What is your unique purpose?

Ten ways to find out.

This post is available in audio on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/B1xNQjIB4uk

Monday Motivation

I apologize for my absence last week, I had some medical things going on. I’m getting better now, things shall resume as normal. I hope you’re having a happy Monday and I invite you to take a break and relax for story time.

I have mentioned before that I enjoy writing prompts. A simple thought carries my brain in multiple directions. I enjoy the challenge of thinking and, even more, recording those thoughts. I wasn’t sure where to go with my upcoming YouTube segment. Mondays are designated to be motivational and uplifting. I scoured the internet for help, and almost immediately,this sentence stood out to me:

What is your unique purpose? 

The thought brings me to the existential question, why are we here? The answer is likely because we have a purpose, but how do we know what that is? Or is it even true? Here are my ten thoughts on the subject. 

  • 1.Believe. To discover your unique purpose, you must believe that you have one. I do think everyone has a particular purpose, as we are all unique individuals. Our structure is made different than anyone else’s, right down to everyone having their unique fingerprint. 
  • 2.Faith-based. As Christians, Faith teaches that God puts us on the earth for a purpose and will remain here until we complete it. We are also taught only God knows what that purpose is, but through prayer, we can ask Him to lead us to it. So, first, we believe that God has given us a purpose, and then we ask Him to lead us to it and follow our hearts where we think He is taking us. In my novel, “Have Faith,” Zoe’s main character undergoes several trials in her life that test her beliefs. At one point, she gives up, but inspiration comes from some unlikely sources. That’s all I’m saying about that. Feel free to snag the book on Amazon to learn more. (end shameless book plug here.)
  • 3. Do what feels right. We all have that little voice in our heads that tells us right from wrong. Well, okay, most of us have that little voice. I do think part of psychopathology is missing that conscience piece, but most of us have one. We also get that intuitive gut feeling. If something feels wrong, it probably is. I had this feeling in my career. After 18 years in social work, my job no longer brought me joy. Most often, work stressed me out to the max, which I believe contributed to my variety of health problems. Following the corporate structure didn’t feel like what I was supposed to do. Crying every morning when I woke up and dreading going to work also didn’t feel right. I often curse diabetes and the shape I’m left in, but now, even thinking about having to return to my old field gives me intense anxiety. It took me a while to realize, but I believe I wasn’t meant to be there. 
  • 4. Don’t follow the crowd. Remember that old expression, “If all of your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?” There is some merit to that. Doing something because every else is doing it is not your unique purpose. Doing something you want to do and feels right is a much better way to go. 
  • 5. Show your personality. For a long time, I was a no personality wallflower in public. I was afraid of being rejected by others. I was the saltless square cracker version of a human. You know, those crackers that you try to sneak to the dog but get caught because they don’t want them either? -yep, that was me. If a saltless cracker personality was what I showed people, I realized that they expect me to be a wallflower all the time. I don’t want to be a flat piece of cardboard food. I’m much happier being a fishy cracker or a pretzel fish cracker. Now, I realize “cracker” is generally a derogatory term for a person. In this instance, it’s a metaphor. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the makers of any of these snacks.
  • 6. Stand up for yourself. Too often, we have ideas of what we want to do or be but don’t pursue them because someone else doesn’t think we should. Conforming to what others want us to lead us back to that proverbial cliff we don’t want to jump off. Just because others don’t understand or discourage our ideas doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue them. Our ideas are a big part of what makes us unique. Bearing in mind, of course, that occasionally people will point out why something is a bad idea, and we should always consider that advice. 
  • 7. Take risks. Not risks like I could die, but more of I’m afraid to do this. Don’t be scared to be who you are. Don’t be scared to go down a new path just because it might not work out. What if it does work? Being afraid to do something is much different than not doing something because it’s wrong. 
  • 8. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Do you have an idea of something you want, but you’re not sure how to pursue it? Ask someone familiar with what you want. The worst they can say is no; they won’t help you. For everyone who says no, there’s someone out there who will say yes. Asking for help can also refer to our mindset. Mental health matters have gained a lot of much-needed attention these days. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s more than okay to ask for help with becoming okay. 
  • 9. It’s perfectly fine to start over. Last year was eye-opening to me. Not just because 2020 was an absolute disaster for the entire universe, but personally, my life went in a whole different direction. Often in my career, I would express displeasure to myself but think about what I would do if I weren’t doing this? Eventually, the universe forced my hand to find out. If you’re not happy in your current life, change it. That’s the only way anything gets any better or different. Become who you want to be, even if that means starting from square one in a new direction. Do this over and over again until you’re content. It’s the only way you’ll ever get there. 
  • 10. Finally, accept you may not figure out what your purpose in life is. You may go in many different directions, start over hundreds of times, and something may never feel right. That’s okay; what matters is you’re trying. 

