It was April of 2013 and I had just finished writing up my Dear John letter.
I didn't have two cents to rub together, I had no belongings, I didn't even have a job but one thing I did have was faith.
I knew it was time to go. The emotional and verbal abuse of 8 long years had finally beaten me down so badly, it was just time to leave.
I had no idea what lay ahead for me. I was broke and broken. I had no vision for my future. I was 51 years old and a shell of a person. With nothing but hope and faith.
And my personal growth journey began.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling
Alone for the First Time
For the very first time in my life I was alone. It was me against the big bad world to make decisions on my own and get my life back on track. I had to totally reinvent Iva but first, I had to find out who she was.
I cried a lot the first 3 months. I was also deliriously happy. I managed to get a job, get an apartment and with the help of a lot of friends, had things to put in it. Life was starting to take shape but it didn’t come without its fair share of hurdles, blocks and emotional dumps.
Alone for the first time in my life, I cried a lot. I was scared, really scared. I still had no idea what the future held for me. Here I was at 51, unfocused, alone, scared and struggling to make ends meet. Something had to give. This isn’t what life is all about. That I knew.
Step Away from Your Pity Party
I was starting to get annoyed by my own pity party. All I did was feel sorry for myself, cry all the time; outside of work I never went anywhere. I stayed home and wallowed. It was taking its toll on me.
Has that happened to you or maybe it’s still happening to you? Have you ever felt so lost, alone and broken that everything seems hopeless? Not a pretty place, right?
One day I was talking to a friend on the phone whom I hadn’t spoke to in ages and he tells me he volunteers at the homeless shelter twice a month. Oh!! Sign me up! I’d be more than happy to do that.
I’ll be honest though, my ulterior motive was to just stop feeling sorry for myself, take my mind off of my problems and maybe help out a little if I can. What followed still blows my mind to this day.
I went to the homeless mission, signed up, got my schedule and away I went. Suddenly I had a little spring in my step. I had something to look forward to. Finally.
Day 1 and the Months to Follow – Finding My Purpose
I entered the mission on a Saturday night for dinner time. We were getting ready to feed 200 cold and lonely souls. I was nervous. I’ve never really done this before. I know nothing about volunteering in this type of setting. I was about to learn.
They came in the hall, they smiled and laughed, they introduced themselves to me, I poured coffee while we all waited for dinner to be ready, I got hugged and gave hugs back.
I listened to stories, many stories.
And suddenly, I was in love. For two hours I laughed and joked and listened and cried and hugged and fell in love with each and every broken soul that walked in that door.
Suddenly I knew I was exactly where I belonged.
After a year I was promoted to Team Captain and was there every day. Oh how my heart was so full. Each and every day I walked in that mission, my heart exploded. I forgot about my problems and my pity party stopped.
Finding my purpose had made all the difference. I found the reason for my existence. And I couldn’t be happier, ever, in my life.
My Purpose and Vision Grew Leaps and Bounds
Into year two it was time to take my purpose further. One of my dreams was to spend a winter in Central America to help the poverty. I knew the hard work involved in doing that and I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get it done.
I resigned from my 25+ year hairstyling career, became a freelance writer (this didn’t happen overnight, trust me), packed up all my stuff, sold and donated anything that didn’t matter anymore, left my home in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and bought a one way ticket to Guatemala.
3 years later, I’m still here in Guatemala, helping to put a dent in the poverty and writing.
Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams, or Yourself, Ever
I think my message here is twofold, really.
- When you’re down and out, go help someone else. You’ll make two people happy (or 200 in my case!). Don’t stay stuck in your pity party for too long. It’s not healthy and nothing good will come from it if you stay there, and
- Don’t ever give up on a dream, no matter how long it will take to manifest or how hard you think it may be to realize it. Believe in yourself and put forth 100% commitment into living the life you deserve to live.
Life is full of twists and turns and mind blowing moments. It’s up to you to be open to them and embrace them. Believe in yourself and the possibility of miracles. They are all around you. Your life can be beautiful.
Peace and Love.