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Nancy Wake: spy, Nazi foe, freedom fighter

I just heard of Nancy Wake this week. She’s a remarkable woman who truly “lived a bigger story.” Ms. Wake, a freelance journalist, went from an impoverished childhood to high-society hostess in the south of France to decorated heroine of the French Resistance during World War II. “She is the most feminine woman I know until the fighting starts — then she is like five men,” a colleague in the French resistance once said. She never traveled without her Chanel lipstick, face cream and a favorite red satin cushion.

Her husband, French industrialist Henri Fiocca, joined her in the Resistance until it became too dangerous for her to remain in France. She escaped to England, but Henri was captured, tortured, then executed when he refused to reveal his wife’s whereabouts. She eluded capture so many times the Nazis called her “The White Mouse” and at one point, had a bounty of 5 million francs on her head.

She trained 7000 Maquis – French resistance fighters – and is credited with personally saving hundreds of lives.

Check out this video about her life.

If you still want more, here’s a New York Times piece on her life: Nancy Wake, Proud Spy and Nazi Foe Dies at Age 98 and this one from NZEDGE.com: Nancy Wake: The White Mouse.

Finding a calling in the mountains of Nepal

By a waterfall outside Pokhara, Nepal in May 2016
In May 2016, I went to India and Nepal. While in Nepal, I finally got some clarity on the next steps for me as I embrace my calling and try to live a bigger story. And then I laughed at myself. Isn't that the stereotypical process? Go to Nepal. Find enlightenment. Namaste.

What if I said you don’t have to trek to Nepal to find your purpose and live a life of meaning? That everyone - no matter how young or old, how rich or poor, married, single, kids, 8 kids or no kids – everyone can live a bigger story today?

Let me back up. Some years ago, I was in a women’s meeting at church when the teacher asked “How many of you know what your life’s purpose is?” My hand shot up but I was surprised to see as I looked around the room that only a tiny fraction of the women in the room that day were willing to raise their hand. Maybe they knew and didn’t feel they could share, but I think it’s more likely they just didn't know. 

For me that day, I knew my purpose was to gather our children to our family via adoption from the four corners of the earth. At the time, we had 18 children from 6 countries. By the time we were done, we had 24 from 8 countries. For more than twenty years, my path, my passion, my purpose was to move heaven and earth to find my kids, bring the home and then implore heavenly and earthly angels to help me raise them.

But guess what! Those kids grew up.

As they grew, I found myself in the place of so many women in the class that day, unable to raise my hand and say “This is my purpose” – and I believed mightily that I had one. Was it to be a midwife? I was one but I had never had a very large practice because I did have a very large family. Was it to write and pass laws that would have a positive impact on families? Be a blogger? A communications director? A social media consultant? Grandma? Family Historian? WHAT WAS MY PURPOSE??

Guess what. After years and much agonizing, reading books, attending conferences, praying, meditating, getting in touch with my inner Goddess I finally achieved enlightenment in the mountains of Nepal.

It’s so simple, really.

And I believe it’s the same PURPOSE for every one in this world.

To live a life that matters.

HOW we do that is different for everyone and it changes over time. It can be big – like adopting 20 kids, or starting a non-profit, or rescuing children from sex traffickers, or it can be small (although no act of kindness and service is ever "small")  – volunteering at the local food bank, or reading in an elementary school classroom or taking a meal to a neighbor.

We come to this earth as Wadsworth said “trailing clouds of glory” and bringing with us a spark of the Divine.

There is an inner knowing in each of us that we are meant to live a life of purpose and meaning, to live a bigger story. Far too often we get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of jobs and kids and laundry and bills that we no longer know what our purpose is and if we did know, we have no time to pursue it. Surely there is more to life than dirty dishes, dirty laundry, dirty faces, corporate meetings, long commutes and you know - normal life. .

Do what matters. Live bigger.