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The JamBios Memory Gallery showcases user submitted memory stories from around the globe.
Each month selections are hand curated by Annie Cusick Wood and the JamBios creative team. They are chosen based on how the memory touches our heart, makes us laugh or inspires us.

To submit your memory story, start your free JamBio and invite the Memory Gallery to read one of your Chapter sections. Select Reader "Memory Gallery" at MemoryGallery@JamBios.com.

JamBios Featured Section

By Sue horsford

Living the Dream

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone starting out on a career it's this: Find something you love, something that's important to you and find a way to make a living from it.

I left school in 1979 at 16 and having a career was the last thing on my mind. All I wanted was to leave home and get a flat with my boyfriend, so I took the first available job which was as an clerk for a shipping company in Liverpool. My mum was pleased, it was definitely a job with prospects although as it turned out, the 80s saw a downturn in the shipping industry and if I'd stayed, I would have only ended up being made redundant, Besides, the job it used to take me an entire day to do could now be done by a computer in a matter of seconds.

I left after 18 months and there followed a string of casual jobs:  waitressing, selling double glazing door to door (you do not want to do that for a living), a day in a hairdryer factory which just about destroyed my soul, working as a croupier in a casino and selling Celtic Art from a handbarrow. From 1983 - 1986 I didn't work at all as being a drug addict took up all my time. 

Finally in 1987 I was employed in another clerical role in the office of a department store where I worked for 5 years. I hated every moment but it was a secure job and it paid the rent. 

Then in 1992, I injured my back. I tried to carry on working but I had so much time off that in the end I was informed that there were some voluntary redundancies coming up and I was strongly advised to put my name forwards as if I was off sick with my back again, they would sack me.

So there followed 14 years of not working and living off benefits. It was a long time without a job and so I took an Open University degree to stop my brain from turning to mush. But by 2003 I was seeing a vast improvement in my health and I started thinking about going back to work. But at what? All those years of not working had at least made me realise what I didn't want to do. I didn't want to make money for some faceless corporation, I wanted to do something that made a difference. My degree was in Humanities which didn't qualify me for anything other than teaching which wasn't something I wanted to do. 

One evening I was speaking to a friend, Mike. I hadn't known him for very long and he was in the police force, nevertheless I felt he was someone I could trust and I told him about my past. I hoped he wouldn't be judgemental but he was quite the opposite.

"You're an untapped resource," he said. "You should be using your life experience to help others going through the same sort of thing."

"I'd love to," I said. "But whenever I see jobs in the paper for drug workers, they always want experience. How can I get experience if no-one will give me a job?"

"Try volunteering first," Mike said.

So I did. I spent every Monday working for an HIV charity, one of the most rewarding things I've ever done, every Tuesday working at a drop in centre for women going through domestic abuse, every Thursday working for a Substance Misuse charity and Friday mornings studying counselling at my local college. Finally, I felt I was on the right track to doing something rewarding with my life.

I was eventually taken on by the Substance Misuse charity in 2006 and have worked there ever since. I love helping people and I know I've helped to make a difference in people's lives but I feel it's time to move forward in some way. 

In 2014 I started off on a sort of spiritual journey. I'd had a Reiki treatment once and I'd felt amazing afterwards. I'd wondered what exactly the practitioner was doing as I had my eyes closed, so I did a little research and found you didn't train to give Reiki, you were attuned. Okay that sounded a bit woo woo. Also it seemed to cost a couple of hundred pound to become attuned. Well, I wasn't that curious. 

Then out of the blue I received an email with an offer for a Reiki level one attunement for £40 instead of £200.  (There are three levels of Reiki.) I decided to give it a go. If nothing else it would be a pleasant chilled out way to spend a day. Well I received my attunement and can only say that afterwards I felt changed in some way, more aware, more vital. I know it sounds crazy.

A few days later I was in a garden centre and my eye was caught by a stone Buddha head. I immediately thought, I have to have that. It wasn't a vague fancy, more of a compulsion and I would have bought it no matter how much it cost. Luckily it cost £12.99 and so it was in my garden that evening where it seemed to radiate serenity. Then not long after this, I was looking out at it from my kitchen window when I suddenly thought, I have to learn Tai-chi. Again, it was a compulsion and I immediately went on-line and found a class.

A few months after starting Tai-chi, I decided to have a Reiki level 2 attunement. This cost me a couple of hundred pounds but I felt it was worth it to continue upon my journey.  During a break for lunch, I was chatting to the Reiki Master who told me she had been doing Kundalini Yoga. She explained to me what it was and once again, I felt that strange compulsion. As soon as I got home, I looked up Kundalini Yoga on YouTube and had a go. It was hard, very different from what I knew as yoga but I felt incredible afterwards and decided that from now on, I would spend Sunday mornings practising along to various videos on YouTube. 

It was only my third Sunday and I had found a session that lasted 2 hours. Afterwards, exhausted but relaxed and energised all at the same time, I decided to have some breakfast. Often on a Sunday, I'd have a bacon sandwich and I thought of it now but only for a second. Suddenly it seemed about as appetising as a human sandwich. It wasn't that I was thinking of the welfare of the animal as such, more that I didn't want to put its dead flesh into my body. I'd just spent two hours treating my body as a temple and now the last thing I wanted to do was defile it with bits of dead body. (I know that sounds dramatic but that's exactly how it felt.) I thought of the fear that must go through an animal's mind in the slaughterhouse, all the negative energy rushing through its body and I knew I wanted no part of it near my energy. I thought about the chicken we were supposed to be having for dinner and my heart sank as I realised I couldn't face that either. I thought about fish and that seemed okay so at the time of writing, I have been a pescatarian for four years.

Some time after this a thought came into my head that I'd like to train as a hypnotherapist. I'd learned by now to follow these random ideas, perhaps it was the Universe giving me little nudges. (Yes by now, I had totally turned into a middle-aged hippy!)

So I trained as a hypnotherapist and then the Universe said, what about Life Coaching? So I'm now a qualified Life Coach and I've also received my Reiki Level 3 master/Teacher attunement so now I can attune people myself. What else? Oh yes, I've been running creative writing groups and have just completed a course in teaching Therapeutic Creative Writing. 

I've still got my day job for now but I've had a few clients for Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching. I'm really interested in the study of energy at the moment because that seems to be the common thread that ties my interests together so who knows where that will take me. One things for sure, I'm definitely excited to see where the future will take me!