The discussion went many places but of course, we all shared stories of our youth. Some of us were told by our parents that we could do absolutely anything, only to get our bubbles burst when we found out that life as an adult is hard. Some of us were discouraged from certain professions because our well meaning parents were trying to protect us from a life of supposed poverty and struggle. It seems that there are two types of "good" parents when it comes to teaching about purpose (I'm not going into the realm of mean or abusive parents here). You've got the parents who absolutely encourage their children to follow their dreams and the ones who instill practicality and critical thinking skills first. Not to say that this second type of parent doesn't encourage their child to live their passion, they just want to make sure that they thoroughly think it through first. How long will it take? What are the risks? What are the potential rewards? What will it cost? What is the earning potential? Who is the competition? How will you recover if you fail? Because, of course, you need to have a plan B.
I received some of both styles of parenting. My father, being a successful self-made entrepreneur was very pragmatic about career choices. My mother being a yoga instructor, was more on the "follow your bliss" track, however, she too became an entrepreneur and has a hard working, practical side too. My parents are very different people and I am thankful for the lessons and traits that I inherited from them both.
I believe that part of growing into who you are meant to be, involves peering into your past and searching for those pivotal moments where you learned to doubt yourself. I want to say that there were a few of these moments around my career choices and deciding what I should go to school for. Ultimately, I decided to not go to college right away. I remember feeling paralyzed around what I would study and how my education would be paid for. A few things I thought I wanted to do were teaching, creative writing, literature, and photography. I imagined myself traveling the world taking pictures and writing poetry. Maybe I would publish a book. Maybe I would teach. Maybe I would just go to school forever. I wanted adventure, I wanted to be surrounded by beauty, I wanted to create, I wanted to learn. None of my ideas seemed very practical and I got wrapped up in self-doubt.
Unsure of what to do after high school graduation, I decided to get a job and apartment. I worked at Pier 1 Imports for many years, eventually becoming the manager of my own store. During this time I did go back to school for Interior Design. One of my favorite things to do at Pier 1 was to help people pick out furniture and accessories. I took this as a sign that Interior Design was the field for me. I loved school. I got student loans, all on my own. And trust me, I'll be paying for them for a very long time! I decided to stop at the Associates Degree and find work in the field. I left Pier 1 and started working for a local Interior Designer. The job was surprisingly, not at all fulfilling. I wasn't sure why at the time but I clearly know now. It was because I never got to interact with the clients. The designer would do the client facing work and then she would tell me what to look for and I'd come up with three options for each item, she'd pick from my selections (usually she'd pick my top choice) and then I'd make the presentation boards. She'd take the board to the client and get all of the praise. It wasn't long before I quit that job and went back to Pier 1. I needed to be around people.
There was a turning point in my life at age 25 when I left my ex-husband after years of an abusive marriage. I was working at Pier 1 at the time. I had finally been promoted to Store Manager. But the stress of my separation and my assimilation of the long-term abuse caused me to have an emotional breakdown. I asked repeatedly for a personal leave of absence and when it was not granted (I was asked to hold on just a couple more months), I just walked out of my store one day. I never returned. I wouldn't answer their calls. I had relayed my story and why I had to do this to one of my assistant managers and I asked that they leave me alone. Yep, I had a true mid-twenties crisis. I left my husband, I left my career and started over.
The story from here is long and has lots of twists and turns but essentially, my life as I know it now started that day when I left it all behind. I took two months off and did a whole lot of nothing. I moved in with my new boyfriend who is now my loving husband, Joran. I worked another retail job for just a few months before finding a job as a summer art camp counselor, I've never been paid less to have more fun, that's for sure! I then got a job at the museum where the art camp was held as the Marketing and Membership Assistant. There was no room for growth without a degree so I had to start thinking about my next move. I wanted to help people and I wanted a family. I needed a flexible schedule and I high earning opportunity. In 2001, shortly after 911, decided to go to massage school. Massage still is a big love and passion of mine but my search for purpose didn't stop there.
