You Have a Purpose in This World

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You may be asking yourself what my journey of finding one hundred dollars has to do with your own journey to becoming the healthy individual you are meant to be. But I do believe there are lessons to be learned in any situation we find ourselves in and this is my story.

As with any journey we embark on, it always has a starting point. Sometimes it is a journey that we plan for and sometimes it is one that just happens to us spontaneously. But regardless as to how your own journey began, whether you embarked on it for health reasons or just plain tiredness of being overweight and unfit, no one is guaranteed a ride without obstacles.

First, I would like to give you a little background on my journey to $100. It all began on a hot August summer morning back in 2007. I had gone out for a run with my running coach and fellow runners when I saw a tarnished penny in the road. Never being one to walk, or for that matter, run away from any coins, I quickly backtracked to where the small penny was, picked it up and put it in my pocket. Everyone, including my coach laughed at me as I raced to catch up with them. But in my defense, I told them I was going to go home, put that penny in a jar and see how long it would take me to reach $100. I was going to show them that every coin no matter how big or how small matters . From that point on every coin that I found on my life's journey found its rightful place right  alongside my very first coin.

It took quite a while for my jar of coins to show some substance, but over time I slowly filled up one jar before I had to move up to the next size just three short years later. Each coin had a purpose, just like each one of us has a purpose in life. Each coin, each bill that I found has value, jus like each of us has value. Each of us has a purpose. It does not matter your size or weight you are today or in the future, just know that you matter--you have value.

On Sunday, February 19th I was about a third of the way into my 10 mile run, when I reached a pinnacle in my journey that started over 4 1/2 years earlier. I knew that I was getting close even before I took my first step that day, but I never went out for a run expecting that today would be the day. I would accept whatever came my way. This day was unlike many of my other running days. I generally do not run on Sundays, but because of the rain the day before I had to run my long run that day. Ironically of all days, I chose to run down a road that I have never gone down before. I am not too sure why I chose that route, except that I was looking for a change of scenery.  It felt right. Just as I was heading out of the cul-de-sac I glanced about 10 feet in front of me, and there I spotted three pennies waiting to be picked up. These three pennies, along with the four I had found in the earlier part of my run allowed me to reach that $100 mark. 

So what does this all mean for you?

This story is more than just a runner finding money. It is about the resiliency to go out each and every day vowing to do my best and to accept those things I cannot change. The goal was not just about finding another coin, but more importantly learning to trust the process. I could have easily stopped my run right that minute, but this run was not about finding money, it was preparing me to run the New York City Half-Marathon in 4 weeks. Finding money was just a consequence to my preparation. Irony being what it is, I did not stop, turn around and go home, but I continued on my run for the next 6 1/2 miles, only to come home with not 7 pennies, but 10 pennies in all, pushing me well beyond the number I needed to reach the one hundred dollar mark.

The lessons I have learned on this journey are many. There are those things I can control.  I can control the distance, the speed and the intensity of my runs. I can control the time of day I run. I can even control the route I run. However, the one thing I cannot control is the amount of money I may or may not find on my runs. I have to have faith that by doing the things I need to do, I will eventually reach my goal regardless of the time involved.

Same is true for weight loss and embracing healthy habits. There are so many thing we can control, but there are so many things we can't. But when we go out and do the things we know we must do, we must trust that the changes are going to happen--maybe not in the time frame we expect, but when it is meant to be.

In my 4 1/2 year journey there were many days I came back empty handed, but I did not allow that to deter me from going out the next day to try yet again. Same is true for those who become frustrated with the slowness of their weight loss. Every pound, heck even every ounce counts. Just because you don't lose one week does not mean all your hard work up to this date was for naught. There is a sense of satisfaction overcoming obstacles. You just have to keep your eye on the big picture and that big picture is not weight loss, but living the life you were meant to live--a healthy life.

I could have easily gone to the bank and withdrawn the hundred dollars or even have my husband drop coins along my running route for me to find. Trust me, that would have been the easy way out, after all isn't that what a lot of us want on this journey--the easy way out.

As a dear friend recently told me living a healthy lifestyle takes hard work and effort. It's not something that we are given, it is something we earn. We must set out every day to fight our way to live a healthy lifestyle. It truly is a life-sentence and one we must work to achieve every day.

While some may find stooping down to pick up a penny to be a waste of time or effort, I can't begin to tell you the thrill I experience  when I scan the road ahead and see a small battered cooper coin along the curb waiting to be swooped up and placed in my pocket. It took me 4 years, 5 months, 3 weeks and 5 days, but more importantly over 4500 miles, yes, you read that right--over four thousand five hundred miles, to reach this pinnacle. If you take the average of pennies per mile that is roughly 2 cents per mile. But look how much more I gained. I have my health and I have the ability to run. And I am proud to say the tradition will continue. I am not quite done, I have so much more living to live.

