Into the Story
The #1 podcast to learn English with true stories
Episode 46: Finding your purpose
Accent: Texas, United States
If you’re here, it means you’re ready to take your English to the next level with another episode of “Into the Story.” Well done! Below, you’ll discover incredibly valuable learning materials that perfectly complement this episode. For optimal comprehension, we recommend playing the episode multiple times, and if you need extra help, utilizing the transcript to read along.
Our storyteller, Alicia Marie, is not only a recognized life coach but also an exceptional public speaker. You’ll be amazed by her eloquence! Beyond English proficiency, this episode offers invaluable life tips you simply can’t miss. Alicia will share her inspiring journey when she faced cancer for the second time, hitting the lowest point in her life. How did she manage to overcome it? Let’s find out together.
[00:00:00] Bree: Hi there. It’s your host Bree here. If you’re a new listener, then I would like to give you a very warm welcome. And for the rest of you, welcome back. Learning English through stories is a magical experience. It’s way more than just words and phrases. It’s actually a journey into different cultures and emotions. And today’s story is an emotional one. Alicia, Marie is a renowned coach and trainer from Texas in the United States. Picture this: Alicia was at a low point in her life. She was ill with cancer and she felt totally alone. It’s three in the morning.
[00:01:18] Alicia: There was no one to call. It was just, you know, too late in California and too early in New York and so I’m talking to God and I’m saying, please, please take me. My kids were mostly raised. I’d had big career already, even though I was still young. I just didn’t want to be in pain anymore.
[00:01:45] Bree: But when she started talking to people and expressing her gratitude,
[00:01:50] Expressing how thankful she was something magical began to happen. And Alicia begins to get out of this dark place, this low point that she found herself in.
[00:02:03] And stick around until the end of the episode because Alicia, a coach with 20 years of experience. Is going to give us her advice.
[00:02:15] I know that you’re going to enjoy this very personal story from Alicia and be inspired by her journey from darkness to purpose.
[00:02:24] Did you know, that stories are the most powerful tool for memory retention, making, learning effective and unforgettable? Don’t miss an episode by following into the story right now, it’s totally free. And now it’s time to look at five words and expressions that Alicia uses in today’s story.
[00:02:54] The first is to pull oneself out of something. So, if you pull yourself out of something, it means that you remove yourself or you take yourself out of a difficult situation. It’s like freeing yourself from a problem or a challenge. For example, after a difficult breakup, she had to pull herself out of the sadness and start again.
[00:03:26] Or after he realized he was in a toxic environment, he decided to pull himself out of the negative influences. To pull yourself out of something.
[00:03:40] Next, to strike up a conversation with someone. So, if you strike up a conversation with someone, it means that you start a conversation in a friendly or informal way.
[00:03:58] Often with someone that you don’t know very well or you’ve just met. For example at the party, I struck up a conversation with a stranger who shared similar interests. Or she struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to her on the plane.
[00:04:18] To strike up a conversation with someone.
[00:04:22] Next to heal H E A L or to be healed or to be healing. So the word heal is related to the process of recovering from an injury. Illness or emotional distress. For example with proper care, the wound will heal in a few days. Or after the accident, he was healing slowly. In today’s story, you will hear Alicia talking about healing.
[00:04:57] To heal.
[00:05:00] Next. A lifeline. So a lifeline refers to a person or a thing that provides crucial help or support in a difficult or sometimes desperate situation. For example, during her rough times, her best friend became her lifeline, offering constant support. Or the Red Cross can be a lifeline for communities in crisis. Today, you’ll hear Alicia talking about the people at coffee shops, being her lifeline. A lifeline.
[00:05:40] And finally a very important concept in today’s story. A purpose. Or a calling. So a purpose refers to a sense of meaning or direction in life. A purpose is a reason for existence that drives someone to pursue specific goals. For example, she found her purpose in volunteering to help disadvantaged communities. Or for him, teaching was not just a job. It was a calling, it was a purpose to make a positive impact on young people. A purpose or a calling.
