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On Purpose

Purpose. That word keeps presenting itself in my life - in conversation, on the internet, on tv, on billboards, in books, in ads. Thank you Universe. In this challenging period in my life I keep discovering the word, I know, because I’m very much seeking the purpose of, or in, my life. I’m looking for the answer to the age old question… “What is my purpose?” Cliche much?

Recently someone called me a ‘seeker’. Kinda' ‘woo woo’ but I think it fits. I’ve been looking, searching, asking for help, praying for direction, praying for wisdom to recognize the sign posts when they appear.

I’ve had/have many purposes in my blessed life. I had a purpose to be Tom and Pat’s daughter, Joe, Andy, John and Claire’s sister, Auntie to their children, Sister-in-law to their significant others and those of my dear husband, James. I’ve been blessed with the purpose of being a mother to Liam, Oona and Marigold! I’ve fulfilled the roles and purpose of being a friend, student,

employee, patient, customer, traveler, client, lover, athlete, teacher, gardener, tenant, and so on. And... I’ve had days when my purpose was simply to get out of bed and that was the most challenging thing I could imagine. But you know what? I got out of bed.

So, why do I feel like I’m still seeking my purpose?

Well, I guess because I’m still here. And, I believe with my whole heart that we are here to serve others, to make this a better place for all who inhabit it and for those who will come after us and the truth is I don't know if I've been doing enough. I'd like to do more. I'd like to be more. I’ve been praying for direction, seeking instruction on how to align myself and the gifts I've been given with the purpose I was put on this planet to do. How may I serve? And like a silly goose it's come to me. I’m figuring out that I am doing it. I am doing what I’m here on this planet to do. Wherever I am is where I’m supposed to be. And no act is too small! I came to this realization at dinner two nights ago. I always ask my kids to tell me three specific things they are grateful for that happened in their lives that day. They come up with anything from a cool breeze on the hot playground, to ice cream after school, to new sneakers. It’s good stuff. Well, on this night instead of gratitude I asked them to tell me ONE thing about themselves that they liked. They looked around. They wore blank then confused expressions. They were stumped. These beautiful gifts from heaven that shine a light so bright in my life and the lives of so many were unable to come up with anything about themselves that they liked! My eyes burned. My throat became dry... Why couldn’t they answer? How could they not see what I see so well? How could they not rattle off one thing after another? Do they not know the miracles that they are?! Please, God, help them to see! I screamed in my mind as I watched them struggle for an answer. Oh, my sweet babies…!

I nudged… “It can be anything you like about yourself, anything at all. Your eyes, your mind, something you did for someone, anything that is you.” Eventually, with more prodding they came up with two passible answers: good penmanship and restraint on the basketball court. I told them how amazing they are and right then I resolved that I would have this conversation with them every day and remind them of how lovable they are. And I told them that loving yourself and saying it out loud doesn't make you an ego maniac or pompous or any of that crap. It's you honoring the divine in yourself, your gifts to share with the world. It's okay to say you love yourself. You should say it. You should know it. I patted myself on the back.

BUT THEN... “What do you like about yourself, Mom?” they asked me.

It was MY turn.

Spittake. Ahem. Oy. Uhm….

And just like that the teacher became the student! I stumbled and searched for my answer… I cleared my throat. I tapped my fork on my plate. Wow! How can I expect my children to do what I can’t? I mean - grateful? I could start talking about what I’m grateful for until the cows come home. But what do I like or rather, love about me? Hello brain teaser! I mean how is this so hard? I mean this is LA! I’ve got lots of examples of people telling me constantly what they really, really ‘love’ about themselves! Couldn't I pick something? Right? Well, good God it can be so hard at times to push past the disingenuous nonsense to the truth. I’m a 43-year-old woman. My baby-having days are behind me as are my size 4 jeans and for the most part the male gaze. I’ve gloriously devoted the last 13 years to being at home with ankle biters and writing down stories that wow my friends and illicit 'Nos' from publishers, producers, etc. and I do NOT work in a high rise for 80 hours a week or on a set for 100 hours. I don’t have a million followers on social media and I drive a minivan. A white minivan that someone once told me was like an 'invisibility shield.' Society has told me that I’m not to be envied, to be adored. How do I love that? Well, jeez…I think the truth is that's at the heart of what I've been wondering... And in that moment, right there at the dining room table I didn’t know. A second passed. They laughed at me. And then I said, “I smiled at a landscaper on my walk this morning and he smiled back and I think it made us both feel good and I like that I initiated that and made someone feel good.”

Huh. It ain’t sexy. It’s pretty simple. But it’s true. I smile at strangers. And - I love doing that! And I love that about myself. There I said it! Phew! And there it is… so simple… so easy…. Smile. Mother Teresa said, “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” Ah, LOVE. So, purposeful love is! And there, too - Aha!!!! A signpost! A signal! My pleas, my prayers for purpose, two nights ago came in the form of my children’s hesitance to answer my question on what they love about themselves. One of my purposes is to teach them how to love themselves. And I’ll do that by loving myself and spreading love by starting with a simple smile and building from there. We are all here to make this world a better place. We are here to raise each other up. We are here to fulfill our purpose. And I want to work hard to fulfill this and each and every one of my many purposes until they spill over and spread like the love that sometimes starts with a simple smile… How divine!

© 2016 by Marion McNabb Grace

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