MY AFTER YEARS
But at first, it wasn’t that easy. I was trying to choosing my path mindfully, but nothing felt as fulfilling as life had during LVC and Peace Corps.
First, I went back to school and got a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language. I’d enjoyed teaching during Peace Corps, so this seemed like a natural next step. I liked graduate school, but when it came down to teaching every day afterward, I felt like something was missing.
Then, trying a totally different route, I went through culinary school and cooked professionally in Seattle restaurants. But that wasn’t quite it, either.
Finally, I got into editorial writing and editing. I enjoyed that, but I still felt like my life was meant for something different than what I was living.
I felt like the level of presence, wholeness and joy I’d felt while volunteering were still possible in life afterward—and I was right.
A few key things helped me find my light again and new, life-giving direction after volunteering. They were:
- finding a serious meditation practice that helped me be still everyday and hear myself deeply,
- studying the work of authors, poets, and spiritual teachers from across the world and across time about the concept of life purpose, and
- getting some powerful coaching that woke up—then exploded—my own unique purpose and potential.
The process felt like a return to myself. And it was such a relief.
I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, but those several years after Peace Corps I lost something for a while. I now see this as connection with my larger life purpose. During that time, I didn’t feel sure of what I had to give, and worried that maybe I’d peaked as a volunteer and wouldn’t ever find that kind of fulfillment, joy, and comfort with myself and others again. And wouldn’t feel like my life represented me—the true me I wanted to be, anyway—so well again.
Now I can see that I felt small and scared like this because I didn’t get that, while life-changing, my volunteer years were just one piece in a much bigger story of what I’m on earth to do. And there is a map to the next piece in that story; I just had to learn how to align myself to see it. That clarity has changed everything for me—and been a huge exhale.
Now as a certified professional coach (trained by Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, an Accredited Coach Training Program through the International Coach Federation), I help other volunteers restart themselves after their service commitments to create their next fulfilled chapters.
I love this work because no other group of people lights me up in the same way. Volunteers are some of the smartest, most compassionate, most multi-passionate, thoughtful, heart-strong, purpose-filled people on earth. We are far too great a force to waste, sitting on piles of energy and heart without being sure how to use them.
And, what I’ve learned from own my life purpose work—when we lean into ourselves and work to truly become ourselves in this life, we automatically give to the world in our deepest way, and make life better for all of us. So I’m personally invested in your purpose. Because what you have to give me and everyone else, no one else can. It’s the reason you’re here—and I sure don’t want to miss it :).