Category Archives: Life Purpose



Just want to give you a heads up. This is a much longer post than I usually write. It marks half a year of weekly posts (week 26), so I decided to indulge in a bit of a ramble, and hope you’ll come along.

Yesterday, Kathy Kane’s Writers’ Circle opened a delightfully random trip into my past. She provided the perfect prompt—a YouTube video of Aaron Copeland’s composition, The Quiet City, coupled with the visuals of old photos and Edward Hopper’s paintings.

This is what came:

I don’t know how he does it. Edward Hopper manages to capture that loneliness that permeates the city, the country, the rural, the urban. Even when there are a number of people in the scene, each one seems steeped in solitude.

Minimal lines? Flattened compositions?

His work reminds me a lot of my life as a child in Richmond, California. We had a Chinatown across the bay in San Francisco, a long soda fountain in the supermarket, cafes with a counter and round, backless stools. Gas stations with two pumps (regular and ethyl) dotted Highway 99, the north/south route through the San Joaquin valley, where we’d travel to visit old family friends. The days of swamp coolers, when “Air Conditioned!” signs on movie marquees in that valley meant escape from the 100+ degree sidewalks.

Apartments had tile floors. The first home my parents actually owned had three bedrooms and one bathroom. A mother, a father, and four siblings lived there. A single black rotary telephone with a long nylon cord, a gas wall heater in the hall, and a battered secondhand upright piano in the living room. It felt comfortable.Black Rotary Phone

We had a washing machine, but we also had a washboard. It was a big rectangular wooden frame with a metal interior. At first glance it looked like an oversized grater, but the metal part consisted of horizontal ribs rather than holes for cutting. My babysitter would fill the sink with water, stick that washboard in, and rub clothes up and down the metal ribbing to clean them.

Our laundry was hung on a clothesline, which stretched from the porch to the fence at the other end of the back yard. It had pulleys, so you could pin a sheet, a towel, or a garment, then pull the top of the line towards you, and the garment would sail towards the fence. We could get two rows of clothes going at the same time.

Collecting our dry clothes reversed the operation, pulling the lines to the porch, unclipping the clothespins, dropping the clean laundry into a basket, and returning the clothespins to the clothespin bag. I remember that clothespin bag—striped blue ticking on a hanger, with the front hanging open like a kangaroo’s pouch. I wonder now how we ever got dry clothes, especially in the winter. Living across the bay from San Francisco, we had a lot of fog and a lot of rain. Even summer highs hovered around 70 degrees. The day the clothes dryer was delivered, my mother and sister rejoiced.

We were the last family on the block to get a television set. I was five years old. My dad didn’t believe in buying anything on credit. But the clothes dryer and the TV were two purchases my mom made on her own. We kids were always at someone else’s house, watching TV. Maybe that’s why she took that huge step. Or maybe she just wanted her own chance to relax after a long day at work.Console Television

The day the TV was delivered, I was swinging on the front porch rail. Our porch was painted brick red, with black wrought iron handrails. The delivery men huffed and puffed a huge crate up the steps and into our living room. Television sets came in cabinets back then, like a major piece of furniture. You could close the wooden doors and hide the screen.

But because it ran on tubes rather than on solid state circuits, there had to be space for what seemed like dozens of those glass cylindrical tubes. The TV was at least 24 inches deep. And when the picture went fuzzy, we would pull the tubes out of their sockets and take them down to the supermarket, where there was a ‘tube tester.’ We’d stick each one in the proper sized socket, and when the defective culprit was located, we’d buy a replacement tube, take it home, insert it, and hope for the best. Usually, it didn’t help, and the whole process would begin again.

There were also buttons for horizontal and vertical hold. The picture would sometimes roll like the photos on Instagram when an enthusiastic user is viewing photos. The vertical hold would stop the flipping so we could actually watch the show. Horizontal hold kept the dark slashes of zigzag static from streaking across the screen.

When I think of how different my life is now, and how different the childhoods of my grandchildren are from my own, it boggles my mind. Even my profession didn’t exist then. Coaching was limited to sports, and science-based hand analysis hadn’t been discovered.

And at the same time, my Connections Life Purpose did exist, and I’m grateful for the chance to live it even more fully now, in 2016.

How about you? Where have you been? What childhood experiences and memories continue to impress and shape you? And where is your Life Purpose calling you to go?



Isn’t it a treat to watch a child begin to explore the world?

