A few years ago I hit fifty and began to melt. My body fought diligently to become best buds with gravity, and my energy became one with the couch upon which I sat far too often. It was like Dorothy had thrown a pail of water on me.
While my brain screamed sweet cliches like, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” my body responded with, “Yea, well, did you know there is a marathon of ‘Chopped’ on today?”
I remember sitting in my backyard on a beautiful spring day just to watch the birds at my bird feeder. I must have been there for thirty minutes before I began to cry. “Good Grief,” I thought, “I have turned into the crazy bird lady.”
What was wrong with me? My children were now unofficially on their own. My days had became wonderfully clutter-free. And yet it seemed that with the clutter went the purpose. And then menopause stopped by, put the heat on, and took away my last vestige of strength.
I knew that if I didn’t figure out my purpose soon, I would fall down the rabbit hole and begin mixing metaphors.
And then there was that thing called work . . .
As a consultant and small business owner, I watched my business revenue dwindle as I turned down opportunities because I didn’t have the energy for them anymore. To power myself up, I looked at the competition to my left and to my right and ran backwards.
I was lost. To find my way, I did what every red-blooded American does — I tried to find a fast-food answer. I went through the drive-thrus of religious books, mediums, transformational conferences and dream analysts. I ordered my request, but when I drove around to the window there was nothing for me.
I tried to write a book about the experience, but I always heard the siren of television and potato chips and left my laptop behind to pursue a much chunkier waistline.
In the most unlikely of places, I finally found a metaphor that helped me determine my purpose.
I realize I’m no Katniss, but the question begged to be answered . . .
I sat for a week with “The Hunger Games,” a book that my daughter forced me to read at the beach. I turned my back on a stack of books I had brought for the occasion, and read a book that I found to be incredibly creative, although not at all relaxing. I finished the book in 1.5 days and prepared for my real beach reads. My daughter informed me that this was a trilogy and she had the other two books with her. I kissed my beach books goodbye.
As I read the series, I began to ask myself: If life were the Hunger Games, what would propel me to beat everybody to that backpack? For what or for whom would I relentlessly, courageously fight? And how many years would it take before I would definitely know when to use ‘who’ or ‘whom’?
And I made a list of those people and things for which I would courageously fight:
And from this list I began to form a future . . .
At this wonderful age of wrinkles which I now call wisdom because it sounds more impressive, I think I have finally determined my purpose. It is, simply, to serve and encourage people through my humor, my writing, my speaking, and my coaching.
Are people still confused by me when they ask what I do? Absolutely. Do I have the most undefined niche in the world? Possibly. Am I suddenly getting opportunities to speak and write and coach others? Yes.
I have found that opportunity knocks when we beam. Even in a corporate job, we should ask ourselves – In this corporate role, for what or for whom would I relentlessly, courageously fight?
We can each make a list, stay true to it, and power up our shine.