When I decided to take July and August off from blogging, I didn’t realize I would spend a month in Maryland helping my parents as my dad underwent back surgery. I didn’t get home until September 6th and I gave myself a week for re-entry. I needed every minute of that time. It was astonishing how disoriented I was by my long absence, how hard it was to reinstate my routines.

Once I was settled, I wondered what to do. I needed to get the blog going again, but I was still feeling an intense disinterest. I know that waiting until I feel inspired is a good way to make sure I never do anything at all. Or as Struthless says in several of his YouTube videos, motivation follows action.

It seems like it should be the other way around, but it isn’t. I’ve experienced it myself many a time. I often sit down to write even though I don’t feel like it. Minutes later, I’m excited about my book and happy to be writing.

Still, the blog has become a struggle for me, as the graphic for my post about taking a break shows clearly. I decided I need to find a way to make it fun again.

I’m currently doing a daily journaling exercise inspired by a goal setting process outlined in the video How and Why To Set Goals. The first question is about what you find exciting, and that is where I’ve hit a real wall.

There’s lots of advice out there that you should never have a job that you find boring or dull or unpleasant because too much of your life is spent working. You are supposed to be passionate about your work, or, as Joseph Campbell liked to say, you should follow your bliss.

Sounds great, but I am having a horrible time trying to achieve this. I have to lower the bar on the questions every time I sit down. I don’t write what excited me. I write what I enjoyed. I haven’t been really excited about anything in months.

My lack of interest is understandable. I’m grieving. On top of watching my dad go through a major surgery, I discovered that my mom is right: he’s showing signs of dementia. It’s nothing like I thought it would be. It’s not that he doesn’t know me or anything tragic like that. It’s little things, like how he can’t answer a question, that make me aware that this isn’t the man I grew up with.

Ask him how he’s feeling and he’ll tell you how he praised the janitor who was just in his room, because good hygiene is important, especially in medical facilities. Ask him what he ate for lunch, and you’ll hear how the attendent took his tray away before he could touch it, as if he hadn’t had at least an hour to eat something. Ask him what the doctor said this morning, and he’ll insist the doctor was never there, although you know for sure that he was.

I also have a 15-year-old poodle who requires a lot of care because she has Stage 2 kidney failure. She’s holding up well, considering, but her end is definitely near. And I have been really tired since I got home, experiencing days where I lie in bed feeling drugged, too exhausted to move while also unable to sleep.

So health issues — mine, my father’s, and my dog’s — have been eating up a bunch of my time and causing me lots of emotions, including grief. Grief is draining. It saps the world of color and joy. It’s hard to feel happy and interested when you are weighed down by change and loss.

Despite the challenges, I’ve been turning things over, looking at all the advice on blogging.

Follow the fun.
Find your niche.
Do what you love.
If you aren’t enjoying yourself, you aren’t doing it right.

I’m still trying to figure this out. One thing I have remembered, though, is that passion can be a bad master. Being passionate about something can make us care too much, and that can make life harder. Fortunately, I don’t really need a project I’m passionate about. I just need a project I’m interested in.

How can I find a colorful, interesting project for the blog when my world has gone gray?

By giving myself time to write, to reflect, to grieve, to heal.

By giving myself time to settle into my changing world.

Do you expect to feel passionate about your work? And how do you deal with big changes in your life?

8 thoughts on “When You Can’t Follow Your Bliss”

  1. So many of us are going through the “ageing parents” thing. Not easy. I tell myself it could be my turn next to go off and live in my own little world and I don’t want anyone to be upset about me as I age. I’ve had a good life so far and as long as I’m cared for when I need an extra bit of help, I can’t expect more than that. Our parents would not want us to be upset and worried about them. Still, I know it’s hard to watch them decline. Just try to think positive and deal with the things you need to do, and eventually your life will settle down and be less stressful.

    1. I do my best not to worry but you have to sit with the sorrow from time to time. Bottling it up or ignoring makes things worse.

  2. Sometimes I just settle for “what is one thing I find just interesting enough to do.” Or one little thing to notice that is good (often involves a dog, say, sleeping on my feet).

    And yeah, dementia is hard to watch happening.

    I think you’re right about “more Nature.” 💕

    1. I’m embracing the little joys right now. Pretty sure excitement will return at some point.

  3. I’ll pass along Deb’s suggestion to me back when I got out of the hospital: Be gentle with yourself.

    From your words, the tone — seems as if excitement is too strong an emotion right now what with all the other emotions swirling about. Perhaps looking for modestly pleasant things … which is also what Deb wrote above (simple pleasures like a dog sleeping on one’s feet). And nature. Yes, indeed.

  4. I’ve always thought that the advice to find a job you’re passionate about is a bit misleading, and potentially discouraging. There are so many worthwhile and valuable jobs that are unlikely to be someone’s “passion”. That’s an incredibly high bar, and extremely few people will meet it. Everyone should look for a job where they feel they are making a contribution and receive recognition for their efforts. Maybe they are “only” contributing to keeping an elementary school clean or a doctor’s records organized. These are important, valuable tasks that are not likely to be considered “passions”. I’m not even sure they would claim “fun” or “enjoyment”. But “pride” and “satisfaction” can be equally valuable.

    On a more personal note, life is hard. Make sure you give yourself the same grace you would give others. Sometimes, it is enough to just make it through the day. Making goals is valuable. It’s also a way for those who are self-employed to measure contributions and provide recognition for efforts when there isn’t a boss to impress. But there have been days in my life when taking a shower was an accomplishment I was pleased to achieve. Don’t measure yourself against others, or even against your better days. Maybe a few goal-free days are what you need most at the moment. Snuggle with Dory, hug your family, and let the rest go for as long as needed.

    1. You’ve stated clearly what I’ve been feeling! Pride, satisfaction, and making a contribution are worthy goals.

      Your take-it-easy advice is also appreciated. It’s so hard to just rest, especially when I am at home and aware of all the things the could use some attention (from the basics of laundry to the big things like painting a room). I’m toying with the idea of going on a short camping trip to get away. It would combine rest and nature and might be truly beneficial.

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