In the winter of 2002, I moved to NH. I left a lucrative twenty-plus year career as a pharmacist and consultant in professional education and accepted a full time position as a ski instructor at a small family resort just to make ends meet.
Through a divorce that left me penniless, a corporate contract that challenged my integrity, a heartbreak that I would rather not share publically, and a long weekend visit with my brother and sister-in-law, I decided to leave the corporate world and my corporate paycheck behind. (Gulp!) I sorted through my belongings, rented a storage unit, packed a few things and landed in the town of Eaton, NH.
I moved into my brother's home for the winter. We shared a big old farm house at the end of a long country road on 60 acres of land, with a 10 acre private pond, a farmers porch, snowshoes, hiking trails, a dog, two cats and lots ot time and a variety of sunny sitting spots conducive to deciding what was next for my life.
I worked as a full time ski instructor to pay my way. It felt so good to be back on skis again! I had forgotten how much I loved sliding on snow and how it connected me to my body and soul. It's the same feeling I have being on or near the ocean. That winter I got to be on skis 7 days a week. I felt alive again! To this day, I still enjoy sharing my passion for skiing with others and often measure the success of my winter days by how many new skiers there are in the world after my lessons are done for the day.
The transition from the corporate paycheck, business attire and jet plane commuting to teaching skiing and other odd jobs along windy country roads just to put food on the table presented quite a contrast. Spring came and I wasn't sure what was next. Eventually, I headed south (mud season and black fly season in NH can be a bit challenging!) to reconnect with family and friends I had lost touch with during my divorce.
After 6 weeks of traveling along the East Coast, I found my way back to my brother's house in NH, still not sure what was next, but open to whatever came up next. Over a cup of coffee, a phone call, a job offer and, literally, a spiritual awakening between me and a red cardinal on the porch, it became crystal clear that I would be staying in Eaton.
Within twenty-four hours, on the day after I returned from my East Coast trip, my life had changed completely. I got a call, interviewed and accepted my current position as the Teen Clinic and Community Outreach Coordinator at a community health center, through which I discovered my life purpose work.
The same day, my brother informed me that while I had been traveling, he and his wife had purchased land with a small cabin and had decided not to renew the lease on the farm house. If I wanted to stay, I needed to renew the lease on my own. I was pretty broke and had no means to fund first and last month's rent and security deposit needed to renew the lease. I can still remember the feeling I had when my brother told me they were leaving the farm house. I was on the porch on a warm summer morning, he had poured me a second cup of coffee and handed it to me as he broke the news. And then he was gone.
That's when the cardinal showed up and sat on the railing of the porch for what seemed like forever. The feeling was overwhelming. I felt connected to a power beyond me. One thing I had learned at the farm ... it was so much easier to connect with that power than it was in the confusion of my old corporate life. As the cardinal stared at me, I felt an inner calm. I knew that if it were meant to be, the means would show up. I sipped my coffee as I took in the scene, the sounds and the beauty of my surroundings. The phone rang, interupting my peace, and the cardinal flew off to a nearby tree. It was my cousin. We talked for a long time, updating each other on life's happenings. I shared the story of my day along with the way I was feeling about it. I wanted to stay and simply needed to trust that it would work out if it were meant to be.
When I hung up the phone, I noticed the cardinal was sitting in a tree off to the side of the porch. Wierd ... or very cool? I went with very cool.
Two days later, I received a check in the mail. It was just enough to cover first, last month's rent and security deposit. I never expected it and couldn't see how that was possible. Instead of letting my pride take over, I called my cousin and simply expressed my appreciation. She was happy to help me and I was evenutally able to pay her back.
I signed the lease on the farm house a few days later. It was all perfect. The job was a combination of all the things I loved about my professional experience and strengths and combined them into a flexible, fun way to make a living, far, far away from the corporate world I no longer enjoyed. I had grown to love the old farmhouse, the pond and the surroundings and looked forward to living there on my own. And I never looked back.
That was the beginning of me noticing that things had a way of working out. I had a sense that there was something going on that was way beyond me and simply couldn't be explained. It as as if the Universe had conspired on my behalf to put together all the pieces of my new life for me, in ways that I could never have come up with on my own.
The only problem was, I was literally making 15% of my hourly consulting rate and living far below the standard I had become used to. However I had quickly noticed something ... I was happier than I'd ever been. I smiled more. I loved my surroundings. I loved my work. I loved where I lived. I felt peaceful. I could feel myself connecting with a part of myself I had never known ... that way down deep place that I can now call my essence or my soul. And ever since that day, I always seem to have what I need when I need it. It shows up in unexpected ways from unexpected places. More on that later.
I was happy ... finally happy. My days were spent teaching kids about their bodies, about growth and development, about healthy friendships and relationships, about sexuality, effective communication and heatlhy decision making. This led me to connecting with lots of teenagers on a one on one basis. Many of them struggled with seeing their future, staying motivated to finish school or finding a job ... and all of whom deep down wanted to discover themselves and simply be accepted unconditionally.
Teens have taught me so much over the years. They still do. And today, I know I am doing the work I was meant to do. Today I am grateful for my ex-husband's addiction, for all I've learned about myself and about life as I healed from my divorce and for the life I am living.
But there's still something missing. A hint of frustration? is it more like something yet to discover? Or perhaps a bigger vision with an expanded reach?
More on that tomorrow ... for now there are 14 inches of new snow and my skis are calling me!