I have heard from several of my friends that they miss my posts.  My apologies!   I have been reinventing myself over the past 18 months.

When we first moved abroad 6 1/2 years ago, a very dear friend asked me “what I was going to do with the opportunity that had presented itself”?  What he meant was: “what was I going to do with all my free time?”   Let me explain — one very big advantage of moving from the US to a developing country was that I suddenly had a lot more free time on my hands.  My kids were suddenly of school age and I didn’t have any prior “commitments”.   This was a double-edged sword because I’d never had such a clean slate placed before me.   My first forays were into the obvious — learn the language (check), learn a new hobby (check), get back in shape (check), volunteer at school (check plus).   These were  all great ways to both learn the language as well as become a part of the local community – not just the expatriate community.  After 4 1/2 years, I’d built a life full of great friends and rewarding volunteer experiences and could communicate in Spanish.

However, after coming to China, I realized I never really answered the real question, e.g. what was my passion?  Now that I had all this free time (again), I found that those activities I had pursued didn’t hold the same excitement or attraction.   I realized I hadn’t really answered the original question – that is, I filled my time and made some amazing friendships, but had I really pursued my passion?

Fast forward 18 months and the answer to why I haven’t kept this blog updated!  Shortly after arriving, I was offered the opportunity to take an interim role with my former employer.  This was a rare opportunity and one I jumped at – perhaps my “passion” really was my previous career?   Rejoining an established multi-national company after 7 years was a shock to my system to say the least – but it was one that was worth it.  It was like drinking from a fire hose as I like to say, but that has always been something I have enjoyed.   It also made me realize that while my previous attempts at finding my passion had helped me find balance, they weren’t really filling the bill.

The role was only temporary and time flew by – before I knew it I had to think about “what next”?   Did I try to find another position in the company?  Did I go back to being a “tai-tai” as they say in Shanghai?   I could certainly find things to fill my days again – never an issue with 2 young kids and a city as dynamic as Shanghai.   But was that what I really wanted?   Here I was in Shanghai – in the midst of China’s booming economy – how could I just sit back and watch?   However, with so much opportunity, I really needed to finally answer that question — “what was my passion”?  What did I really want to do with my time and energy?

After a lot of soul-searching, conversations with my friends, family and mentors, I decided to volunteer my time with a local NGO.   I do believe serendipity struck again because all signs pointed in the same direction, e.g. with an NGO where I had an opportunity.    It turns out my passion is to help protect our planet for the next generation – and my skills and experiences can be put to use promoting sustainability initiatives here in China and finding ways to replicate them elsewhere.    I have never worked so hard — but also have never felt so motivated by the work I am doing each and every day.

So please forgive me if I don’t post again for a while!!