Passion + Compassion

Ever since I first read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and also when I first starting listening to motivational speeches, I heard about the concept that when you listen and follow what your heart is saying, the universe will open up to you and give you what you want.

And just like the last Steve Jobs quote I have in my Love What You Do post, you really do just have to trust that things will work out in your favor.

I left the newspaper job with no idea what I was going to do to hold me up financially down the road. While I was on one of my last lunch breaks at that job, I went to my YMCA for a workout class and noticed a sign that they were hiring for their Kids Program.

Without hesitation I applied. I pretty much had the interview on the spot and was offered the job right away. The hours are very flexible, allowing me all of the running/training time I want.

This was perfect for me and a great example of trusting that things will work if you just follow what your heart is telling you.

During the interview for the new job, I was asked why I wanted to work with kids.

I paused for a second trying to think of an honest answer beyond saying that I love working with kids.

I then told her that I wanted to work with kids because I truly wanted to inspire them and I wanted to have a positive impact on them.

After a few weeks, I can say that I absolutely love this job. I basically get to play my entire shift.

Though quickly I have found something that bothered me. But I don’t want the word ‘bother’ to mean something negative at the position. Maybe ‘moved’ is a better word, but let me explain.

I can’t go into full detail about this because of the safety of the children, but part of the Kids Program has to do with signing the kids out when someone comes to pick them up. Some of them, because of issues at home, have legal restrictions as to who can pick them up.

One day last week the staff was notified that a certain parent can no longer pick up their kids. It was officially a court order. I didn’t think much of it then in that moment.

But when all of the kids were dropped off by the bus, I noticed from one day to the next that a few kids seemed emotionally upset based on their actions that I witnessed. They were happy one day, then you could see the sadness in their eyes the next day. They started acting out uncharacteristically. Instinctively I put two and two together and realized that maybe kids lash out at times because of what they experience at home or what they go through in their personal lives. I started to really feel for them.

You can never judge a person because you have no idea what they are going through.

I really wanted to give them extra attention.

“Treat people with kindness because behind every face is a story that could use a little more love.” -Cheryl Richardson

I felt extremely empathetic and honestly I really wanted to give these two brothers a hug and tell them everything will be okay. I wanted to tell them that life can be tough at times, but you can’t let things beat you up and eat you up inside.

How can you convey that to someone who is under 10 years old though?

I seriously sat and thought about this question for about 30 minutes a few days after.

Maybe the only way to show the kids how to be happy, is to be happy myself in front of them. Smile as much as possible and laugh like there is no tomorrow.

Maybe the only way to show them that anything is possible, the only way to do your best, is to do what is absolutely possible and do my absolute best.

Teach by example.

I want to show these kids not only what hard work can do, not only what chasing your dreams will do, but also that there are highs and lows in life just like what I go through in races but you can only do your best, with the best attitude, and you only need to keep moving forward.

And if I want to lead by example, the only way I know how to do that is through my passions.

I want to dedicate my running and dream chasing to the kids of the world who have it tough at home. To all the people who are going through a difficult time in their lives. To the dreamers, doers and also the people who have something burning in them but need the courage to take the first step. For my friends and others who have died way too young. And for the people that never truly lived at all.

Just like the interview question, I want to inspire and have a positive impact on everyone around me.

“Somebody is learning how to be a person by watching you.” -Kid President


That day, when I noticed the emotions in those kids, one of the basketball goals in the gym was lowered to 7 feet or so. One after another I picked these kids up to dunk the ball. It was fun and seemed so simple but maybe I was doing more for them. Maybe I was showing them how great it feels to almost fly, to be lifted and do something they thought was impossible. Maybe that was their high point of the day or even week. Who knows?

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7 thoughts on “Passion + Compassion

  1. Jessica

    Beautiful post. The exact reasons you listed, are why I run. I hope someday I will inspire my daughter to work hard and go for the things she loves.

    Kids need more adults like you in their lives. 🙂

    Reply
  2. fitcolehov

    As a Special Education teacher, Zumba Kids instructor, fellow YMCA Employee, and human being, please believe me when I say- you ARE making a difference in the lives of those children. You’re providing consistency, unconditional love and caring, and showing them that they have space to just be themselves, whoever that person is on any given day. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  3. Sarah Herrin

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story! I really love this post. As a 30-something still trying to figure out what my dream is and how to reach it, this really spoke to me.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Role Model | ROAD TO A 100

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