[00:06:21] Okay. That’s all for the new words and expressions. Remember you have this word list, plus an extended vocabulary list, the transcript and a quiz on our website. I will leave you a link in the show notes. Okay.
[00:06:38] Here’s the fun part. Let’s get into the story.
[00:06:44] Alicia: It was 2003. And I was thirty eight years old. And I had just moved to Austin, Texas. I’m in a small two bedroom apartment. One was my office, and one for my bedroom, of course, and I had just sent my middle son and my youngest son to my ex husband to take care of the kids, because at this point I’d had cancer for a year, It was, It was three, four in the morning and although I have friends all over the world, there was no one to call.
[00:07:25] It was just, you know, too late in California and too early in New York and there was just no one to call. And so I’m talking to God and I’m saying, please, please take me. You know, I was ready to go. My kids were mostly raised. I’d had big career already, even though I was still young. I just didn’t want to be in pain anymore.
[00:07:56] Bree: Alicia is at a low point in her life. She’s alone and sick for this second time with cancer. She’s had a double mastectomy, six months earlier. And as a complimentary treatment, she’s consuming only liquid food. She’s trying to get her body to produce ketones and hopes that this will increase her immune system to help fight the cancer. But as a result, she’s extraordinarily thin.
[00:08:30] Alicia: I was, you know, the size of a child after having not eaten for a year and a half. And I just didn’t understand why I was still alive. And something inside of me heard, if you meet one person today, you have a job to do. And at this point in my life, I’d already been coaching, I’d already been teaching, and I’d already been speaking. And I was even doing a little bit of this while I was still sick. But I knew that that’s what that meant, that I had to keep going with that. And it also meant that I had to pull myself out of the state that I was in
[00:09:19] Bree: Alicia had been many things before she got sick with cancer. And one of them was a coach. She listened to people and helped them find their direction. It was a job and one that she was good at. But now, in the state that she’s in feeling desperately lost and alone.
[00:09:47] And ready to give up. She suddenly realizes that she might be able to find her way out of this dark place. If she can help people. Using her gift of listening.
[00:10:01] Alicia: So the next day, when I woke up, I knew that I had to go visit people. I knew I had to be around people so I started going to the coffee shops and that morning I went into the coffee shop I Remember that actually there was this old man at the counter His name was John. John was probably in his sixties. So I struck up a conversation with John and I learned about him and his family and he had a child going to school, college, that was right next to our apartments and, he was one of the people that I connected with that first morning. I felt like he was there for the same reason I was. You know? That we both needed someone to talk to. And he was one of the reasons that I was able to keep going back, because John was always there at the counter also.
[00:10:59] Bree: So the next day, Alicia wakes up and goes down to the coffee shop. And the day after that. And the day after that. And soon it turns into her routine. She’s not able to work full time because of her illness. And she doesn’t have a lot of money, but she knows that she has to keep going. It’s her mission. It’s her purpose. If she can find one person a day to have a positive impact on, Then she knows she’s going to be okay.
[00:11:37] Alicia: And so I started going to the coffee shops in the morning and just talking to whoever I could talk to and listening to them. And sometimes I just had enough money for a cup of coffee. But they were my lifeline. They helped me come back to life..
[00:11:59] When you listen to people is you can hear that people have a deep desire for what they want for themselves and for others, and it’s the same thing. And When people are clear about what they’re here to contribute, and they’re contributing that to the world, whatever that is, it could be that they’re really great at taking care of children, or plants, or maybe they’re like helping people become fit, or maybe, maybe they’re a dancer. When someone is expressing what they want to contribute to the world, it’s very healing for them and for the people around them. And this doesn’t have to be about your work. This can be about anything. But when people are feeling fully expressed about what they really care about, they heal. And for me, it was if I meet one person today I have a job to do, meaning I was there to be in communication, in dialogue with people.
