Continuing Education

Joyce Major

Joyce Major

Standing here at 58 years old, if I turn my head and look back, my memories are clear of the straight out of college Joyce teaching a class in mathematics extraordinaire with shoulder length straight hair, matching sweater and skirt, stacked heels and enthusiasm. Next stop motherhood and like so many of my friends I read every book about childbirth and childrearing crowning "The Time Out" as the queen of my mothering style. After a divorce with the usual fallout and an educational toy business, my career moved to a long successful stop as a real estate agent. And then with both sons graduated from college, my responsibilities seemed to have whittled down to just taking care of myself and the cat. A successful real estate business, an adorable houseboat with kayaking right out my door, friends to play squash with, ski with, rollerblade and laugh with in the beautiful city of Seattle. A great life, right? Yes and no. From the outside 'Joyce's life' looked quite nice but if I lifted my head out of the fog, I saw a woman not fully present, not heart happy, and lacking passion. A question kept gnawing at me- Is this life, the one I am leading right now, the best way for me to live, to use my talents, to help the planet? Unable to either ignore the question or answer yes, I looked around for ways to shake up my life, bring change. The startling idea to travel solo as a volunteer around the world for a full year hit me like lightning one day while I was hiking up Rattlesnake Mountain. Reeling from what must have been either oxygen deprivation or divine inspiration, I knew the trip was the answer.

Jumping out of my life, my shoes, my houseboat and my career, I decided to celebrate my life with the gift of freedom for a full year and perhaps, just maybe, do a bit of good along the way. Not wanting to walk around looking at old churches and ruins like a typical tourist, sleeping in plush, culture-avoiding hotels, I put together a chain of volunteer vacations staying a month on each project. I traveled to all but one continent, took the Trans-Siberian Express, lived in different cultures and got exactly what I had bargained for, change! My spirit is refreshed, my creativity has returned and the just getting by layers that were clouding my vision have been blown away from a year spent volunteering around the world.

I want to encourage other people to travel and volunteer. I feel a deep responsibility to help protect the earth, her resources and all of her inhabitants. Traveling and seeing the beauty on this planet, I want to be a part of the solution.