I have been thinking a lot lately about what influences our “missions” in life. I think this philosophical deliberation stems from the slew of 5k’s, fun runs, and walks that are occuring over the next few weeks in our neighborhood. I also have a close cadre of friends whose children successfully triumphed over life-threatening disease and are embracing it as their mission.

I often wonder how these parents and countless others handle such scary situations with such ferocity, dignity and grace. I marvel at their courageousness, and their relentless advocacy whether it’s with insurance companies, doctors, races, walks, and community programs all while trying to provide some semblance of normalcy to their family’s lives. Moreover, I am amazed at their inner strength to embrace these issues as their life missions. I always used to think, that if faced with such terrifying adversity, I would simply crumble. Where would I find the inner strength to take on my child’s illness and then make it a part of my life’s mission? A mission I clearly didn’t ask for.

Of course, it’s selfishly easier to not focus on such things. These aren’t the missions we set out for when we have children. I readily admit that while I always supported my friends with donations, or particpation, I was secretly relieved that I didn’t have to take on any of these missions personally.

Sometimes, we don’t go looking for a mission, rather, it finds us. It seems like food allergies have become my mission, even though it wasn’t a part of my life’s blueprint (then again, I never expected to be a stay home mom either). My “mission” doesn’t include philanthropy or races per se, rather, my tools of advocacy are the written word. If I can inform, educate, provide awareness, or just comfort, not to mention viscerally protect my child, then, life takes on more meaning. 

Here’s what I learned about myself over the last three years. While I don’t consider myself the bravest, or even the most resourceful, I have nonetheless tapped into an inner strength I never knew I had. It took a while, along with a lot of crying, guilt, and resistance, but I emerged with a stronger sense of purpose. It’s a strange feeling when your life shifts course due to a set of circumstances you never expected or even wanted. Suddenly, it becomes the backdrop of your life, the new normal and you have two choices; concede or unleash your dormant inner strength that can make a difference to not just you, but to so many others as well.

This blog post was recently featured on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living website.

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