To sum up, be yourself. Your unique purpose in life starts with being an individual person. Oscar Wilde says, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” 

Have Faith, and my other books are available on Amazon, Kindle and Kindle unlimited, here: http://www.amazon.com/author/catbanks

Monday Motivation: Be Fluffy!

Today, I’m going to talk about something a little different, but I feel it’s important. 

It’s the importance of being your less than serious self. I’m going to use writing as an example. 

There are several types of writers. Journalists, for example, bring us the news of what’s going on in the world. They write facts, the real stuff, no matter how pleasant- or daunting they may be. 

Is this an important role? Absolutely. However, that’s not the type of writer I am. 

Bloggers, traditionally, give us information or teach us how to do things. Are they important? Heck yes! I learned how to crochet, make jewelry, clean stubborn stains, and make homemade dog biscuits from blogs. They’re similar to journalists in that everything you want to know, someone has written about the subject. Is this the type of writer I am? Nope. While I have a blog, It’s less than serious information, and there are no how-tos. I would never grace myself with the title of teacher. 

Researchers publish their findings to show the world new things they’ve discovered and why they’re valuable. Their words improve life by showing us what’s out there. Everything we know today is because someone discovered and reported about it. These writers are of monumental importance. I, however, am not one of them either. 

I write what some consider to be fluff. I enjoy the less than serious approach to life. Why do I believe this to be important? Because we all deserve a break sometimes. We need to take a load off from the world. 

I have a confession to make. I’m a TikTok junkie. TikTok is a fantastic platform that connects like-minded people through a genius algorithm. It shows you a variety of people making videos, you start liking them, and then it brings you together with more people who enjoy the same things you do and more creators that provide this content. 

The best thing I have found since I’ve started my writing journey is BookTok, TikTok users who love to read, and several authors, many indie authors like myself. 

What’s troublesome is how many of my fellow romance authors are told they’re not real writers, that their writing serves no purpose; it’s “fluff.” 

Au contraire. We have a purpose. We provide a much-needed break from reality. In our world, the quirky girl gets the hot guy. The villains pay for their crimes, and there’s a happy ending. We go into dimensions of magic and mystery where mythical creatures exist, and fantasies come true. We want to bring our readers with us to other worlds of mystery and wonder, even if just for a little while. We want to provide that escape when the real world gets overwhelming. 

I feel this is the case for anyone who provides entertainment. Authors, actors and actresses, professional athletes, musicians, and anyone else in the entertainment industry play an essential role in the world. Some may see what we do as fluff, but I say, be fluffy; someone has to. 

We may not change or save the world, but we do make it a little brighter. 

10 things I figured out when I learned to like myself

1. Trying to please everyone doesn’t please anyone, most of all you.

I was a healthcare social worker for 18 years. The job of the social worker is to basically tie together all of the other departments working with a patient to ensure all of their goals and needs are met. When multiple departments are involved, multiple people need things. Most often, multiple people need things right now. I did my best to try and do everything for everyone. At the end of the day nothing was completely done, everyone was mad and I was burned out. Don’t do that. Focus on the order of importance and some other people will have to wait.

The same goes for family. Every holiday was Mom’s family and Dad’s family who wanted time. Then it became the parents families of my significant others. It’s impossible to be in four places at once, no matter how many desserts are offered. Plan your schedule with what works for you and work on compromise. If someone refuses to cooperate then that is their choice. Some may be mad but they will get over it. Do not ruin your holiday trying to appease everyone else’s. Make your effort definitely, you can’t blow off your family but if someone is unreasonable and behaving badly then it is okay to choose not to interact with them.

