My mother has said that when I was a little girl, I loved hearing adults tell me about their lives. I remember being fascinated by these stories because, for me, they served to the connect the dots to help me understand who they became. I asked about what they did for fun, what made them mad, who they dated, how they got in trouble, who their best friend was, their favorite subject in school, what their grandparents were like, how they spent their summer, the meals their mother cooked, their neighborhood… on and on and on. You get the idea. Any information about who they were, I craved.
I was doing my own version of Oprah’s Master Class when she was still an anchor on the local news.
Fast forward to high school- I asked everyone what they thought their major would be in college. In college, I wanted to know how everyone thought they would use their degree. After graduation, I would listen to whoever would tell me about their 5-year plan. Friend or stranger, it didn’t matter. I was all ears.
I never memorized my multiplication tables. Please don’t ask me what seven times four is. I can’t tell you. But by golly, if you ever told me anything about who you are, it is etched in stone in my mind forever. I drive some people crazy. Heck, I drive myself crazy sometimes. If I meet you for the first time, at the very least I’ll need to know where you grew up before the conversation can go much further, but I try not to let my questions get out of hand. More on this quirk of mine in a minute…
In case you’re wondering (and how could you possibly not be?), my favorite subject in high school was anatomy and physiology. It answered my questions about how the human body worked, much like the conversations I had with people answered my questions about how their minds worked. My major in college (are you on the edge of your seat?) was Exercise Science, and (just so you know) I put my degree to good use for about 20 years teaching group exercise classes and personal training. My approach as a trainer was definitely different. If you watched me training my clients, you would see them sucking air and dripping sweat as they answered my questions about things like the church they attended growing up and how it shaped their current belief system. My tactics didn’t work for everyone, however. It seemed like there was always a soon-to-be bride in my client rotation who I helped to look amazing in her wedding gown. There’s certainly nothing wrong with her wanting to look great on her wedding day, but with no connection to a higher purpose, I knew her reason for taking up exercise would likely end the day of the rehearsal dinner. I began to see that while exercise is an important piece of wellness, exercise alone will not make someone fully well. During these years I became increasingly interested in the connection between wellness and its importance in supporting the essence of the individual. Wellness is an intricate web made of many components that are woven together to uphold the being that sits at its center. If some spindles are broken, the precious life in the core of the web struggles and falls. I knew these connections I was helping to make for my clients were meaningful and also gave me a greater sense of purpose for my own life.
Over the years, I have come to realize why I ask all these questions. Every single person I meet I see as someone who fills a vital role on this earth, and whose unique qualities we cannot do without. If you are here, you have a purpose, and I have an innate desperation to know what your “earthly job” is. If you don’t already know, I have to help you figure it out, or else I can’t sleep at night. I wish this was an exaggeration. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a new question or idea for someone that may turn a stone to bring them one step closer to figuring it out.
From my work with countless clients, it became clear to me:
People who are well have a clearer knowledge of their purpose, and people who know their purpose have a stronger yearning to be well.
My job? I help people make the purpose-wellness connection.
My children are the only humans who have walked this earth to whom I don’t ask a thousand questions. I don’t have to. I get to see their childhood unfold and watch with wonder as their interests and talents emerge. Jack is 14, Caroline is 12, and Jules is 7. Only they truly know what their purpose is. All I know is that they have one and that it’s important. My obligation is to love them, support their unique talents and interests, show them right from wrong, and teach them how to be WELL. My hope for this blog is to offer ideas and suggestions for other parents to also teach their children wellness. It’s not easy, and you’ll either love me or run the other way, but I so hope you join me.
And… if I have the pleasure of meeting you one day, when you tell me your name, go ahead and tell me the city where you were born. It’ll just make things easier on both of us.
Go forth and be WELL!