The world would like to introduce Melanie Colleen Thomas. She was born on October 16th, 1975. She entered this world with a big birthmark and a giant head. The first picture that was ever taken of her looks like something straight out of a true crime documentary. She screamed for the first 6 months of her life nearly dying of constipation. Which explains why every Thanksgiving her Aunt Ta-Ta was obsessed with talking about how much gas she had as an infant.
Melanie’s parents had no clue she was even possible. They were told they could not birth their own children. So they adopted her brother. And then, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE. 5 years later. Some say she was an accident and others say she was a miracle. The question would remain. Would she believe she was born on purpose?
Well, I will tell you that I have spent a lot of my life chasing this idea of “purpose.” Never successfully catching it. Like trying to run after that kid that was always the fastest on the playground. You are running so hard. The hardest you have ever run. And you just can’t catch that damn kid. Then you get tired. Maybe discouraged. So you quit. And you know what that kid’s name was? Purpose.
The word purpose has been haunting me since I came out of the womb. You see. In the beginning, I never really thought that I was born on purpose. I mean. Look at that picture up there. That kid looks like she is screaming, “SEND ME BACK!”
As I mentioned, the doctors told my mom time and time again that she couldn’t physically have kids. However, when she was 40, I worked my ‘eggcellent’ magic ( see what I did there) and TADA! There I was. Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but it was more like pulling a baby out of a C-Section.
Born on October 16th, at 8:01am with a cup of coffee in my hand. I was a gorilla of an infant. Hence, the C-section. 9 lbs and 8oz. I was proudly the size of a large bag of potatoes. In case you needed a reference.
Let’s just say I was way too big to be coming out of anyone’s vagina. So, my mom took one for the team and cut her stomach muscles open so that I could have life. Sacrifices.
When I was about 7, I found out that my brother was adopted. I don’t know if you have ever been around any 7 year olds. But you can’t expect to say something like that and not get 1,000 questions. And you bet 999 of them will start with why. 7 year olds are inquisitive little toots.
The first question I asked got straight to the point. “Why was Kirk adopted?’ My mom looked elated that I was wanting to engage in conversation. It’s not that I didn’t talk much. I actually talked too much. Read my report cards. I just never talked to her.
She was deaf. It was a barrier I didn’t understand as a kid. So I just found it easier to talk with my dad and apparently my classmates.
Please Note: Controls Talking section of my 3rd grade report card
My mom tried to explain their situation as parents. The doctors told them that to have kids of their own would be impossible. So they decided that they would adopt.
Well, this was confusing for me. How did I get here then? Right there in the TCBY yogurt shop on Kavanaugh Blvd, I asked, “Was I adopted?” My mom grinned and assured me I wasn’t adopted. She explained that my dad and her were not planning on having me because of what the doctors had said.
“You were a surprise!”
Anyway, after my mom shared that I was a surprise, a mixture of emotions began to flood my little body. I anxiously inquired, “So, you didn’t plan to have me? Was I an accident?” After all, my understanding as a kid was that if you didn’t plan on something it wasn’t supposed to happen. Not realizing then, that some of the best things in life aren’t planned.
Even though my mom told me again, “You were a wonderful surprise.” It wasn’t computing.
As a kid, the way I interpreted it all was, “You were an accident.”
I never measured up, I always felt less than and I never felt like I belonged. I sure didn’t feel like I had much of a purpose.
There is that word again. Purpose.
I think subconsciously, as a kid, I already had a story even before the, “You were a surprise” talk.
When I was an infant, my dad was at work a lot and when he was home he was drinking. My mom was as sweet as a pineapple, but she was deaf and couldn’t really hear me when I would cry. So, any chance for a secure attachment to my caregiver was most likely out the window.
If you aren’t familiar with attachment styles, may I suggest a googling sesh? All of the different attachment styles are quite fascinating and once you nail down yours, it gives you some incredible insight as to why you behave like an unhinged human in your adulthood. Ok. I will speak for myself. It gave me some incredible insight as to why I behave like an unhinged human in my own attempt at adulthood.
I remember also seeing a picture of myself at the age of 2 and freaking out because I was alone. Getting angry at my brother saying “how could you leave me alone like that?” When my brother tried to explain that they were holding the camera. And that they didn’t leave me. I didn’t get it. All I saw was a kid. That was alone. Abandoned. With no one to look after her. A kid that struggled to find purpose. Cute as a button though.
I floated around this life. Jumping from purpose to purpose. Maybe gymnastics was my purpose. Have you seen me in a leotard with a bowl cut and feathered bangs? Maybe softball was my purpose. Nah. Maybe leading bible studies was my purpose. Definitely not.
I sought out sports and religion and other hobbies to try and fill that void that I had embedded deep in my soul. And nothing stuck. I knew I was good at making people laugh. But, that never felt “purposeful.” Little did I know at the time that laughter is one of the things that the world needs the most.
