In day 4 of the Love Your Body Challenge the goal is to determine your purpose. This is a hot topic in my life right now. It’s something I’ve been pondering for months now. I want the easy way out though. I want someone to come to me and say “Aimee your purpose is ______ and this is how you are going to make it happen.” Since this hasn’t occurred it’s up to me to figure it out. I’m hoping this activity gets me a little closer to realizing my purpose in this world.
Day 4 Mantra: “My existence is a miracle. I am not here by accident. My life has purpose and meaning, and that purpose and meaning is_______.”
My Mantra: My life has purpose and meaning, and that meaning is to be the best me I can be.
Of course I feel that one of the most important reasons I’m here is to be the best mother possible to Carlos. I am not perfect, but I do work hard every day to be the best mom I can be.
However, when I read this I instantly thought of my career or work purpose. When I was in high school I was adamant about becoming a cosmetologist. Even though my mom wanted me to go to college she didn’t dissuade me from pursuing my dreams. I was very interested in make up application, facials, cosmetic products, herbal remedies and ingredients in cosmetics. In my junior year of high school my mom took me to a cosmetology school in Boston for a tour and an informational session. I thought I was so serious about pursing this path until my friends all started applying to college and then as many teens are known to do I followed my friends. I applied to traditional colleges and declared I was going to major in Biology with the intention to go on to one day become a Dermatologist. Although I knew a dermatologist was a doctor I don’t think I fully understood that I, myself, would have to go to medical school.
I went to a small private Catholic college in Newport, Rhode Island for my first semester. One of my first orders of business was to denounce my aforementioned goals and study political science. I cannot even remember where that idea came from. I lasted only a semester at Salve Regina University. Not only did I not fit in to the socio-economic profile of the student body, I was not exactly a practicing Catholic. I stupidly transferred to another small private college for literally 4 days (long story for another day!) before ending up living at home and attending a local community college. While at community college I decided that I would study history. I went on to UMass Amherst where I graduated with degrees in History and Spanish with a concentration on Latin American studies. Whenever anyone asked what I wanted to do after college I replied, “join the Peace Corps.” Oh how young and idealistic I sounded!!
I honestly never even gave a career a second thought. I have worked consistently since I was 14 years old. Yet I never truly thought of myself as having a specific career. I wanted to travel and see the world. So I did what a lot of young people with little money and a philanthropic heart do…I joined the Peace Corps. I remember sitting in the office of the Peace Corps recruiter in Boston for my 3 hour long interview. He asked me if I had a preference in countries. Obviously I wanted to go to Latin America. However, he explained that since I had no specific skills I was most qualified to teach English and there were no English programs in Latin America. The only requirement to teach English in the Peace Corps is that you speak English! He sat back for a moment as if he was deep in thought and then he asked me very seriously if I knew how to bee keep. Um no?! He lamented that it was too bad I didn’t because Bolivia had a bee keeping program that was in need of volunteers. In the early days of my English teaching experience in Mozambique, where I eventually ended up serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, when I was frustrated and overwhelmed by dealing with the bureaucracy of the educational system I used to think, really how hard could it be to bee keep.
I was high school English as a Foreign Language teacher in the Peace Corps. This means I taught people to speak English rather than English literature. When I returned home to the U.S. I was daunted by the requirements to teach in the public schools and the lack of jobs for ESL teachers at that time was discouraging. While living in Mozambique I had become very interested in public health, the study of disease and educating people on how to prevent and treat illness.
I contemplated going to graduate school for a degree in public health. I had fleeting thoughts of becoming a nurse, but working in a hospital, dealing with bodily fluids and cleaning people was frightening. Plus I never thought of myself as someone who would work in healthcare. However, upon returning to the U.S. as a newlywed with an immigrant husband and very little money (Peace Corps is truly a volunteer agency!) post 9-11 as the economy was taking a swift turn for the worse, I quickly saw the benefits of becoming a nurse. At that time nursing jobs were plentiful and supported a decent living. After losing my job as a program director for a Department of Welfare supported teen parent education program to state budget cuts, I enrolled in a nursing pre-requisite class at a local community college. I went to nursing school at night and worked as a waitress, a nurse’s aid and even as a dispute resolution coordinator for my mother at the Better Business Bureau.
I got my Associate’s Degree in Nursing. The 2 year RN program (though it’s more like a 3 year program because of all the prerequisite courses you have to take) made more sense at the time because it was the least expensive, quickest option. I was growing anxious to buy a home and start a family at that time. Of course now I’m wondering if I should have just gone for the Bachelor’s Degree.
As a new nurse I decided to work on a general Medical-Surgical unit. I gained valuable experience working on the Med-Surg unit. It is fast paced and unpredictable. You see a little bit of everything from GI bleeds to COPD, appendectomies to chest tubes. It is on Med-Surg that you learn how to prioritize, organize and delegate. From Med-Surg I transferred to the cardiac unit. It was a new challenge and truth be told, one I never felt all that comfortable with. You must be able to think on your toes and act quickly, no second guessing yourself. Critical care is no place for a person who lacks confidence. I worked on the Intermediate Care (Cardiac) Unit for over a year, but eventually found my way to a more suitable position on the Psychiatric unit at the same hospital.
The longer I work within a westernized healthcare system the more I dislike what I do. I don’t regret my decision to become a nurse. I am so grateful for the lifestyle it affords me and my family. I love offering caring and compassion to others. Despite my fears about bedside nursing, I actually consider myself to be quite adept at basic patient care and find it enjoyable to help others in need.
I have come to a professional crossroads. For several years now my attention has turned towards diet, nutrition, spirituality and physical fitness as a means to change myself and become a healthier person in all aspects of mind, body and soul. As I’ve shifted my diet from almost entirely packaged and processed to a mostly plant based diet, I devour information about nutrition. When I took up running I also began to explore the idea of fitness for mental health as well as for improved vitality and physical health. I have only recently tapped into the healing powers of yoga and meditation in my life. I love the idea of spreading wellness holistically to those that are ill rather than simply medicating the symptoms.
Having been overweight since I was a child and having struggled for as long as I can remember with weight loss I would also love to inspire other’s to embark on their own weight loss journeys through sustainable dietary and lifestyle changes. I want to teach others how to eat healthy on a budget, develop a lasting fitness routine within the constraints of a busy lifestyle, prepare home cooked meals with little or no experience in the kitchen and introduce them to the idea of alternative therapies that might work in conjunction with western medicine to more effectively manage disease.
I get really excited whenever anyone wants to discuss nutrition with me. I get almost giddy if someone wants to talk running and fitness. I am all ears when I learn that someone uses alternative therapies along with western medicine. I truly want to be there for others struggling with weight loss because I’ve been there too. I want to inspire, encourage and motivate them to move forward.
I don’t know exactly what my purpose is, but I know that I’m not doing exactly what I’m meant to do. I’m not sure how to get to the place where I will finally be able to pursue my dreams. I know that I need to work on my own self-confidence. I also feel that I need to realize an end to my own weight loss journey before I can help others. Something has been holding me back, but I hope to be able to soon let go of my fears and move closer to finding my purpose.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt