Finding our purpose in life is so important for so many of us. I had started writing a blog on ‘What happens in a massage’ but got waylaid with messages that were coming at me from everywhere about our ‘purpose’ in life and how we go about truly finding and following, what we are meant to do with our short and precious time on this planet. A line in Walt Hampton’s blog (whose book is great by the way!) made me sit up straight – ‘Is your ladder against the right wall?’, and a quote from Mark Twain ‘The two most important days or your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why’.
My life changed immeasureably nine and a half years ago when I gave birth to my daughter, and I became a mother. I was filled with love and wonderment on a daily basis for this tiny thing which I had grown and nurtured for 9 months (aren’t we clever us women!). I was truly amazed at how you could possibly love another human being as much as I loved my daughter. And then intertwined with her birth, my life purpose unfolded around me. About 15 years ago, I had trained to be an aromatherapist and then through a series of fortunate events, I started to massage pregnant vulnerable women in Hull through one of the Sure Start programmes. This then led to a conversation with a lovely midwife friend, who suggested I became a doula. This then led me to train to become a doula with the wonderful Lilianna Lamars and Michel Odent, which eventually led to me becoming involved in the Goodwin Volunteer Doula Project.
The next five years were an amazing journey of personal and professional development and huge change for me. I was privileged to work alongside some wonderful colleagues, volunteers, and of course the women we supported. I was lucky enough to travel across the globe to learn about other similar projects, and travel up and down the country meeting women passionate about birth and supporting others. I learned some lifelong skills, made mistakes and learnt some things the hard way. I learned so much from so many women that had come from worn torn and dangerous corners of the world, who had survived and seen horrors we cannot even imagine, that I was humbled again and again. I offered antenatal support to Arabic women in pigeon French using babble out of the back of my brain, posters on birth positions, birthing balls and lots of laughter. I was lucky enough to sit with women throughout their labour, hear their stories and why they were there, on what should be one of the most amazing days of their life, and for whatever reason their partner/best friend/mother was not alongside them.
And then in all of that learning, caring and supporting others I realised that I had lost myself. It was time to regroup and look after me and my baby before she had spread her wings and gone! So on to pastures and challenges new.
However the problem with having a ‘purpose’ is that it keeps nagging at the back of your brain to get back to it! So it is time to start supporting women and families through listening, touch, healing and sharing again. Get back in touch with what I know I should be doing. This time I have decided to care for myself too though. Time to slow it down, dig my garden more, grow and smell the roses (or rose oil!) along the way, do a few sun salutations in the fresh air, and walk up big hills whenever I get the chance. How can we care for others through our work and personal life, if we don’t put our own health and wellbeing first some times? And how can we really be in touch with our purpose if we aren’t listening to all the signals?