The coming of Thanksgiving brings with it many things - Traveling to see family and friends, the ending of fall and beginning of the Christmas Season, and plenty of food.
We are also known to take a moment and reflect on what we are thankful for and express our gratitude for the blessings we currently have in life.
Growing up, I remember making hats for my cousins and I that were either Indian hats or Pilgrim hats. We would run around playing Indians vs. Pilgrims and making forts out of the couch cushions in my Grandmother’s basement.
Causing a ruckus, we would eventually be called upstairs for Thanksgiving dinner. We always began those dinners going around the table saying what we were thankful for.
But sometimes the holidays aren’t so easy. As time moves on, life happens and traditions change or slowly fade as the grandkids get older and become adults. Family dynamics change. And loved ones begin to move further apart.
We each have a different story, a different situation, and different way of celebrating Thanksgiving, but in this simple blog post, I want to just pour some encouragement into your soul.
Whatever it may be. Maybe you may miss some old memories. Maybe this is the first Thanksgiving you are celebrating without a loved one no longer with you. Maybe life is just peachy.
Despite the season of life you are in whether challenging or brightly positive, I want you to take at least five minutes today to just close your eyes and with everything within you visualize at least five things you are incredibly thankful for.
If people come to mind, I want you to text or call them and tell them why you are thankful for them. If they are experiences you’ve had that have forever left an impact on your mind, thank God for those experiences.
We are a product of the life we live and the people around us. Never let the crazies of the holidays or the challenges of life stop you from reflecting on the blessings around you and within you.
One of the most powerful ways to fuel our passion for life is to flood our souls with expressions of gratitude. For when we give thanks and praise - Any fear within us turns into love and any sorrow within us turns into joy. It is the love and joy within us that empowers our passion to burn bright and light up the world around us.
My dear friend, close your eyes and in doing so, let your eyes be opened to all the good things happening in your life. Sometimes we just need to pause and close our eyes to really see what we have. More often than not, the things we are truly grateful for are things not seen, but are things felt in the depths of our being - in the depths of our passion.
May you and your family have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
As I awoke, the sound of the falling rain outside calmed my inner most self. I quickly looked at my alarm clock to see it was only 6:45 am on a Saturday. “Oh, this is definitely sleep in weather”, I thought to myself.
With the fresh coolness air of the Pocono mountains flowing in through my bedroom window, I quickly fell back asleep. But it wasn’t long until the racing within my mind… within my soul… took off like a Nascar race - Loud… Noisy… Sporadic… With a side of emotional angst… This wasn’t all too uncommon, so I eventuallllyyyyyyyyy decided to start my day.
And when I say start my day on a good old Saturday morning in an empty house, that means heading over to the new deli I just discovered that is only three minutes from my house. They have a sandwich there called Staten Island. And let me tell you something, this deli is a taste of home in Staten Island, NY. I get too much joy from food… but that is a whole other story…
I ordered the “Lumberjack” – a passionate breakfast sandwich with two eggs, cheese, bacon AND sausage! A good ole Madoneeeeee erupted from the depths of my soul. But I digress… This post is about so much more than a breakfast sandwich.
As I was waiting for my sandwich, a song came on over the deli’s speakers that immediately captured my attention. Through the distracting noisiness of the TV, I listened closely.
“Help me…” “Crawling in my skin…” “Sometimes I feel like giving up…”
Those are some pretty deep lyrics to be heard from a song on the radio and quite atypical to hear too. I immediately google searched the lyrics like I typically do when I find an interesting song I never heard of.
What I found was Shawn Mendes’ song “In My Blood.” I listened to the entire song when I got home and an immediate stirring fire took off within me.
If you have not heard this song yet, check out the music video or at least check out the lyrics before reading more!
“Help me, it's like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can't
It isn't in my blood
Laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing
I'm overwhelmed and insecure, give me something
I could take to ease my mind slowly
Just have a drink and you'll feel better
Just take her home and you'll feel better
Keep telling me that it gets better
Does it ever?”
