Ep. 14: Purpose
ON THIS EPISODE:
Today it’s all about the concept of living with purpose—why we need it, how we find it, and how we invite others into it. We’ll also talk about quahogs, stuffies, badges, and morganization. And we’ll tell you about the unicorn poop Morgan received in the mail!
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Timeline: Episode 14
I’m Morgan Hansow and this is my husband, Dave - we’ve spent the last 20 years on a wild adventure that’s taken us to Africa, the Oprah show, and Hollywood.
Welcome to Chasing Unicorns… a podcast about giving ourselves permission to chase our dreams, explore our faith, and figure out who we are, all while trying to keep our crap together!
As Creatives, Humanitarians, and Parents, we’re learning (sometimes the hard way) that the hustle and pursuit of the elusive unicorn will never satisfy.
Each week we explore what it looks like to live authentic, passionate, and connected lives while being a part of a movement that’s trying to transform the world through story + grace.
Overview of today’s show -
Welcome to Chasing Unicorns! Today it’s all about the concept of living with purpose—why we need it, how we find it, and how we invite others into it. We’ll also talk about quahogs, stuffies, badges, and morganization. And we’ll tell you about the unicorn poop Morgan received in the mail!
Hey Hey! We’re back face-to-face!!! I got back late last night after a 19-hr travel day and it’s SO good to be home and reunited with my favorite people. My body is still adjusting to the 3-hr time difference so Dave and I got up this morning before the kids got up and had a good hour of catching up, philosophizing, and connecting over our morning brew.
We love having you home! I learned that when you’re gone for just a few days, we can typically just survive and get by just fine. But due to the fact that you were gone for a week, we had to actually do a bit more than survive…. Basically what I’m saying is that the kids and I can only do cereal, and mac & cheese for so long. That… coupled with the fact that due to the fires in our area, and the smoke being so bad, we really were just at home a bunch throughout the week, so that meant we had to get creative with how we spent our days and what we were eating.
I will say I loved getting the text with the picture of your cart at Trader Joe’s with produce, meat and a milk with a message about how you’re not eating just mac-n-cheese and quesadillas!
Yeah, well I gotta get husband and dad points where I can get them! So tell me with witnesses listening, how much seafood did you eat? Your instagram photo with the HUGE bowl of lobsters made me a little jealous.
Ummm, let me think… Well, let me say that I had an incredible time in Rhode Island visiting my extended family. My mom, brother, and sister-in-law from Colorado also flew back, so it was just tons of catch up time mixed in with some beach time and LOTS of eating and feasting!!!! I mentioned a seafood extravaganza and it really was that. During the 6 days I was there I think I had two lobster rolls, two clam cakes, steamed clams twice, Stuffies (or stuffed quahogs) three times, clam chowder three times, and whole lobsters once... oh and shrimp a few times.
Yeah, super jealous of all that! And just for clarification, what are quahogs and stuffies?
Huh, yeah I guess that needs a little clarification, so quahogs are essentially a large hard-shelled New England clam that they eat and use to make clam chowder and stuffies because they’re so big and meaty. And a stuffie is a stuffed quahog - they take the meat out, cook it and chop it up and make a savory stuffing with and then they put it back in the cleaned quahog shell and bake it - so it’s kind of like a seafood stuffing but with clams instead of a turkey. And then people usually squeeze lemon juice and sometimes hot sauce on it. It’s pretty delicious. My cousin made some and I guess there’s a family recipe for them from my nana so I’ll try to see if our seafood store can special order me some quahogs sometime and I’ll take a stab at them!
I’m totally down for that!!!! And Quahog is the name of the fictional Rhode Island town where Seth MacFarlane’s animated show, ‘Family Guy’ is set. And also, while you were gone we also celebrated our 17th anniversary. Well, we didn’t really get to celebrate yet, but August 4th was our 17th anniversary - we got married back in 2001 just before starting our sophomore year of college and just a month before September 11th.
That’s insane...17 years married and another 4 years dating, so 21 years together. I felt really bad about missing our anniversary - I think that’s the first time we haven’t been together on our anniversary, but I am looking forward to our postponed celebration and whatever we decide to do - maybe Napa in the fall? The Mat Kearney concert? Hint hint...
Maybe, we still haven’t done Napa, well, let’s look into it and let’s also get going…
ow about our Home (Office) Huddle in which we Talk about what’s surfacing in our current pursuits—both personally and professionally—as a Husband/Wife duo.