Do you focus too much on the big changes or have you learned to accept the small ones that will eventually lead you to your goals? What lessons have you learned on your own journey that you believe will help others?

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That is positively beautiful and the best blog entry I have read in a very long time. Report
My hubby got teased many years ago about picking up pennies on a college trip to NYC. He pointed out that it takes about a second to pick up a penny, so he was making 36.00 an hour! Report
Wow this was one of the best SP Blogs Ive ever read. Thank You! Report
I pick up pennies too when I walk or run. I pray for the person who lost that penny. It's my way of talking to Jesus about what this person might need. I throw my pennies in a jar. I am planning a trip. Nice article. Good read. Report
This is a wonderful blog. Your ability to use the one-penny-at-a-time story to illustrate the way that small, seemingly inconsequential decisions add up to big consequences was so clever! I love it when someone's words make me look at things in a fresh way! Report
I read an article years ago about doing random acts of kindness. One of the suggestions was to take a couple pennies and throw them out on the street or parking lot. You will bring joy to the person who finds them. So now I do that whenever I find myself getting some change. Yes, if I put them in my own jar I might make a $100 dollars for myself, but I like the thought that something so simple can make someone else feel good, and that makes me feel good too:) Report
This story has so many different meanings, it's truly inspirational! Report
Very interesting blog. I wonder how long it would take me to collect $100 doing laundry and cleaning the house? I find TONS of change that way. I once found a $100 bill in a parking lot of Walmart. Report
Love this. Thank you. It totaly made me think about my journey to loss weight. Great Job. Report
Nice blog. I too pickup penny when I am walking I haven't reach that amount but I am please with what I picked up. Your blog is inspiring. Thanks Report
Nice blog, Nancy! It's good to be reminded of the smaller (often intense) bits of a life in a culture that demands the big stuff. Maybe it's 'just' getting older, but I've noticed a strong shift in myself toward the moments rather than the hours of beauty, meaning, and perfection of one sort or another. Report
What a great lesson, Nancy--and now I know what the finding change is all about, too! I have been thinking a lot about how it is the little choices we make each day that make the difference in the long run, and your blog illustrates that beautifully. It's not having one cookie that adds the weight, it's repeatedly having "just one more" that does it. Report
I'm a penny-picker-upper also. I think of them as "pennies from Heaven", and whenever I pick up a coin I stop to wonder which loved one up in Heaven is thinking of me. It's funny how many times I'll be walking along worrying or stressing about something, and all of a sudden a penny appears at my feet, as if to send the message "don't worry, you will always get what you need." Report
Great lesson! As for the money, my Mom does this as well. She walks 7 miles every Saturday and Sunday morning (and every day during the summer...she's a teacher, so she has the time off). She's gotten a LOT of money over the years! She loves it! Report
good analogy Report
Thank you! I really needed this! I was having a really rough day when this popped into my email box! Hope, on Spark!
Beckatha Report
Wonderful blog! Thank you! Report
Thanks for the powerful lesson Report
I think I may share this story with my Al-Anon group. The lessons in it apply to many areas of life and I think they may appreciate them as much as I do. Thank you. Report
This was a wonderful and timely blog. I can definitely stand to learn a little patience, a little more appreciation for the little things that add up along the way. Report
Nancy, now I know what the whole penny thing was about... boy, that was quite an undertaking but there is such a good lesson in all of that. thank you for bringing it out and sharing.

I read the comment about wishing they had a penny for everytime someone used the word journey. I understand that the word can be over-used but, frankly, it is the only way to describe what it takes and what it is like to have come as far as we have. Report
I´ve been in kind of a lazy state this past 2 weeks. It´s festival time around here, and that means less excercise, and more junkie eating. Thanks to Spark I haven´t damaged my health or weight as much as I would have in the future. This article came at a good time for me to realize that it´s a long journey and I need to just keep putting oned foot ahead of the other to succeed. Thanks Report
I enjoyed reading this blog. I am learning to stop focusing on the "big picture" of my weight loss (the total number I'm trying to lose) and enjoy the little victories along the way. I celebrate every time I push myself to go to the fitness center to workout, especially on those day I really don't want to go. I celebrate every time I track my nutrition for an entire day, especially when I meet my goals. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to smaller numbers on the scale on my weigh-in days, but I know that that is not the be all and end all. I'm also looking forward to smaller numbers in my cholesterol and blood pressure overall healthier me! Report
This has come at the perfect time for me. While on a long overdue honeymoon with my husband, I gained about 2lbs. I've been trying to put it into perspective that this is just a small bump in the road on a longer journey. Thank you for helping me put it in the right focus. Now I can focus better on the next step on the road to the healthy me. Report
honestly, i just try to focus on the daily successes, the feeling that comes from achieving and knowing that some rewards are to be reaped later. Report
What a timely blog! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Was sorely disappointed with my weight loss this morning - only 4 ounces this week. But, wow, you renewed my "Spark" to keep going. Report
Great story, it has offered to me a new perspective in my journey. Report
good article but why does everything have to be a "journey"?