I wasn’t aware of Shawn Mendes’ bouts with Mental Health. And I am so happy to see a song like this glare across mainstream media because mental health is affecting the world at an alarming rate.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly one in five Americans over the age of 18 are affected by anxiety disorders and only 36.9% of those suffering seek help. That is 63.1% of sufferers not getting any help or relief from their struggles . Now some of these individuals may be unaware, for sometimes our mind can be blinded to the struggles of the pain within, but those dearest to us may see and experience the effects of anxiety on one’s soul. Still some are most clearly aware of their struggles but many reasons persist for an individual to not seek help.
In recent years, there has been an incredible effort to stop the stigma on Mental Health, and it has proved to be successful, especially across college campuses. Unfortunately, the war on Mental Health rages on.
You see, the war on Mental Health goes so much deeper. In a war the enemy comes in all shapes and sizes. There are different battalions. Different units. Different branches of the enemy’s military itself! We must understand that chemical imbalances are not the only culprit in the War on Mental Health. It is perhaps one “branch” of the enemy we are battling. In other words, pursuing a solution for mental health solely through science is not enough to win this war.
Mental Health is not simply a battle within one’s mind. But it is a battle with one’s mind, emotion, and will. Mental Health is a war on the human soul. It is The War on Passion.
My personal battle with Mental Health started when I was 13. Still more than 10 years in, the battle rages on. And it pains me deeply to see so many around me in this world fighting their battles too in the War on Mental Health.
There has been so much God has revealed to me over the past two years. These revelations have not only given me hope but they have led me on a journey of Restoring Passion. If I had to culminate all of my findings into one point, it would be that there is a strong correlation between human passion and mental health.
Passion is not a hobby. It is not something to be found. It is the depths of the human soul - the human mind, the human emotion, the human will…. Passion is the engagement and activity of connection with God, oneself, and the world & others around us.
Passion is that deep fire within us, lighting our way in this world to touch the lives of others. It is the health of this passion that determines the light of our life and the impact it will have on others around us. A bright passion = a vibrant health of the mind, emotion, and will. A passion burnt out = brokenness within one’s mind, emotion, and will - a loss of ability to connect with those and the things we cherish most.
Through the raging seas of the war on mental health, it is hope that gives us the strength to hold fast and push through. It is to no surprise that the Bible says hope is the anchor to our soul (Hebrews 6:19). There are some serious struggles out there in this world. And there are many things or people we can put our hope in to anchor our souls… But what we put our hope in is perhaps the most important action we take in the War on Passion.
Shawn Mendes ends his song with a plea to need somebody…
“I need somebody now
I need somebody now
Someone to help me out
I need somebody now”
Who is this somebody? Who is it for him? I ask you who it is for you?
When we are fighting our battles within, especially the most trying ones, we tend to be all alone – leading to the complete opposite of hope - despair.
**Now the following is for any of those battling right this second.**
There is a “somebody” out there, even when you are all alone and all seems lost. The battle that you are fighting right now within you….. That has robbed so much joy and time from your life…. This battle that tears at your soul minute by minute… day by day… This battle… Your battle…. It is part of a war that was already won by this “somebody”.
His name is Jesus Christ. And His blood that was shed on the cross some 2000 years ago now covers you with grace. You do not need to struggle anymore. You do not need to fight anymore. I urge you to surrender your battle. And let the grace of His mighty and Holy name reign over your life as the demons within you finally flee – experiencing a victorious life where you are changing the world doing the things you love.
Let the Spirit of God renew your inner most self. And let the Spirit of God fuel the flames of your passion. Let go and let God show you what He can do within you and through you.!
Your fight in the War on Mental Health is over… Not because you lost… But because Jesus Christ won it already.
May God bless you and may He restoreth your soul anew (Psalm 23:3) so that His destiny for your life may be revealed to you.
With Love and Grace,
Child of God & Passioneer
It’s been a while… Perhaps too long since the visions for PWP within my soul have surfaced to others and to the outside world. It is exciting to get writing again and to continue my efforts of bringing Passion With Purpose from vision into reality. I pray that this post is the beginning of many more to come and is the start of something special and powerful.
The pursuit of purpose is a journey we all embark on throughout our lives. Unfortunately, it isn’t a simple, clear, or quick journey. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It’s complicated. It’s confusing. It’s gradual. It is a lifelong journey filled with various seasons ranging from joy to trial and from certainty to anxiety. It just so happens that the seasons of trial and anxiety bring with them a wind of revelation. A revelation that leads to a greater purpose. A purpose that has an impact within ourselves and later on, in the lives of others.
