You Are Magic
I waited most of my life to start living authentically. Before it happened I was a constant breeze. Forever changing my persona to fit a mold or what I felt others wanted to see and experience. I never felt like I truly fit in or would every realize my purpose in the world.
Purpose can be an enigma. Without it we float, searching for that “thing” which will set us apart from others and yet, bring us closer to them at the same time. Often we magically find our purpose and there is suddenly the glow of meaning shining bright upon our life. Purpose is the soul’s salve. The beautiful thing about purpose is it doesn’t have to come in the form of a massive life change. It can be found in the littlest things and as we nurture it and make it a meaningful piece of our hearts, it will grow and provide us with all of the tools we have been searching for to build a joyful and meaningful life.
I believe authenticity and purpose go hand in hand. They can show up one before the other or maybe even at the same time for some of us, but if you have one you can be sure the other is soon to follow. I love this piece by poet Craig Crippen
When I began living life from a place of authenticity and purpose everything I needed started showing up. It began as a little candle light but as I took the time and care to nurture the feelings that came along with discovering what it was that lit me up, soon there was a flame always burning there in my heart. I’ll give you some background.
I used to be a nurse. I worked in Acute Care on a post surgical unit for many years. I remember distinctly what it was that changed my perspective and helped me to become a more authentic and purpose driven human being. I started giving my patients hair cuts and makeovers.
I went to work one day and one of my patients was an elderly man who had been in hospital for months and months. He came to our ward from the medical unit and he had been there for a very long time. He had no family or friends and sometimes hospitals are extremely busy places where extra one on one care is virtually impossible. I say this because his appearance was a shambles. His hair was a mass of tangles sitting atop his head. It was basically one long knot of wispy hair that was probably at least a foot long. He had a full beard covered in old food. Nobody had given him an actual shower for some time. He was withdrawn and not very mobile and had come from a ward where there had been a recent outbreak of a hospital acquired illness so even though it’s not a good excuse, that was why his appearance had been so neglected. It’s a reality in health care.
It made me very sad to see him like that. He looked like a street person and as someone who feels disgusting if I don’t shower for one day - I wanted to fix that for him.
I borrowed a special shower wheel chair and gave up my lunch break to take the extra time to wheel him down three floors to a unit with a special wheel chair access shower. When I placed the chair underneath that warm spray of the shower there was this sound that came from his throat. I remember it as sounding like utter and complete joy. The emotion that came from that sound was so guttural and thankful and happy. It made me tear up to see the look of pure bliss come over his face as he turned it up into the spray of the water. That water streaming down upon him as he took the soap and cloth and started scrubbing himself clean as I washed his hair. I realized as I helped him that there was so much I took for granted in life. I’d helped hundreds and hundreds of patients take showers before and wash clean. There was something this time that was different though. This time a feeling crept in that maybe had not been fully present inside of me previously. It was called Purpose.
This man hadn’t spoken much to anyone in months. He had laid in bed filthy with hair that most likely gave him one hell of a headache pulling on his scalp every time it touched the pillow. His eyes had been dull and sad.
As I helped him dry off after his shower and wheeled him back to his room, his eyes were like the eyes of a 30 year old in the prime of his life. His posture was tall and straight in the chair. He was proud to be clean and it landed on me fully how much laying in that bed dirty and un-showered had made a huge difference in his healing process.
That day I made the time to give him a full hair cut and to shave off his beard. I borrowed the unit clerks scissors and the ward trimmers to give him a full man make over and it was literally one of the most satisfying experiences of my life to see how much that care and time meant to my patient. When I was done he looked in the mirror and a handsome smiling man stared back at him. He looked like Anthony Hopkins, maybe better. He started talking to me during the process of fixing up his appearance. He told me about his life before and how he hoped to go back home to his dog. Afterwards, he raved to everyone who entered the room about his new look. I will tell you that the pride and the love and the absolute meaningful purpose I felt that day still lives in me even after all these years. It woke me up. It switched on a light inside of me that will always burn bright and that I believe helped me become who I am at this moment.
After my first patient makeover I went out and bought proper barber scissors and a set of professional clippers. I stowed it in a bag under the sink and labelled it Trista’s Spa Kit. I added nice smelling shampoo, conditioner, proper soap….anything I could think of to help someone feel less like they were bathing in a hospital. I started giving hair cuts to any patient who needed or asked for one. Keep in mind I was never a trained hair stylist. I You Tubed it mainly or watched carefully as I had my own hair cut. The sound of the scissors snip snip snip was so satisfying to me. I like to think that each hair cut got a little better each time. Eventually, my colleagues even began to send me emails to book in their own patients the next time I was on shift. It became my “thing”. We all search for our thing in this world and at that time in my life my “thing” was giving makeovers to the patients on my ward. It may seem small or minimal but to me it was something filled with love and empathy coming from a place of true authenticity and straight from my heart.
Working as a nurse saved me. It showed me that I am a person filled with compassion and capable of empathy. It softened my heart when I needed it most and taught me that we are all the same and human beings are all yearning for love and understanding.
When I chose to leave my nursing career to have two more children and stay home with them as a stay at home mom there was a great void in my soul. The way I missed nursing was the way an amputee misses a leg. With grief, and longing and what is called phantom limb pain. I could barely allow myself to think of the career I left behind because in all honesty I felt as though my “thing” was now lost forever. I felt as though I had turned my back on my true purpose and that felt like a betrayal to myself and the world. You ask why I didn’t just go back to work. My husband works very long shifts away from home, sometimes 8-9 weeks at a time and I told myself that I needed to be home for my kids as a constant while they were little. I believe it was the right decision and led me to discover even more about who I am to this world and what I yearn to give back.
Here is what I want to tell you about purpose.
It lives inside us all and no matter which career choice we make or turn away from, which life choices we follow or don’t follow - purpose will always walk beside us.
It wasn’t until I took the time to allow my creativity to lead the way that I realized that my purpose in this life has nothing to do with money or a career. My purpose is to experience life in an authentic and joyful way and right now that means creating dresses that reflect who I am and who I want to be. Yes, the career I choose, the place I live, the people I spend time with contribute to that experience but none of those are my purpose. I am my own Purpose.
My love for creating and dreaming help to keep the light of purpose burning bright but if I woke up tomorrow without working hands or a desire to sew dresses I would still know my purpose and I would still live authentically. That flame will never dim inside of me and I know now that part of my purposeful life is to help other women realize the potential that lives within them too - to discover a purposeful meaningful authentic self.