“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” — Oprah Winfrey
A psychologist by profession, Hajra Khatoon has been through such a journey these past few years as she has been rediscovering her passion with gusto. Catch more of her writing at her blog, Life, Laugh and Me.
Hajra has spent the last few years rediscovering her passion for writing.
As a kid, I always loved writing. I thought it was the best thing ever happening to me and that I could be the best writer ever. But then, I was a kid. I could think anything and everything. Somehow I lost touch with the interest and shifted to different fields.
Through a stint with voluntary unemployment (which was longer than I hoped for) and encouragement from family, I went back to writing again. I began with freelance content writing and juggled between blogging and writing. And I love it. I do like my work but writing is what makes me really happy. That is how I discovered my passion – writing. Although I am more practical and don’t think of myself as the best, I am trying my best. I have also joined a freelance writing course to indulge in my love for writing.
Though many people go around for years searching for their one true passion, I feel it is right there in front of us. We just have to realize it. Maybe I was lucky enough to pick up the pen and write and find my passion. What if I had never thought about giving it a try? So I don’t really feel that you have to go out there. Whatever makes you happy and gives you that joy might as well be your passion. Writing is mine and I have been very lucky to find it.
What is one thing that has always made you happy that naturally became a passion for you?
Acting would come full circle for Jose Miguel Vasquez, a devout family man who initially gave up his passion for what he felt was the safer route. Sometimes, life itself reminds us what we’re destined for.
With three Arty Best Actor awards from Art’s Sake Acting Studio in Winter Park, Florida under his belt and representation by a renowned talent agency, Jose is quickly picking up expertise in show business and also inspires others to live their truth.
Below is Jose’s show reel and you can catch him as on Burn Notice, the hit TV show on USA Network, for their season finale on Dec. 20th, 2012. You can also find him on his personal website.
The Oddball Turns Responsible
Jose has always been the oddball in his family. As a child growing up in Colombia, he has memories of reenacting cartoons, starring in Christmas nativity presentations, and screaming He-man’s line, “By the power of grey skull!” in the middle of a movie theater. “Acting has always been a part of me, but it was never discussed as a career option because most of my family are engineers and doctors,” Jose explains. Nevertheless, he found himself studying Film Production Technology at Miami-Dade College; that is, until he became a father at the young age of 20.
“I couldn’t help but dismiss acting as a ‘legitimate and honorable’ career path for a family man,” Jose explained. “Unfortunately, I had no one to encourage me otherwise, to bring to light the many individuals that make some sort of decent living from this industry, so I backed out and switched to Education.” He shocked a lot of his classmates in Film Production who looked up to him as someone who was able to find the delicate balance between family life and career, but Education seemed like the more secure direction. Even with it being so tough to put both himself and his young wife through school as they pushed strollers through the University of Central Florida campus, they successfully graduated together in 2008.
“I never expected to find a dead end road as a teacher,” Jose states as he remembers facing the severe budget cuts to Education that year. “I was surrounded by people who were either highly disillusioned with the system they once knew or people who were so ambitious about becoming teachers that they were literally accepting any kind of salary.” Facing this pessimistic and frustrating situation, Jose started taking acting classes almost as a form of therapy, signing up as a teaching assistant so that he could afford the classes with a 50% discount. “I sensed the call to inspire my wife and kids with the power of faith and dreams,” he says with gusto. “I knew I had to take the road less traveled.”
Family-man, Jose, learned that it’s worth it to follow your dreams — in his case, a passion for acting.
Dead End…or Is It?
Jose convinced his wife of his new plan based on the idea that acting would be supplemental income while he would continue to search for teaching jobs. Although teaching opportunities never arose, doors would open to the world of commercials and entertainment. He has been cast in numerous commercials, independent films, and even three shows at the Orlando Repertory Theatre with an upcoming fourth show in the spring. “I’m currently a storyteller at Walt Disney World Resort’s Mexico Pavilion as one of the three kings and this past summer I even got to teach theater-based summer camps,” he relates with a smile. “Funny, huh? Teaching came back too!” One of his most memorable acting experiences was when he played a 6-year-old. “My kids saw that show and I knew they had to be convinced that daddy was a boy,” he reminisces. “It’s my favorite because they believed it and loved it!”
In the beginning, his biggest challenge was facing auditions. “It was torment,” Jose recounts. “I had no sense of self and I’m not your model-esque type guy. I was also heavier back then and the camera does add 5 pounds.” It was difficult for him to get jobs because of his self-consciousness and it would take time for him to train himself to focus solely on what he had to do. Exercise would also make a difference. “When you exercise, you just feel better,” he notes. “The bonus is that you look better, but I think that’s just a gift. It’s the internal that’s permanent and that’s what makes a difference.”
Family has played an important role in Jose’s life and career.
Acting Is Just the Beginning
“Sanford Meisner, the well-known acting teacher, once said, ‘It takes about 20 years to become an actor,’” Jose tells me.
