I was a student of Japanese studies at Oxford University and was lucky enough to live in that great country for many years. During that time, I learnt some basic calligraphy, called shodo, the art of the brush, but as a left-hander I was always at a disadvantage.
Japanese writing and even individual characters flow from right to left which feels quite unactual for most of us ‘lefties’. I was even advised to try with my right hand. It was whilst studying shodo I came across the work of master calligrapher Mitsuo Aida whose cursive brushstrokes really moved me. His Zen-like musings usually left me feeling quite perplexed. I just didn’t get his wisdom at the time.
Fast forward twenty years and I have discovered his message. And it's not because I studied the Zen poets or Buddhist teachings, but because I joined a women’s networking circle called DrivenWoman.
My story of the past twenty years probably rings true with some of you. I spent those years misguidedly chasing someone else’s dream. I had what many would consider to be a very successful career. I worked at some very large multinational companies, I received a fancy title that would have impressed you and an excellent salary that allowed me to enjoy a life of travel, nice clothes and evenings out.
On the outside, all was well. I had ticked all the boxes.
But inside I was being drained. I had lost my joie de vivre. I had lost myself.
It took an inordinate amount of courage to quit my job at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, my supposed ‘dream job,’ and to uproot my young family to move across the country to Zurich with no friends, no job and no sense of purpose anymore. That was three years ago.
A year later I joined one of the first DrivenWoman groups in Zug, Switzerland. Like many of you, I am a natural doer and I love a good list. I was immediately drawn to the DrivenWoman manifesto of doing more of what makes you tick, defining your own success and moving forward step by step with the focus squarely on doing.
Finding my Tuesday Night Tribe was very therapeutic in itself. Knowing that others were also struggling with the bigger question life asks of us was a great comfort.
I learned that we all have the power to create our own reality.
This was an absolute revelation.
Literally, within months I had started my own business giving baby and toddler music classes through the fabulous Music Together programme. I was finally doing something that lit me up from the inside, that I was intrinsically good at and that was flexible enough to fit around bringing up two very young children with no family locally to rely on in times of need.
This did not happen overnight. It took blood, sweat, and tears, and there were some very challenging times. But I always had my Tuesday Night Tribe at my back as I continued to battle those voices in my head that represents what Steven Pressfield, author of 'The War of Art', calls Resistance.
As my small music business started to flourish, I began to feel that I was still not quite fulfilling my purpose. The DrivenWoman LifeWorking meetings gave me the time I needed as a mother, wife and entrepreneur, to gain more clarity around that purpose and in October last year I launched a new initiative to make financial advice and planning more relevant and accessible to women of all walks of life through education and collaboration.
My mantra is ‘Money talks, so let’s start a conversation.’ I am indeed passionate about bringing the concept of financial freedom to all women. Slowly but surely as each month passes, I feel my priorities and values realign.
I try to be more intentional.
I try to be more aware of life.
And I start to understand the value of being present.
Ame no hi ni wa ame no naka wo, Kaze no hi ni wa, kaze no naka wo. Mitso Aida’s famous verse reads ‘On a rainy day I am in the rain, On a windy day I am in the wind.’
I am still learning to walk in the rain but now I am not afraid to get wet.
I dedicate this post to my Tuesday Night DrivenWoman Tribe. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude I feel for the precious moments we shared.
Sophie Evans is a DrivenWoman member and founder of Music Together Alpine, offering music and movement classes to babies and toddlers from 0 - 5 and the adults who love them.