Last week we were talking about the Carr Fire that’s burning here in Redding since July 23rd and so a little update on that… it’s destroyed over 1,300 homes, burned up to 175,000 acres and it’s only 48% contained - there’s 4,000 firefighters working on it and in the meantime air quality is in the hazardous zone so facemasks outside are a must. And this sort of leads into this week’s discussion and what Morgan and I spent a significant amount of time talking about this morning and that’s the topic of Purpose.
Right and while I have some thoughts on the idea, I think maybe you should give some background on why this topic surfaced…
Sure, well as we’ve said, one of the byproducts of the fire in our city has been the smoke that’s filled the air and created the hazardous air quality outdoors. It’s forced people to stay indoors and has really limited activity levels. To be honest, it’s kind of led to this entrapment or claustrophobic mindset. There’s only so many movies and indoor games to be played… So for the last week and a half, our church was turned into a Disaster Relief Distribution center for The Salvation Army and while Morgan was gone, I signed up for the 4-hr volunteer blocks and took the kids a few times.
When I heard you were doing that the first time and got the text picture of Asher dressed up in an safety vest and a face mask directing traffic, I was so happy. And it’s not like you only did that to give yourselves purpose, but you also did it serve, because there’s a need for manpower and you want to be able help in a practical way! You said that they need at least 400 volunteers manning the center everyday and making sure it runs smoothly - from traffic directors to greeters, to warehouse runners and counselors and then of course, there’s those who are actually handing out stuff.
Yeah, of course, but in the process I observed a few things about purpose. Let me preface by saying that Jadyn had been reluctant about going, I think in her head she had the idea of crisis intervention and disaster relief confused with ministering to the homeless… she’s had a couple of bad experiences with homeless people, and she’s a feeler, and so I think there was a fear from not exactly knowing what she was getting into. But, when I finally took her and she got going, she quickly realized this was totally aligned with her servant and nurturing heart and when we had finished up our 4 hours, she wanted to stay with friends and keep helping by handing out baby items because she had found joy in purpose.
And I can totally picture her in that role - helping people in that capacity is totally her sweet spot. It’s like in Nicaragua after we went to the trash dump and she wanted to fill a dumpster with toys and food and presents and surprise the people who lived by scavenging the dump. Something that’s totally on our ‘dream list’ one day by-the-way.
Definitely, and let me also say that it hasn’t just been our kids, who’ve found joy in volunteering. All of our kids’ friends are meeting up to volunteer as well. The other night, the kids and I were invited to a friend’s house for dinner and their son, who’s in Asher’s grade, made a comment about how as a 13 year old boy, this was the first time that he really felt like he had a real purpose. He was telling me that he’s never like an adult, or I think he even said “a man”, until that day. I loved it, because he is basically saying what we all feel when we serve. So often we’ve said you get more than you give… and as cliche as that is, it’s actually really true.
From the mouths of babes right!? We were created to have purpose and there’s nothing as satisfying to a soul as finding meaning and purpose in what you do and there’s nothing as soul-sucking as not having purpose or meaning.
One of the things we’ve noticed over the years, especially when when talking with younger people is that there is a tendency to want to jump from having almost no purpose to full purpose. Or another way of saying it, especially for those who have a faith, is that they want to magically be told what their purpose is and then immediately chase after that. But the problem with that type of thinking is that we end up comparing ourselves with people who are years down the road and completely forget that it took years and years, mistake after mistake, one bad job after another to get them to the place where they finally felt some purpose. Plus - let me just add to that… even when we finally find that purpose, life doesn’t give us break. That’s the tragedy and beauty of life - you never just arrive.
But I also love the conversation you told me you had with the kids prior to taking them to volunteer - I think that’s worth sharing, can you talk about that?
Well… actually I had the conversation with our kids about 15 minutes into volunteering, because it was pretty evident that due to the nature that although the disaster relief ws being run really well, with 400 volunteers, there were going to be gaps and oversights. So, I noticed that, especially with the younger students, (our kids included) that unless they were specifically given a repetitive task, they weren’t able to creatively problem solve and look for things to do. So basically I took them aside and let them know that there are two types of people in life. The first person continually waits for others to tell them what to do, and the second type of person looks and actively creates things to do. I explained that the difference between a leader and followers is that a leader (even if they aren’t actually in charge always) is proactive in their approach, and the first person is always reactive. Responding to what’s around them.
Yeah, that’s really good and I love that you had that talk with them, and in the big picture of our lives, I think the same is also true. Like, there are those who wait around for others to ask, others to invite, others to initiate and then there are those who decide to take ownership, those who act, those who invite others to act. And don’t you think we need both? Both the Queen Bee and the worker bees? I mean, we can’t have everyone being a initiator in everything, but I would say that every person should have something they are initiating and finding purpose in.