“While some can find themselves highly discouraged by this outlook, it gives me peace. I have time. Acting has revealed how rewarding it is for me to affect people, to educate and challenge them to a greater sense of themselves. So while I continue to work on my dream, which may take 20 years, I can make time to venture into other ways I can connect with more people. Some of these skills with potential include: writing, filmmaking, social media, and teaching. In fact, my focus has once again fused with teaching as a teaching artist for the Orlando Repertory Theatre Youth Academy!”
Beyond exploring his vast range of interests, Jose has one specific goal for his future: “I don’t care how much I accomplish fame-wise, but what I really hope for some day is to be a scholar in my field, to be known as someone who is profoundly experienced in either acting or film.” He imagines himself giving back by passing on what he knows and his passion for acting. It’s part of what he has discovered to be his purpose in life. “As long as I can provide for my family and help others find a similar ‘ah-ha!’ moment, I will fulfill my purpose,” he says with conviction. “I pray and work hard so that my creative effort will consistently be the kind of art that moves others to some level of reflection. Perhaps this may bring them a step closer to a place where they too will feel like they’re fulfilling a life-worthy task.”
What have you discovered to be the purpose in your life?
When I asked Ruth Valerie what influential advice she has received from her elders, it was clear that family and faith play an important role in her life. School was a rollercoaster ride for her, but she recently received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is currently a professional nurse at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Manila, Philippines. She continues living with gusto every day with bounds of contagious energy.
There’s a reason she likens nursing school to boot camp:
The years Ruth Valerie spent in nursing school in the Philippines were some of the toughest of her life.
If I were to look back on my nursing school years, I would say that I would NEVER EVER want to go back in time to that period, LIKE EVER! Why? Because it was during those years that I was trained to acquire the “KSA” (Knowledge, Skill, Attitude) and the process stretched me beyond my limits.
I had the longest classes (7am to 6pm) and the longest clinical exposure (16 hours straight of duty in a hot, stinky, bacteria- and virus-infected hospital). On these duty days, we were expected to report to school by 5am on the dot, and since I didn’t want to be late, I did my best to arrive at 4:45am. This was really hard for me because I had to wake up at 4 in the morning though pouring tears (I even made a parody of Gwen Stefani’s song “4 in the Morning”) because, according to my clinical instructors, no excuse was good enough to be late. Aside from being very prompt, we were also checked for: clean white shoes, hair neatly tied up in a bun, short nails, make-up, and complete hospital paraphernalia. Really! It seemed like I was in boot camp all those years!
Despite the long struggle, she made her way through and here’s what she attributes her success to:
Ruth Valerie’s dad was a role model in her life and always had pieces of wisdom to share.
My grandfather is a person I really admire and look up to, but my dad has granted me the most valuable advice over the years. My dad always reiterates two things: “seek ways to learn something new each day, and always seek the Lord.” Learning just one thing daily wherever God places you to be at that time can make you grow 365 times yearly! This thought pressures me at times, but I remind myself to take it as a challenge.
I’ve realized that no one is born with a complete package deal…and people become truly successful when they keep on trying. On top of everything, my dad also tells us to walk with the Lord daily. It really is important because I personally find it frustrating and tiring to always plan my life. I really do! It is the Lord’s love, guidance, and promises that make this career path worth it!
Let me just leave you with my favorite verse, Proverbs 16:3 — “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
Does religion play a role in your life? If so, how?
Based on his childhood, nobody would have ever thought that Rob Adelphia the truck driver could be a writer and that he would one day be planning for a family bicycle trip across the entire United States. But his story isn’t the standard inspirational plot. There wasn’t one turning point when everything started to go right. Instead, his journey had a long and twisting path and his message is that change often doesn’t happen instantly. It’s the essence behind this video of his second time bungee jumping. The first time didn’t make it any easier, but what’s important is that he continued and continues to seek growth:
He Didn’t Throw in the Towel
“Failure was the only thing I was consistent at,” Rob says as he begins the story of his life. “I began to drink in my early teenage years, I graduated late, and I worked at over 10 different places.” Some may attribute this to his less-than-ideal upbringing. “There wasn’t extra anything and not enough of most things,” he explains. How could there be enough in a household of a single 19-year-old mother with two children whose partner had ended his own life just before Rob came into this world? “Our family was vulnerable to the ups and downs of living in poorer communities,” Rob remembers. “I witnessed and experienced a lot of things that a child shouldn’t.”
He sums up his childhood with an anecdote of a seventh-grade basketball game. “The referee halted play, came over to my coach, and told him I had to leave the floor because my shoes were falling apart,” Rob recounts. “He considered it a hazard. In front of the crowd, the opposing team, and my team, I found a place on the bench and sat down wishing I would awake.” Nevertheless, despite the rollercoaster of attending at least five grammar schools and working such a range of jobs from pizza places to washing trucks to the army reserves, Rob still felt that he had a bright future ahead of him. “There was something inside that pointed toward hope,” he remembers. “The problem was that I was stuck on making poor choices again and again — a terrible pattern to be in. Excuses and blaming were close at hand for me.”
