Finding Purpose Brings Healing

Originally posted June 2019

Today’s Wednesday Story will inspire and uplift you! Cami is the host of an amazing Podcast, Real Connections, she’s a a mom to three beautiful children, and she has a compassionate heart you can feel as she writes and speaks. Her path to gain this compassionate heart began in her childhood. She shares that experience with us today as well as her journey to becoming a podcast host. You can connect with Cami on Instagram.

I feel so honored that Emma would ask me to share my journey with all of you!

About a year ago I had an idea to start a podcast. I still remember the first time “trying it out”.  I took my phone and rambled for a few minutes and played it back to myself. It was horrible! I hated how my voice sounded, I didn’t feel I spoke very well and most of all, I didn’t feel I had anything important to say.

So for the next month or so I put it off and just dropped it.  The problem was that it wouldn’t leave my mind – this idea of sharing experiences and thoughts kept coming back again and again.

After some more protesting and excuse-making on my part, I finally decided to just go all in. I decided that I didn’t need to have the perfect podcast voice, the best equipment, or even know how I was going to do it but I knew I just needed to start.

So I did. I bought a microphone off of amazon, had my husband set me up a website and started reaching out to a few close friends to see if they would let me interview them about their own struggles and how they overcame them. Surprisingly, they agreed!

I recorded my first 6 episodes – and officially launched the “Real Connections” podcast. I honestly almost threw up posting them. I don’t think I have ever felt so exposed or naked in my whole life!

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I can’t believe it, but the podcast will be turning 1 at the end of this month!!!

How has the podcast changed me?

The podcast has changed me and impacted me in ways I never could have imagined or learned in any other way.

For some of my interviews it has taken some convincing to get them to do it or for them to think that anyone would care. It has been so amazing for me to watch these women realize that others are being impacted by their story. That because they were willing to share, others then had permission to feel similar feelings and know they aren’t alone in their struggles.

I have learned huge lessons on love and what to do and not do as a parent. As I’ve done these interviews, it’s surprising to me how often their parents reaction to their choices or situation has made all the difference for the good or for the bad.  I have come to realize first hand that love and creating an environment of openness and unconditional love and listening are the best ways to help your children on their journey of life.

I’ve learned that although my purpose has been to help others, that it has given me relationships and connections that never could have been possible otherwise. I am still surprised at how many women I interview who tell me they feel like we are best friends and I feel the exact same way. The connection that comes from us being able to share our true authentic selves binds is in a very real way.

I’ve learned that there is something so therapeutic that happens for the person sharing their story when they don’t have any time limits and someone who really wants to hear what they have to say. It changes people and many of them do t expect it to be so freeing.

I’ve learned that we all have pain, but when someone gives purpose to their pain, that is when they are truly able to move forward.

The last thing I’ve learned is that we need to be gentle with each other. We have all had wounds that have cut us deeply and leave us more fragile than before. Most of the women I’ve interviewed have  mentioned this as something they have come to learn from their experience.   It’s been so impactful to hear over and over as a reminder to apply it in my own life.

Emma also asked me to share my story, which is also one of the biggest motivators I had in starting the podcast was to share my story and give hope to those who may be in the middle of a big struggle of their own.

I remember the day it happened all too well. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1996 and me, my older brother, and younger sister were playing the game of “Life” in our living room when my mother’s best friend, Kathie, rushed through the door with a look of panic on her face. She asked where my mom was and we told her that we thought she was up in her room. Kathie ran up the stairs and us kids went back to playing our game. Only a few minutes later, we heard pounding coming from upstairs. At first, we ignored it, but then it kept happening so we thought we should go up and find out what was going on. As we walked into her room, we knew immediately there was something really wrong. Without even explaining the situation, I remember my mom falling to her knees and telling us we needed to join her in prayer. As she prayed, it became obvious what was happening…

If we pause the story and back up to 3:00 am that morning, my dad had woken up to get ready for a business trip and had woken up my mom. As they talked my mom told my dad that even though he had been on a ton of business trips and had traveled often, that for some reason she felt sick about him going on this one. She told him how much she didn’t like the small plane that he and his colleagues often flew in and really didn’t feel good about it. He tried to pacify her and in the end said to her “Carrie, if God wants me, He will take me.” And that was the end of the conversation. Around 7:00 am, my mom received a phone call from one of my dad’s co-workers saying that the plane had crashed and they didn’t know anything else.

