The Write Purpose by Debbie Chartoff

I always wanted to own an ice cream shop. Small, round tables inside and a countertop with bar stools. Walk-up windows for ordering on the outside. Scattered picnic tables across the grounds.

It never happened.

Then, right before the coffee craze when ordering a favorite cup was less than five words, I thought I’d like to own a small café. Similar seating as my ice cream shop. Serving baked treats and breakfast sandwiches.

It never happened.

As my kids grew, my interests changed. I thought I’d like to start a non-profit. To serve whom? Not sure. At that point in my life, I volunteered for various organizations, each having a different need and purpose. Would I be able to create my own identity while helping their mission?

It never happened.

What did happen was this. Unintentionally and unplanned.

When my son was diagnosed with asthma at age four, I searched for books not only to educate myself, but for books on a child’s level to help me as a parent explain to him what his world meant. He knew how he felt, but why? Even though I had childhood asthma and symptoms were similar, medicines and treatments significantly changed. I found only one book, I’m Tougher Than Asthma, which somewhat helped me explain the dynamics of this disease. Disappointed with the lack of sources, I attempted to jot my own children’s story that might help not only the two of us, but perhaps even another child.

My passion for writing began.

While my focus over the years has been to write for young children, I have written travel pieces for an on-line site, press releases for nonprofits, and personal essays. About five years ago, I started a nonfiction adult book that continues to be a work in progress. Some stories have been published, yet most are not. I’m okay with that as this wasn’t my original plan.

Many learning lessons have been discovered along the way. Writing is a journey of not only studying the craft, but one of self-discovery, discipline, patience, and acceptance. I’ve realized that life’s surprises can and will interrupt original intentions, and certain projects may remain unfinished. But I’ve also discovered that roadblocks may lead to detours which have more meaning and purpose.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I could not stop thinking about our older generation and people living in senior communities, completely isolated from family and friends. For three years when my mother-in-law lived at two different homes, I was introduced to groups of amazing people. I wondered how their life changed under these new conditions. Were they able to see each other? Engage in conversation?  Participate in any activities? And what about their families? Did they come to window visit? Could they hear each other through the panes? And then the horrific realization, what if they took sick and spent their last days in a hospital bed?

Here, passion meets purpose.

In order to connect people ‘on the outside’ with these sheltered seniors, I founded The Note Connection as a means of a pen pal exchange program to foster communication, creativity, and friendship. I knew I would start a Facebook Group to spread the idea, but how to create the page, how well it would be received, who would participate, and how it would work were as defined as a blank piece of paper. Remembering the words by Jodi Picoult, “You can always edit a bad page, you can’t edit a blank page,” my determination took hold and the process began.

The Note Connection launched on May 1st. Have I experienced stumbling blocks? For sure. Has it reached its full potential? Certainly not. But have I connected some people? Absolutely. I used my passion for writing to remind others to reach out and connect with people; in this case, through notes. A vintage concept, yet so simple.

Plus, another lesson learned. While I think each of us should explore what our passions are, give yourself permission to use your passion for a purpose when the opportunity arises. While it may not be to the magnitude what you originally dream, just making a difference in a few lives is better than none at all. You’ll never know where it may lead.

If you want to learn more about The Note Connection, visit their Facebook Page or email thenoteconnection2020@gmail.com.

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