Nell, 23, is from Toronto, Canada. She left the nest for the first time 8 months ago to travel. She started her trip in Paris with her little sister and ended up travelling through Southeast Asia. They traveled together for 3 months, which was ‘really, really fun’ as they’re best friends. However, Nell began to realize she was using her sister as a crutch and struck out on her own. There, she found freedom. She loved the challenge of traveling alone, of doing exactly what she wanted, when she wanted. It was liberating.
Nell has been at New Life for over 2 months now. She came as a volunteer, but quickly switched to being a resident as she wanted to work on her own self development through the enneagram and workshops. Recently returning to volunteer status to put into practice and apply what she had learnt, she is continuing to work on her self development. Now she is managing the New Life kitchen – which is no small feat – and performs the crucial task of overseeing the daily meal preparation for over fifty people. Relishing her role, she is learning about Thai food, how to delegate tasks, and to be more responsible.
New Life talks to Nell about her journey of self development:
How did you come to be at New Life?
I had been backpacking for 6 months and became unsatisfied. I wanted to be involved in something I cared about. I’m interested in yoga, in psychology and enhancing people’s self esteem and I wanted to explore meditation. I looked on HelpX and New Life popped up! I thought, ‘Oh my god!’ Yoga, meditation, mindfulness – it could have been made for me. I didn’t think about being a resident at first, though the idea of being with recovering addicts drew me in as I have family members who have addiction issues. The place just sounded right up my alley.
Do you remember what your perceptions were before you arrived?
No, I didn’t know what to expect. It seemed too good to be true!
What surprised you about the place?
The community stuff. The meetings and the gatherings. Talking about feelings. They were all unexpected positive aspects. At the evening meetings we have a daily concept everyone shares on, it surprised me how much I enjoyed it. Also how well the volunteers and residents mix. People come for very different reasons and are incredibly supportive of each other. You wouldn’t know who was which, the residents and volunteers blend so well.
What will you remember the most?
How happy I felt. The difference in happiness within a week. I felt really independent but also part of the community. So yes, my happiness!
Have you found any aspects difficult or challenging?
Yeah! Being told I have to do certain things and certain times. For example, as a resident having to do 4pm meditation everyday. Also sometimes I feel so disconnected from my family and friends, because I’ve been so into this new life. But I’m adaptable and I’m able to maneuver my way round obstacles.
How have you overcome these?
Well I became a volunteer – so now I don’t have to go to 4pm meditation! I find other ways to have time for ‘me’. I join the 5pm yoga class and I do my own practice in my room. I’ve created a routine, but it’s my own routine.
Do you think the experience has changed you and in what way?
It’s definitely changed me and I think I’ll notice it more and more when I leave here. I notice myself recognizing my needs, acknowledging them and feeling confident enough to assert them. I like the bridge here between psychology and spirituality. Specifically the Enneagram. It’s been a really useful tool for me. I’ve found it doesn’t solve issues but makes you more aware of your tendencies so you can behave differently if you want to make changes.
If New Life was a fruit, what would it be?
I want it to be a coconut, as I am a coconut freak. But it’s probably a passion-fruit!
* Thanks to the lovely B for this special guest post