Purpose and Meaning

source: AshevilleTrails.com

So these two words keep repeating over and over in my head – Purpose and Meaning.

Purposeful and Meaningful – Since I was laid off I have been asking to find my purpose. A job that is something that I was meant to do – not knowing or caring what it was. As time passed – just getting out of the house to do anything felt good enough. Leaving so that 8 hours could disappear and receive a paycheck became my simple goal. I accepted a job or what I referred to as a "placeholder". I knew it was not going to fit the bill as a true personal commitment, but it checked enough boxes so I said, “Yes!”

Well, the first few weeks were brutal. They were so kind and took the time to train me, but it was overload on all levels. My brain had been on vacation for months – my eyes had not stared at a computer screen for hours, much less absorbed any new procedures or policies. It was an uphill climb for sure. Just to realize which of the 5 platforms to go find one piece of information had my head spinning. But the brain does absorb and the eyes begin to focus. Truly, I had my doubts. As I began to gain some confidence something more important happened. As the daily routine became normal and I was able to at least add a little personality to the day and joke with people to try to actually have some fun. The co-workers had all been super patient and supportive. It was a steep learning curve. But, in my heart, I was still empty and could not see what my value-add would be to this role or this very large corporation.

One Thursday three of the girls had a happy hour scheduled. They have not seen each other since December. They kindly included me. It truly is a miracle that these three young women would let the “newbie” in, not to mention I am easily the age of their mothers. I am thrilled to be included and have never been to Pluckers for happy hour, so it is all an adventure for me. I get there and find them at a booth in the back of the restaurant. It feels like life is back to normal since the pandemic. People are laughing and talking and no masks! The four of us settle into the booth and place our order. The small talk begins and some work stories are shared. One girl is pregnant, so the “cooing” over her belly begins. And then I start to feel my purpose. There is a broken heart in the group. A friend has died and grief surrounds one girl at the table. Not just sadness, but a full on crushed and shattered heart. It is the first time I have really met her. The story is not just a death. It is a mind-blowing loss on all levels and the piece that pulls me in to see my purpose – SUICIDE.

There is no way to say it lightly. There is no way to sugarcoat it. It is a word I know well. I have carried it in my heart and on my sleeve since I was 9 years old. The world does not understand. People run when you say the word. There are no adjectives, adverbs, or pronouns you can add to the sentence to make it bearable or soften the blow. It is a universal conversation stopper.  Not only had it taken the life of someone too young, too talented, and too beautiful, it then takes all the survivors down, too. It casts a black cloud around them and their grief is so complex. Very few to no one understands or can begin to show compassion for this loss and the experience that it throws you into.  

But, there I was at a Pluckers in South Austin. Sipping my cocktail with three new co-workers. What that moment did for me was give me my purpose. This was the first job I could do at my new company.  I could take this broken heart and I could bring comfort. I can sit in this space with her. Her pain is safe with me. This shattered heart will have a place to heal. I can honor this beautiful soul that she has lost and give her the space to ache, to talk, to cry, to scream, and to slowly and very slowly – begin to heal.

I now know why I said “yes” to this job. I now have a purpose and this chapter has meaning. It is not the computer programs. No, it is not answering the phones correctly or responding to an email. It has nothing to do with getting the paycheck. It is that I have found a purpose for my soul to connect with another. 

This one is going to take some time and it is going to be hard. I know – I have been there. But, all I have to do is sit and listen. All I have to do is let her know it is okay. All I can do is tell her she will make it through this horrible and painful journey.  

I will just be a safety net for her, waiting to catch her as the cracks of her heart start to repair. I can walk this path with her for this is a purpose worth living for. This is why we are here. This is what purpose is and this is what makes life meaningful.

She will not walk this path alone – I will walk with her.


Coast to Coast

Finally the stillness and a night alone at home.  Time to connect and do what makes my heart smile.

I am a lucky girl, I have a great husband and lots of sweet friends. I am social person so if I get a night home alone I usually fill it with someone I have not seen in a while. Well, last night my husband and first born went to see a movie. I am not a great movie-goer. I inherited this problem from my father. He could not see a movie if there was too much “human suffering.” Now, you must know I laughed at this in my youth and thought, “oh, it is only a movie, be flexible, toughen up.” Well, I have a long list of things that have become his words echoing in my mind and I now agree with them. If I could only invite him to dinner and thank him for warning me of these traits that a young person cannot comprehend. One day we will see each other again and I will thank him for the traits that we share.  

