Shine at Home

A Path to Wellness – The Power of Purpose, or How Stan Got His Groove Back
How purpose can change everything

Chris Treftlin – Shine at Home

Let’s call him Stan.  Stan had a good career as the owner of a small consulting company.  Well respected in his field he was able to do well financially.  He saved his money, took his family on an annual camping trip, and did the obligatory Disney trip when the kids were young.  Stan and his wife Stella were very involved in their church. Actually, truth be told, when the Pastor wanted something done, he tapped either Stella, or Stan, or both.

All of their 4 children were very smart.  Once they had completed high school, they all pursued careers that took them away from home.  Far away from home.  Working, family, and church volunteering ensured Stan never really had too much time to be introspective.  To think about what he would do in his later years. 

Then changes started to happen for Stan and Stella.  Sadly, and unexpectedly, Stella got sick, and after a valiant struggle Stella passed.  Dealing with great grief Stan, he had started to wind down his consultancy practice.  You see he did not have the same drive to meet and take on new clients.  With his family all over North America, and one in Australia, maintaining the connections proved difficult.  Stan would tell you that Stella was the glue that kept the family together.  He did maintain his commitment to his church, but again that too lost its appeal.

Here we are.  A once vibrant and engaged husband, father, businessman, and volunteer was laid low, indeed felt isolated and alone in a sea of people.  His friends reached out.  Had him over for dinner, his Pastor too.  When he got home and closed the front door behind him, Stan was alone in the big house he and Stella had made a home.  Stan had lost his purpose.

Now let’s talk about Betty.  Her friends and family would tell you Betty breezed through life.  She made it look effortless.  A career librarian, she had seen lots of changes over the years.  Like Stan she was well respected and by the time she was ready to retire she was the head Librarian of the county’s main branch.  Her husband was a great supporter and partner.  When asked to say a few words at her retirement party, he along with a long list of coworkers made Betty very uncomfortable.  Betty was never good with effusive praise.  Such an impact did she make that the mayor was present and announced that the children’s section of the library was being renamed after her.  Betty always took a special interest in children.  Betty could not have her own children.  When she would talk about it, she would say she had lots of kids.  “I think that every child that walks through those doors as one of mine”, she would say.

After retirement Betty maintained her commitment to the children of her community through volunteering at all of the libraries across the county.  She created a story time schedule for each of the county libraries.  Story Time with Betty was launched and was received with great enthusiasm.  Betty reached so many kids in their formative years that she became something of a minor celebrity.  Restaurants, picnics, shopping at the local grocery store where all occasions for people to stop and say hi, thank her, and yes, many hugs were exchanged.

Stan lost his purpose.  There was a trigger.  The loss of his wife and partner.  Grief is a powerful force in all human existence.  I will write about grief in another article.  That was the trigger.  Then after the funeral and kind words everyone went back to their lives, and Stan was left to try a figure out his.  Then the signs.  Things that once gave Stan energy and purpose stopped having that effect.  He withdrew.  People couldn’t get a hold of him.  He missed meetings, and stopped returning calls. Stan was in a deep funk.  AKA depression.

Betty maintained and enhanced her purpose.  There could have been a trigger, and it is for some.  The retirement from a long and meaningful career, but Stella handled it differently than Stan.  She didn’t look inward.  She looked outward.  She said how can I do something for all of my kids?  By looking outside of her own circumstances, she created purpose where there could have been a void. 

If you are in Stan’s situation, or you know someone who is, ask the question, “How can I help someone else with my particular gifts and talents?”  Then watch the rest fall into place.

Now I will tell you how Stan got his groove back.  One morning while sitting in his kitchen having his coffee.  Something that he and Stella did every morning for 40 plus years he had a epiphany.  Indeed, a revelation.  He thought that the best way he could honour Stella’s memory was to live the life that was worthy of her.  This was not who he was when he was married to this amazing friend, partner, and wife. So, why should he live this way now.

That’s when he stood up and went to the old corded phone on the wall that Stella would not let him get rid of and made a call to his daughter in Australia.  “Hi honey its your dad.”, he said, “Hey I was wondering if it would be ok with you if I came out for a visit?”.  After some silence Stan thought he had lost the connection, so he said, “Are you still there?”.  His daughter’s voice breaking replied, “….Daddy, of course we would love to have you come to see us!”