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When I take a walk with my grandchildren, I see my surroundings in a totally different way. Seeing my world through their eyes is a whole new adventure—hearing a birdcall and discussing whether it’s a dove or a crow. Perceiving a dandelion as a precious flower, carefully plucked by chubby little fingers, rather than viewing it as a noxious weed. Watching two women with a baby in a stroller walking on the other side of the street, and making up stories about their lives. How big is their family? Do they have to go to a job every day? Or is that grown-up a parent staying home, taking time, like we are, to walk in the middle of the day?

I probably listen more closely to these children than to anyone else. They are excited about what they are sharing with me, unabashedly seeking confirmation and validation. Their thoughts and feelings haven’t been censored to the extent that they will be when they experience more of the challenging bits of life. So they are honest and fresh. And being with them is a tremendous source of fulfillment for me. Not surprising, since Connection is my Life Purpose.

These children are a conduit to a wonderful world of observation that’s not muddied by a major overlay of prejudgment. Or tainted by that enemy of the adult, taking the familiar for granted. That ability to observe newly, I think, is the foundation of creativity.

How about you? Can you step back and allow yourself to become child-like? (Not talking childish here…huge difference!) If so, what stirs in you? And how does it relate to living your own Life Purpose?

If we’ve already worked together, you know what your Life Purpose is. If we haven’t, you can get some ideas using my free workbook, Exploring Common Threads. You can sign up to the right of this post, and have it sent to your very own computer. It’s a great place to start this creative exploration!

Independence Day

Independence Day

This week, we in the US celebrated Independence Day.Fireworks

Barbecues and fireworks are what we typically associate with the Fourth of July. This year, spanning the entire weekend, random neighbors were setting off personal fireworks. I didn’t get much sleep; our poor dog was traumatized, and trying to be a good ‘mom,’ I attempted to soothe her. Curled on the couch with this panting, quivering pet gave me a chance to think a bit about the whole concept of independence—of freedom.

Back in 1776, those upstart colonists, chafing under British colonial rule, declared their independence from King George, and spent the next seven years fighting the American revolutionary war.

Fast forward 240 years. We are no longer subjects of the British crown. Instead, we are subjects of governmental and financial systems, often run amok. The political canvas in this election year is painted in the most ludicrous, garish colors I’ve ever encountered. But this isn’t a political rant—nope, not going there!

What it does make me consider, though, is what Stephen Covey described in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as our Circle of Concern and our Circle of Influence. Our Circle of Concern consists of those events and circumstances over which we have no control. The hateful, violent tragedies that seem to have become almost commonplace occurrences are in my Circle of Concern. They grieve me deeply, and I can’t control them.

What l can control, however, is what lies in my Circle of Influence. This, for me, is where freedom actively impacts my daily life. The choices I make, the words I speak (both to others and to myself), and the kindness I show—all of these are in my Circle of Influence. I can make a difference, right here, right now, to each person who interacts with me.

We all have this freedom of choice.

And this freedom can lead to living our Life Purpose, collecting those experiences that will fulfill us, and make life better for those in our Circle of Influence. Or it can lead to squandering these priceless, irreplaceable days of our life on earth.

To quote Mary Oliver:

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





This is yesterday’s prompt from Vanessa Sage’s Instagram challenge*, ‘Enchant Your Everyday.’

Since I tend to run a bit behind, this was the word (a day late) that was on my mind this morning when I grabbed my phone and set out to walk the dog. I was actively looking for the magic. And here is what appeared:

Mountains in the Morning Mist

While this image doesn’t really capture the beauty of the reality, maybe you can get a feel for the ethereal—almost mystical—atmosphere it evoked.

This experience once again reinforced something I know to be true, but which I forget so easily. Magic is all around us. We just have to be present enough to notice it, to acknowledge it, and to appreciate it. It can appear in the form of natural beauty, an arm around your shoulders, an encouraging word, or the wagging tail of a pet who is so excited to see you she can hardly stand still.

And it came to me in quite a profound way with the understanding and awareness of my life purpose. Knowing who I am here to be, and doing my best to live that purpose actively and intentionally, has been nothing short of magical. And acting as a conduit of that clarity for others has been a remarkable gift.

How about you? Where do you find the magic in your life?

*An Instagram challenge is an invitation to post a picture every day, based on a prompt or a concept. If you’d like to join in the fun of Vanessa’s challenge, visit vanessasagelife on Instagram.




