Unleashing passions

July 3, 2017

My guest today is author Sharon Duerst, with a story of interest to anyone who will age, which is to say (with any luck) all of us. Here’s her story:

Death and empty nests can do a lot for unleashing passions. This I discovered after my parents passed and our kids left home. My husband and I were truly on our own like never before.

We went looking for a little getaway/retirement house on a couple acres within an hour of my husband’s favorite hunting grounds in NE Oregon. But we found something else…I was less than thrilled, at first, with purchasing 230 acres of forest land sporting a rustic cabin and no running water. The trees and flowers of the area are gorgeous.

It was bitter sweet, though. Just on the other side of the nearby Blue Mountains is Walla Walla where my parents lived, and even closer is the valley where I was born and the ranch where my grandfather and father were born. I’d never planned to spend much time near Idaho, but I had a new motivation for going along with the idea. I’d been diagnosed the year before with a shocking and “likely early” autoimmune liver disease. I feared my life would be shortened. Maybe I’d be like my parents: passing in my sixties–or sooner.

Who lives off the grid 40 miles from town?

Even though it wasn’t MY dream to spend a lot of time in off-grid wilderness forty miles from a small town, I figured the seclusion might help me finally complete and publish a novel I’d been dragging out and working on over ten years. And perhaps by allowing my husband’s fondest dream to be pursued, maybe mine would materialize, too.

It was fun fixing up the cabin: painting, installing a small wind generator and solar panels, rigging up a propane shower to a five gallon bucket of rainwater. We felt very capable! Of course there were things I had to adjust my thinking to: outhouses, no cell service for five miles and only when the wind was not blowing. Surrounded by farm land and forest, the nearest neighbors were miles away. My parents would’ve loved visiting this mountain place, seeing the wildlife: white tail deer, elk, bear, turkeys, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, wolves, even a moose! They would’ve enjoyed campfires under bright stars. And they would’ve marveled over the dozens of varieties of wildflowers springing up everywhere with luscious scents and colors.

One summer evening a year or so later, after early showers following a long hike, my husband left on the 4-wheeler. He loves spotting wildlife and photographing landscapes. Donned in a summer gown, I was settled on the couch with my laptop. He’d been gone awhile when a sound on wind coming in the open window raised hair on my neck, “Shaaarrrooonnn!!”

I jumped up, pulled on rubber boots and a coat, grabbed a flashlight. I started running on a trail through the woods. Was my husband hurt? Had he fallen from the tree stand which is 16 feet off the ground and directly over a barbed wire fence? My heart pounded! I spotted the 4-wheeler at the bottom of a rocky streambed. Was he trapped there? Could I get him out? Could I drive it to the cabin, load him into the truck, go for help? My mind raced as I approached, but he wasn’t there! I started running again, my eyes peering through the forest and scouring the ground. I started yelling, “JON! JON!”

Suddenly, my husband stepped out from behind a tree and calmly asked why I was scaring away the wildlife.

 I don’t know for sure what the sound was on the wind. But I took it as a wakeup call.

I was unprepared for complications, calamities, and compromised capabilities of aging! Even with my initial shock of a diagnosis for a disease I never knew existed, once I started the medication doctors said could stave off liver deterioration, I hoped I’d have years of good health ahead. And I didn’t worry at all about my husband’s health.

But the wind “calling my name” made me realize: we’re all on terminal journeys. Life can change, or end, in a flash. We’d better be unleashing our passions and doing what matters most.! And we’d better do it now! We’ll each be going alone on the next journey. And we won’t be taking anything with us…not money, unfinished projects, or anyone else’s dreams.

I vowed then to get serious about what I want most in this life. A story long ago had ignited my passions and I knew I needed to finish it.After several years, Mending Stone was finally published.
Find more about this Possibility Series on Amazon books and author
Or on my Mending Stone website page books
(Possibility Series books are also available on
Barnes & Noble.com, and can be ordered at bookstores)



84 comments on “Unleashing passions
  1. It’s so important to find what you’re passionate about in life. Without passion, life is so dull and grey.

    • I agree, Stacie! I watched an interview with Angelica Houston a few years ago in which she was asked about how she chooses projects, etc. She responded that interest is the biggest factor. I believe interest is so important to health and happiness! We must embrace new and interesting!

  2. Bill Sweeney says:

    This was a really great read. Too many of us allow ourselves to be swallowed up by our responsibilities, thinking that passion is for people without commitments. But that’s not really true. We can all find our passion.

  3. Meagan says:

    It is very important to find your passions in life. I know that I am redefining mine right now.