I know this all too well firsthand. Since the summer of 2016 I’ve been battling through a season like I never have before. Filled with trial, anxiety, and more, I’ve never been more tested; but all pain has purpose. No matter what you may be going (growing) through, now or in the future, It has a purpose. It may not seem that way, I know. But in the face of despair, take courage in heart and stay steadfast in your soul. Bring your trials to God and He will reveal the purpose of them in His timing. One day you’ll look back at your dark seasons and rejoice because of the purpose and impact it brought about!
This is why passion is so important for it is the fire that fuels our journey. It is where the very experience of our journey of purpose takes place. Moreover, passion is not merely a hobby or something you love to do. The word itself, “passion”, originates from the Latin word “pati” which means to endure, undergo, or experience and from the Late Latin word “passionem” meaning “suffering, enduring” . The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is often referred to as the Passion of the Christ. Why is this? Christ on the cross suffered and endured in a way no human will ever experience. If you solely look at it from a physical perspective, you would debate with me here; but this is not what I am referring to. I am referring to the pain Christ experienced within His very soul. Imagine a man without sin who came into this very world to spread a message of love and salvation being put to death in the most gruesome of ways of that era. His soul experienced a level of rejection, abandonment, and loss in ways you and I will never know. He experienced all of this at the hands of a world He came into to save. But in His pain… In His suffering… In His passion… a purpose was accomplished. Salvation for all mankind. This my friends is a true testimony of Passion With Purpose.
Passion doesn’t need purpose as much as purpose needs passion. The greater our calling(s) or purpose(s), the more challenging our journey of purpose will be. Such a journey requires a great deal of passion. It is for this reason that in a world overcome by fear, anxiety, and social cultural pressures, that we must protect and constantly fuel our passion. In order to protect and fuel our passion, we must first understand more deeply how it relates to us as individuals and where it is found within our very selves.
If we ponder for a moment where most pain, enduring, feeling, or experiences take place, we would discover that it takes place in our very own minds, emotions, and wills. In other words, our being experiences the tribulations and joys of life through our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is through these three faculties that we as individuals engage with our environments and connect with other individuals.
This is no coincidence as the relationship between the environment and our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is expressed in Psychology through the Cognitive Behavioral Model . Psychology comes from the Greek word “psuche” meaning soul. In combination with “-ology”, meaning study of, psychology is truly the study of the soul. Therefore, our soul is comprised of three faculties: the mind, the emotion, and the will .
With this in mind, our passion is our very soul! I like to visualize passion as the human soul set on fire fueling our journey of purpose. The healthier our soul, the healthier our passion. The healthier our passion, the more we can endure in accomplishing our God-given destiny(ies) in life.
There are many ways to protect and fuel our passion (soul) and I am excited to gather together and share all that has been revealed to me over the past couple years through Passion With Purpose.
For now, I would like to leave with you the greatest source of protection and fuel for our passion. 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Throughout our journey of purpose, fear is the biggest threat to our passion; but we must be firm in faith and in hope. No matter the season or trials in our lives, we must always be grounded in the truth that fear is not from God, rather power, love, and a sound mind is from God. So as you journey forward, let God’s Spirit of power empower your will. Let God’s Spirit of Love encourage your emotions. Let God’s Spirit of a sound mind inspire your mind. Let it keep your soul steady and your passion burning blue. Let your purpose be revealed to you and carry it out with passion!
PS: Ohhh there is so much more to come!! Get excited!!
 Nee, Watchman. The Spiritual Man. Vol. 1, Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1968.
Recently, Penn State launched the first official University Chapter of Passion With Purpose (PWP). Although Passion With Purpose is still not a recognized Non-Profit Organization, Penn State will serve as the prototype for future University Chapters across the country and one day across the world. Passion With Purpose is working to empower other Universities to start University Chapters of their own as early as the Fall of 2017!
Here are some words describing the establishment of PWP Penn State's first Executive Committee by Steven Mezzacappa, the founder of Passion With Purpose and the University Chapter at Penn State.
