Updated: May 20, 2022
Many of us lose sight of things which make us really happy.
As many of you can relate, there seems a clear path for most of us - go to high school, then college, get married, have kids, start a career in there somewhere, succeed and grow more and more successful at both, simultaneously, even as responsibilities at home and work grow until they are almost insurmountable. Our own passions get pushed out.
I heard someone comment a few weeks ago, defending their use of video games, that "it's all I have." The conversation continued with someone else making the argument that men rarely have items for pure pleasure in their home. Tools are for chores, as is the lawn mower. What do men have that is for nothing more than their own pleasure? Many can't identify anything in particular, but also, how many women can?
I thought about this myself, and today, certainly I have a plethora of items I could mention, and Jeremy mentioned his golf clubs, but just a few years ago, I couldn't identify much of anything. My time and dedication was entirely to my kids and my practice.
Following my #divorce and ultimate close of my midwifery practice soon after, I struggled to find my identity. Having come for a divorced family and then remaining married for more than two decades myself, being a wife was a huge part of who I was. Add to that six children, who I homeschooled, and then as a nurse-midwife in private practice attending hundreds of births each year, I was deeply niched in a persona that served everyone but me.
As my marriage and #midwifery career came to a close, I froze. I had no idea what to do next as I believed both of those roles would be my life's work. When I say I froze, I mean it worries me that the world suffered a #pandemic because the universe recognized my inability to function, even to leave my home and socialize with people, so it shut everything down, allowing me time to heal.
Months turned to years and not a lot of clarity came for me until I thought back to when I was a child. Admittedly, I am one of those people who had a rather rough childhood and have detached so much from it that when someone asks about my background or my family relations and I share that I was in the foster system, it surprises even me. Looking back to those days was rare; it wasn't comfortable, but I remembered loving nature. I remembered dreaming about tree fairies, playing with frogs, collecting rocks and feeling most at home walking the trails in the woods. I also remembered dancing and gymnastics, art and music, plants and animals. People - always I've loved helping and connecting with people. Digging in and thinking on complex issues has always been nature.
What did this look like for me now? I didn't really know how to capture what I loved in my childhood and invite that into my life as an adult, but I followed my childhood desires and let them guide me to the #trails, hiking miles upon miles, day after day. Nature became a necessary aspect of my mental health therapy. Hiking allowed me to accept my aging body for its strength and power in spite of my belly rolls and tiger stripes.
I then began to watercolor and accept my inability to achieve perfection, to see the beauty in effort and presence. My rock collection grew from my hikes and I started adding more and more houseplants to my home. Then happen-chance put me in a yoga class at the YMCA and my body immediately remembered moving in these ways as a teenager, and truly feeling connected again. This lead to more study and a deeper dive into self, which built confidence and allowed me to expand my practice to dance. Never would I believe that nearing my fifth decade, after birthing six children and sitting at my desk a good forty hours each week, I would be competing in ballroom dance, performing the Argentine tango.
What I've recognized in dance is that although I identify as a strong, outspoken, independent woman, I've assumed a number of unspoken rules about myself and my body. I've learned to quiet myself, to not draw attention, to hunch over my large bosoms, to not move my hips in a way that may be perceived as seductive, and to not step too close to another human being which may invite wrong intentions; I've learned to hide my #femininity and to stand more in a masculine space if I want respect. I've even recognized that my mental thought patterns were largely the same. My expertise was almost exclusively in healthcare so although I am well educated, much of what I did from day to day was a bit subconscious, repetitive, where dancing was a real mental challenge.
As I've healed my heart, I've recognized that I'd like to soften. I am eager to lighten my burden of always having to be strong for everyone else. I am ready to lean into my femininity, to give myself permission to be seen and heard. Exploring my own passions has been an important step in my work to offer myself extreme self-care.
What is your passion? What catches your eye today? To what are you drawn? How might you fuel your own passion? Journal. Create a bucket list. Brainstorm. Reawaken this hidden part of you and let opportunities begin to emerge. Honor your soul.