    • I hope you will find an engaging passion, Meagan! Our interests carry us through times of confusion and struggle and various challenges. And they enrich our lives so much!

  4. Liz Mays says:

    What a journey! It’s awesome that you had such a profound moment of realization while you were living in nature. Finishing the story must have been satisfying!

    • Thank you, Liz! We are still continuing with that journey! Actually we were at the cabin when this post came out and I could only now reply! Finishing Mending Stone was thrilling! And I thought I was done with that story, but have published two additional novels in what became a series! What fun! I’m working on a non-fiction piece now…and we’re enjoying the outdoors together more than ever! What’s your passion?

  5. How wonderful that the purchase of your new place and the circumstances of living there, inspired you to write the book. I grew up in a rural setting (town) close to a lot of wilderness but have never actually lived in it like you do on a big sized property. It’s so great that you and Jon have been able to follow your dreams.

    • We just now returned from our cabin after a few days there for hiking and hubby was fly fishing! It’s so quiet there! We saw a cow moose and calf cross the road! It was thrilling to see! I have loved forests since Girl Scout and family camping trips, but I grew up in town and never expected to spend so much time outdoors, or love it so! Sounds like you enjoy it, too, Nicole!

  6. Beautifully put by Sharon so sorry to hear about her diagnosis but she is completely right. We are all on terminal journeys so we might as well make the most of what we have x

  7. robin rue says:

    I am not sure I have found MY passion in life, but I am sure I will someday. Everyone needs to find theirs in their own time.

    • Hi Robin! Our passions can simply be something we love spending time on: friendships, family, home, gardening, crafts…I’ve always loved sewing. When something is bothering me, I find myself sewing. Somehow the simple tasks requiring concentration help me discover what I am thinking…I bet you have something you are passionate about. I also love faux painting/distress painting. I’m really not very good at it, but I love doing it!

  8. Passion is what pushes us to achieve our goals. Ienjoyed reading your post
    Very inspiring

  9. Amy Desrosiers says:

    I just read this entire post word for word- hanging onto the next one to come. I am so glad you are living your life to the fullest with your husband!

    • Awww, thank you, Amy! It is especially sweet to be at this point in life and to be finding such happiness! Years of hard work and various struggles have helped make this time very satisfying! Wishing you great happiness!

  10. Theresa says:

    It’s so important to not lose our passions in the day to day of things. I am glad you were able to reignite yours out in the wilderness and finish your book. Congrats!

  11. Wendy Polisi says:

    Life is such a fleeting thing. It can be hard to come to terms with that however, we can’t let it overwhelm us. We must enjoy the time we have whether we know how long we have left or not.

    • Yes, Wendy, it can be overwhelming and worrisome. I do think worry and sadness can rob us of the richness we have in our daily lives. I am so much more aware and thankful now!

  12. Rachel says:

    This was a great post to read so thanks for sharing. Well Done on writing your book, what a great achievement.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed reading it, Rachel! I treasure the connections with new people I am meeting and the great insights they have on living well! What do you like to do?

  13. Czjai says:

    The idea of living in the middle of the wilderness sounds exciting, though I reckon I won’t be able to last a week, haha! Glad to know that you’re currently enjoying life, doing what you love to do, while spending time with your loved one. 🙂

    • Well, I’m not sure I could live there more than a week at a time either, though my husband would like to try! Perhaps with running water… It is good, though, to have the extreme quiet, and a greater connection to nature. And I am always so thrilled to get home and even enjoy doing regular household chores that are so much easier with ready electricity, etc.

  14. Stefanie says:

    Wow! Whata great post! And i love Sharons story! Life is about finding what makes you happy… this is a long process but when you´ve arrived it´s the best thing ever

    • Thank you, Stefanie! It is a long process! And it’s also ongoing! Life is always changing and presenting new challenges and adjustments. We have to continually remind ourselves of what we have learned!

  15. I loved reading this! It’s so amazing that you published your book. The part about not taking anything with us…not money, unfinished projects, or anyone else’s dream really hit close to home for me! I’m going to do my best to remember this.

  16. What an amazing read! Thanks so much for sharing this! Events in our lives can really unleash our passion. It also gives us a different perspective in life.

    • Thanks, Toni! So many things have come up even after this to reinforce these lessons/realizations. We continue to grow! It is so precious to have time to do it and to allow it, if not embrace all the changes!

  17. Amanda Love says:

    Such a lovely reminder for us all to live life and be in the moment because we’ll never know what will happen tomorrow. It sounds like a good book. I love the author’s passion for life and to live it to the fullest.

    • Thank you, Amanda! Very sweet! I felt like I was living my life to the fullest, but I’m so much happier now! I treasure the smallest things! And I am so grateful for wonderful people to meet and share this life and passion!