More Than One Turning Point
Facing multiple turning points in his life, Rob chose not to stay stuck in failure.
If you ask Rob when things changed, he can’t pinpoint a moment in time. “Baby steps have been a close friend and enemy,” he explains. “I made poor choices over and over again. To be honest, I’m a slow learner.” But in the game of life, the prize is just as rich whether you get there quickly or slowly. “Choice by choice I started choosing a different path,” Rob remembers. “It took much effort but became easier as life progressed.” Some of the positive habits he began implementing include weightlifting, reading, eating healthier, and choosing the right peers. “The importance of positive habits should not be underscored. I call it momentum stacking,” he says. “Deciding to eat an apple instead of a bag of chips, or shutting the TV off and reading material that will help you grow is momentum stacking. Doing those things that fulfill, not kill.”
These days, Rob also makes it a habit to reach outside of his comfort zone in the face of all that holds him back from his dreams. “We all have things that are keeping us where we are,” he says humbly.
“It could be our feet on the ledge before bungee jumping or not sitting down to write the first page because it might not be good enough. I just decided that I might always have a fear of heights, but I’ll just have to be afraid on the way down. I may always think my writing is subpar, but it will be while handing the finished product to an editor. I don’t believe in self-imposed boundaries that imprison. I believe in forcing the issue and let’s just see where it ends up.”
Why He Shares His Heart
Through personal experiences and the slow process of trial and error, Rob began to discover some of the keys to success in life, such as: “accountability and acceptance of my actions, self-discipline, and persistence.” From this development, there was a smooth transition to impacting others’ lives. “Once I began to have a bit of success, it just seemed a natural thing for me to offer my smile to hearts. It is that simple,” he says matter-of-factly. “I guarantee that there is someone that needs your smile in their heart right now. You don’t have to be a ‘guru’ but just someone that can say, ‘You matter’ because they do. We all do.”
In reaching out, Rob soon realized that many shared a similar story to his own. “People ask questions, such as, ‘Am I good enough? Can a person like me?’” he observed. “I wanted a place to say, ‘You are’ and to say, ‘It is exactly a person like you that can be liked.’ I wanted to let that person awash in turmoil know, ‘It’s your time.’” Rob’s blog, Today Has Power, stemmed from this desire and he now touches the hearts of an international audience with his wife by his side handling the magic behind the scenes, his son on his lap, and his whiz of a daughter maintaining her own website alongside him.
Apart from embarking on a mega cross-country bicycle trip with his family (follow their adventures at The Four the Road Family blog), Rob is also currently working on various writing projects, including a children’s adventure book that will be offered on Amazon. “It wasn’t so long ago that I was driving a truck,” he reminisces. “It took me a while to realize it was time. My time. I try to encapsulate that idea on my blog. I want everyone to know that this is their time. To decide on it and take action.”
What am I doing on a blog if writing is so difficult for me? That was my initial reaction to Paula’s post entitled “Why Do You Write?” on her blog, Geeky Shopaholic. Reflecting on the question and her response changed my world. Sometimes blog posts do that.
Though writing can often be a long, drawn-out activity for me, it’s always been important in my life and I’m rediscovering why.
Considering how I continually suffer from writer’s block, I’ve been of the mindset that writing is an endless challenge for me. I wasn’t the child who naturally wrote poems and stories. I can’t whip out blog posts in minutes. What especially motivates me to continue blogging is the community. The thought that a person may read my writing “forces” me to write, which forces me to reflect, turning this all into a positive experience.
But has writing always been difficult for me? No. That’s the realization that sprung out of Paula’s reflection question. As a child, I didn’t write stories, but I did write tons of fantastical, adjective-filled story starters (I usually stopped at the first paragraph) on my dad’s DOS computer. During the toughest moments of my adolescent years, I would turn to writing to organize my thoughts. And now I’m blogging. How did that happen?
Thinking about my past had me facing the truth… that I had likely suppressed my natural inclination to write and my enthusiasm for writing during all of those years in-between writing periods. Much like AD’s unrecognized passion, it’s been a process to reach this awareness.
Back to the question on why I write… I write because I enjoy it (although I had forgotten that I do), and because it brings meaning to my experiences in Peru and beyond.
Have you recently discovered or rediscovered an enthusiasm for something?
"Así como la arquitectura corrige las incomodidades de la naturaleza, la literatura corrige las incomodidades de la realidad." -- Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Peruvian author
As architecture improves on the inconveniences of nature, literature improves on the inconveniences of reality.
Connect with Me =)
Thank you so much for stopping by and welcome to "What Little Things"! I'm a Canadian Internet marketing specialist, editor, and translator living in Peru. If you want to get in touch, leave a comment on one of my posts or head over to the Contact page. Talk soon! =) -- Samantha