I have always been a passionate person, immersing myself in a variety of passions at different times of my life.
I remember being passionate in high school about being a part of as many things as I could. I was a cheerleader, writer for the school paper, class officer, in the homecoming court twice and even being in the Calendar Girl pageant at school. ( I was Miss July, dressed as a firecracker). I was also passionate about dance and theater, and was thrilled to have the lead in the school play one year (Rosie, in Bye, Bye Birdie.) I really had “done high school” by the end of my junior year, and I was able to graduate in March of my senior year.
My next passion was college. I did not want the “college experience” as students are told is necessary these days during college orientation. I wanted to “conquer” college, doing my best to earn good grades and finishing early to get into the workforce. I was passionate about my Elementary Education major and loved teaching once I graduated.
I continued to be involved in theater and music during this time (and for years to follow) and that was a constant passion for me.
While I was teaching, I became a mother, and that was my newest and greatest passion. I was eventually able to stay home with my three daughters, and it was a wonderful time in my life. Circumstances (see Why We Decided to Homeschool) caused us to begin homeschooling, and I think that has been the greatest passion in my life, other than my lifelong passion for Christ. I loved being home with my girls, and I was always excited about new books, new curricula, planning field trips and other group activities for our support group. I loved traveling with our family. I loved doing “hands on” activities, visiting museums and old homes. I going to Broadway plays and any other play we could find in town. I loved meeting with other homeschool moms once a month for support and exchanging ideas, while developing great friendships that would last past our homeschooling years. I loved the way my girls developed a love of learning at home. I loved planning their high school graduations, although it was a bittersweet time for me.
After my girls were grown, I intended to take up mandolin, learn to swim correctly as my exercise, and I was planning to go back to school to be a librarian. I earned one-fourth of my degree while Katie was in high school.
Then things seemed to fall apart in my life. Within one week in April of that year, my oldest two daughters moved out. It was a big adjustment for us and for Katie. Then in June of that same year, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and had treatments all of Katie’s senior year. Katie made it through her senior year pretty much on her own, and she still earned the top scholarship given at her choice of university, despite a difficult year of living with a mom who had cancer.
I made it through cancer treatments, but needed a repair surgery the next June that caused me to develop C-Dif, an infectious disease. I spent sixteen days in the hospital, unaware most of the time, not realizing how close to death I actually was at times.
As I was recovering from this, Katie left for college in August, and my oldest daughter, Sarah, was married in September.
The house was now empty. I had stopped work on my degree when I realized that the lymphedema (a condition that can develop during treatments, which is lifelong, causing swelling, chronic pain, fatigue and depression) would prevent me from working full-time.
I spent two years recovering at home, and then took a two-day a week teaching job at a school that partners with home educators. I have taught history for the last four years, until I realized that standing two days a week was too difficult. This coming year, I will be teaching art, which is one day a week. I still take mandolin lessons and swim for exercise. I have a new granddaughter, which brings joy to my life. Obviously I enjoy writing.
The things I do take so much of my energy, that I struggle sometimes with what I do, and often have to skip something to rest.
My problem now is that I seem to lack having a passion in my life, something I can totally throw myself into and lose track of time or forget my pain. I am seeking God about what to do, and how I can develop a passion in my life.
I also talk to others, especially women who have raised their children and are looking for a new passion. One friend is directing a children’s theater with great success. Another acquaintance is using her horse farm to help troubled or handicapped children. A third mom (who just graduated her last biological son) has adopted a special needs son and is using her time to raise this son. Another friend, who can no longer work because of cancer treatments, works online for the Billy Graham Foundation. These women have found their passions.
I know my passion has to work within my physical limitations, so that narrows what I do somewhat.
My question for you is, have you found a new passion, especially if your children are gone and you are empty nest? Or maybe you have had an irreversible experience in your life, and things will not be the same? You find yourself looking for a passion that will work in your new “normal”.
I would love to hear comments from you about you have handled your situation, and how you have found a new passion in your life. Thanks for your responses and ideas.