  18. Ronnie says:

    Amazing story. I love the fact that you fulfilled a passion and goal, even though it took quite a scare to get on that path. At times, I wish I could disconnect from the busy world as well, but short-term. 🙂

    • Yes, Ronnie, disconnecting in wilderness can be good. At times I find it frustrating! But I also have always disconnected by launching into projects like sewing or painting things. When I allow myself to be creative in some way, often something else creative pops up and I feel so re-charged! What do you like to do? I also like to walk a few miles a day…I feel so much better with some exercise!

  19. Samantha Bye says:

    Your getaway sounds absolutely lovely, I can imagine the scenic backdrop behind you writing your book looking like something from a film! Congratulations on getting published, that’s a huge and very exciting achievement.

    • Hi Samantha! Thank you! I wrote the first copy of Mending Stone on little pieces of paper I taped together into 8 inches high stack of papers! Much of it was written outdoors! Then I spent years and years re-writing it into more of what I thought the characters were wanting! It was something I just could not let go of! I do love movies! I fantasize about writing the screenplay…

  20. Kiwi says:

    So happy you were able to get on the off beaten path and finish your book. Congrats thats wonderful!

    • Thank you, KIwi! In the back of each of the books in the series, I listed all the contact information for restaurants, stores, and places visited in the story! Readers can follow on a real life itinerary! It was one way to weave in some places and things I love! It was definitely a work of passion! A very long journey! I’m continue to enjoy it so much!

  21. Joanna says:

    You are right, we never know when our end is going to be and unfortunately you are right, we are on a path to it, even if we don’t want to admit it. I don’t want to admit it, I am not even thinking about it. But I do try to do things that I enjoy as often as I can. And create memories, not fortunes.

    • I’m with you, Joanna! I’m not thinking about it now either! But I recognize the truth. And I am in total agreement about creating memories, not fortunes. I gave up my full time, full pay career in healthcare years ago because of stress and frustration. I would have more money now if I’d kept working full time, but my life is so rich with experiences, I really am grateful for the chance to make that choice. And I am so thankful to meet new people and share experiences!

  22. margarette says:

    This is so worth reading. We all have our passions in life. We just need to focus on the journey that we want. And make the most of it.

    • Awww, thank you, Margarette! You’re right! It’s tough when the journey changes, or what we want changes! But it’s a great adventure in living and chances to learn!

  23. Tiara Wilson says:

    What a beautifully written post. We all have our own passions and should pursue the journey to those passions. We shouldn’t let anyone or anything get in our way. <3

  24. Life can bring sudden changes at any time. We should live as if this could happen at any time.

    • You are so right, Kelly! It’s also important to keep living and preparing for changes but not to internalize fear about it or develop anxiety! I admit to sometimes getting off-center and needing to pull away from too much activity and take time to catch up to my fears and re-find my strengths and optimism!

  25. Veronica says:

    It is amazing when you find your passion how it truly feels so fulfilling. Life can be such a hard thing, but being passionate about something gives you purpose

    • Finding and living our passions really are ways of being in Heaven on earth! We each have unique outlooks and capabilities to share with the world and those we love!

  26. Needa says:

    Your passion will last forever andis to realise what is beat for you. I love your composition its so poetic and deep.. touch my soul

  27. Thank you for reading, Tiara. Sometimes we let our own selves get in the way as we’re trying to figure out what we want, or what we want next! But we can’t give up!

  28. Debbie says:

    This was a very interesting read and shows the power of finding our true passions in life. I hope you are ok Sharon, and thank you for sharing your story here.

    • Thank you for reading, Debbie! And thank you for the well wishes! I have several new blog posts I’m working on to update health issues…but let’s just say I believe in positive thinking and positive actions and they have yielded amazing results! LOVE is the greatest power of all to being about change!

  29. Juliana says:

    Wow, what a great read. Passion is literally what drives us in life. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • Thank you for reading, Juliana! I wrote my three novels, but I am only recently beginning to share more of what is really MY life! And with this, I am discovering such wonderful people and their beautiful endeavors, Yay for discovery!

  30. MAKEBA GILES says:

    I love this. In these days, it’s so easy for passion to get lost by the wayside. That’s one thing that I’m doing this summer — taking time to slow things down to rediscover my true passion.

    • Thanks, Makeba! Though I was a health education major and worked in long term care many years, I’m rediscovering many interests connected with aging and lifestyle and the many choices we can make. My books focused on these things, but now I’m sharing more personal stories and it’s been fun!