"Just as the heat of a fire is felt by others, so too is one’s passion. Just as a fire keeps engines and motors driving, so too does one’s passion drive oneself. Passion is that burning desire within all of us. It is the fire that lights our life and all of those around us. But for passion to become a flame, it must be sparked. You and I are these sparks… Our experiences in life are these sparks… But now in a world where external factors define success and influence how we should live our lives, these sparks are near impossible to be felt or start a fire. It is near impossible for our passions to be turned into raging flames! But the time has come to change this! The time has come to INSPIRE THE SPARK on this campus, in this state, in this nation, and in this world! Last night, 8 sparks came together to ignite a fire this University has never felt before. We are the first Executive Committee for Passion With Purpose – Penn State. We are committed… We are driven…. To INSPIRE THE SPARK that will empower, inspire, & encourage our peers to change the world doing what they love!"
- Steven Mezzacappa, Executive Director
Passion With Purpose - Penn State Executive Committee
Top Row (From Left to Right): Tommy Nylec, Glenn Bird, Kaylee Bangs, Salem Alakbari
Bottom Row (From Left to Right): John Feret, Lucas Pontillo, Casey Luddy, Steven Mezzacappa
We often find ourselves telling us to never let the negativity or doubt of others hold us back in life; but in reality and in life, it's actually our own selves and our own minds that we must overcome. I am still in utter denial that this happened last week. Just 6 weeks ago I was ready to throw in the towel and give up on the dream of running a half marathon. There was no one telling me I couldn't do it. In fact, everyone I knew was telling me I could do it; but it was me, my own mind, telling me I couldn't. There comes a time in our lives when we must believe in a power greater than ourselves. And in losing ourselves in faith and in losing ourselves in the love of others, there is nothing in this world that is unattainable. If there's one thing I learned about myself and about life throughout this journey, it is that if you love others and let God take care of the rest, you will experience a life filled with fulfillment, love, adventure, excitement, and happiness. Here's to the thousands of strangers in Philly last week, my family and friends, and to God for making this dream a reality. Forever blessed. Forever grateful.
With Love & Passion Always,
Passioneer & CEO
What is your passion? This is one of the most important questions in your life.
Today’s society is so structured. We are expected to do things a certain way, and anyone who strays from the norm is considered strange or different. Last week, when I met Steve for the first time he asked me this simple question, “What are you passionate about?” Fairly easy, right? Yet as I sat there under the spotlight, my mind drew a blank. When was the last time I did something that I genuinely enjoyed or did just because I enjoyed doing it? Students can get so caught up in the craziness of college and their coursework that they lose sight of their purpose.
However, it is a big thing to come to terms with the monotony of your life. To see the breaking down of the idea of an individual. It is time for a change. College years are some of the most formative to a person’s identity and when you get someone to start asking questions it opens their mind.
Everyone needs a little passion. Even the happiest man on Earth can always use some. I still have yet to find mine. Most people are brainwashed into thinking happiness comes from a paycheck or a stable job. Looking back at your life you were probably most happy doing something you love. Why not pursue that passion?
So how does one find their passion? Passion with Purpose has the goal of empowering, inspiring, and encouraging people to do what they love. Try something new, don’t listen to other people, and find yourself. One does not truly start living until they are doing what they love.
We are not trying to give people purpose, we are trying to get them to find their passion, and in finding that passion, we are given a purpose.
Every dream begins with a single idea. Each idea is inspired by a spark, fueled by innovation and determination. Last week, the inaugural passioneers convened for the first time to begin a movement, the initial step on the path of a new revolution.
We all have our long term goals, whether it be a career, a family, success, or wealth - however, none of that matters in the present. We are always concerned with the next few steps down the road, consistently forgetting where we are. Right now. Life is moving by fast, and sometimes it can be nice just to breathe and look up at the stars.
Our world can be challenging, full of daily stress and with a seemingly endless list of commitments. The only way for us to truly find our place, and to truly keep our sanity, is by pursuing our passions. Whatever lies a few miles down the road will be unachievable and meaningless if we lack the understanding of who we are right now. Without passion, the motivation to keep driving down the road cannot exist.
Passion is not something that can be quantified, and it is not something that can be taken away. Passion is what gets us out of bed every morning, and passion is what drives us to achieve our very best. We at PWP are here to shape a community, one that understands the role that passion plays in human life; without passion, do we really have a purpose?
