Every so often, especially at this time of year when most people are back to work, I begin to hear, “Oh Mony, you’re so lucky you don’t have to work in an office,” or “you’re so lucky that you stay at home”, or “you’re so lucky that you can do something you like.”
I certainly do feel very thankful for the life that I lead, but has it all been luck? Reflecting on all this, I thought I’d take some time to tell you a little about my life, and let you decide.
I thought I wanted to be a doctor and studied with that intention, until I realized that I wasn’t passionate about being a doctor—that it was what everyone else wanted me to be—and that I was attracted to the business world, especially to business strategy and technology. Against the advice of many well-intentioned people in my life, I decided to get an MBA. I discovered that I loved it, and was eventually hired as a consultant in what was then one of the largest consulting firms in the world.
For several years, I was happy but working ridiculous hours. I also felt I was stagnating, working in an environment that moved very slowly and that did not make allowances for creativity or risk-taking. One day, a colleague mentioned that his brother worked at Microsoft and that they were hiring for many positions. I immediately gave him my résumé. I was a huge fan of Microsoft products on the Macintosh (this was before Windows even existed!). That same week, I received a call from a headhunter for a job opportunity as a seminar presenter. I had a terrible fear of public speaking, and so thought the only way to overcome the fear was to be in a job that depended on my speaking. Yes, I know, I’m a trial-by-fire kind of person. After the interview, I was told that the job was at Microsoft. I wanted to quit my consulting job right away, but it meant taking a cut in pay and benefits. It also meant a drop in prestige because no one back then had heard of Microsoft; but I really wanted to overcome my fear of public speaking. I eventually decided to follow my heart and make that leap. And I’m so glad that I did because I came to love giving presentations and to be considered one of the company’s top presenters in Canada.
Little did I know about stock options! For those who don’t know what they are, they are a company’s way of gaining employee loyalty by giving them shares in the company at discounted prices, essentially making them stakeholders. During the boom years of the software industry, I felt as if this was my reward for having taken the risk to leave my secure consulting job.
I moved around Microsoft a great deal, taking on different marketing and account management roles. I learned from every one of those experiences. But seven years in that frenetic pace also exacted its toll. Not only was I burning out, but I was also going through a profound change. My unexpected divorce had pushed me to explore my spirituality as a means of understanding why it had happened. It was opening me to a perspective about life that I wanted to embrace, but that I couldn’t reconcile with my work life. By then I was working in the head office in the U.S. Although I had a plum job, with international travel, and mostly relationship-building responsibilities, I was unhappy. But how could I walk away from all that money, all that security? And all the opportunities that an international company offered? I would be throwing away my career—one that defined me—and would have to start over. What would I do after I quit? I had none of those answers, but my heart was tugging at me to leave, even as my fears kept pushing me to stay. I eventually left.
A few months later, in 2001, an economic crisis, followed by the 9/11 attacks, would wipe out most stocks. I had left at the right time.
I threw on a backpack, and started traveling, mostly around Egypt and the Mediterranean countries, trying to find that next elusive step in my life. I walked the 800-kilometre Camino to Santiago in northern Spain, and there, received the inspiration to walk the Way of the Soul to Jerusalem for peace. It was also on this Camino that I would fatefully meet Alberto, the man who would share my path in more ways than I could have possibly imagined.
And to those who claim that it’s easy to change when you have no other responsibilities or obligations: until early this year we were living an idyllic life in Spain, within walking distance to the beach and everything that we needed. But we were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the education our daughter was receiving at her school. We also felt stifled in our desires to pursue our dreams. We opened ourselves to change without knowing what form it would take. We really wanted to live in New York, but could not make it happen, so we let it go. A chance visit to Canada over Christmas opened a door that we could not have anticipated, allowing us to live here with a home, car and furniture given to us, and a great little school within walking distance. The opportunity presented itself, waiting for us to have the courage to grab it. And we’re very glad that we did!
So am I just lucky?
I don’t think so. Every time I have followed my heart—every time I have risked—even when the move didn’t make sense in the beginning, I have been enriched. I believe there’s a longing in the heart of each and every one of us that nudges us in the direction of our dreams. We may not know what they are or what they look like, but we do know that they somehow uplift us and bring us joy. In my case, my desire for change and growth brought about the opportunities; or perhaps more accurately, on a subconscious level, on a soul level, I created the opportunities. I (with the help of my Higher Self, my angels, and the Universe conspiring to bring me closer to joy) brought the opportunities into my existence. But only I had the final choice to act on them.
Some may still call my life the result of luck. I say it is choice that grabbed the chance and made it real.