The Beauty of Natural Diversity

Natural Diversity

Photo by Joan Gallant Dooley

Photo by Joan Gallant Dooley

When my friend, Joan Dooley, posted this beautiful photograph on Facebook, I was amazed to learn that these eggs weren’t dyed for Easter. Each of them has its own distinctive, natural color.

It struck me that there is a message here about our own ‘natural colors.’

Our hands, our spirits, our creative process—each of us is unique. We are not like those mass-produced white eggs of uniform size, residing in styrofoam boxes in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, bred for mass consumption.

What is your ‘natural color’? What one-of-a-kind traits are you here to share?







Is There an Objective Way to Know My Life Purpose?

Is There an Objective Way to Know My Life Purpose?

How long, and in what way, have you been searching for your Life Purpose?

I spent literally decades reading self-help books and taking courses and programs designed to help me discern mine. I specifically remember starting this quest back inIMG_1546 1985, when I was on jury duty and using the ‘down time’ to read two wonderful books: Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar and Wishcraft by Barbara Sher.

Fifteen years earlier, I had gotten my first full-time job and had begun to support myself. At that point, the idea of doing what I loved for a living seemed terribly impractical. Those days in my early twenties were spent going to work, taking a night class or two to keep edging towards a college degree, and looking for Mr. Right. My job was pleasant, and the idea of pursuing a passion or finding my purpose just wasn’t on my radar.

After reading those books, though, I realized I hadn’t thought enough about what I loved to really know what it was. I also equated doing what I loved with living my Life Purpose. This was frightening, because I worried that doing what I loved–once I figured it out–wouldn’t pay the bills. At the same time, I reasoned that if I weren’t doing what I loved, I wouldn’t be living my Life Purpose. I felt a lot of pressure around this whole question, and started reading more, journaling more, and spending hundreds of dollars on courses to help me figure it out.

Everything described and contained in these courses and books was subjective. It all involved me doing more thinking, more reflecting, more talking. All of this gave me ideas and suspicions, and even a small degree of conviction, but it never completely answered the question in a way that gave me certainty (and peace).

Then, while editing an ezine, I found an article written by Master Hand Analyst Ronelle Coburn. We developed a relationship over the course of editing her article, and I learned that hand analysis could provide the answer to my 20-year-old question: Who am I here to be?

Ronelle explained that my Life Purpose is revealed in the patterns on my own fingertips. Our fingerprints are formed in utero; at the end of our fifth month of existence, they are already uniquely our own. And they hold the key to that basic life question.

For me, the answer lies in being the person who can establish loving relationships, make connections, maintain emotional authenticity, communicate, and help others to heal.

Who are you here to be?

What Life Purpose Is

What Life Purpose Is

My last post, What Life Purpose Isn’t, described some personal attributes that can be mistaken for Life Purpose. Our values, skills, aptitudes, likes and dislikes, careers, and goals can all be confused with Life Purpose.

So, if those important attributes aren’t Life Purpose, what is?

Your Life Purpose is who you are here to be. It is a state of consciousness that you yearn to inhabit. When you are dwelling in that state of consciousness, you translate that into what you do. This internal experience (being) requires external support (doing). When those two pieces are congruent, you are living your purpose. It’s a natural unfolding into ‘right life.’

In other words, that basic, intrinsic ME is demonstrated and realized in the actions you take. In order for you to be fulfilled in your purpose, there must be integrity between who you are designed to be on the inside and what you choose to do in the outside world.

Here’s an example. Assume that your Life Purpose is that of the Innovator. This Life Purpose involves being absolutely true to yourself, accepting your own unique way of seeing and doing, and sharing that unique perspective with others. You question the status quo, push for change, and stick to your out-of-the box thinking, regardless of pressure to conform. You work to develop an interaction style that honestly reflects your inner nature.

Orson Welles, Innovator

Orson Welles, Innovator

In order to live this Life Purpose, you have to be willing to share your unique ideas. You can’t be an Innovator unless you are actually engaging in innovation. Keeping quiet in the face of criticism, adopting only generally-accepted ways of doing things, constantly compromising in order to ‘fit in’—all of these actions sabotage your ability to live the Innovator purpose, because they take you out of integrity with yourself.

Living your Life Purpose means maintaining your personal integrity. Since life purpose is a consciousness to inhabit, rather than a set of external circumstances or a specific, relatively short-term goal, it means that it’s a process, a journey.

Every day, we have the chance to make the choices that reflect who we are here to be. When the internal being and external doing align, we are truly living our Life Purpose. And this is where our deepest fulfillment lies.

