Shonna Bell is the Family Programs coordinator at Fernwood Community Centre in Victoria. Learn what difference Shonna is making in the world by living in her purpose.
Can you tell us who you are and what you do for work right now?
I’m Shonna Bell. I work at the Fernwood Community Center and I’m the Family Programs Coordinator.
How would you define a soul purpose? What does that mean to you when you hear that?
I guess what that means for me literally is doing the purpose of my soul. So for me, that would be something that is aligned with my heart and something that comes from the inside-out.
Would you say that you know what your soul purpose is?
Sometimes, I get confused of it. For me, I know that’s happening when it doesn’t feel like I’m working or when I’m standing in a middle of a program and I’m just thinking, “I can’t believe I’ve created this,” or that even I get to take a part in something that’s coming together.
Do you think that everybody has a soul purpose?
How did you get clear on what your soul purpose is? What was your process around that?
I have to say that it really just happened for me. I don’t think that the position that I’m in is anything that I would have thought. It wasn’t something that I knew anything about before it happened for me. It just manifested into its own. It definitely just happened for me. In a lot of ways, it’s just about me being open to the experience and receiving the joy of it.
Do you think that you are living it on a day-to-day basis? Can you elaborate a little bit more on how you know that you are, if you are?
Yeah, I think I definitely am living it on a day-to-day basis. I think that sometimes there’s just a lot of behind-the-scenes [inaudible 0:03:33] in the program with families. So that I feel like if I could just be around the people seeing the benefits all the time, then that would be like that’s going to feel concrete for me. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t always happening.
What impact do you feel that there is on one’s finances as it relates living in your soul purpose? Do you have to choose between money and passion? What do you think?
I guess for me it is a choice. I’m never going to get rich doing what I’m doing, but I also don’t feel like there’s anything I’d rather be doing. So that generally makes it worth it. I just trust right now that financially all of the reasons I have and all of the reasons that I’m in the financial position that I’m in got me to where I am now. I don’t know, maybe in 5 years, I’ll be like, “Oh, it’s not a big deal.”
Can you describe a decision or an action you made in the past that you feel like got you on course and is one that you would make again?
When I first finished university, I was working at Home Depot. I was given the opportunity to work on-call here for the community center. I just quit on the hope that I would get enough on-call hours. That left me on a position to be available when my position became available. It’s definitely just like a leap of faith and everything fell into place.
Overall, did you feel encouraged or discouraged by your individual community in finding your purpose?
I would have to say encouraged. I think it’s tougher for a lot of people to understand the idea of even an art degree or education that isn’t vocational.
It’s always like that question of “What are you going to do?” or “What are you going to be?” and “How much money is that going to make you?” It was definitely hard to explain that it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, any of those things.
It feels good now to be able to show people that I didn’t need to define any of those things then. It just defined itself. I was just thinking in terms of feeling supported. I just feel like it all just happened.
Like happened to you instead of you making it happen?
Yeah. Just all the people that I needed encouraged me even as far as client being older than me, encouraging me that the support that they’re receiving was helpful.
What’s been hard? What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in transitioning into what you’re doing now?
A lot of just trusting that I know what I’m doing and that things are going to work out. Sometimes it’s hard not to get wrapped up in a whole bunch of things at once and just focus on one small project. For instance, if we’re talking about food security for families, it’s really hard not to get caught up in how little people have and the bigger social issue. Just like in gradual ways of trying to get people what they need, it could be hard just to focus on. I’m still satisfied with we helped 3, 5 or 10 families today.
The other thing for me is it’s hard not to taste the success of a lot of things personally and just to have that same [inaudible 0:09:15] my character or my person and that things will work out how they’re intended to. A lot of the times for me is just not getting emotionally attached and not taking stuff home with me.
How do you deal with tough times on an emotional level? What has helped you get through the obstacles that you’re faced with?
Recently, a lot of what I’ve been doing is yoga and I have a counsellor who I see at least once a week, if not every other week.
It’s important for me to be taking care of the things that I need to take care of, especially being around families and children. There’s often lots of stuffs that comes out based on my own experience. So just really knowing and owning that I need to take care of myself in order to have anything to offer.
For me, that just means like learning about myself and learning what my own needs are even as far as healthy eating habits, goal, just looking at behaviours that I want to model for people and looking at ways to just be present for people. So that when they come into the stage, I can hold space for them.
What’s different about who you are now that you’re living your purpose versus who you were when you weren’t?
It’s just a way of being able to relate to myself or even other people. It’s like this feeling of not having anything to hide. When I’m living in my purpose, I can look people in the eye and I can feel comfortable just being who I am and knowing at the end of each day that I stood up for something that I believe in or contributed to something that I believe in.
It’s making it easier to change the dialogue with myself and start to take some credit for myself and take myself out of my ego of not being good enough.
How has the impact that you are making on the world change since you started living your soul purpose?
I think the change is definitely a matter of giving to rather than taking from.
Can you explain your perspective on the relationship between living in your soul’s purpose and work? Do you feel that they can be separate?
For me, I don’t think that they could be. So I’ll just talk about that. I could see how that might be possible for some people, but for me, it’s not worth it. I’d rather not just be doing anything that doesn’t align with my morality.
Really I think the most important thing to me is to be making a difference. I’d rather spend at least time as possible not contributing to that difference or contributing to the different.
So for me, if I were working at a job that made money rather than I was doing something to make a difference, it just wouldn’t feel as much of an impact.
What would you say are the ingredients for success or advice you would give anyone who is exploring their soul purpose or seeking it?
For me, it’s just about trusting my intuition and also believing that we deserve to do what we love.
It’s just about stepping into the fear, if there’s like the fear of financial security or fear of what that might look like. In my experience, when I step into those fears, things work out, but when I avoid them, they don’t.
Somebody just mentioned an analogy today about rocking the boat to find calm waters. That’s just really makes a lot of sense to me. The minute we identify with what we need, it becomes ours by just stepping into it.
I think it seems to be the natural inclination to avoid. So for me, it’s just like doing the opposite of what I think.
Do you have a message or finishing thoughts for anyone watching this video?
Like I said, the experience for me has just been about learning to trust myself and learning to trust that intuitive voice. I would even call that part of me my soul or my guiding force. Just doing whatever it takes to remain in line with that and just stepping out of the way.
It’s really hard a lot of the time but anytime I could get out of the way enough to let that guiding light shine. As long as I can even see the direction it’s pointing, I can fumble my way there. I might not stand in the light the whole time but just trusting ourselves and that we know what we need.