If I had a penny every time someone used the word "journey" I'm pretty sure I would have a bigger jar of change than you do. Report
What a great idea. Great job! Report
I found this to be so true, and such an encouragement! Thank you for sharing your insight. Report
great story! I also do this as a motivator for my walks. I find change, pick up coke bottle caps for a kid who collects the points, and on recycle day I look for box tops for education and soup points for schools Report
That is a great story, and a wonderful point. It inspires me to look for the meaning - or lack of meaning - in the everyday things I see along the way. Report
Your title gave me a philosophical problem... until I read your post.

The key is, your life has no purpose until you give it one. Do something to make your life worthwhile, give yourself a purpose, or you'll be wasting your value.

Value does not equal purpose. Coins have value only because we invented them to substitute for barter; otherwise a nickel wouldn't be worth 5 cents, it would be worth 11.2 cents (the cost to make one) or 5.1 cents (the cost of the materials in one)... and paper money would have no value at all (except as toilet paper or clothing) without a tacit agreement by the government to honor it "for all debts, public and private".

On the other hand, being nice to people has true value; it makes them feel better, encourages them to value themselves, and a whole host of other things beneficial to both you and others.

Value doesn't have intrinsic purpose; value has extrinsic purpose. For example, intelligence has value, but unless one uses that intelligence purposefully that value is wasted.

Sorry to go all philosophical on you. I enjoyed your article, thanks for sharing! It gave me a new view on some things I've been doing (or not doing) lately, and that is very helpful indeed. Report
I thought I was the only one who did this! SO GLAD to see that I am not. Many do not understand the power of the penny...

I started about 8 years ago, and have been putting the money in a giant piggy bank, which is almost 3/4 full. It doesn't matter--pennies, nickels, dollar bills even that I would find sometimes along the roadside go into that pig. It's all found money, so free money to me! I started doing this when I decided to go back to school and would walk the 3 miles to campus. It was symbolic of the goal I was working toward, and the reason I went back to school--greater financial freedom. Once, I found several pennies in the cafeteria and while collecting them, a fellow student at least 10 years my junior asked if I needed some money, because he would be happy to give me some. I laughed and told him this collection was part of a personal project I was working on! Obviously, he was not "a collector!"

Thanks for making my day. Report
I loved reading about your "journey!" How cool is that! - finding pennies to finally reach the goal of $100...I just may start that journey myself...although I am sure it will take me a bit longer than it took you! Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to meeting you at JASR next month!...maybe I'll find some pennies along the way :) Report
Wonderful article! Reading it brought me out of the funk that I was in. Thanks for
sharing! Report
Thank you so much for my "wake-up" call. I truly needed to hear about your experience this morning.
I think I am going to do this. Every time a coin is found, I will put it in a jar and remember this post. Report
Wonderful analogy, Coach Nancy! It gave me a much needed lift! ( And I'm glad you made it over $100 on my birthday!) Report
Quite interesting to understand this principle.
Yes to everything under the sun, there is a purpose,
perseverance plays a vital role here.
thanks so much Nancy. Report
Coach Nancy I agree that it is always what you can control. You have to learn to let go of what you can not and that is a very hard lesson that I have been working on for many years. Thank you for the upbeat, I always view the pennies I find as gifts from my angels in heaven. thanks Report
Great article. And I have to say I've found a few dollars worth of coins that I might have missed if I wasn't aware of your effort. I found 51 cents walking to race expo in St. Pete as I look always now. Report
Really enjoyed reading it and will call it to mind every time I feel a negative feeling coming on. Thank you.
Thanks for such a WONDERFUL story. It has given me a bit to think about regarding hanging in there on this journey called life. Right now I have been going through a bit of a rough time, but now I am ready to get back out there and try again.

Great Article. Report
Thanks Coach Nancy! This was a great blog!

In the past, I put too much of my focus on the weight loss aspect of my healthy lifestyle goal. Recently, I've stopped living by the scale and just focused on being more active and making better food decisions. I'm back into my "skinny clothes" and a recent check of the scale revealed that my weight didn't go down as much as I thought it would have had to (to fit into those clothes). Report
Awesome. You are an inspiration to all of us. You have to take baby steps before you can take bigger steps to reach your goal. You have taught us so much about life and our weight loss journeys. It is the WAY To GO. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Thank You Very Much. Report
Great blog, making me think Report
This really spoke to me - I need to focus on the pennies, not the 100 dollars to get where I am going to, with both my physical and mental health. Report
I love challenges, but I only start without the courage to finish because I always beat myself up when I slip and then I tend to slip farther. But since I started this journey, my perspective about life and situations are changing. I now know when I slip, I need to forgive myself and stand on my feet to face it and continue. I still continue with challenges and I look for monthly goals and chanllenges that I can use to keep myself moving during the day, week and months and through the year round. I will never be caught sitting down or idle. Report
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