I did my first all-in-Spanish informal coaching session today! I am really excited! I feel like I broke through a personal fear which said that I couldn’t work here because I couldn’t coach in Spanish. Nonsense! I did it and it was very fulfilling.
It’s finally time to give an update on my work situation. My plan to find a part-time job/consulting assignment working with issues of violence against women in children here in Colombia has not worked out. I sent out many emails to contacts and friends of friends in the field and nothing seemed to be working out. Now I am a big believer in the Quaker concept of “Way opens/Way closes” meaning that when you are on the right track, things work out and if it feels like you are pushing a boulder up a hill to get something done then quite possibly, you are not on the right track. So I stopped to pause and reflect as to what might be happening.
What I realized was happening is that right around the same time that the job search was going nowhere (about a month ago), I found myself feeling really down about being in Colombia. The newness of the experience was wearing off and the reality of day-to-day life with things not working out as they are supposed to and people not saying the truth was really getting to me. (OK, something really nasty happened with people who I trusted and it really shook my belief in the goodness of people.) I was even starting to miss the States, where people generally say what they mean, do what they say and things work pretty smoothly.
Just as I was wondering whether it’s time to wrap up our almost year-long adventure and head back home, I had an epiphany! I am a very sensitive person, as in I sense what is going on with others. I can even take on their feelings if I am not careful. I was clearly picking up the fear and mistrust of others that is in the culture all around me here in Colombia and making it my own. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In the States, I consciously surrounded myself with friends who shared my values, were optimistic about life and, for the most part, tried to live their lives with integrity, purpose and passion. And in my work, I help people live with passion and purpose. I had spent a year of my life doing research for a book I wanted to write, a book of inspiring stories of people who have made life changes to follow their dreams and succeeded in creating deeply meaningful and fulfilling lives. I interviewed 62 people and I have yet to write their fantastic stories!
Here, on the other hand, I am living in a small town, surrounded by people who mostly transmit distrust and fear. I constantly hear stories of what doesn’t work and how people have been abused or screwed over. We have a few friends who are not quite so pessimistic of course, but they have all lived outside of Colombia for some period of time.
I realized that I needed to stop buying into this culture of fear and seek out Colombians who are positive, optimistic, hopeful for the future, and endeavoring to live consciously. And voila! Ask and you shall receive! I made lunch dates with fellow coaches and pursued conversations of work collaborations. I decided to pick up my book project again and have made plans to interview Colombians who have made changes to follow their dreams. I am meeting fantastic and interesting people! (By the way, if you are reading this and identify yourself as having made life changes to follow your dreams, wherever you live in the world, please get in touch with me, I would love to interview you!) People started contacting me seemingly out of the blue asking if I would coach them. I was nervous about doing it in Spanish but also excited about being able to help people here and get to know the culture on a deeper level.
Doing all this has made me feel much more positive and I am excited to be living here again! I want to get to know more like-minded people here and learn about the positive things that are happening in Colombia. Things feel like they are back on track again! And I am about to live my greatest joy and passion, which is to travel with my family. Life is good!