2. It’s okay if people don’t like you

A supervisor once told me 10% of people will love you no matter what. Another 10% will hate you no matter how hard you try. Do what you can for the 80% in the middle that can go either way. Not everyone is going to have warm and fuzzy feelings toward you and that’s okay. A friend of mine was self conscious about her legs. She’s a beautiful woman but she doesn’t see herself that way all of the time. She told me it was 90 degrees out, her air conditioning was broken and she was wearing sweatpants. Our conversation went like this: “Why?” I asked her. “I don’t like the way people look at me when I go out.” she said. “What people?” I asked her. “Oh I don’t know, whoever is around” she replied. “So, strangers?” I asked. “Yes I suppose so.” Girl are you listening to yourself? “What effect does the opinion of a stranger, who you will never see again have on your life?” “None” was her answer. “Exactly. put some shorts on.” Now of course you have to follow rules of society but wear what you want, do what is right. If someone has a problem with you, that’s exactly what it is: their problem.

3. Love what you do or find a way to do what you love

Day one of social work school I will never forget the professor saying if you’re here to make money or change the world I can tell you to start off that you won’t. Pssshhhh…. that’s because no one has done it yet I thought. The professor was right. There were weeks I would sit in my house that needed repairs, stirring my hot dogs and ramen noodles and looking at my empty bank account thinking how did I get here? I would go into work and, well, see number 1. Years upon years of the same, in a job that couldn’t go anywhere wears down on a person. Now I love the field of social work, I do absolutely love solving problems, making goals, meeting varieties of people and helping people out of bad situations. Some people didn’t want to be helped. Some people blamed me for their problems, some people thought I could create a solution that doesn’t exist. It was my job, I was told. Eventually you wear out, you need a break, you burn out. I needed a break long before I was told I needed a break. Rock bottom came when I wound up in intensive care and the diagnosis list was so long the doctors couldn’t figure out how I was functioning as well as I had been. I can’t anymore. I can’t hold an office job, I can’t be available at a moment’s notice and I have my health to worry about. Writing was always my outlet. Most of my writing I never let people read. Now that I’ve been out of the workforce, I’ve been writing. I published a book. Another one comes out in a few days. People read my work and they liked it! Guess what? I love writing! Now, writing doesn’t currently pay the bills. It may never pay the bills. I am still having to file a disability application and sacrifices are being made but my stress level is mostly manageable. I still have panic attacks, I don’t like to leave my house much but now I don’t have to. Lesson learned: There is always a different path you can choose. If you’re not happy with the one you’re on, take the fork in the road.

4. Your parents were right.

Rules? I don’t need their stupid rules. When I grow up I don’t have to clean if I don’t want to, I can stay up as late as I want, I don’t have to go to school. I’m never going to treat my kids the way they treat me. I was about 25 and had lost both of them before I realized I was in way over my head and should have listened. There’s so many things I do today that I wished I had learned more from them. Managing money, cooking, deep cleaning, self care, the list goes on and on. Bottom line: no matter how old you are, you still need Mom and Dad in whatever shape they may come in: single parents, two moms, two dads whatever. Remember them, talk to them if they’re still here and most importantly learn from them.

5. Living for anyone but you is not living

Your. life. cannot. revolve. around. other. people. the end.

6. just because you were trained to do it, doesn’t mean you have to.

I graduated college in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in social work. I did that job for 18 years, I physically can’t anymore. Sometimes I feel my degree was a waste but in reality it has helped me in so many other areas. Just because I have a social work degree, doesn’t mean I have to be a social worker. I learned how to actively and passively listen, I learned how to pick out what someone is telling me and make sure I understand it correctly, I learned empathy and how to think outside the box. These skills are things many people lack yet come in handy every day. They also help to create characters, enabling me to get inside of a character, to feel what they would feel and to solve problems. The fact that I wrote the problem into existence in the first place is beside the point.