All too often, passions are compromised for the comfort of practicality.
And all too often, our generation is the one to have to make that decision. More and more we find ourselves taking the road more often traveled because it's advised we major in a field that can guarantee a job after graduation. But what if you can find a job your truly desired field? A different job in another field can make more money.
It's hard to see more and more people around me each day put the things that truly drive their passions aside for something more practical. I'm taking the plunge with Passion with Purpose because I have found the greatest joy by doing exactly what I love to do. I'm majoring in broadcast journalism, I write for the student newspaper and will be minoring in Hebrew.
Is journalism a dying field? I would argue you on that one. Is there good money in it? Nope.. Not even I could deny that. Is Hebrew a practical language to know anywhere outside of the Middle East? Probably not.
But one thing that truly drives me is seeing the people around me doing what they love. Nothing has been more inspiring to me than to see my childhood best friends pursue their passions in college, and I have been compelled to do the same.
And that's what Passion with Purpose is about. It's about inspiring others to follow their passions and do what they truly love. It's about finding your calling and then following it shamelessly. And like Steve said, it starts here. It starts now.
PWP Public Relations Chair and Passioneer
As I look at our first meeting agenda, the possibilities begin to hit me. This isn’t something that will change just you or me, this is something down the line that could change a huge amount of our peers throughout the nation, and one day the world. All too often our passion slowly begins to die as we are forced into the status quo… general educations, forced curriculum, etc. Society can take even the most driven individual and steal their love from them.
Our purpose here is to show people that you will never be truly successful in life until you do what you love and follow your passion. As I look up and see the 6 other people sitting around me the excitement starts to flow through my blood… big things are coming.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Doesn’t this question get so old?
You see, life has turned into this steady path where your worth as an individual is defined by your career and financial status. We are pressured to live our life at the pace of society. Go to High School. Go to College. Get a job. Have a family. Life is all about the go and what’s trending. Life has been overtaken by seeking the acceptance of others. We now live in a world where being authentic and true to yourself is a daily battle and brings with it a challenge like none other.
But how did we get here? Lack of love. And in this love - love of all things. Our Passions. Gifts. Talents. Others. Ourselves. The little things. Not many will ask you what you love to do. Furthermore, not many would ever ask you what they could do to help you do what you love.
Although a simple word, love embodies so much more than will ever meet the eye. Love is not merely just another romance novel or fairy-tale story. Love is not an option. Love is not a decision... Love is a need. Love is what is desired by all who walk this world. But love is not about you. In fact, love is about others. To love is to serve. To love is to give. To love is to empower. To love is to inspire. To love is to encourage. To love is to love yourself. To love is to share your passions with the world.
But your passion is not a hobby. Your passion is a blessing. Your passion is your purpose. Your passion comes from within - from your heart. Your passion is authentic to you. It is unique. It is what sets you apart from the world. Your passion is your opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. But in this time, finding passion and purpose has never been more challenging.
Due to external factors & constraints, our definitions of success are misconstrued and influence how we should live our lives. With a lack of love and encouragement, we are now pressured to put what we love doing on hold in order to achieve society’s definitions of success. Creativity is limited. Self-discovery is misguided. Growth is stalled. Fulfillment is lacked. Impact is finite.
Passion With Purpose is currently a student-driven movement that envisions a world where people change the world doing what they love. We are committed to make this vision come reality by fostering the development and engagement of one’s passions through service, engaged scholarship, and mentorship.
Although we are just starting, there is a growing group of students at Penn State determined to change the world doing what they love and working day and night to inspire their fellow students to do the same!
Over the next several blogs, you will be reading blog passages directly from the hearts of these students tirelessly working to make Passion With Purpose’s vision become reality.
As we get set to launch the first ever Passion With Purpose student chapter this upcoming Spring 2016 semester here at Penn State, take a tour around our website and follow all of our social media accounts to stay updated as we continue to take action with passion.
Make every second count. Empower. Inspire. Encourage. And strive to change the world doing the things you love each day. The journey to putting your passion in action will be tough, but together, anything is possible.
It starts within me. It starts within you. It Starts Here.
With Love & Passion Always,
Founder & Passioneer
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Ghandi