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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Friday, November 22, 2013

Follow Your Passion and Live YOUR Life

I was 23 years old when I started teaching French at a small boarding school in Maine. Just three days after submitting my master’s thesis in Paris I was settled into a small, white clapboard, steps away from a salt marsh on the New England coastline.

Although I had a bachelor’s degree in French literature and was about to receive a master’s in French Cultural Studies, other than playing school as a child and tutoring English in Paris, I’d had very little teaching experience. Up until that moment, I’d always been the student. But, within days, the tables had turned, and suddenly I was the one standing at the whiteboard and reading from highlighted passages in well-worn books.

Teaching French in Los Angeles
This adventure turned into an eight-year journey. After three years in Maine, I was offered an opportunity to work at a school in Switzerland that I couldn’t refuse. From there, I headed to Los Angeles where I spent four years teaching elementary and middle school aged children in the Santa Monica Mountains.

I stumbled into teaching. The job in Maine presented itself at just the right time, and it fit me well at the time. Being a schoolteacher, however, had never been my dream. But, it turned out I was pretty good at it, so I kept going.

Although I enjoyed teaching French, my passion has always been food. From the time I was a young child, I’ve been most at home in the kitchen. I’ve had my own set of measuring cups and spoons ever since I can remember. And, on a trip to London when I was eight years old, instead of visiting Madame Tussaud’s, I made canapĂ©s for Lord Snowden with a chef friend of my mom’s.

After years of spending my 45-minute commute planning dinner menus rather than the lessons I would teach, I realized that perhaps my soul was yearning to be fed and nurtured in a different way.

Making dinner with a neighbor when I was about five years old
Steve Jobs famously said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Although being a schoolteacher brought me joy, it wasn’t my life. And so, after much discussion, some tears, and many lists of pros and cons, I finally took the plunge and quit my job.

I left at the height of the economic downturn. When people asked if I was scared, I smiled and said that I was looking forward to the adventure, but underneath I was freaking out. What the heck was I doing?! Was I crazy?!

The question “what if” finally propelled me to take the leap. I didn’t want to reach the end of my life and wonder what my life could have been had I followed my heart.

Giving up comfort, security, and a steady paycheck is friggin scary. I’ve watched my bank account steadily decline, I’ve paid an arm-and-a-leg for health insurance, and I’ve pretty much given up vacations. I no longer have weekends to myself, and summer break is a thing of the past. But, I’m passionate about what I’m doing, and most days I don’t even realize I’m working.

Giving a keynote last year to 2,000 people about following my passion
Since Field of Dreams was frequently in our VCR when I was a kid, “If you build it, they will come” is a phrase that often resounds in my head. When you do what you love and live authentically, it’s impossible not to succeed, even if it’s hard. Perhaps you won’t get rich or be able to afford luxuries (and maybe you will), but you’ll be living your life, and that is powerful.

To be honest, there are days when I wish I still had the security of teaching; yet, I wouldn’t in a million years give up what I’ve learned, experienced, and gained over the past four years of charting my own course, even though some days I’ve collapsed in tears and others I’ve fallen into bed weary and exhausted.

Here’s to living your life and following your heart, no matter what that might be! It might not always be easy, but in the end, it’s worth it. Timing is important. When the time is right, there will be magic and synchronicity.

Here’s to following your passion and living your bliss!   


*Strict vegans do not eat honey
Chocolate Passion Pudding Pops
(Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Honey-Sweetened)

Remember the Jell-O® Pudding Pops touted by Bill Cosby in the 1980s? This is a more natural, and dare I say, more delicious version. These ice pops were born out of my passion for creating and experimenting in the kitchen; however, you can use them to give rise to your own heart’s desire. While you whisk and stir, think about what most fills your heart with joy and feeds your soul. Imagine your passions flowing into the pudding and swirling like an energy vortex as you stir.

Makes 6 pops (3 ounces each)

1 Ice pop mold and 6 ice pop sticks
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. arrowroot powder*
¼ tsp. sea salt
 1 13.5-oz. can full-fat coconut milk
                                                                    ¼ cup honey
                                                                    1½ tsp. vanilla

In a small pot, whisk the cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, and sea salt. Slowly whisk in the coconut milk until full combined. Stir in the honey.

Heat the chocolate mixture on medium heat, stirring frequently, until a gentle boil is reached. Then, whisk constantly until the pudding begins to thicken, about a minute. It should be approximately the consistency of pancake batter. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Fill the ice pop mold and position the ice pop sticks. Freeze until hard. Run warm water over the mold for a few seconds to loosen the pops. Enjoy!

*Substituting cornstarch is not recommended. When frozen, cornstarch has an undesirable texture.