[00:13:04] Bree: And so one conversation at a time, Alicia began to get out of that dark place that she had found herself in that lonely night at 3:00 AM. As she started to talk to people, she discovered that when we are able to contribute what is important to us -whatever that may be- we feel most alive. And for Alicia talking to and helping people was important to her. Soon she began eating solid food again. And she found that she was well enough to return to the gym. Fitness and exercise had always been very important to her before she got sick. And then she took things one step further. She started writing thank you notes to people. She was expressing gratitude. She wanted people to know that she was grateful that she was thankful and appreciated them.
[00:14:07] Alicia: I knew that one of the ways I was going to pull myself out of this depression was through gratitude. Not just talking to people, which was important, but also expressing gratitude. So I would go through my day thinking about what could I, be grateful for, and who could I write a thank you note to? And the person who owned the coffee shop got a thank you note. I’m sure John got more than one thank you note. But, you know, the guy who said welcome every time I would walk into the gym, at the grocery store, I was writing thank you notes to relatives, and to friends, and to my neighbors. I had a neighbor who used to make me Indian food. You know, when I started eating again. So, so that was one of the ways. It was getting up every day, finding people to talk to, writing thank you notes, and understanding that if I met one person today, that that was my calling. That was my work.
[00:15:08] Eventually I ended up back at the gym and then I’m walking. And I went from being able to work 2, 3 hours a day to working 4, 5, and 6. And there there was a company that I managed to get a contract with. And from that point, I got very busy. Like, as much business coaching as I wanted to do, I had it. I’m not well enough to go stand on stage or be at a conference, but I’m well enough to wash my hair.
[00:15:39] I’m well enough to be on the phone for a few hours. And so I’m working with people on the phone. I’m not out in public. My hair, I didn’t even have all my hair at the time. And, within about a year, I was full time working as much as I wanted to, And it’s really been that way almost, almost within a year of me getting that message that my presence is the gift that I give people simply by listening, simply by seeing them, simply by hearing what it is they have to say and supporting that.
[00:16:21] Alicia: Now my company, PeopleBiz, is now 23 years old. I work with incredible, talented leaders all over the world. And I am more contributed to by them, by my clients than what I give to them. I live an incredible life because of the conversations I get to have with people. It’s really a graceful life.
[00:16:46] Bree: Now 20 years later. Alicia is healthy and cancer free. She has been happily married to ed for two years. And between them, they have eight grown children, and six grandchildren. Alicia is a renowned coach in the field of leadership. So I asked Alicia. She found her purpose through this dark really difficult moment. But is it always this way? Do we need to experience something dramatic to find our purpose, to find what special contribution we can make in this world?
[00:17:30] Alicia: I found it through this big dramatic incident, but you know, what is important to me is not necessarily what’s important to you. It could be that moment that you gave birth to your child that you realize something. It could be anything. I mean, there’s like life is always trying to show you what you’re here for. It can happen at any moment. It’s just when we’re going through a crisis, we tend to be noticing. We tend to go, oh, I need to change something. I need to, I need to wake up. I need to look around. I need to notice. And that’s why it often seems like it’s a crisis or some kind of big tragedy or, you know, something really upsetting happens. But it’s only because when we hit that point that we’re really going, wait, I need to live another way. I need to think.
[00:18:29] I need to think about things another way, or I need to try something else.
[00:18:32] what I’ve learned about people is even when they don’t have a dream. Even when they can’t see what’s possible for themselves, even when they have, there’s no vision that their purpose, what they’re here to do today, what they’re here to contribute to others. is what actually brings the passion, the energy, the aliveness to them.
[00:18:57] And yes, it’s wonderful to have vision, it’s wonderful to have a dream, it’s wonderful to have something possible, but that’s, that’s not always there for us. So at our lowest times, we can get in touch with what we’re here to contribute.
