by Carol Hansen Grey
It happens to all of us. We may have a clear vision of our direction in life… a vision that we feel fulfills our purpose; a vision that we know, deep in our hearts is the right path. But then we see a side road that intrigues us. So we think, "I just want to see where that road leads. Maybe it’s actually better than the path I’m on. Maybe it will be more fulfilling, or interesting, or lead me to a better destination in life." So we take an intentional detour. Sometimes we know instantly that the detour is leading us in the wrong direction and we turn around to get back on the path that fulfills us spiritually and emotionally… the path that leads to our true life’s work. Other times, it takes a while before a specific nudge happens… a nudge that makes us realize that this detour is definitely not serving us… that it is leading us away from our true purpose in life.
Those detours have happened several times in my life. For over 30 years I have been on a consciously spiritual path that has never failed to fulfill me with the knowing that I am doing MY work in the world..the work that I was born to do. I was using all my acquired skills and talents to further that work… the work of being a conduit to help women empower themselves. I became involved with women’s organizations and started projects that had a positive impact on women throughout the world.
And then a friend enticed me into getting involved with an organization that would serve me in a different, non-spiritual way. I would have to pay $600 a year to be a member to take advantage of the services they offered. Because I knew that my skills and talents would fit well with this project and its goals, I agreed. After two years, I volunteered to serve as Executive Director for a year with the understanding that after a year I would expect to get paid if I was to continue. I increased my volunteer activities dedicating 40 hours a week for a year to furthering the goals of this organization. I was successful in developing and maintaining a magnificent website for them, a monthly newsletter and designing hundreds of graphics that were used as promotional pieces, online and in print. I became involved with the state and national organizations that we were affiliated with, attending monthly meetings, networking with state and national leaders, creating unique programs that our organization could offer to members and the public, arranging networking events that brought in speakers on various topics of interest. My entire life centered around promoting and serving this organization.
When COVID hit, I got us up on Zoom within the first week so that we could all stay connected. I trained our members on how to use it, I arranged virtual events, semi-monthly meetings and programs for members, brought in speakers for special events and arranged a fundraising benefit concert. After my year was up in January, I told them that if they wanted me to continue in this leadership position, I would need to be compensated for my time and what I suggested as compensation was that they comp my $600/year dues (which averaged out to about 14 cents/hour).
The Board had a fit! How could I even suggest something like that… "We are, after all, a volunteer organization — NO ONE gets paid!" Even though I was averaging 40 hours a week providing services that no one else in the organization had the skills or talent to provide, developing virtual programs that brought in amazing speakers and increased our visibility in the community, and kept our members connected through Zoom, it was not valued. (FYI: since I left the organization 9 months ago they have not created any virtual programs and the website has not been updated. And, of course, the irony has not been lost of me. By refusing my offer, they not only lost their $600/year, but also lost the benefit of my skills and talents.)
Even though it came as a shock to me that my work held so little value for them, I am actually SO VERY HAPPY that they refused my offer! It made me realize that not only were my skills and talents not valued by this organization, but that my work with them had taken me on a detour. This was definitely NOT a spiritual organization. It is an insular, small organization that served about 35 members providing “insurance” in the form of volunteer services that would help them (the members) stay in their homes as they aged. It had no vision of a BIG PICTURE of creating a better world or empowering women that had been my life’s vision and work for over 30 years. I had let a friend entice me into taking a detour and the road sign I finally came to was “WRONG WAY — TURN BACK.”
Within a few months of quitting the organization, the Universe tapped me on the shoulder in the form of a young woman contacting me on Facebook. She was a board member of Gather the Women, a project that I had started in 2002 when I served as Executive Director of the nonprofit organization: Women of Vision and Action (WOVA). She wanted to know if I could, by any chance, supply her with the history of how Gather the Women began. Unbeknownst to me, the project had grown into a nonprofit organization that was serving women around the world. I had stepped down from leadership in WOVA to open a local spiritual healing center and to take my Lighten Up workshop on tour around the country. I had not kept up with what was happening with Gather the Women (GTW). I, of course, had all the historical archival files and was thrilled to share them. Since then, I have met amazing women who are involved with GTW and I've been warmly and enthusiastically welcomed back.
I feel like my life’s detour has circled around and led me once again to my right and true spiritual path. I am forever grateful to be traveling this path with so many visionary and inspiring women and for the opportunity to share my gifts and talents to help support an organization that is dedicated to the work that has been my passion for so long! Thank you for welcoming me back home.