What are you passionate about?

Scattered about the office like chocolate sprinkles on a sundae are these posters that read "What are you passionate about?" ... on the bathroom door, on a wall on the 2nd floor, on the noodle in the main kitchen where we all eat our lunch - you stumble across them and stare. It always makes me scratch my head. "What am I passionate about?"

There are so many things I am drawn to and feel strongly about - my family and friends, my little dog Evie, kids, competition and working out, doing nice things for complete strangers... I consider myself passionate about many of these things, but I decided I wanted to make my list.

I am passionate about:
"Love is a many splendid thing, love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love." It's not so much love in a romantic way I guess, but more so, how can I better love the people who are in my life? How can I support my friends, be there for my family and put others ahead of myself so they know without a doubt they are loved - for the good parts, for their flaws, for their strengths and weaknesses. Even if it is not returned every second of every day I feel like it is the one thing I can give unaltered and without hesitation.

Love is something I have received in droves of gifted examples. Shan and Ty and Kerry and Matt are the ones I can take every self conscious conversation and not be self conscious about it. Just one of the many examples in my life where my friends became my family. Without question. Where my creativity is fostered and stretched and challenged. These are friends that make me an immediate and always included fixture of their lives - when they are close and far away.

I dabble in song writing. It was not until Matt became the other half of "Falling For December" (our band) with me that I became a song writer -where lyrics matched chords and harmonies and suddenly fell into place. Ty knowing the existence of "Falling for December" asked us to be a part of Ruin Me - one of his amazing social photography projects which captures humanity in its various forms. His message to the community was to love those who may have gone unnoticed or unloved.

That was our first experience as a band performing for anyone other than Kerry - Matt's wife, and Katie - their dog. It was also my first experience singing anything I'd ever written in front of a room full of people. Lyrics or otherwise - music is a piece of you - especially when you've written it. It's like telling a complete stranger everything you've stowed away in the overhead compartments of your heart. You make sure those suckers are closed up tight for take off. I never could have without Shannon and Ty's encouragement, Matt by my side - and Kerry, in the audience - taking pictures :)

My parents are the best people I know. And they love me. Poor kids. They didn't know what hit them when they got me. I challenged my mom. I stretched my dad. But they proved above all that they love me - no matter what the odds. But certainly it is because of their love that I have explored things that I was relatively uncomfortable with - up and leaving the country - multiple times. College out of state. Expressing ideas that were not exactly what everyone else was doing or saying or representing. Their love has set a fire in me that makes me passionate about cooking and travel and marriage and family and faith and love.

I work with people every day. I direct a children's chorus. I am a daughter, a sister, a niece, a friend, a teacher and a neighbor. But it is the other people on the flip side of this picture that have made my life of any consequence at all.

My sister is expecting her first baby. Our family is bursting at the seams with overwhelming joy and I am most passionate about being an aunt because I have had the opportunity to be a sister. I have had the opportunity to be a witness - watching my sister marry the love of her life - watch as their marriage has grown for the last 9 years - watch as I became a sister to my brother in law - and now watch as my teeny sister's belly expands as the months pass and I am ever closer to meeting my new little niece.

Work will have challenges. Tough days, Tough clients, all things meant to stretch and grow you as a person. In these situations your relativity to others and your ability to hike up the proverbial hill is what builds character and the knowledge of yourself. If you don't have challenges, you are likely not in the right spot my friend. Even so, the reason why I am passionate is because of the people who help me hike the mountain. I wouldn't have had the days in the sun, the great conversations with my client, the break through moments of figuring out the next step, or the feeling of unity or working on a team towards a unified goal without those who have coached, encouraged, taught, fought or teased me on this path... Yeah, I'll admit it. I'm passionate about you. Don't let it go to your head ;)

Junior high is like every girl's nightmare. No kidding. If you were never a 6th or 7th grade girl, there is nothing more horrifying. I certainly had my ever visible flaws - braces, awkward baby fat, pimples and stringy hair that was ever chlorine fried as I spent the majority of my time in a pool on swim team. Now experiencing the flip side of my twenties fly out the window, I encounter a room full of these very same 3rd through 9th graders every week. They are funny, they are exciting, they are full of wonder and delight and like most kiddos of that age group, they are never 100% sure of themselves - just like I was.

I am passionate about them having a conversation with music - talking about life through music - learning more about who they are and who they want to be - through music. Most of the "rules" we have in this room can be related to their lives "be courageous" meant to be with their singing voices - but the voice with which you are courageous should also trickle into the way you live your life. "You can do it" with my best Joey Tribbiani impression - but if you're gonna do it, you better try first. "Listen as much as you sing." It is ok to sing with your giant voice sometimes, but you also must have a sensitivity to your surroundings and take in what is happing around you. Sometimes you match it, sometimes you challenge it, but either way, you must participate. So I hope in my little choir, more than music, I hope I am encouraging growing little people to be sensitive to others, and know who they are.

If I had a disorder of some kind it would likely be that music is on my mind... always. I am the nerd that tries not to sing along with her iPod at the gym - yes, I actively try not to move my mouth when I work out... the singing is not audible. I promise.

Occasionally, someone will say a phrase which I will complete by singing the rif or refrain of some song... I doodle new lyrics to songs not yet written on note pads while waiting for meetings... The music is always on... I sing... I write... I teach... If I didn't have music, the battery of my life would likely switch off. It is a language that pulls at the heartstrings, evokes emotion and there are very few barriers it can not break. I am certain even my greatest enemy and I could find middle ground when it comes to music.

About a month ago I was introduced to my sister's 5th grade class. Her introduction was this: "Hey guys! This is my sister Carolyn. Remember I told you the story about how she used to wander the neighborhood singing at the top of her lungs?" 5th graders response: " YES?!" "NO WAY." "Hiiii Carolyn!" ... my face = red. - My point - I'm passionate about music.

Last but certainly not least. My faith is my compass. Who I am, where I'm headed and how I'm going to get there. There is likely nothing in my life that I haven't consulted God about... and I'm not talking faith like church every Sunday. I'm talking down and dirty relationship with God - he's got all my secrets, my failures, my triumphs, everything that is good in me - my voice, my spirit. I have faith that I am being lead.

Even right now. Right now it looks like plan A might end up as plan B. - You know what I mean- As a kid you picture yourself at different points in your life. "At 22 I will be x, y and z." "At 25 I will be A, B and C." So the designated letters of the alphabet haven't happened. Doesn't look like they are going to happen any time soon. It makes my heart ache just a little for those are the things, above all, I want most for my life.

But faith tells me to hold on. Plan B might still be pretty awesome for God has created in me an adventurous spirit and who knows - maybe plan A might fall into place while I'm working on plan B. So I follow faith's lead with hope - and those two somewhere along the way become inseparable and I am passionate about this path - even when it is quiet and dark - there are always stars in the sky to light the way.

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