By Di Chapman
Kids, it’s a new decade, and it’s time for us to “do it on purpose.” Yes, you heard me: let’s jump into 2020 on purpose. So, y’all, breathe a collective sigh of relief. I’m not lecturing about dieting, exercising, or quitting McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme. I’m not going to browbeat you about watching TV. I dig TV. I slump on the sofa as much as anyone. So, friends, say hallelujah!
This year, I have an idea about doing something (or some things) on purpose.
Remember when we were children and would get into, well, let’s just say, “squabbles?” Around my house, with our tribe of monkeys (referred to as children), squabbles usually were good-natured but resulted in poundings and tauntings—and the inevitable, “Mom!” Usually my youngest, older brother who, truth be told, was a cute little instigator.
“What’s going on?” Mom yelled down the stairs of our basement, where we kids were thrown after dinner and homework. She poured a glass of wine each night before correcting papers up in the living room for the junior high classes she taught. Smart woman. Ninth graders all day and then us? Uff.
“He’s pounding on me!”
“He is!” the guilty dog denied it.
“He did it on purpose!” the victim protested.
And there’s that line, one that is universally associated with dastardly actions: He did it on purpose. They did it on purpose. You did it on purpose.
I’ve certainly done plenty on purpose.
But what if there’s an entirely different way to look at “on purpose?” Like, “I’m going to do something ‘on purpose’ in 2020?”
As a devoted admirer of The Thinker (Yes, I know he’s a sculpture. Personally, I prefer to do my naked thinking in the shower or tub.), when I think about living “on purpose,” I want to blaze a new concept, a new trail. Why not? We writers live and work in our heads. Just ask my husband, when I spend deadlines cramming peanut butter and tortillas into my mouth whilst standing in the kitchen, staring blankly, thinking.
When I wrote a book about Beth Sanden, with whom I’ve had a friendship of many years, I realized that I was on purpose. I knew her well during her time as a champion Ironman competitor; and later as a victim of a tragic bicycle accident that left her a paraplegic. But always, a lady with an amazing smile. It came to me as I wrote the book Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it!, that being “on purpose” can be anytime, any place, for anyone. The opportunity to write about Beth, and how through enormous determination she excruciatingly overcame paralysis in one leg and set the world on fire, was “on purpose” for me.
She began to compete in marathons throughout the world as a handcyclist. Through 101 marathons, one Guinness World Record, and four Official World Records, she’s proven that disabled individuals race, finish, and win. More importantly, she proves that disabled individuals can participate in life, and be on purpose themselves.
She’s witnessed the disabled living in abject poverty, wheelchairs taped together with duct tape, but wanting to race—to be on purpose. She is their encourager and ambassador. Beth is 65 years old, a partial paraplegic, and has raced the Great Wall of China, the North Pole, Antarctica, Boston, and the Rome Marathons; and over ninety more globally. Her most recent was the Khunjerab Pass Marathon in Pakistan (the highest altitude marathon on earth) at 15,000 feet.
Ladies and gentlemen, talk about a woman of steel. Where’s her Superwoman costume? I asked her stuff like how did she run to, and use, a tented latrine in 50-below weather at the North Pole? (The entire world would have known about my bathroom run in the wee hours! Oops! Pardon the pun!) And how much penguin poop covered her clothes after her race in the Antarctic?
What can’t this challenged athlete do? She is on purpose. In between races, she contacts global race directors, encouraging them to add disabled athlete race categories. She collects used handcycles and ships them to destitute, challenged athletes worldwide. She holds her own paratriathlon camps—charging nothing to coach a group of disabled individuals (of all ages) to accomplish physical exercise, from simple to complex movements, based upon their conditions. The joy she brings them with even the slightest movements is incredible.
Doing it “on purpose” isn’t necessarily about career, money, winning, ego, or fame. Heck, it doesn’t have to impress anyone. It’s about creating the moments you want to have in your life, and then being in them, in a way that fulfills what those moments mean to you.
And if humans aren’t your thing, do it on purpose in mother nature’s gardens, parks, and historic sites. Y’all know about my oversized love of animals. I want to be the lady with the purse doggie in my tote bag at Marshalls. I volunteer at Good Mews Animal Foundation to introduce kitties to groups of humans. I goochie goo canines on the hiking trails, fawning over their faces to the delight of beaming pet parents. I do it on purpose. I hope sharing my delight spills over and makes the parents and the pooches delighted, too.
Like Beth, you have an “on purpose” sweet spot inside you. Perhaps artistic, scientific, physical, cerebral, encouraging, loving, supporting, smiling, assisting—whatever it is, it’s perfectly yours. You have something to do, on purpose, that will make your family’s day, your friend’s day, your boss’s day, your club’s day, your grocer’s day, your neighbor’s day, a child’s day—doggone it, somebody’s day. More importantly, doing something you want on purpose will make your day.
It’s 2020. Let’s watch Beth’s next act. Let’s make 2020 an amazing year with good luck, and grand dreams. And throughout the year, let’s live on purpose.
Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at firstname.lastname@example.org