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Finding Meaning From the Inside Out

Finding Meaning From the Inside Out

DeAnneB_withGirlsGuest post by DeAnne Wingate Bennett

I began my career on a quest for the world’s view of success – money and power. I realized after I had it all that it wasn’t “enough”. I knew there was a purpose for my life but I didn’t know how to find it. I finally recognized that I needed to leave my identity in my career and look at myself from the inside out. This is how I discovered the meaning of life and my calling.

Growing up, I was taught that money created happiness. My first exposure to impoverished communities began at my alma mater, Rollins College. Students and faculty joined together to build a medical center in Guatemala and a community center in the Dominican Republic. I was amazed to live for a month among people who had nothing financially, but were still filled with joy.

My experiences in Guatemala and the D.R. were ironic to me because of the richness of our American society and the unhappiness that still seemed to pervade the wealthiest of families. These trips opened my eyes to the revelation that perhaps money was not everything. But I was not ready for “enlightenment” to spark transformation in my heart and life journey until more than 15 years later.

I moved to Boston after graduation and was hired by one of the first Internet ad networks. My career exploded and I eventually became an executive for a multi-billion dollar media company in my 30s. I had what the world defines as success – money, power, accomplishments, but I felt empty. How could this be “the American dream”?

After a few years of fighting my Internal Guide, I made the decision to leave it all. I sold my condo in Chicago, put everything in storage, and headed to Mexico to surf, learn how to be “quiet”, and spend time with God. After a year, I returned to the states and was ready to start down this new path. But “I” was not ready yet. You know how God works—in His time.

A Life-Changing Trip to India

After a few anxious months, I serendipitously met with an organization that was doing work in India. They asked me to head up a project they were starting for girls rescued from the sex slave trade. It took lots of struggling with my heart and God, but I finally got the courage after a few weeks and agreed to take the leap.

The mission changed and the trip’s true purpose was revealed when I met an inspirational Brazilian woman, Helena. She had started a school in a slum in Goa because she saw that education was their only hope. It was magical to watch her tenderness transform these precious children into self-confident and loving little ones.

Helena created a school where love is always the answer. This philosophy and environment are radically different than the violence experienced by marginalized kids at home or at a government school. It has been a huge success in the community and these little ones are like seeds, planting what they learn in their own homes.

Parents pay a very small stipend to send their children to her school. It creates accountability from the parents, but in no way helps contribute to the overhead. Sadly, Helena is forced to turn down too many children from the surrounding slum each term due to limited funds.

I could not help but be inspired by Helena. One day I asked what her dream was for the school. Her eyes lit up and she said she wanted to expand the school. We figured out the costs and I immediately said I would help make it happen. How could I not?

We Are One

UNICEF reports that 22,000 children lose their lives each day because of lack of food, water, and proper immunization. Millions of children are forced into child labor and trafficked into prostitution. According to the ILO, 126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers.

These children are our children, our responsibility. When I saw the injustice face to face, it was impossible to turn my back. I returned to the states with a resolve to do something and established Rippled Purpose, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in May, 2012. I knew there must be other local change-makers, like my Brazilian friend Helena, who were committed to the community and wanted to bring education to oppressed children. They just needed financial support.

I also founded a women’s apparel company, Blessed Lotus, in May 2012 as a way to fund our mission. It seemed like a no-brainer. My company could deliver profits AND make a difference. Now, Blessed Lotus has evolved to become a community of empowered women providing a path to changing the world!

True Success by Finding Your Purpose

We are taught from the time we are born that to succeed in life and be happy, we must work hard and make money. We must focus on the path towards the American dream.  But what if there is another path, led by our hearts and not our egos—a road less travelled filled with love, courageous acts, vulnerability, compassion and forgiveness? What if the single most important mission of our lives lies waiting to be discovered in our hearts but we aren’t even aware…

DeAnne Wingate Bennett is a former corporate executive who left a successful career in internet advertising in 2010 to follow her heart. Wingate Bennett’s journey took her to India to work with girls forced into the sex slave trade and children living in slums. She returned to Charlotte (her hometown) in 2012 and established a 501(c)3 charitable organization, Rippled Purpose, to fight human trafficking and child labor through education. Wingate Bennett also founded Blessed Lotus, a women’s apparel company, on the principles of social entrepreneurship. Her goal is to create a community of empowered women, providing a path to changing the world. Wingate Bennett is dedicated to sharing what she has learned to help others connect with their hearts. Her eBook, “Finding Meaning: From the Inside Out”, is a road map to navigate through this challenging, yet incredible life changing process.

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