In 2005 my daughter, Alchemy was born and that changed everything. I wanted to stay home with her more than anything but we were desperately broke and I had to go back to work. It was painful for the first year but then my mother opened her business, Balance & Bliss after she finished her training in Ayurveda. I worked for her doing massage, Ayurvedic treatments and I helped out in the office. While I loved every second at Balance & Bliss, I still had a hard time earning enough to cover living expenses, especially with the cost of daycare. I layered on some other things. I tried my hand at teaching massage for awhile. I then got an opportunity to teach some stress management classes and do administrative work for a workplace wellness company. This helped fill the gap. But as it turned out, that company went out of business suddenly. I was faced with an opportunity that I had never seen coming.
The opportunity to start my own workplace wellness company quickly became a reality. The practical business woman in me saw the potential. I picked up the pieces of the company I had been working for and ran with it. I often say that my business, Enliven Wellness Works is a company that I never would have chosen on my own. It was purely circumstantial. I'm proud of what I've created with Enliven. However, my calling to help people (one-on-one, preferably face to face) was put on the back burner as the President and Founder of this company.
In 2011 my son, Ashton was born and I was feeling the pull to bring more meaning into my work. I decided to peruse my certification in health coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It took me several years to find the space in my life to dedicate myself to coaching others but the education was extremely valuable and helped my confidence considerably. As it is with my life, I began feeling like there was some thing more and I eventually discovered the book the Desire Map which has really helped me define what I want in life based how I want to FEEL. For example, my core desired feelings are joy + ease + connected + golden + divine feminine. I use these core desired feelings to make decisions and stay in alignment with how I want to feel. I am now a licensed Desire Map Facilitator and I'm just loving how this work is influencing my coaching and workshops. You can read more about my work with the Desire Map here.
This brings us to current day where I am still maintaining the juggling act of wearing many hats. The Enliven Wellness Works President, The Mother, The Wife, The Health Coach, The Massage Therapist, The Desire Map Facilitator.
But wait, that's not all. There's this other layer of what lights me up. I've become very spiritually inclined these days. My intuition is heightened. I'm honoring the moon cycles. I'm drawn more to Reiki and energy healing, I've been writing more, even a bit of spiritually inspired poetry lately. I haven't written poetry since high school. I've been feeling very creative, making art out of nature, and taking pictures of them. Hmmmm...this is kind of sounding like my high school dream of being a poet and photographer. I'm no pro at either but I am blogging and sharing and people seem to be responding. Oh, and dancing! It's rare that I get to dance the way I like. It can't happen in a club or most at concerts. It's sacred and ecstatic. It needs to be done sober, with others of like mind and to loud tribal music. It's the most healing thing I do. Luckily, my husband is a gifted spiritual leader of a new kind of church called, Integral Church. One of the events that we co-lead is a sacred dance and drumming events every solstice and equinox called, Pulse.
I feel like a new "me" is evolving and at the same time, I'm returning to the curious creative spirit of my youth. It's kind of scary because my practical mind wants to know, exactly how will the money be made. We go through ebs and flows with money. Never falling completely flat on our faces but somehow never catching enough traction to feel truly successful. Mostly we want more money, to do more projects, to help more people. I wonder how much my learned self-doubt plays into this feeling of not enough. What if I just believed in myself a little more? I know in my heart that the things that light me up, are the things I am meant to do. I must experience and share joy, for the greater good of all. I see more of these activities that inspire joy coming into the forefront. I see myself leading more circles & retreats, writing, creating, listening, learning and traveling. Especially, as the kids grow and become more independent. And so it is.
Circling back to the discussion group topic, purpose. We were asked, how will we teach our children about purpose? One thing that I know for sure is that I will hold my practical advice tendencies back, just a bit. The last thing I want to do is teach my children to doubt themselves. Especially at a young age. And yes, high school seniors are still young. I never want them to second guess their dreams. I also don't want to blast them so full of optimism that they don't have a sense of the hard work that it takes to succeed. I think that's the strength in what I learned from my own upbringing. I will ask my children questions about their ambitions. I will get them thinking about how to make a plan for success. But I will do my best to not project my own fears of their failure, or my own, on to their vision. And I will always ask them, "My dear, does it make you happy?" If yes, then by all means, do more of THAT!
I know this article is long and if you've made it this far, I thank you for listening to my story. I'd love to hear about your journey with purpose, if you'd like to share in the comments. I'd like to leave you with the poem that goes with the beautiful quote that I opened with. Please go out and enjoy your one wild and precious life! Peace and blessings to you.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
The things that light me up are the things that I am meant to do.