7. Don’t work too hard, your dog misses you

Once upon a time I lived alone. Not completely alone, My dog Daffy was there. Daffy is my best friend. We walked every morning. I went to work. She got crazy hyper when I came home, we played in the yard, we played with toys and then we cuddled in bed when it was time to go to sleep. My hours became later and later. I couldn’t say my work load was unrealistic, it all had to be done. My hours got longer and longer. I was too tired when I got home. I did a deep clean one weekend and found all of Daffy’s toys under my bed. She’d been trying to play with me for goodness knows how long and I had been too tired. Go home on time. See your family. Play with your dog. Remember what they say, dogs are part of our life but to them we are their whole life. Dogs deserve good lives full of fun with their owners.

8. Want what you need. Needing what you want is bonus.

We as a culture like stuff. We like buying a lot of stuff. There are certain things that we need. We need nutritious food and water, decent shelter, clothing, ways to get places etc. Everything else is bonus. Learn to live within your budget. Save for a rainy day. be happy when you are able to acquire everything you need. When there is extra money for things you want then splurge but learn to distinguish between need and want in your budget. You don’t have to impress anyone with the latest anything. You need to make yourself comfortable.

9. Ask for help

Asking for help is sooooo hard. We feel weak, we feel we should have handled things ourselves. We hate these feelings. Sometimes everything is too much, or we don’t understand. Maybe we’re not strong enough. Maybe it’s addiction, mental illness, Whatever the case may be, a job needing more people is better than a job not getting done. When the task at hand is too much, seek help, if you don’t get it, seek from another source.

10. Be led by leaders, if you can’t find one, be one.

Jobs have a hierarchy system. There’s a boss, there’s managers, there’s employees. That boss is appointed in their position to lead. Managers help the boss do that. Sometimes, we got stuck. Your boss needs to be the person you can go to and say ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I need help.’ A leader will help you through whatever situation you are in. Help you to figure it out and point you in the right direction. Have you ever had a boss that told you to figure it out yourself when you sought help? Or how about “I’m not doing your work for you.” What about a co-worker that vents to you because they have been to the boss and gotten that reaction. How about community projects? Ever show up to the church rummage sale and find everyone running around like chickens? Leaders create order. They get things done and give assignments to others in order to make that happen. If you leader is not leading you, be the leader that’s needed.

I have struggled with anxiety my entire life. I have had poor self esteem for as long as I can remember. A lot of people in my life have taken advantage of that, some still do. I still have a long way to go to figure myself out and I may never do that, but I’m proud of what I’ve done so far. Never be afraid to change something you’re unhappy with. You deserve more.

To check out my books see my amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/author/catbanks

Milestones

Random Facebook meme

Today is significant to me. It’s the last day of my 30’s. Sunday celebrates the big 4-0. I don’t write this with expectations of happy birthday hoopla, quite the opposite actually.

I never wanted to turn 30. In fact up until recently (about 10 minutes ago) if you asked me how old I am, I would tell you I’ve been 29 for quite some time now. I spent a decade of telling people it was not my birthday, it was my anniversary. I’d answer their puzzled looks by explaining it was another anniversary of my 29th birthday. After all, if my grandfather could be 29 for 40 some years, why can’t I?

There won’t be a celebration. My family is far away, we couldn’t get together anyway. Stupid Covid. I will spend the day in quiet self reflection. There’s a lot on my mind.

Mom was diagnosed with cancer in December of 1993. It was the last day of school before Christmas vacation. I came home from school all excited for the magic of Christmas and found everyone crying. “Don’t worry” she told me. She assured me she’d beat it. I don’t think she said that for my benefit. I believe she thought she could. She passed away the following June. She had just turned 40 in May.

To say I feel there is a significance of turning the same age my mom was when she died would be an understatement, particularly now. I have been struggling for the last eight months for saying the words “I’m disabled.” The last several years I did my best to pretend everything was okay. I had to, people needed me. In January I wound up in the hospital and a long diagnosis list was discovered. There was no pretending anymore.

I often compare myself to my mom. She’s always been my hero. Mom always had a full plate balancing a demanding career and running a house with a chronically ill husband and daughter. She also did a lot of community involvement with agencies such as Wisconsin women entrepreneurs, Catholic junior league, being active in our church, regularly seeing her girlfriends and keeping everything organized with our extended families. I also think about how mom always strived to be better, to do good, to be an amazing wife, mother, daughter, friend and career woman. She had a teaching degree but went to a much different career in the insurance field.