  31. Elizabeth o says:

    What a powerful and poignant story. I wondered myself about her move to the interior and how they’d cope with emergencies. Life promises nothing more than what we put into it…. might as well make it the best life we live. Will check out her novel.

    • Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for reading! We still do not have a great system at the cabin for emergencies, but thankfully cell service has become a bit more reliable a few miles away! There is a neighbor we’ve met about a mile away and he has a land line, but still, emergency services are 40 miles away! Thankfully, so far, no injuries sustained. Though last Autumn, hubby and I were cutting down some bug kill trees and one big one did not go down so well and we scared ourselves! Not doing that again! LOL!

  32. Hi Sharon I enjoyed reading your post and agree Passion and Purpose are vital as we age. Not everyone is prepared for retirement or aging and for me having a passion makes like worth living.

    • Hi Sue! I’ve always loved doing sewing and other crafts, walking, hanging with the family, but our experiences these past few years have made every endeavor feel so much more important and satisfying! I’ve also noticed, I have no tolerance for doing things I don’t want to do, even if previously agreed to them! Time is too precious and so is energy!

  33. Victoria says:

    Finding our life’s passion is DEFINITELY VERY important. So true. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey!

  34. Louise Smith says:

    Unleashing our passions in life is SO important. I think everything would be so boring if we just led a life without them.

    Louise x

  35. Mandi says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Yes, life means little without passion.

  36. Julie syl says:

    It such a great reading. What an awesome journey. I like your being passionate on some things. Keep it up. Do what makes you happy.

  37. Kumin Kueche says:

    Passion is all what life is about!! can’t live or work without passion!! It’s such a lovely post! keep it up!!

  38. Jade Braham says:

    It’s so important to know what you’re passionate about otherwise what is the point of living? Brilliant and thought provoking blog post! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  39. Thanks so much, Jade! Very sweet!

  40. Jennifer says:

    That was certainly a wake-up call that you got. I got one of those too, exactly one year after my sister passed, I was informed that my office would be closing and I’d be out of a job after 25 years. I could have applied to jobs in other states to stay with the company, but on that day, at that moment, I felt as if my sister was kicking me in the ass and yelling at me to do what I always wanted to do, not what I felt I needed to do. Nothing was more clear to me at that moment in time. It was time for me to see where blogging and writing take me.

    • Oh wow, Jennifer! That was a shock! But so wonderful that you “knew” what it meant! It’s such a powerful spirit infusion in that moment of realization. I’m amazed when it happens and trust it completely! No one could ever convince me different! Many blessings of joy and prosperity on your endeavors!

  41. You’re such an inspiration, Sharon! <3 You're so right about our passions – we were given them for a reason and we must live them out!

  42. Oh Amber! Thank you! I hope I’m passing on the inspiration which has come to me in such surprising ways! I must share or go mad! Lol!

  43. Janet Thomas says:

    Such an interesting, thought provoking read, Sharon. I’m sorry to learn of your issue with your liver, but comforted in knowing you are doing well and are living life so well centered. There’s nothing like a family loss, or health issue, to put life squarely in perspective. I feel very fortunate to call you friend. We bonded instantaneously. Perhaps our souls knew our similar losses and struggles. I, also, lost my parents in their sixties. Much too soon. My husband’s high school reunion was, also, your high school reunion. And, my dear brother, Bob, should have been there with us. But, cancer had taken him several years prior. Out of that reunion, I gained an instant friendship, and left with an autographed copy of the book you had just penned. I never read in the car, but couldn’t wait to start Mending Stone. And then, couldn’t put it down! I’m happy to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all three books in your series. Written with the same passion and insight you share in this post.

    • Janet, I am sorry for your sad losses, also for health worries you’ve encountered. We do have so much in common and so much to share! We were drawn together in a noisy, crowded, and hot gathering and now have such a supportive and fun friendship to treasure. Of course, I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed my books! I gained a friend and a fan! I am so thankful for your many kindnesses and your sweet words! Thank you so much! (Sorry for the late reply: we were away for the second time in July to our cabin! So many hikes and so much fun to have in summer!)

  44. Silly Mummy says:

    Well put and thought provoking. It is important not to leave your dreams and passions too long – time marches onwards.

  45. Thank you Silly Mummy! You are so right: time marches onwards! Hope you have many lovely times this summer!

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Unleashing passions"
  1. […] What? How could this be? My strong, can-do-anything husband is only 57! Had the spring wind been warning me of this? (See my post about the wind: Unleashing Passions at http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ ) […]

  2. […] Unleashing Passions my guest blog post http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ and then come back here for more of the story. Ten years later, my life is beyond anything I could […]

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