Well… I think there is a difference between creating purpose for yourself and being a leader. What I guess I’m really saying is that as someone gets older, the hope is that we learn to lead ourselves. When we’re young we wait to be told what to do and don’t typically have the wherewithal to figure these kind of things out.
I remember when I was growing up, probably in my early teens I would go to work with my dad sometimes after school, and during most summers. He owns a Tile installation company, so over the years I learned how to bid jobs, install tile and granite; but at the beginning I was simply a hire hand. I was given just the grunt jobs like cleaning buckets and cleaning the job up after we were done. But I remember one day when my dad gave me a more important job of grouting a floor we had installed the day before…. And I remember that he had to run to another job, and so he was essentially giving me the responsibility of grouting this job alone. It was a big deal. So I began grouting the tile floor, and once I finished it, I went back and cleaned it up. A couple hours later when my dad came back, I had already been finished for nearly a half hour, and I was sitting against a wall when he walked in. He looked at the job and thought I did a good job, but asked why I hadn’t cleaned the bucket of grout or the tools? By this point the grout had hardened like concrete on the grout tools and the bucket to the point where we basically had to throw them out. He also asked why I hadn’t cleaned up the rest of the job since he noticed me sitting there. My response was… well, you didn’t ask me to clean the bucket, you just asked me to grout. At the time, I didn’t have the ability to be proactive and create purpose… I was simply reactive, and did only the exact thing I was told.
Yeah… I can completely relate. I remember multiple circumstances like this growing up with a dad who owned his own business as well. As far as I can remember I have helped him with his company’s computer work, and it’s also where I learned the very same things.
The thing is, most of us go our entire lives wanting purpose. But because it isn’t something that is given to us, most of us never find it. We have been sold a story that one day we will find that magical thing that will never feel like work, that we’ll get paid a lot to do, and we will love happily ever after. But what it more often looks like is taking one small task, or job, and doing it well over a long period of time, until another opportunity presents itself or more likely - we create it. And then we do that task or job for a long period of time… and what we begin to notice is that not only are our opportunities getting better and better, but that our idea of what an ideal life purpose is, also changes. It’s in the doing, and trying, and prodding, and failing, and trying again that we actually create our purpose.
I totally agree, and I think there’s also this balance of perspective that we have to juggle right? I know that this last year as some of my pursuits and passions have floundered or remained dormant, I’ve spent a lot of time struggling with my purpose. And what I know to be true is that it’s easy to get sucked into the small picture of the day-in-day-out and it’s also particularly easy to get sucked into the toxicity of comparison on social media. And Babe, you’re so good about reminding me to pull back and see the Big picture. Not the upclose, in-my-face, here and now that’s burdened with feelings and emotions and disappointments, but the 30,000 view where I get to look out - and really ahead - to see the big picture - the years, not the days. I also think that’s where hope is found - believing the best is yet to come and then making intentional choices to take care of my heart and find purpose in the bigger story. It’s like you also say with our kids - we have to continually invite them into the bigger Story, the bigger picture (that has purpose and joy) because if we don’t they’ll find their identity in the small picture (that usually revolves around a screen or a lie (or both)). It’s no different for us - we have to have the self-discipline, self-control, and initiative to keep our focus on the big picture - on the beautiful, redeeming, holy, and grace-filled story that our Holy Posse is continually inviting us into.
Segment - Holy Moments - segment where we reflect, reminisce and remember the most ‘Holy’ moment of our last week.
It’s been too long since we talked about our Holy Moments… the thing is we’re all having holy moments all day long if we have the eyes to see them.
And I’ll be the first to say that most days I really struggle in finding the holiness and practicing gratitude, especially when circumstances feel conscriting. Over and over this last month we’ve had interactions and conversations and experiences that have reminded us that our character is actually forged in ‘the struggle’ and that pointing out what is good and holy is not only a choice, but a sign of character.
