Finding Fulfillment in the Stewardship of Wilderness and Nature

Here begins my new journey. I just turned 50 and I am making a huge change in my life.

I have led a great life so far: three wonderful kids, a loving husband and a satisfying and rewarding job. However, subtle and subconscious as it may be, a feeling of unfulfillment still rested in my mind. I had begun to question my successes. The principles that had led my life until today no longer seemed trustworthy. Was it really what mattered the most? Now that my children were all grown-up, the house was empty and challenges at work did not seem as exciting as before. The fact is that I was not able to be content with my work and felt like I was missing a real purpose in life. For 25 years the centre of my life has been my children. Now they are moving forward, constructing their own lives. It is time for me to move also! But how do you turn everything upside down after years developing a routine, becoming an expert in your field? Was I ready to let everything down for an unsure and uncomfortable change? Would I be brave enough?

I first tried to continue with my usual life, not ready yet to leave my comfort zone but feeling that I had to find meaning somewhere else. I invested myself in the local farmers market, I followed some conferences about ecology and sustainable lifestyles around the world and I subscribed to a few environmental newsletter and magazines. All of those new experiences were interesting and brought a new feeling of accomplishment. Nevertheless, it was not enough. I still felt that I was not fulfilled and that I lacked purpose in my life.

The turning point was when a friend of mine, knowing that I was interested in nature and wildlife conservation and was searching for a meaningful commitment, mentioned the Stewardship Foundation. She just mentioned it in a casual conversation over lunch and I quickly forgot all about it. But somehow a few days later this conversation popped up again in my head. I found myself spending the whole evening reading through their website. I quickly felt inspired by their plan and mission statement. There was something different about it. I really liked the concept that the stewards of the lands should get involved in the creation, development and implementation of land and resource management plans of their areas as they are actually the ones knowing the most about the land and wildlife surrounding them. Their ideas and projects appeared really concrete to me. It was clear they had not only ideas, but were going to implement actions to guarantee sustainable use of resources and protect wildlife and nature. I was so exited by their project that I made the decision to be part of their movement.

I emailed the Stewardship Foundation to learn more about the opportunities. I wanted to get involved in their plans and projects and discovered that they were looking for contributors not only in the field but also working from home. I realized that I wanted a big change in my life but was maybe not ready to leave my home and my friends and make my husband follow me to this remote wild place after 25 years with the same habits. Taking part in such a proactive plan at my own scale from home would be just perfect. And who knows maybe one day I will be ready to take a bigger step and move there to be more directly involved. I felt like I had found the way to bring meaning into my life again, what I was missing the last few years.

I started learning more about the area, about the wildlife and nature, about all the issues to be addressed and the positive outcomes already achieved. I progressively got the bigger picture. There is still so much to accomplish and enough room for evolution as new challenges arise. I feel like myself again and I am proud to be part of creating a legacy that my children will be able to tell to their own kids about one day. The possibilities to get involved and make a difference are endless. In June and August I plan to participate for two weeks in on-the-ground projects. I feel like I have a completely new world to discover. I look forward to new experiences!

~ Sonia