That being said a WWI documentary was not something this girl could survive. So it is cold outside and I am home alone. The fire is popping and I stumble upon the channel that I had no idea existed. It is the “Hallmark channel.”  Now I knew they played Christmas movies non-stop for the month of December. I had NO idea Valentine’s was another season of quick happy ending movies. Now this was really going to be a night for me to remember!!! I needed to make some bracelets and it has been months since I could sit down and make the space for Healing Knots. How life gets in the way of our favorite things I cannot understand.

SO I quickly run to my desk and start gathering the bracelet makings for a long ago ordered bracelet for my friend. She had lost her two dogs and wanted a bracelet to remember her furry babies. As I begin to make this order, I realize I have some people out there that might need a bracelet to get them through a new chapter. Some of my most faithful bracelet girls that have worn the first editions that are so cumbersome and tender I see them and I know I made them in week one of Healing Knots. I reach out to my sister-in-law in North Carolina. She has had a week. Her husband, Nate, had surgery and she has been managing the bedside vigil that comes with the waiting, watching and hoping the results show nothing serious. As I texted and asked if I could send her a new bracelet she responds with this text:

Here is the bracelet she was taking about:

It is like her friend was my angel that could be there with her in North Carolina while I was far away in Texas and that bracelet was able to go right back to Chris to give her back what she had given her friend. Now this is the full circle of these wooden beads that I cannot explain and that keep me coming back.

I quickly found this bead mix and whipped out a bracelet to get to Chris in Asheville. Her journey with Nate on this one is not over and she still needs to be held.
As I finished her bracelet I realized my dear friend Lisa had just celebrated a birthday on Friday.  Oh, she was a faithful Healing Knots fan and maybe, just maybe she would want a new bracelet to celebrate her special day. I quickly sent a text, “Hey Dirt! (Remember she is my Dirt Sister from Alabama) do you need a new bracelet?”  
Lisa is in California. Palo Alto to be exact. Oh, those special memories we shared back in the 80’s in Palo Alto are such treasures in my heart.  Quickly a photo of this bracelet appears on my screen.

It is the same bracelet that Chris had sent me. So from Asheville, NC to Palo Alto, CA. Two people that I love so dearly, both on the same evening have the same bracelet that they need to replace. These are the moments I cannot explain. Tears roll down my face.  First of all, I send out that silly question to people I love, “Do you need a new bracelet to get through this or to celebrate that?” I am ready for the day when someone says to me, “Now Corinne, I love you so much and know you love to make those things. But enough is enough. I have loved every one you have sent, but I am over it. You can rest.”

Truly, it will never hurt my feelings. I do not know why there is still something in these wooden beads and the knots I tie. I know it feeds something deep in my soul to make them. To put the colors together in a bowl and then see them come alive with the knots. I know it makes me remember that my brother pushed this creative outlet into my life to make it past the loss of his precious life. I know it keeps me connected to the wonder of each day and that we are all connected in our hearts forever. It gives me such deep moments of JOY that from coast to coast the same beads are holding people that I love.

In a world filled with so much stuff and so many choices.

Sometimes it is still the simple things that fill our hearts.  Love and wonder are alive today. Go out and celebrate that today is a new day!


Poetry and Life

Poetry and Life – Two wonderful topics!

Today I decided to grab a cup of coffee and take the Sunday paper and read it in my bed.  This is a huge treat for me.  I love my bed.  It is new and has white crisp linens and a very special quilt from my Grandmother Hallie folded at the end. I only spend time to sleep in my bed usually.  Those hours have slowly become 9:30pm to 5:30am.

So at 8:30 on a Sunday morning snuggling back in under my quilt is a treat like Christmas morning to me.  Now, we still have the newspaper delivered in our driveway.  Yes, it is rolled up put in a plastic bag and thrown from a car by a human every morning around 6:00am.

I describe this at length because I know we are one of a dying breed.  Yes, it is bad for the environment to have a huge pile of papers to recycle every week, it does sort of pad the wine bottles as we push the trash down the driveway.  It is wasteful and fills the recycling bin.  I do use the plastic bags for my doggy business receptacles.

