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Q&A With Elaine Howard
The Attorney Who Refused to go Extinct and Began Following Her Passion for Paleontolog
Q: What inspired you to write Passion in the Bones: A Guide to Breaking the Chains of Negativity and Living Your Own Adventure?
Elaine Howard: Many people have expressed to me how much they wish they could find something that would make their own lives more interesting and exciting. Such comments led me to take a close look at my own life and realize how much my life has transformed for the better after finding my passion. I then set out to not only help others find their own passion but help them understand why that is so important and powerful.
Q: Prior to discovering paleontology, you felt hopeless in life. How did your new passion transform you?
Howard: For more than a decade, I focused on what I felt was missing in my life and, as a result, I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I did not realize that my negative focus was drawing more negativity into my life and making it virtually impossible for my dreams to unfold. That all changed in 2005, when I inadvertently discovered my passion for paleontology and my life soon transformed from one of despair and hopelessness to one of excitement and adventure. In reality, it was not dinosaurs that changed my life, but my change in mental focus that broke the cycle of negativity and radically transformed my life for the better.
Q: Why is it important to have a positive mental focus?
Howard: When our minds are filled with worry, doubt, and fear, our negative thoughts produce negative energy, which, in turn, draws more negativity into our lives and makes it very difficult for our circumstances to improve. When our minds are focused on something positive and exciting, however, our enthusiasm creates a positive energy, which not only improves the quality of our lives but also draws positive people and opportunities to us. Indeed, a positive mental focus not only helps break the cycle of negativity, it initiates a cycle of positivity in our lives.
Q: Sisaundra Lewis, the vocalist best known as a powerhouse contestant on The Voice, is a childhood friend and in your book you discuss your friendship. How has she inspired you through the years?
Howard: When I was 12 years old and struggling with low self-esteem, I admired Sisaundra’s ability to not only entertain those around her in school but also to lift my spirits during an otherwise bleak time in my life. When we reconnected 18 years later, Sisaundra’s success, which included five world tours with Celine Dion, motivated and encouraged me to not give up on my career as an attorney. Although I have since achieved my own success and found my own passion, Sisaundra inspires me today with not just her voice but her positive energy which continues to lift spirits wherever she appears!
Q: Multiple award-winning paleontologist Dean R. Lomax wrote the foreword to your book. How did you connect with him and what has he taught you?
Howard: I first met Dean, who’s from England, at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming in 2008, when he was just 18 years old and I was already an established attorney. Despite our differences including our age and nationality, we made an instant connection based on our mutual love of paleontology. Today, we remain close friends who continue to pursue our love for all things prehistoric. Dean, who has since achieved unbelievable success as a paleontologist, has not only taught me a lot about fossils, he’s also shown me how a shared passion can connect people no matter what “barriers” may appear to exist between them.
Q: What advice do you have for those in mid-life who are hesitant to make a change?
Howard: I did not discover my own passion until I was in my mid-thirties and I’ve spent the past 14 years pursuing it. At the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, I have met many people who only discovered their passion for paleontology after they retired. Those retirees have shown me that age is just a number, and that we are never too old to learn and pursue new adventures.
Q: What are the steps to finding and sustaining a passion that will get the positives flowing—and keep them flowing—in your life?
Howard: First, you have to define your passion. In the book, I explain the four essential characteristics of any life-changing passion:
1.) It must be something positive and productive
2.) You’re genuinely excited about it
3) You pursue it on an ongoing basis
4) It’s something you share with others
Once you know what you’re looking for, then you need to begin the process of looking for it. Your true and life-changing passion is like a dinosaur skeleton buried in the ground. You’re not going to find it until you seek it out and uncover it. In the book, I compare the process of finding your passion to the process of finding and uncovering a dinosaur bone: Go prospecting (looking on the surface), slowing uncovering, “digging in” and then continuing to learn and dig. Once you’re digging into passion that you are genuinely excited about and share with others on an ongoing basis, then that’s when the positives not only start flowing but continue to flow.
Q: Describe your most memorable dinosaur dig.
Howard: My most memorable dig was helping the Wyoming Dinosaur Center uncover a five-foot Camarasaurus femur. It is unbelievable that one leg bone was nearly as long as I am tall! That really puts in perspective how amazing these animals were. That particular dig was also memorable because my friend Dean Lomax, who would later become an internationally recognized multi-award winning paleontologist, was there and we spent a lot of time at the dig site discussing our mutual passion for paleontology!
Q: What is your favorite dinosaur?
Howard: It’s difficult to narrow it down because I like them all from the giant sauropods to the tiny Compsognathus. However, one dinosaur that comes to mind is Pachycephalosaurus, which had a thick dome shaped-skull surrounded by bony knobs. Scientists have different theories about what the pachy’s thick dome was used for, but I can envision the dinosaur using it to plow forward through whatever got in its way! That’s the way we need to be—just keep plowing through the obstacles we encounter and keep moving forward in a positive direction!
About Elaine Howard
Attorney Elaine Howard transformed her life from one of despair and hopelessness—after battling academic struggles, low self-esteem, and an eating disorder—to one of excitement and adventure when she inadvertently discovered paleontology. Over the past fourteen years, Howard has become certified in fossil lab and fieldwork by the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and participated in many dinosaur digs. She continues to spend her spare time as an adventurer pursuing her passion for dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. As a certified coach and member of the Certified Coaches Alliance, she is also on a mission to encourage others to find their own unique passion and allow it to transform their lives into an exciting adventure.
Passion in the Bones: A Guide to Breaking the Chains of Negativity and Living Your Own Adventure is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon and other retailers.
About Passion In the Bones
Passion in the Bones: A Guide to Breaking the Chains of Negativity and Living Your Own Adventure [Radius Book Group, January 22, 2019] by Elaine Howard is a dinosaur-themed step-by-step guide on how to change your mindset, explore your interests, identify and nurture true passions and share them with others. The book reminds readers that you have the power to enjoy your life and make the most of it, and that passion provides us with a purpose.
With foreword by popular British paleontologist Dean Lomax, Passion in the Bones offers a valuable guide to unleash your personal power and live the positive and fulfilling life you deserve. Throughout this book, Howard reviews case studies about specific people’s passion journeys and how each of them are not only reaping the benefits of their passion pursuits, but also making a positive difference in the world.