Re-Inventing Purpose

I’ve been searching for two decades.

Since I first began to daydream about what I would be when I grew up — a ballerina, an astronomer, a fashion designer, a marine biologist, a singer, an actress — I was desperate for a role that “fit.”

I sat in university classrooms, trying to decipher codes and puzzles made with numbers and ideas. I looked in bookshops everywhere I went, even if I didn’t know the language. I switched from one job to another, constructing dreams and plans around each, ways to move forward, to be more.

And while I gained knowledge, met interesting people, and found work that allowed me to live comfortably, I never discovered my purpose.

Until last Wednesday at about 9:25am. That’s when it finally hit me.


I sat at my desk meditating, trying to be grateful for my purpose in the world (whatever that was), when my purpose walked up and smacked me across the face. It had been right there the whole time.

I always thought that a person’s purpose came in some great act: through their research or writing, a scientific discovery, a job well done, a passion given life.

But that was only a piece of the truth.

I realized my purpose is in every moment, in everything I do, in every interaction and relationship I have. Eight years ago, my purpose was in working with children and showing them how smart they were, once they knocked their obstacles down. Now it is in every post I write, every act of kindness and love. It’s in designing websites and teaching archery and smiling at strangers.

In living and loving and being who I am, I live my purpose.

Maybe there are other big bright things in my future, and everything I do now prepares me to shine like that. But this moment is filled with as much purpose as those future ones. And that realization has been a game changer.

Have you found your purpose yet? Or are you still searching?

Risks, Edges, and Failing Big

Listen, we need to talk about Brené Brown for a moment.

First: She’s awesome. She’s got this motherly goddess energy about her that makes you want to confess your soul. At the same time, she has fire that wants to get out and say “suck it” when someone’s mean.

Second: Her ideas resonate. She spoke at the World Domination Summit about vulnerability as the birthplace of creativity. To be truly creative (and to create), you must be willing to fail. And fail big. That can be a wildly scary thing, especially when we’re taught society only awards successes. But you can’t succeed big unless you walk up to the edge and are prepared to fail big as well.

Edges have been on my mind a lot lately, especially as I write. As artists, as creatives, as people, we need to push ourselves; we need to walk to that edge and swan dive over. And sometimes we may fail. But we get ourselves back up, dust off, and do it again, because we know what we’re capable of. We do it with the art we create, with the romantic relationships that we delve into, with businesses that we want to start.

The metaphor is easy. It’s the practice of getting to the edge and failing that’s difficult. In some cases, I don’t know what that looks like. What am I willing to fail big at because the risk is worth it? What would my edge in my writing be? Is it the language I use? The content I write about? I’m still trying to find out what feels edgy for me, what makes me feel vulnerable. There are ideas stirring in my head and so much I want to work on.

What was the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? A business? A romance? A trip? I’d love to know — and hear how it turned out.

{image from Chris Guillebeau’s flickr, used under Creative Commons License; also check out Brené’s TED talks: The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame}

Morning Routines

For the past few weeks, I’ve been establishing a new morning routine, one that includes tea upon awakening, a proper breakfast at my dining table, and singing to good music. I get time in at the gym to move my body before arriving at my desk, and I often read interesting books while I’m on the elliptical. I let the hot water in the shower soothe my muscles and I spend a few minutes visualizing all the good things that will happen.

The hardest change I’ve been trying to make is weaning myself off checking email before I get to work. Given that I was waking once or twice in the middle of the night to read texts and emails (seriously, I compulsively read emails at 2am), this has been a huge, difficult task for me. I feel like I’m missing out by sleeping. But the few mornings I’ve successfully managed not to peek at my inbox, I’ve noticed how calm I feel, and how excited I am to read notes from friends when I finally sit down.

What’s your morning routine?

(And do you have difficulty staying away from your email like I do? I swear I’m addicted.)

{Mugs from kngo. Aren’t they sweet? The first says “good morning starshine” and the other “shine on you crazy diamond.” Love those. Consider them my message to you today.}

In Celebration

There’s so much I want to share with you about what’s been happening in my life lately. I feel renewed in a way that I never have before. And I’m a bit overwhelmed because I don’t know where to start my story. Figures that I’m a writer and just want to drop you into my world, no introduction necessary. But introductions are helpful, and so this short and unavoidably vague paragraph must do. Some days, I may share specific events; other days, I’ll share ideas and I hope they sing for you the way they do for me.

I drove up to New York City this weekend for a workshop. I had hesitated to register for it, as the topic made me mildly uncomfortable. But sometimes we need to be in our discomfort, and so I went. Eight hours and seven pages of notes later, I left feeling the beginnings of real transformation. This is one piece I want to share with you:

We spend so much time trying to fix ourselves: make our bodies thinner, our minds smarter, our skin smoother and flawless. What would happen if we stopped fixing? What if we started celebrating instead? The action can be the same, but the intention is different. So instead of running at the gym to lose weight, what if we ran at the gym to celebrate the amazing things our body can do? How would your life change if your actions weren’t about fixing what’s broken but about celebrating what’s already whole?

Do you think it’s possible to transform our daily actions into celebrations?

How will you celebrate yourself today?

I really want to hear your answers, so please leave a comment. Today, I’m celebrating with a Bollywood dance class.

{photographs by Felix Meyer, used and licensed under Creative Commons}

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Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.