On December 21, 2020, at 12 midnight, my job of 12 1/2 years gave me shocking news: that if I did not move back to the US from overseas where I’d been working for 8 years, that I would no longer have a job. On top of that, they wanted me to start working in the US office on February 1, giving me 6 weeks to uproot and move 9,000 miles home, during COVID, no less. And further, they would not give any relocation allowance or severance pay.
It was a surreal evening. Hours before the work meeting, I was sitting on a beach near my home in Thailand. A group of us had gathered to meditate together and witness the rising in the sky of the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. This happens every 20 years, but it had been almost 400 years since the planets had been this closely aligned. It was difficult to stay present as I marveled at the sky, the upcoming meeting gnawing at my mind. My work had rarely scheduled a meeting at midnight.
My heart drilled against my ribs as I dialed into the call. In the past, I would have drowned myself in alcohol or gotten high to deal with this situation. Even though I had sobered up in 1999, the feelings overwhelmed me. But a drink or drug had long ago ceased being an option. I swallowed the stone forming in my throat as the stoic HR manager delivered the information about my job.
I considered her proposal to move back to the US or lose my job for about 10 seconds. Everything in me screamed against the possibility. Grayscale images flashed through my mind: of me flying home dejected, living in a sparsely-furnished studio apartment in suburbia, and driving a used compact car to the office. It’d be the rational thing to do, yes, but it would be selling my soul to play it safe. I knew I could not do it.
I got off the call and burst into tears. It felt like a break up, because it was. My job was the longest relationship I’d ever had. Even my marriage had only lasted 7 years. A large part of me identified as an employee at this job I’d been at almost 13 years. Who would I be without it?
A Charmed Life
I live a life many people dream of, living in vacation destinations around the world and working online. This beautiful life would never be possible in active addiction. Before I got sober, I could barely function, needing to stay high every waking moment. Federal drug charges and 30 years in prison looming over my 22-year-old head, unplanned pregnancy, disgusted family and friends, and my life in shambles gave me the push I needed to get sober.
Getting clean was the hardest and best thing I had ever done. But it didn’t mean I was perfect. I did my best, but fumbled around for years doing my recovery buffet-style. I didn’t want to do anything too inconvenient, especially going out of my way to help other alcoholics. I created a lot of pain for myself and others as a result of doing things my way.
Until 2019, when grace came in the form of an AA Big Book study. The Big Book is the nickname for the book called Alcoholics Anonymous that outlines the original 12 Step recovery process from which all others stem. I’d done the Steps and Big Book study before, but never in this specific way. Intensive service work helping others through the book is encouraged, as that is the model the founders and early members lived by to stay sober. I started taking as many people as I could through the Big Book study and Step process.
This work with others changed me. I started to see myself differently. I felt useful and confident. I had something of value to offer others, and was helping people create change in their lives. I had shifted from being a Taker to being a Giver. 2020 was the best year of my life.
Fear and Faith
Step 4 of the 12 Step process includes examining fears. I had written a long list of them in this recent set of Steps. Number one on the list was the fear that I would lose my job. And now it was coming true.
Why was it my biggest fear? Because I had it in my mind that my entire life and lifestyle was built on the foundation of having this job. And that if I lost it, there would be no way I’d ever be able to find another job like it. In worst-case-scenario-land, where I lived alone without faith, my mind made up the story that if I lost my job, I’d be forced to move back to the US and move in with family. I’d waste away, a burden on them, as I’d desperately seek a new job, one that I’d have to settle for, and would, of course, despise. My glamorous world-traveling lifestyle would fade into memory as I existed living check-to-check the remainder of my days to die an old maid.
Quite limiting, right? My perception was that that scenario was the only possibility. My current job and a life of my dreams, or lose my job and lose everything. It was all-or-nothing. There were no other options available seeing through eyes of fear and lack.
Thank god the universe had already been percolating possibilities. As I continued selfless service with more and more people in the book study process in 2020, I felt deeply in alignment with what I was doing. I felt I had found my purpose in life. I wished I could somehow make a living helping others, but didn’t know how to bridge the gap. Meanwhile, my 9-5 job felt more and more of a futile burden.
About a month before the December work meeting, an idea came out of the blue: what about becoming a life coach? I had never considered it before because I’d never seen myself as a leader, or as someone who had anything worthwhile to offer anyone, up until my working with others. I ordered a book about coaching as a start, but thought it would be a long time before I could actually do it.
Ten days before the job news, I had my first session with a transformational mindset coach. I found her randomly in a Facebook group. She had posted something about transformation. I was in the midst of a transformation, so I reached out.
I told her of my dissatisfaction with my job, that although it paid the bills and somewhat afforded me a life of my dreams, it wasn’t my soul’s purpose. And that I was considering coaching as a result of my experiences working with others. She gave me a life-changing challenge: to go and coach 2 people, that week. I balked, but she encouraged me to go for it.
So I did. I coached two people, and I’ll never forget either experience. The connection, the presence and energy, the insight and clarity, the value that the people I coached took from their sessions… I felt aligned with my true purpose. I left the first session on top of the world.
Then December 21 happened, and I soon knew why. I knew it was the universe pushing me off a cliff. I would never have quit my job, so I had to be forced out. And the universe had created a beautiful place to land.
This was all a few short months ago, and I am still grounding my feet in my new life. My life was already amazing, but this is next-level. Instead of having to carve out 30 hours a week to earn a paycheck, and live my life around that, I now spend my time in service to others, working with people all over the world coaching them or taking them through the Big Book. I really do feel the need to pinch myself sometimes.
I took a leap and invested in myself and my vision by hiring the woman who coached me to help me. It was a huge stretch as I was facing life without a steady paycheck. But the money spent quickly came back to me. In my first three months as a coach, I almost matched my old job wages doing coaching. But it’s not about the money. It’s about living a life of purpose and alignment. A life I even more so don’t need a vacation from. A life where I can inspire others to dream big, because if I can do it, so can anyone.
It’s not easy, in fact, it’s been very challenging. I come up against myself – all the limiting beliefs I’ve carried from the past that tell me who am I to do this, where’s the next dollar coming from, can I trust and believe in myself and what I’m doing.
And then I remember December 21, and the planets rising in the sky together, and I know the universe has my back, and that this is meant to be. I breathe, surrender, and trust. I get out of my head and back into service. Because that’s where the magic happens.
Things show up in life sometimes looking a certain way, but I’m not god so I can’t know the bigger picture. I thought my life would be over if I lost my job. But in trusting the unknown, knowing that everything is always working out for me- no matter how it might present- I can rest in the river of life, letting her currents carry me along the twists and turns, rapids and drops. It’s not a fun ride if I resist the flow. So when fear comes, I do my best to relax, let go, and enjoy the journey. And what a beautiful journey it is when I am present and surrender to what is. I truly now live a life I don’t need a vacation from.