Mom kept everything together. Everyone got where they needed to go. She always knew what was happening with everyone. Meals were on time, snacks were on time, she attended games, dance recitals, piano lessons and recitals, work parties all with a smile on her face. I never got the impression she was stressed. I only remember seeing her cry once and I don’t remember my parents ever fighting.

I always thought of my mom as an adult. I still consider myself a child. When I compare myself to my mom I never seem to measure up. I always thought one day I’d be an adult and I’d do everything she did. Now I’m her age. I’m turning the age she made it to. I’m as old as she was when I considered her to be an adult and I wonder if she ever felt like I do now. Did she know she had everything figured out as I saw it? Or perhaps she was as lost as I am now and trying to make it.

Failed relationships and a joke of a marriage under my belt I don’t have a partner. I was advised at a young age to not attempt to bring children into the world due to the severity of my illness. No family of my own was ever to be had. I had a career that I had to leave due to the progression of my illness. I’ve had limited community and church involvement but none of it recently due to Covid and my poor compromised immune system not to mention my constant movement limiting pain.

8 months I’ve been preparing for this time. 8 months I’ve thought constantly about turning 40 in my debilitated condition. 8 months I’ve gone to and come back from some pretty dark places but that’s just it, I’ve come back.

There’s one thing I have on my side: I am my mother’s daughter. I think of her everyday and ask what she would do or what she would advise me to do. The answer is always the same. I hear her in my head saying “keep going.”

I’ve spent my life trying to live up to my mom but I’m not her, I’m me. I need to learn to take my own path, make my own mistakes and gain my own accomplishments. That’s what Mom would want for me. Life is a constant battle of figuring stuff out. Figuring out what makes you happy and what doesn’t should be a daily question as is how do I change the Doesn’t into does?

Most recently I’ve asked myself what do I do with the rest of my life? I won’t be at a 9-5, I can’t manage that anymore. The answer so far has been writing. In the last 3 months I’ve started this blog, published several articles/stories on platforms such as Wattpad, medium and vocal, written two books and self published one. (Spoiler alert: a new book will be out in September). I often questioned whether mom would approve of my books as some material is for those of the adult age but she spent enough time with her nose in a book with a cover featuring Fabio so I think it’s okay. I’m also continuing my Etsy shop with not only creating but using my writing to promote. I’d like to one day be able to promote myself as writer for hire assisting others with the same services.

Turning 40, I have no idea how much time is left. It may be a month as mom had or it may be 100 years. meanwhile I’ll spend every day keeping on and collecting feathers.

I can be found here:

Wattpad: mandacat80

Living in an anxious mind

Courtesy of Pinterest


Mental health is a topic that has come to light more than ever in the last few years. While the resources potentially needed may not yet be in place, acknowledgement that mental illness exists is a big leap.

One of the most common mental illnesses is anxiety and is something that plagues me daily.

Anxiety is defined by the Mayo Clinic as intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. This definition may sound like stress which is a normal reaction to many situations. The difference is anxiety interferes with everyday life.

Anxiety is something that has plagued me my entire life. I’ve always had poor self esteem and often interacting with other people was a terrifying situation due to fear of rejection. Most often I’d rather keep solitary than be with friends because I’m not good enough and if I try to make friends I’ll be rejected and that’s embarrassing.

I do know that isn’t true and I do have a few friends but that’s what it’s like to be in my head: you’re not good enough and they won’t like you.

Fast forward into career mode. I can’t write my own resume. I sat down with a professional resume writer who asked me what I was skilled in. I stared at him blankly. I’m not “skilled” in anything I thought. He had to pick apart questions from what are my skills? Which was overwhelming to what am I good at? To which I answered nothing. Finally we moved on to what do I know how to do. Hooray! A question I could answer. Listing my “skills” to me felt like bragging and what if someone says I’m not good at something? Then I’m a liar. Again, not at all the case, I do have talents but my brain tells me I don’t.