I kept searching because people said if you find your purpose, everything will be ok and your life will have meaning. I read books and articles and went to workshops. But nothing that I had sought or was seeking seemed to fix that feeling of lack. So, I just kept floating. 14, 15, 16, 17 years old. 25, 26, 27 years old. Never feeling fulfilled. Never feeling a sense of purpose.
I hardly had an identity. Because the person who I thought I was, I wasn’t allowed to be. And I think that because I wasn’t fully comfortable in my own skin, I was on the search for a purpose that I could hide behind. So, I was looking for a very large purpose. Just one big one.
I was also putting a lot of pressure on this one word. Purpose.
My mom was the last of my immediate family to die. And when she died, life really got confusing. My inner 7 year old questioning extraordinaire went wild.
“If I was an accident, then why was I still here?”
“If I wasn’t her daughter and my dad’s daughter physically anymore, then who was I?”
“If I wasn’t my brother’s sister physically anymore, then who was I?”
“Why? Why? Why?”
There must be some method to all of this madness.
If God is who he/she/it says they are, there must be something going on, something way bigger than me. A purpose perhaps. But it was up to me to believe it. But all this believing was exhausting. I was at a crossroads and I knew I needed to keep trudging.
Would I choose to believe that I was an accident, an unfortunate event that is not planned and just more or less a mistake? Or would I choose to believe I was a miracle, a wonderful event that is caused by the power of God/universe?
After all, my mom’s original intention was that she wanted to have kids. It is just that a human doctor told her she couldn’t. But it happened anyway. What are those chances? Some people try their entire lives to have kids and never are able to. Maybe I was born on purpose. Insert girl shrugging shoulders emoji here.
There are roughly 7.4 billion people in the world. That is a lot of people.
How do I know that there are 7.4 billion people in this world? Google of course. How did I ever exist before google? Google also said that Mel Robbins, an author, mentioned that scientists say the chances of us being alive are about one in 400 trillion. Damn. Now that is some odds.
There is a buddhist teaching that goes a little something like this. Imagine there is a turtle chilling somewhere in the vast ocean. Then from a helicopter, you throw a life preserver out there too. The chances of us being born are the same that if the turtle comes up out of the water and sticks its cute little head in the middle of that life preserver. In one try. One in 400 trillion. That is us. Those are the chances. Whoa.
And if you need further evidence of this phenomenon, check this out. There was a doctor that heard these calculations and actually decided to test them. Then he wrote an entire article about it and about our probability of being born. He gave another example in his article that, according to his statistics, stated, “It’s also the probability of 2.5 million getting together to play a game of dice with a trillion sided dice. They each roll the dice and they all came up with the same number.” Vegas wouldn’t exist if this were possible. Yet, somehow, we exist.
And for the first time in my life, I started to think…Not without the help of my question loving inner 7 year old.
“What if I was born unintentionally, yet intentional?”
“Could I have been born accidentally on purpose?”
I mean, look at the odds. I am a miracle. Heck. With those odds, we are all miracles. I couldn’t even ring an inner tube around a turtle that was 2 feet in front of me.
Holy smokes. I am a miracle. Me, a miracle? Yes. Me, a miracle.
That belief didn’t happen overnight. There was no poof of smoke, no genie in a bottle. There was a lot of sweat and tears and a lot of hard, deep inner work. Realizing I was, in fact, a miracle, took a miracle. Realizing that my worth does not depend on anything other than my own love of self.
I have since become a big believer in brain neuroplasticity. Yes. I am a total name dropper. Neuroplasticity is just a fancy term for the brains’ ability to change. For me it is another word for HOPE. To unlearn and learn new ways of thinking. And with enough practice, we can change old thoughts and old behaviors. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it.
My brain was being reprogrammed. I was creating new neural pathways. A new way of life. Learning new and more productive thoughts to replace the old fear based thoughts was a game changer for me.
Don’t get me wrong. The old beliefs don’t just vanish into thin air. They will try and sneak up on me from time to time.
My job is to just be an observer when they do.
And now I have a choice. I like choices. And because I took the time to stop and take a breath, I can gently acknowledge what is going on, if my thought is new or old, then make a calm and rational decision. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it has worked for me. Most of the time that is.
I like to say that these are the times in my life that my limiting beliefs, old narratives and thoughts are making a ‘cameo.’ But thank God they aren’t the star of the show anymore. And that in itself is a miracle.
So now that I feel like the odds are I was born on purpose. However, I still struggled to see what was the purpose.
Cue inner 7 year old.
“I am here on purpose, but for what purpose?”
