Before I became friends with Georgia Makitalo, I had never heard of the Pre-Raphaelites or knew their intriguing story, although I was familiar with the name William Morris who founded this creative group. 

Frank Lloyd Wright was just the name of a famous architect to me until Jill McDermott and I became friends. 

Both Georgia and Jill were wildly passionate about their creative heroes and it was contagious. I wanted to know what they knew. Fortunately, they loved to share.

Georgia and I made several excursions hunting down William Morris and his tribe. We traveled to Toronto, Delaware and London looking at treasures these artists had left behind. Georgia also regaled me with stories of their romantic exploits and intrigues. 

I was especially fascinated by her stories about the weekends Morris organized at Red House, his country home, where he invited his artist friends to come spend the time together making things. 

Then there was the road trip Jill and I made from Minnesota to Washington, DC that included stops at Wright sites in the Chicago area and at the landmark Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.

We had made a shorter road trip previously to visit Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  Today, Jill and her husband Mike live down the road from this beautiful place which served as an inspiration to Wright for many years.

As Jill and Georgia taught me, friends with passion can make a powerful impact—even if their passions seem to be quite different from our own.

The late philosopher Jim Rohn frequently urged his audiences to seek out and build relationships with people who could help them grow into their best selves. It’s an undertaking that lasts a lifetime, although it requires an investment of time. 

It also needs to be done consciously. 

One of the best descriptions of this process comes from Stewart Emery in his book Actualizations. He writes, 

As I look at my own life, I notice all my friends are people who support my learning the lessons I have to learn.

In other words, their reality is more centered and more together in some aspects of life than mine is, and my reality is more evolved than some aspect of theirs.

I choose to be with people who have a reality of abundance. I won’t hang out with people who have a reality of scarcity. I won’t hang out around people who have negative energy flows.

Everything I have learned how to do in life I learned by placing myself in the company of masters. Although I read a lot and learned technical things from books, the discovery of a way of being and acting that worked for me and others came as a result of spending time with men and women who act in the world with excellence, joy and service. 

Of course, what Emery’s talking about isn’t a one-way street. Bring your own passion to relationships and everybody profits. That’s my idea of a really great investment.

6 Responses to “Friends With Passion”

  1. Sally Evans

    Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. It is wonderful that you were open to your friends interests that allowed them to show you what they found so intriguing.

    I love this thought you shared from Jim Rohn “seek out and build relationships with people who could help them grow into their best selves.”

  2. Georgia Makitalo


    I have some of the most incredible memories from these adventures-and your post has really rekindled them! And YOU have always been open to learning about the Pre-Raphaelites..even if we were in some rather seedy locations, such as Walthamstow, England! Even Rick Steve’s has not ventured into that part of the city. 🙂 Your willingness to accept that call to adventure is part of the reason that we had such a fabulous time! 🙂

    But, I also think that you hit upon something really really key to happiness and longevity in relationships. I know of someone who has had two horribly bitter breakups and is on his way to number three. He always starts his relationships doing everything she likes to do-rock climb, ski, bungie jump, etc–things he never showed any interest in before. (he definitely has a HUGE passion, but continually discounts THAT.) We figured that perhaps the reason this happens is because “Paul” has spent so much time stifling his own passions–and in turn, this restraint turns into sarcasm and anger. And I also think that perhaps the reason these relationships do not work is that either he has not presented his authentic self or that he is so bland from acting like a chameleon, that after a while, he becomes boring.

    I wonder what everyone else thinks?

  3. Barbara Winter

    Good question, Georgia. Stewart Emery also speaks eloquently about the need for “balance of contribution.” The situation you describe is lacking that. It’s got to go both directions.

    And, yes, I nearly included Walthamstowe in the piece, but just don’t have words to describe it and assumed most readers wouldn’t have ventured there themselves.

  4. LynnH

    I love this. For some reason, I’m fascinated by Martha Graham, the Modern Dance Pioneer. I’m not like her much, but I find that I agree with many of her philosophies. I would have been afraid of her in the same room, but I’m awed by what one woman did to change the world of dance in one (very long) lifetime.

    I teach knitting. I am totally into color, the more colors the better. I have no particular interest in lace (I’m not very girly and need rainbows, besides). However, I am surrounded by lace fans and learn much from them. I have one spinning wheel and get it out a handful of times a year. I have friends who spin laceweight and sockweight yarns, and would rather spin than knit.

    A dear friend is the best cook I know. When we went to Africa together, she saw a field of collard greens on the way to the Egyptian pyramids and exclaimed “my collards!”

    Once I had friends I perceived as better than me. I would do for them often, in order to try and become equal. More effort on my part made me more deserving of their company.

    Now I am happy to say my friends are more like those you describe. I have one friend I have lunch with every week. She knew my husband before I did, they work together. We sit at lunch and talk about how great it is to have a partner who adores us, a partner we think is a very fine human being.

    I like my new life very much. Thanks for helping me see a bit of why the new (almost 20 years) life is so fabulous!

  5. Alix McKenzie

    Hi Barbara

    Just to say, next time you’re in England, if you’d like to visit the Red House, give me a shout. It’s just up the road from me and it would be a pleasure to take you there.

    Best wishes


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  1. Joy + passion = energy (for you and everyone around you) « 40 Days to Change

    […] Joy + passion = energy (for you and everyone around you) Posted on February 22, 2010 by amikim Barbara Winter wrote an interesting post on the effect people with passion have on their friends. […]