It is 2010 now and I find myself at an evening workshop for people who want to change their careers – it’s called something like, ‘Change your job, Change your life’.
The room is full of people who want to leave corporate jobs and ‘do something meaningful’. I feel totally out of place. I have a ‘meaningful job’. I am the Director of a small charity which works with disabled children in Africa and my work is super interesting. I have a lot of autonomy, I travel regularly to interesting places and I have learnt how to do so many things. But I am exhausted, worn out and fed-up. I feel out of place because I can’t blame anyone else the way the other people in the room are blaming their corporate bosses. The only person I really have to blame is me.
I’m doing something meaningful and interesting. In their terms it seems I have it all (it’s the lucky story again) and yet I’m not enjoying it any more.
I am working 50 hour weeks, trying to make the books balance financially and I am not getting on with my new boss (the Chair of the organisation). He has, it turns out, a totally different vision for the future of the organisation to me. We are like chalk and cheese with it. I think I am running a small charity uniquely placed to do important work and ‘punch above its weight’. But he thinks that we were too small to do much and should be more realistic.
I turn to meditation. Well, I turn to my own version of it.
I sit every morning before I start work and I write free style about all the things I am struggling with.
When I am done I light a candle and imagine letting all those problems go and achieving the best outcome for everyone with my day and then I meditate on that for a few minutes before I start work. And it helps. It really helps. It gets me through some really challenging days. And all the way to finally resigning from my job – and though it’s not the first time, this time I mean it.
And so in early 2011, I leave my job – and some other responsibilities I have been carrying for a women’s refuge as its Chair. It all happens (accidentally) on the same day. I go to the seaside for a few days and then I start working for myself. I still work on some similar projects in the development sector.
But I also start exploring things I haven’t had time to do before.
Most importantly I start writing things for other people to read again. I start with something called Partnership Matters, which is about the importance of building equitable relationships with development partners. Then I start interviewing older women and Listening to our Grandmothers is born. I begin working on a novel. In the process of all of this I am guided by a friend to Nia – a sensory-based movement practice. I remember how I loved to dance as a child and I get passionate about Nia. It’s helping me to get back in touch with my body as my unique vessel for being here on this planet and figure out more about what it needs.