But I am convinced my time holding the paper, reading the paper and cherishing the information adds true value to my life.

I must add it is a constant budget discussion with my husband.  He is convinced it is one more small monthly charge we could eliminate.  Having computers should make our lives able to read all papers at the touch of a button.

I stand my ground and explain – it keeps us aware of what is happening and gives our eyes a break from the computer screen.  It inspires me in ways I have no idea and brings topics into my life that are moving.  And today was one of those days!

The sad story of an old Austin restaurant closing after 30 years of business.  The back story of the owner and her journey of owning the special restaurant and what it did for Austin over the years.  And below that article a beautiful photo of a poet speaking at a Women’s Conference.  Mary Oliver, a famous poet.  She died at age 83.  Maggie Smith wrote a beautiful article celebrating the poetry and life of Mary.  Maggie writes for the Washington Post and she grew up in Ohio, just like Mary did.  Mary Oliver won a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry in 1984.  Well, all of this is so interesting to me.

In 1984 I was not paying attention to poetry or Mary Oliver.  I was a coed at Florida State University hanging out with my sorority sisters and worried about what aerobics class we would attend each day. I had no clue who was winning the Pulitzer Prize that year.

And today, I care.  I adore that all of this was dropped in my driveway.  It is truly a gift.  The quilt from my grandmother I would have ignored in 1984 and now I cherish it!  These words in the paper – I cherish.  The article closes with a quote that will keep me pondering all day, maybe all week.  I want to share this with you.  The most famous, most shared Mary Oliver quote from her poem “The Summer Day.”

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your wild and precious life?”

Poetry is powerful.  This one line is a question I want to ask my children, my friends and myself.  Over and over.

Thank you Mary for sharing your words and your wonderful life!


You Are Enough

“It is, we are, already enough.” - Kristin Armstrong, Tribeza
How can 6 words, 2 commas and 1 period say it all?  Well, Kristin Armstrong did it in her article titled, “Already Enough” for the December edition of Tribeza.
It is a local rag here in Austin. It has been around since Austin was Austin, not this millennial, expensive, Instagram happy, bachelorette party destination that we have morphed into. 
DO NOT get me started.
In my efforts to preserve the Austin that I know and love, my husband and I packed up our 3600 sq. ft. house in the suburbs – best school district they have claimed for decades – and SOLD IT!
We got rid of all the stuff and moved to a 1967, one story with 1455 sq.ft.
It is a neighborhood where people drive old cars. People here let the leaves blow from the trees to the yard and into the street. 
Real people live here.
Some have kids, some rent, some built their house in 1967 and are still living in it. But most of all, Bob and I feel like we are home. We do simple naturally.
We like to keep our cars until they are paid off and the odometer hits 6 digits. We are happy that everyone here is different. People are not bragging about their second homes, ski vacations or what Ivy League their perfect child is attending. People here are just being who they are – doing what they do.
Bragging is not part of the casual neighbor conversation. Again – this feels good.
We didn’t know if moving 6.6 miles away and changing our zip code would work for us. All we knew was that the zip code we moved in to in 1992 had changed and we had not. So, I repeat – we just did it!
We went from 78746 to 78745. We only changed one number and moved less than 7 miles further south. And with it, we found our home.
Okay, the stove does not turn on, it needs a match, the oven sets off the smoke alarms every time we use it, the refrigerator is in the laundry room and you must walk thru the garage to get there. And all of this is right back to those simple 6 words, 2 commas and 1 period.
It is, we are, already enough.
I don’t know how to explain this. I know a fancy house with a lot of extra room is what we are supposed to want to appear successful. I know your garage is not supposed to have wood paneling. I know you are supposed to push a button so your garage door opens automatically.  Well, none of that is true for me.
None of that made my heart feel full or real or true. I sit here in 2019 and wonder what else is not true? What else is really blocking my heart from being happy and peaceful? What else is taking up space that is not needed in my life?
We get stuck, we believe things are true that are not. We get caught up in images that are not our own. This year is a New Year and this year I will borrow Kristin’s words. 
Only 6 words –
It is, we are, already enough.
Next time I see her in yoga I will thank her or for this amazing gift.
Good luck in 2019!
You are ENOUGH!