So as we sat there praying, my mom begged for my dad’s safety as well as the safety of the other men on board the plane. Shortly after, everything started becoming blurry and surreal as I went to my room to pack my bag to go to the grandparents’ house and my mom got ready to make the trip up to Malad, Idaho where the plane had crashed. I remember being at my grandparents’ house, watching TV and having several of my mom’s siblings in the room. Honestly, in my 9-year-old mind, I honestly felt like my dad was going to walk away with maybe a broken leg or some crazy story that he could tell for years to come. I think my mind went there because even though I knew that trials were a part of life, I thought we had taken our turn as a family. At that point, my older brother had had a very rare form of leukemia twice and in my mind, I thought we couldn’t have any more trials – we had taken our turn. After watching TV for a short time, my grandma came in, and turned off the TV and told us that the plane had crashed and no one survived… all 8 men on the plane, including our dad, were dead. It felt like the whole world was spinning and time just stopped. I remember going into the bathroom, just staring at myself in the mirror, just crying. After a while I remember coming out and eating lunch and then going to play with my cousin who lived across the street. It felt so surreal that I thought if I just ignored it, it would somehow go away.

Later that day, I remember my mom coming to my grandparents’ house and sitting us down to talk to us kids about the funeral. I remember her asking us what we thought and what things we should have included and I felt like a pressure cooker. I had so much emotion bottled up inside of me and as we sat there starting to plan the funeral, I was so angry. I was angry because I felt like we had taken our turn and why couldn’t someone else have a turn? I remember standing up and yelling at her, “What do you want me to do? I don’t know how to plan a funeral. I’m 9 years old”.

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The day of the funeral came and we went to the church and of course, everyone stood for us as we came in and I just remember hating my life. It seemed so unfair to me that not only did we have big trials happen to us, but that they were so public.

When the whirlwind of the funeral came and went, it seemed so surreal – until 6:00 pm every night when he didn’t walk through the door. The days, weeks, and months after that, especially the first year, seemed like an eternity.

I remember our first Christmas after my dad died. My mom tried so hard to make it special, but she cried all day long. Every holiday was some version of that because everything that used to be so perfect was now so painful. But, there were some amazing things that happened that year and the subsequent years that followed. My mom’s best friend, Kathie, became a literal angel in our lives. So and her family took us into their home for weekends, nights, holidays, and vacations. They literally became our second family and because of them, we were able to be distracted from the sharpness of our pain, laugh, and be in a place that didn’t constantly remind us that we were missing someone. I owe so much to her and her family.

On a personal level, I had no idea how to cope with the grief and so I turned to the only thing that I knew and that was my faith. I had faith in God and I prayed to Him often, telling Him how hard it was and that I knew that He had the power to turn back time and change what had happened. And even though that clearly didn’t happen, through those prayers I felt so much peace. I felt assurance that God was taking care of my dad and that God would also take care of me.

I remember also feeling so much comfort in songs – particularly songs that talked about angels and loved ones that had passed on. I felt like those songs gave me the words that I couldn’t speak, but felt so deeply in my heart.

Now, my healing includes doing things that keep him alive in my heart and mind. A few years ago, I tracked down everyone I could who had written meaningful sympathy cards at the time of my dad’s death and interviewed them, as well as my old neighbors about what my dad was like and any memories they had of him. That process was so healing for me.

I make sure I talk about him often to my husband and children so they can know what I love and think about my dad. I take my kids and go to his grave often and have picnics and bring him homemade flower arrangements, wreaths, notes, and pictures.

Surprisingly, talking and being able to relate to others is also something I have found to be so healing. It gives meaning to the pain that I wished would go away so badly. I’ve gotten to the point now that even if I could go back and change what happened, I wouldn’t because so much of the good, sensitive, and empathetic parts of me came as a result of my dad’s death.

That’s me and my story.  I hope that you recognize wherever you are, and whatever experiences you have that you are not alone.  The more you are able to find those people you can share those deep parts of yourself with, the deeper and more real those connections you have will become.

As you can tell by now, Cami is an amazing person, who has triumphed over grief and pain. I hope that you will subscribe to her podcast, Real Connections. I love everything she shares on there. And if you need help learning how to find her podcast, just let me know! If you follow her on Instagram @realconnectionspodcast you’ll add more light to your feed!

I, just like Cami, have found that there is healing in sharing our stories with others. When we share vulnerable parts of our life, it allows us to connect to others going through similar experiences, and we are able to connect deeper and I believe heal quicker. I am grateful for new opportunities to meet new people. Cami has blessed my life and I know that she will continue to bless many lives.

This week, reach out to someone you know, or someone new, and get to know them better. Share a part of you, deepen those connections. Together we are strong.

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