This past week I would say my most holy moment was attending Mass while I was in New England. But I think it needs a little backstory...My mom was raised in Rhode Island in the Catholic faith and before I was born she left the Catholic church for non-denominational Christian church. We visited our extended family back East often and sometimes my parents left me and my brother with family to take trips - we’d attend Mass with my uncle/aunt and cousins and the liturgical practices felt so foreign and I remember having to stay in the pews when they would go up to communion since I wasn’t Catholic. At an early age I had this us/them understanding of Catholics/Protestants and of course in my young underdeveloped brain and narrow-mindedness, I also drew lines of right/wrong (with us protestants getting it right). So fast forward...my crazy Uncle Ricky, who’d take us out for ice cream sundaes for breakfast when we’d visit, recently became a Deacon in a Catholic Parish - it’s a huge honor, a big commitment, and was a lot of training. Part of his role is supporting the Priest and giving the homily (or message) some weekends. Well this last weekend was one of those weekends and so I decided to set my alarm for 6am to go to the 7am Mass to hear him. It was interesting sitting in the pews as a 36-year-old instead of an 10-year-old...there’s still a lot I don’t understand but I see the beauty in the commitment and the sacrifice and the liturgy. I no longer see it as us/them—I was united with them in heart through prayer and mindfulness. My uncle’s message was about practicing gratitude daily - it was insightful, humorous and challenging. As I sat in the beautiful church with deep-rooted history and stared at the stain-glass windows, I was struck with a sense of holiness - I don’t have to understand and it’s not my job to draw lines around people or religious practices. My job is to watch out for my own heart and make sure I’m practicing love and modeling the inclusiveness and unity of Jesus.
DAVE - In the same vein as your story of learning to not draw lines and being able to see beauty where once you couldn’t… this past week as we mentioned earlier was filled with a handful of volunteer opportunities as our church basically turned into a full fledged disaster relief center. People from all over the state came to help victims, hand out food, clothing, or a hot meal. One of the groups I’ve seen all week working their butts off is the Church of Scientology. It’s pretty easy to spot them as there has consistently been a group of about 50 members who all wear bright yellow shirts with their logo on it. And I want to say that at first sight, I was a little taken aback… because if you know anything about the church of scientology, they have some pretty, let’s just say, interesting beliefs. But my holy moment came in the form of looking around this week and seeing the countless hours that this group of people have given to our community. They truly have blessed our community. I’ve also been reminded that you don’t have to agree with everything someone does or believes in, order to see God in them. It’s a beautiful thing to see one human serving another… no matter who those people are or where they come from.
Well babe, are you ready to take us on a Deep Dive this week?
Yeah… So this week is more compleplative in nature...my mind has been deep in thought over something that happened while volunteering at the disaster relief center and it that has to do with the concept of having a badge.
Just a couple of days ago I was working in the distribution center, where myself, along with about 20 others, receive donations from a warehouse, organize them, and then distribute them. Things like food, toiletries, blankets, and clothing. We would organize them, and then bring them inside for an entire other group of volunteers to help hand them out to victims of the fire. About an hour into volunteering a woman who was helping run the inside distribution came up to me and handed me a walkie talkie. You know… the real official looking ones that have a handset, and then a curly wired cord that is about 3 feet long and then on the other end is a small microphone that can be attached to the collar of my shirt. She asked me if I would take over and run the outdoor distribution center. And so for the next 3 hours I was the point person and in charge of about 20 volunteers.
The reason I tell this is because two peculiar things happened the moment I got the walkie-talkie. First… the very same people who just minutes before barely looked at me, let alone asked me for advice began barraging me with questions and advice on what to do next. And then secondly I noticed that I was immediately filled with even more purpose and became much more intentional with my actions.
The funny thing is… I didn’t know a single thing more than any of the other volunteers. I mean nothing. How would I? I was just a volunteer myself. No training. No special insight. No understanding of the larger picture.
And this is the funny thing about leadership, and every single person we tend to think has their act together. At some point in all of our minds we looked at that person differently, simply because we viewed them differently. Every Instagrammer, Blogger, Actor, Singer… every person who has influence is just a person like you and I. At some point though, people started listening to what they had to say. That’s the difference.
The Lesson? Well… give yourself a walkie-talkie. Find out what that badge is and wear it proudly. I’ve learned that we actually become the kind of person we, and others, think we are.
Alright it’s time for Morganization - Check in with Morgan on a project from her never-ending ‘to-do’ list and help bring some accountability (and sanity) to our home.
Back in Episode 12 we checked in and I had absentmindedly assigned you a #Morganization project while I was out of town without thinking about the fact that you’d be working AND single parenting for a week But then I come home to find that you did it anyways!!! You priced out mulch and rocks for a section of our front yard that we had ripped up last fall and ended up going with the mulch and so I came home to a fully landscaped front yard. So not only am I completely impressed that you did it all while I was gone but also with a mask on because of the smoke in the air! It just shows how much you love me! Thanks baby!
For the last 6 months, every time I’ve pulled into the driveway that’s seriously been a constant source of mind chatter from the nagging monster that lives in my head and compiles ‘you need to do this…’ lists. So happy to have that done!
So what’s next?