Over my 18 years in social work I’ve had several bosses. I have switched jobs a few times as have bosses I have worked for. In my experience there have been two types of bosses: ones that thank you and praise the work you do making you want to do more and those that no matter how hard you work it’s not enough making you work to try to please them. There were times that I was highly complimented and I could do no wrong and there were times where I could do no right. I underwent public humiliation, had my peers come to me informing me my superior complained to them about my job performance, I’ve had write ups for not doing things I’m not legally able to do and I’ve had witnesses to these acts tell me I should sue. I’m not singling out any employer as it’s happened on more than one occasion. I’m also not saying I had bad bosses as each boss was an excellent leader, their style just was not effective for me. I would skip meal breaks to work, let my insulin pump run empty because now wasn’t a convenient time to change it, stayed overnight at work to accomplish huge tasks I’d been given with minimal deadlines. I worked myself until I was physically unable to work anymore and on more than one occasion wound up in the hospital because everyone else was more important than my own health. Even then I answered messages from my hospital bed because the show must go on. My brain tells me everyone else is more important than me, they matter more than I do. Truth is, I matter too. I know that I matter yet my brain tells me I don’t.

Dating with anxiety is an adventure. Many I have chased away when they have confessed feelings yet I thought they were joking. Some actually became angry at me. My track record of relationships has been those who have struggled in life. A list of men with substance abuse problems, inability to hold a job, co-dependent on me for survival and unfortunately a couple of times abusive. Money went missing, other girls appeared, there was trouble with law enforcement all because my anxious brain says latch on to who shows me interest even though that interest is in what I can offer rather than who I am. This concept I am still working on. Stable people are friend zoned because I feel they will reject me otherwise while if I dare to proceed elsewhere I quickly sabotage it. I’m told confidence is sexy however I live in awkward.

At one time joining a convent was a serious consideration so I could avoid the whole topic all together.

Now comes the biggest cause of my anxiety. I was diagnosed a type 1 diabetic right before I turned 4. Over 30 years of self neglect from anyone with a debilitating chronic illness and bad things will happen. My lab levels are a mess, my kidneys are working at just 38% capacity making it difficult to flush my system, my arteries are narrowed so I cannot effectively pump blood through my system. These two things mean I’m carrying an extraordinary amount of fluid. My legs swell and sometimes leak. My left lower leg is quite painful always from a bad bout of cellulitis while neuropathy has taken over my right thigh. I have severe obstructive sleep apnea but good luck finding a mask for my C-Pap that doesnt cause a panic attack. I’m told I have asthmatic bronchitis along with the fluid overload so I become winded very easy. I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in my spine hips and knees. Something in my lower back is out of place and suspicion of some significant nerve compression means I hurt. I hurt a lot and it’s constant. I can’t walk any form of distance and I require frequent position changes through the day. I go from standing a very short while to needing to sit to relieve pressure on my joints to having to lay down and stretch because my joints lock up and my muscles seize. That’s what it’s like to live in my physical body, now my brain has to compute all that. I must fight for improvement while accepting reality this may be it and that’s terrifying.

Each of these aspects have been enough to greatly contribute to my anxiety but fact of the matter is it was there to begin with. I have irrational fears of odd things. I don’t leave my dogs outside in the fenced yard for long because bad things could happen if I’m not watching and I prepare for the apocalypse every time I leave my house. I don’t leave if it looks like rain and most often I just make excuses to not leave anyway.

I have horrible insomnia for the strangest reasons. Example: my cat catching a mouse and being afraid he would bring one to me in my sleep. Sleep offers the unknown and I don’t like the unknown.

Now, a lot of what I’m describing is a fair amount of depression for which I’m also medicated. the combination tends to go hand in hand but the anxiety is what keeps me hindered. I just always anticipate the worst and have to talk myself into better scenarios.

I’m on medication, I’ve used meditation, I put trust in the power of prayer. I have lavender essential oil rollers, several mineral stones handpicked by someone who knows what they mean, my pillow is sprayed with a calming scent. It’s not for lack of effort. Just, in my brain I have to talk myself out of worst case scenario and try to take a chance to live. It’s all exhausting.

I hope I’ve provided some clarity on your friend/ family/ coworker who suffers from anxiety. Although you’d like us to “chill out” and don’t get why we won’t now just know it’s not that we won’t, it’s that we can’t.