have given up the need to scrub the grout..)

1.  Ask for help, don’t assume others will volunteer.  For instance, with guests, be aware that they likely have different traditions around holidays.  For instance,  their family stays out of the kitchen when mom or the designated chef is at work, so it wouldn’t occur to them to offer to help you cook.  You don’t want to become a martyr (or be perceived as one) by doing it all and then begin to resent having company, or doing the tasks you’ve taken on.  

2.  Be flexible, weather, travel conditions, emergencies etc. may come up and dash your plans.  Instead of getting stressed over it, consider having a backup plan.  No plan?  Then just do your best to go with the flow rather than trying to make things turn out a certain way.  

3.  Hold your boundaries, allow yourself to just say “NO”.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t take on more obligations.   What can you let go of to give yourself more time and energy?  (Note to self: I give myself permission to skip hand writing notes in holiday cards this year.  I am not staying up half the night this year to get cards in the mail in time.)

4.  Let go of outmoded “traditions”.  Does your family have holiday traditions that may no longer be relevant but you continue them anyway? I love the story about the gathered generations of women preparing a holiday ham. One cuts both ends of the ham before placing it in the roasting pan.  The youngest says “Mom, why did you cut off both ends of the ham?”  She answers, “because that is the way your grandmother always prepares it.”  The little girl then went to her grandmother and asked the same question. Her grandmother’s response; “I had to because my pan was too small”.  (In my example, it was a big deal to make loads of holiday treats, participate in cookie exchanges, and engage my kids in the process.  Now, as a gluten free empty-nester,  it doesn’t make sense to do all that baking.)

Create Peace and Joy

1.  Do something for others.  Consider being a bell ringer for a couple of hours or volunteer to distribute food or toys for a non-profit. Put your personal holiday stress in perspective by helping those less fortunate.

2.  Take care of yourself.  If you have an exercise routine, keep it up.  Nothing releases stress in the body better than exercise. Watch what you eat and drink and try not to overindulge.  If you need a break from people, take it.  (One workshop participant who was hosting extended family in her home, said she retreated to her closet  a couple of times a day for a 15 minute meditation break.)

3.  Have fun experiences.  Play board games, go for walks, drive around and see holiday lights, do some interactive activities with others.  If there are children around, engage with them.  Nothing brings joy like a little person’s laughter. 

4.  Don’t take yourself or your opinions too seriously.  Allow other people to “be right”.  Avoid confrontations with others.  The old adage “count to 10 before you respond” is still good advice.  I find it beneficial to take 3 or 4 deep slow breaths when tensions arise.  It relaxes the body, forces more oxygen to your brain, and enables you to make a more conscious choice in responding in challenging conversations or situations.

Wishing you all the peace, love,  joy and wonder of the season    —Dee

Let Your Passion Fuel Your Work

purple orchids

When you enjoy the nature of your work, your potential for true career fulfillment skyrockets., positioning you for greater success.   In reality, many people are not in “work they love” but in jobs that they need simply to pay the bills. They diligently move through their work week doing what needs to be done to meet the required performance standard.  You know the scenario: hanging onto a job even when you are burned out or yearn to be spending your precious hours focused in another direction.  You slog through your days and gaze eagerly at your weekends so that you can do the stuff you are passionate about.   

The question is, do you even have enough energy at the end of your day, your week, your long stint without a vacation to really enjoy your time off when you have it?  Can you keep working the “day job” week after week, month after month, year after year without something else in your life to energize you?  Probably not.  

One of the recommendations I make to my clients is to identify what they are passionate about and then find a way to spend time on that passion.  To clarify what you are passionate about, try to remember the last time you were really engaged in an activity that brought you joy, made you feel  exhilarated, excited, or energized. The things that bring us to that place of feeling more alive or more in tune with our joy are our passions. They feed us, and give us energy, rather than sapping it away. We all have things we have to do in life that sap energy, so we must balance them with things that create more energy for us.  

One of my clients shared that she just didn’t have enough juice at the end of the day to do anything but go home, eat something and either zone into the TV or go to bed.  Susan is only 24 years old, way too young to be feeling that way at the end of the day.  I asked her to think about the last time she felt really energized in her life.  She told me it was when she was acting in community theater three years ago.  Had she tried out for any parts since?  No, she was too exhausted from working which is why she came to see me in the first place.  She figured she needed a new job.  

Sometimes it is not the job, it is the lack of balance in our life.  Susan needed to get in touch with her passion again.  She needed to “feed the muse” inside, to get that fire going in her belly again, to be excited and enthused about something in her life.  It was quite evident that just talking about her experience in the theater raised her energy level.  I swear her eyes sparkled and she became more animated as she talked.   

She left our session with a spring in her step and a promise to start looking for play auditions.  Within a few weeks, not only had she identified a play she was interested in, she tried out and was cast in the lead role!  Even though the rehearsals required a two hour commute four days a week after work for months, Susan persevered.  The very act of engaging in her passion fueled her through her work week.  I had the great joy of attending her play a few weeks ago and seeing her alight with joy as she masterfully applied her craft.   

The play is now over but Susan is fired up to find more opportunities to act.  It doesn’t need to be how she earns her living, but it needs to be in her life. She does administrative work and thought it was at odds with her passion.  Now she is looking at administrative positions within the arts, media, and entertainment communities.  Who knows, she may find an admin position with a theater company and have an opportunity to expand her role.  

What energizes you?  Identify it and do it!  Who knows, a new career direction may evolve from your participation in YOUR passion! 

If you want some help with this see “4 Ways to Discover Your Passions”.