Well you said something this morning that struck a chord...you mentioned something about taking ownership at home first in our own spaces and I think this goes back to creating purpose in my own life… So I think there’s been this debilitating constriction from the state of our bedroom. For the most part (with exception of the garage) the rest of our home is organized and in order and then somehow our bedroom has ended up a dumping ground for stuff when we’re picking up. Anything that doesn’t have a home yet ends up in our bedroom and Jadyn is incredible about purging and cleaning her room but she just takes all the crap she doesn’t want and puts in the corner of our room. I think the busy and cramped space is actually suffocating some of my mental capacity and creativity and so I want accountability to make the time to organize it and clean it out so I can breathe, take ownership, and create with purpose!
Well you know me, I’m a minimalist and I’ve learned over the years to give you space for stuff but I’m not going to argue with that...I’d love, especially since it’s my space too. But I have a feeling that there’s some layers to this project because I know you - I know that you don’t like doing things unless you have the time to do them 100% and I know there’s some unhung artwork and an antique mirror you want hung so I just think you need to give yourself ample time and I want to protect your sanity, so how about you give yourself until the end of August?
Awww, Thanks for watching out for me Hun! Perfect! So yeah, but the end of August and how about I start by posting a ‘before’ video of the craziness on our Instagram?
Sounds like a plan!
On the Screen - in which we visit and review what we’re watching this week
Alright, this week I’m pretty much out of this discussion since I was traveling and visiting family. Aside from plowing through the Netflix original series, Godless, on my travel days with crazy itineraries, I had no time to watch anything. As for Godless, it’s an entertaining western about a town with Michelle Dockery (who played Mary in Downton Abbey) and Jeff Daniels (who plays an outlaw) - it’s definitely not appropriate for kids but I did enjoy it - I’d give it 8 unicorns.
Not many movies here - Hotel Transylvania 3 isn’t worth our time reviewing, so I’ll just stick to streaming...While being stuck inside and having you out of town, I decided to introduce Asher to a few of the movies that shaped my view of comedy at an early age with Asher - In no particular order: Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and my personal favorite - So I Married An Axe Murderer. I’m not going to rate them (because each of them in their own way are clearly 11’s) but I will say that I laughed super hard and it was SO fun rewatching what I consider to be some of the comedy classics and I think Asher was impressed that I could still practically quote the entire movies.
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Mayla from FL wrote in: We finally were able to listen to one of your podcasts. It was the one on risk—I'm so excited for YOU guys! Seriously thanks for just the inspiration and helping us feel confident taking a big risk ourselves.
Thanks Mayla - we love encouraging people to follow their dreams and take risks, it’s one of our greatest passions and we’re excited about all that’s in store for you as you step out in your endeavors! Don’t Quit!
While Morgan was gone we got this small square box in the mail addressed to Morgan so we held onto it and delivered it to her upon her return…
Oh my gosh, the box was covered in a big bright pink sticker and I was racking my brain trying to think of what I forgot I ordered online. When I opened it there was small white box inside and a lovely note from my friend Mary Kate - an encouraging little note about being a great mom and friend and then kind words of praise for Chasing Unicorns and her enjoyment of the podcast each week. And guess what was inside the little white box? An inflatable unicorn drink holder and a little bag of unicorn poop candy! SO special and magical!!!
And here’s the thing, one of top love languages is gifts, so the thoughtfulness of this spoke right to me, especially as I come home to a home where we’re sort of trapped inside - I woke up feeling a little heavy and this was a little kiss of brightness! And actually, the company that the gift came from is called Bright Boxes - they do these little gifts to brighten people’s days - so fun, so you can check them out if you want to brighten someone’s day! We’ll put a link in the notes. Thanks so much Kate for loving me and encouraging me in such a cheery and delightful way - you’re the best!
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Brought to you By
“Today’s show has been brought to you by the word ‘PURPOSE’- we all need purpose. We were actually designed to have purpose, to use our lives painting this world with love, hope, grace, and joy. No matter what you spend your day doing (or what you hope to spend your day doing one day), there is choice to be present and full of hope - seeing the glory of the big story that’s swirling around you. May you have eyes to see and the courage to act. May gratitude abound and hope arise. May Spirit protect your heart from getting lost in the small story and may you practice grace with yourselves for the times when you give in to the fear and lies. The world needs you fully alive - fill yourself up, take ownership of your space, rise to see the big picture... then grab a walkie-talkie and put on the badge God gave you and go out and kick ass for Good!
“Until next week...keep embracing the mystery, asking questions, and giving yourself permission to enjoy the process. And watch out for those freakin’ unicorns...they’re glitzy and shimmery and full of crap!” ;)