Let’s revisit the kid on the playground that could run faster than me. Remember that kid? The kid that I always tried to chase, but I just could never catch. I could get close, but close was not close enough. Damn you purpose. Not feeling as if you have a purpose after being told your entire existence that your life will always lack meaning if you didn’t have a purpose. Well, that always made me feel like shit.
But, as I was on this journey to uncovering, discovering and discarding things in my life, I went to another workshop. Hoping it wasn’t just another “Find your purpose in 3 steps” talk, I sat in my chair hungry to hear something I could really hold onto. Also hungry for peanut butter M&M’s, but no food was aloud in the theatre.
Liz Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and other things, spoke that day.
For years she had preached from the pulpit, “Find your passion! Find your purpose. Then your life will have meaning.” The same message that I had heard over and over again.
So, when Liz mentioned the word purpose, my skin began to crawl. All I could think about was the kid on the playground. Is this going to be another talk that I just cannot seem to connect with? A talk that I am going to chase until the end and not really catch the meaning? Feeling discouraged, I took a deep breath and begged my heart to stay open.
Liz continued. She shared a different view from anything that I had ever heard her or any other speaker say. One of hope for us people that feel like we can’t seem to catch any giant purpose. One of hope for us people that the word purpose always feels so big and out of reach.
I needed a purpose that I could fit into my cute little purse. I needed a pur-purse. (insert laughing emoji)
From the stage, Liz said“Jackhammers are people like me,” Gilbert said. “You put a passion in our hands and… we don’t look up, we don’t veer, and we’re just focused on that until the end of time. It’s efficient; you get a lot done. But we tend to be obsessive and fundamentalist and sometimes a little difficult.”
Then, she continued, “And there are hummingbirds. Hummingbirds spend their lives doing it very differently. They move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, from field to field, trying this, trying that,” Gilbert said. “Two things happen: They create incredibly rich, complex lives for themselves, and they also end up cross-pollinating the world.”
“Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where is the Tylenol?” To be clear, Liz didn’t say that. It’s a quote from Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. It just seemed appropriate.
So all of these years that I thought I was meant to chase, I was actually just meant to explore and perhaps share my gifts wherever I go. I am a hummingbird. Which was kinda cool cause I had already deemed the hummingbird a messenger for me from my dad. So it all seemed to make sense.
Liz went on to say, “If you’re willing to just release yourself from the pressure and the anxiety surrounded by passion, and you just humbly and faithfully continue to follow the trail of the hummingbird path… one of these days, you just might look up and realize, ‘Oh, my word, I am exactly where I’m meant to be.”
And in that moment, I whispered to myself, “Oh my word, I am exactly where I am meant to be.”
Maybe I was born accidentally on purpose to live a curiosity driven life and fly like a hummingbird. I mean, it’s a lot. But, I felt like I could get behind that message. I was only chasing one kid on the playground when there were 30 other kids I could chase. So maybe this idea of having one purpose wasn’t for me after all.
Maybe our purpose doesn’t have to be this big elaborate thing. Maybe our purpose is simply taking our gifts that we have and using them in our day to day lives. Maybe our purpose is many things that can be carried with us wherever we go. Maybe it is our pur-purse.
In my opinion, the Buddhist tradition was on point when it talks about our purpose. They use the word “dharma” to describe our purpose. I like how an Ayurveda expert, Sahara Rose describes dharma. “The word dharma is an ancient Sanskrit word that refers to your soul’s purpose—the big reason why you are here,” Sahara says. “And it’s not just what you do, but how you do it, and why you do it. Your dharma is not a career, or a project, or a certain role you play. It’s the unique vibration that your soul carries to everything that you do and every way that you are.” For instance, someone’s dharma can be to bring beauty to the world, and how they do it can look in so many different ways, such as through being an artist, an interior designer, or a hairstylist.”
Again, I still have my days where I mutter to the sky, “What is the point of all of this? Why am I even here?” But, if I am looking at the big picture, I truly do believe that all of us are born on purpose to live our lives on purpose.
That purpose will look differently for everyone. Some of us are jackhammers and some of us are hummingbirds. Yet, all of us are miracles. To live life honoring it as the miracle it is. To live life honoring the miracle that we are. To live life honoring, encouraging, and loving each other along the way. Carrying our unique gifts to everything that we do. In our little pur-purse.
And I truly believe that all of us are born on purpose to live our lives on purpose. And that purpose will look differently for everyone. Some of us are jackhammers and some of us are hummingbirds. Yet, all of us are miracles.
To live life honoring it as the miracle it is. To live life honoring the miracle that we are. To live life honoring, encouraging, and loving each other along the way.
Perhaps, my friends, that is our purpose.
Time to pack up my cute little pur-purse with my gifts and go cross-pollinate the world. Cross pollinate in a hummingbird kind of way.
Happy Birthday to me. 44. (Now 46) Let’s do this.