Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The pursuit of passion


In a career or in a relationship, find the things you enjoy and keep at them - this can be the path to true devotion

By Peggy O'Farrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Catherine Roma 56, is the artistic director for Muse Cincinnati Women's Choir
The Cincinnati Enquirer/JEFF SWINGER

Where do you find passion?

Some people find it - and work for it - in relationships. Some find it in their jobs or in their hobbies. To coincide with today's opening of the ninth annual Speaking of Women's Health conference, we profile four women who find a healthy passion in what they do:

• Catherine Roma 56, is the artistic director for Muse Cincinnati Women's Choir.

• Wendy Jordan-Cook, 40, teaches health technology to high school juniors and seniors.

• Lisa Siegel, 39, finds passion in volunteering for a variety of causes.

• Robin Mueller, 47, is nurse-coordinator for the Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The key to finding and keeping passion, whether in a career, in romance or simply in a hobby, is making passion a priority, says Pat Love, a relationships consultant, writer and keynote speaker for the five-day conference. Speaking of Women's Health, founded in 1996 by Dianne Dunkelman of Amberley Village, is sold out and will draw more than 5,000 attendees to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. The conferences are now in 40 cities nationwide.

DEFINING PASSION
A life passion should meet five criteria, says Pat Love, a relationships consultant and writer. The passion should be:

Anticipated: You look forward to the activity.

Absorbing: You lose track of time.

Challenging: It's a mental workout, but you enjoy it.

Energizing: It leaves you feeling revved up, not drained.

Congruent: It gives you "the feeling that this is exactly what I should be doing," Love says. "To excite a relationship, find something that meets that criteria for both partners and go and do it together."

Communication and consideration can preserve passion in a relationship, says Love, the author of The Truth About Love (Fireside; $14).

"You have to become a detective. Find out what says 'I love you' to your partner and give that as a gift," she says.

For some people, moonlight and roses count as a romantic gesture. For others, it's when their partner takes out the trash or folds the laundry.

Making your love last means taking responsibility for "the care and feeding of the relationship," Love says. "The real question is, what's best for the relationship? Not what do I want or what does she want? Is it my turn or is it her turn? It's a very different paradigm, a whole new way of thinking."

In a long-term relationship, "the passion changes," says Andy Ruffner, a Mount Lookout therapist and presenter at Speaking of Women's Health. "When the unknown becomes the known, you lose energy, you lose passion in the relationship. You have to find passion in different areas in different ways."

Keeping passion about a job can help keep it in a relationship. Partners' interests outside the relationship can maintain the spark, Ruffner says. Someone with a zest for life is more attractive than someone completely disengaged.

Finding passion, in romance or elsewhere, is important. But it shouldn't become an obsession, says Dr. Caleb Adler, a psychiatrist with the University of Cincinnati.

"It's a lot like dating," Adler says. "You spend a lot of time waiting to meet 'the one.' You might be lucky, but you might reject a lot of people because they don't seem to be 'the one.' It's better to just find something you enjoy and pursue it. Often those things develop into your passion. And if they don't, keep yourself open and look for new things."

E-mail pofarrell@enquirer.com




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