What is a life of meaning and purpose? I didn’t think so hard about such questions when I was young. I had a plan for my life since I was four years old, and I pretty much stuck to it. But almost half a century later, I look both forward and backward and wonder about the purpose of my life now.

It was easy to know even five years ago – I was a wife, a mother, and a high school teacher. I’ve been a wife for over 26 years and I still see a great part of my purpose to be walking through life’s valleys and peaks with my husband. But what about the mother and teacher? I still see Jillian as my baby, my heart, my angelfish, but she is a grown woman. And I haven’t been a teacher for four years now.

My Traveling Socks would say that I my most recent purpose was to experience the greater world – the other.

Socks Start in Slidell, Louisiana

But I’m talking about now.

I’m sitting here with my laptop writing this blog post. Is writing my purpose? And if so, is it meaningful?

Donna Jo Napoli

Fortunately, I was able to attend a workshop in New Orleans sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Donna Jo Napoli, author of dozens of young audience novels, conducted a workshop on character and voice – and I greatly appreciated a professional’s advice on the writing process. It’s hard to pinpoint how I write. I just do it without thinking, and as a speaker for schools and libraries, I have been forced to evaluate my process. Donna Jo helped me tremendously in this regard.

She was a lovely, witty, funny woman, giving just the right dose of “’at-a-girl” and “get to work.” Ah, but she offered so much more than ideas on writing – she validated my existence as a writer. Even with a published novel under my belt, I still doubt my credentials as a writer, but here was a bona fide writer reading my  latest draft, telling me that she cared about my character, that she wanted to read more, and that “there’s a lot of good stuff in there.” Wow. I was astounded.

Is mine a life of meaning and purpose? I still hadn’t figured that out yet, in spite of recent revelations. Then today I read a tweet by New Orleans writer and anchorwoman Sally-Ann Roberts. It said, “You are like a tree planted by the water. Your leaf shall never wither and you will prosper in all you do. Psalm 1:3.”

Jackson Parish Tree

Sometimes all it takes is someone else’s words to give meaning to our life. That’s why I’m a writer.