Finding Passion – Part I

what-is-your-passionA few weeks after being laid off, I sat down with a colleague Shari for lunch in Marblehead. I was looking forward to a good lunch with some good advice. Shari is a recruiter, and we happen to sit on the board of the Northeast Arc together. At the very least, it seems like all the years of working, networking, and volunteering are finally starting to pay off. At a time when I need people, I can thankfully look in my rolodex or LinkedIn and finally say, ‘I got people.’ (Gold star if you can name the commercial…)

About 15 minutes into having lunch with Shari, she asked me the most profound question of my life. “So, what is your passion? What’s the thing that makes you get out of bed in the morning?” Say what lady? It was then I realized that the smallest questions are the hardest to answer. The toasted wheat bread of my BLT had become extremely dry in my mouth, and I felt a knot begin to form in my throat. Not again! I’ve always suffered from a mild to moderate case of anxiety, and two things that make me extremely uncomfortable are: being caught off guard and not knowing the answer to a question…mostly because the two combined oftentimes make you look and sound like an IDIOT.

“Um…” was about all that rolled off of my tongue. I didn’t know what my passion was. While I know that I like to do many things, there was nothing I could say with certainty as to the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Truth be told, I get out of bed because, well, that’s what we’re supposed to do. And passion? Pssh, the most I’ve been passionate about while being a “responsible” adult is collecting a paycheck. Beyond that, I will be 100% honest and say that I had no clue what I was passionate about. Fumbling around for a “passion”, I told Shari that I’m passionate about the volunteer work  I do. And I am. She quickly replied that while that was all fine and dandy, that is social work, not marketing. I wanted to cry. I didn’t know the answer, and I could quickly feel myself…and my appetite….spiraling out of control. In all of two weeks, I had taken a hit to my self esteem so fierce that it had me questioning whether I’m a good marketer, had I chosen the right career, did I made a mistake leaving previous jobs; and, on top of everything else, do I even have a PASSION?

I let Shari do most of the talking after my futile attempts at figuring out my passion in all of an hour. As she talked, I concentrated on swallowing my food and not bursting into an emotional flood of tears. While life was buzzing all around me, I felt like I was a very dark place in my life…and all before my 35th birthday. Way to kick a chick when she’s down. The score was Universe – 1, Mikki – 0. Fortunately, Shari gave me a lot of good advice that afternoon and told me to reach out to her with any questions. However, the only thing that rang loud and clear in my head was my inner voice asking one little itty bitty tiny weenie question, “What is your passion?” Hell if I know, but something tells me I need to figure it out!

Share Your Thoughts and Stay Tuned for Finding Passion – Part 2

What is Passion?

passions

Defining passion.

Perplexed after having been stumped by such an utterly simple question, I began to doubt myself and everything I had worked for up until this point. Realizing that I was at a crossroads in my career, I stepped back for a moment to look at the bigger picture.  Join me on a soul-searching journey of self discovery and the pursuit for my passion in my upcoming three-part blog series titled, “Finding Passion.” Stay tuned!

Everything happens for a reason

Trust-that-everything-happens-for-a-reason

Quote by Oprah Winfrey

As much as we don’t want to hear it, it is one of the few pieces of advice that we place our hope in when times are tough. Just minutes after being laid off, I couldn’t help but think, “Uh oh. Why is this happening right NOW?” The timing couldn’t be worse. It was just weeks before the holidays and only two months before my 35th birthday. Great way to ring in the new year, right?

And now, only one week after being laid off, my mother and I were back in the oncologist’s office at Mass General. Flo had been fighting cancer for about six years now. It started with DCIS, the precursor to breast cancer, and then a mastectomy. Five years later, in November 2012, as we were getting ready to celebrate her being a survivor, she went in for a normal checkup and was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. She went through a major surgery, several hospital stays, major transfusions, and five intense rounds of chemotherapy. When I wasn’t working, volunteering, or attending board and committee meetings, I did everything I could to make sure she was well taken care of. In a matter of weeks I became nothing short of a home health aide/nurse, managing meals and medications, giving injections, cleaning wounds, and monitoring her overall condition.

When I got the offer for the “better opportunity”, her health was on the upswing. I really thought things were coming full circle for all we had been through. As Flo and I walked back out of the oncologist’s office just one year later, I looked back over my shoulder to see the doctor say, “I’m sorry.” I told her it would be okay, because that’s what I always say. Standard response, I guess. But it really wasn’t okay; we were just informed that my mother’s cancer was back exactly one week after I’d been put out of work. Who throws a party for that?

Truth be told, I felt like my glass was starting to look half empty. If everything happens for a reason, I dared not to think about why I would need this unexpected time off. Deep down, I had already given way to a personal gut feeling. And quite randomly, all that came to my mind was the lines of a Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.