[00:19:11] Bree: And that brings us to the end of Alicia’s incredible story. Finding our purpose can feel very big and intimidating. But if we just listen. And pay attention to when we feel alive, then we can find our own unique contribution. So, reflect on your own life. What brings you passion and aliveliness? If you try to embrace those things and let them guide you, even when you can’t see a clear vision or a dream. Then I think you’ll find your purpose. If you enjoyed today’s story, then please share it with a friend. You just hit the share button and send it on over to them. And thank you so much for being a part of the Into The Story community. Okay until next time, I hope that you have a good time or at least a good story to share.
Quote of the episode
“If you express what you want to contribute to the world, it’s very healing for you and for the people around you.”
– Alicia Marie
Words & expressions of the episode
In order of appearence in the episode.
1. To pull oneself out of something means to remove or extricate oneself from a difficult or undesirable situation. It is like freeing yourself from a problem or challenge.
Example 1: “After a difficult breakup, she had to pull herself out of the sadness and start afresh.”
Example 2: “He realized he was in a toxic environment and decided to pull himself out of the negative influences.”
2. To strike up a conversation with someone means to start a conversation in a friendly or informal manner, often with someone you don’t know well or have just met.
Example 1: “At the party, I struck up a conversation with a stranger who shared similar interests.”
Example 2: “She struck up a conversation with her seatmate on the plane to pass the time during the flight.”
3. College refers to a higher education institution where students pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies. It is often used to describe a tertiary educational institution between high school and university.
4. You know? is an expression used to seek agreement or understanding from the listener. It is similar to asking if the listener understands or can relate to what was said.
Example 1: “I was really nervous before the presentation, you know?” Example 2: “She’s been working really hard lately, you know?”
5. To be ill/sick means to be in a state of poor health or having a physical ailment, while to be well means to be in good health and feeling healthy.
6. To heal, to be healed, and to be healing are related to the process of recovering from an injury, illness, or emotional distress.
Example 1: “With proper care, the wound will heal in a few days.” Example 2: “After the accident, he was healing slowly but steadily.”
7. To come back to life means to recover from a state of weakness, exhaustion, or emotional distress and regain vitality, enthusiasm, or motivation.
Example 1: “After taking a break, he came back to life and returned to work with renewed energy.”
Example 2: “The support of her friends helped her come back to life after the loss of a loved one.”
—“They helped me come back to life”
8. To manage (to do something) means to successfully handle or accomplish a task or situation, often despite challenges or difficulties.
Example 1: “Even with a busy schedule, she managed to complete all her assignments on time.”
Example 2: “Despite the setbacks, they managed to launch the product successfully.”
9. A lifeline refers to a person or thing that provides crucial help or support in difficult or desperate situations.
Example 1: “During her tough times, her best friend became her lifeline, offering constant encouragement and support.”
Example 2: “The organization’s financial aid acted as a lifeline for the struggling community during the crisis.”
—“They were my lifeline”
10. A purpose/a calling refers to a sense of meaning or direction in life, a reason for existence, or a strong conviction that drives someone to pursue specific goals or fulfill a particular role.
Example 1: “She found her purpose in volunteering to help disadvantaged communities.” Example 2: “For him, teaching was not just a job; it was a calling to make a positive impact on young minds.”
Listening Comprehension Exercise
How much of the episode did you understand? Take this quizz to find out! Choose the right answer and press the arrow to move to the next question. At the end you’ll see your results. Listen again to the episode as many times as you need. Highly recommended! It’s an amazing eazy practice to take your English truly to the next level!
Alicia Marie in one of her coaching sessions
Alicia Marie is a well-known coach and trainer with almost 20 years of experience. She helps managers, leaders, and professionals build fulfilling lives and businesses. Through her company, People Biz, Inc., she has created useful tools for business owners and individuals. Alicia’s expertise in behavioral sciences, neuro-linguistics, and business allows her to effectively address her clients’ challenges. She is also a popular speaker and workshop leader, sharing her knowledge on communication skills, health, fearless business practices, and entrepreneurial success. Alicia loves teaching new coaches how to build successful businesses in their own unique way.