What Life Purpose Isn’t

What Life Purpose Isn’t

When I discovered hand analysis, my entire attraction to the process was based on learning my Life Purpose. The Big Question: “Why Am I Here?”

I had the sense that I was here for a reason—that I had been placed here, in this specific time and circumstance, to fulfill a divine plan.

But I was also under a couple of misapprehensions about what my hand analysis was going to tell me.

I thought that once I was certain of my Life Purpose, I’d automatically know what I was good at, what my hidden aptitudes were, and, specifically, whether I should be a painter or a writer or a computer programmer.color-866102_640

Learning my Life Purpose didn’t provide the answer to those questions—or at least not directly. My Life Purpose isn’t the sum total of my goals, my skills, my personality type, or my values. All of these aspects of my self-awareness are important, and they are important in determining exactly how I want to live my purpose. But they aren’t the purpose itself.

Consider what it would be like if my purpose consisted of a major life goal. For example, if I have a goal of writing a best-selling novel, and I’m the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, does that mean that once my book goes to press, I no longer have a purpose? No. And if I have a value of integrity, does that mean that living in integrity means I’m living my purpose? Not really (although it’s impossible to live my purpose without factoring integrity into the equation).

And if my purpose were delineated by my skills and aptitudes, what limits would that definition of purpose place on me? As my skills improve or deteriorate, does that mean my purpose improves or deteriorates as well? What if there are aptitudes I just don’t possess? Does that mean I can’t live purposefully?

No, to all of the above.

And since values, goals, skills, and temperament aren’t my Life Purpose, next blog post we’ll take a look at what Life Purpose is.

Bag the Bullhorn

Bag the Bullhorn

This last weekend, I attended a religious education conference in Anaheim. This conference is a diverse gathering of about 40,000. As the name suggests, it was originally designed for religious educators, but anyone is welcome to attend. There are three days of workshops, an exhibit hall with booths sharing everything from books to fair trade coffee, and full-sized replica of the Chartres labyrinth to take some silent time and walk. A friend of mine calls this conference a spiritual Disneyland. 

Anaheim, February 26, 2016

Anaheim, February 26, 2016

Even with the enormous crowds, there was a spirit of camaraderie. We were all there to learn and share and grow, with workshop subjects ranging from The Racial Divide in the United States to The Power of Beauty. Something I noticed as I looked at the attendees’ faces was that they were open, and, for the most part, smiling.

There was only one jarring note. Outside the Anaheim Convention Center, where conference attendees were walking from the convention building to surrounding hotels for various workshops, stood a man with a bullhorn. He held a large picket sign, and informed us that we were doomed to hellfire because our faith tradition differed from his.

I didn’t engage with this man, but I did wonder what his intention was. Did he believe that blasting attendees with a bullhorn would result in conversion to his way of thinking? Was he honestly hoping to change our minds? Did he simply want to make us feel uncomfortable, or angry? Was he following his conscience, believing that it didn’t matter whether or not his message fell on deaf ears—it was his responsibility to share it?

I don’t know. What I believe is that our spiritual path is very personal, and every one of us has the sacred obligation to discern that path for ourselves. It’s very similar to living our Life Purpose; once we know what our Life Purpose is, and commit to living it, we each choose a unique, appropriate path to its fulfillment. That is the joy of understanding where you are going.

And a blast with a bullhorn is no help at all.



TED Talk

Getting the Message

A few days ago, our daughter sent me a link to fabulous TED talk. Here’s the link, if you want to have a listen:

This talk shared the results of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, a 75-year study of 722 men. The participants comprised two groups—the first consisted of Harvard sophomores, the second was made up of the most disadvantaged youth in South Boston.

Researchers tracked these men continuously throughout their lives, using extensive questionnaires, interviews, medical tests, and conversations with their spouses and children. The purpose was to investigate what kept them happy and healthy. Was it a function of background? Advantages? Achievements? Hard work? Money? Fame? Career satisfaction?

You may already have guessed the answer. The study (which still continues for about 60 men who are now in their 90’s) determined that good relationships are what makebench-1052066_640 us happier and healthier, both physically and mentally. People who are socially connected are happier and healthier. Period. And a startling fact—those who were happiest in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.

For me, it was gratifying to hear that something I have believed in my heart all along now has significant scientific validation. And one of the most touching parts of all, that so impacts me in my own Life Purpose, was our daughter’s comment when she sent this link. She said, “Thought of you and Dad while I was watching this! Enjoy!”

I’m so glad she’s getting the message early in life!