Childless: Leaning into Charitable Activities Helped me Find Meaning
Do you ever question the meaning of life?
As a woman in my fifties I find myself in a place I never dreamed of–being involuntarily childless.
Thankfully all the pain, loneliness, and grieving of my thirties and forties are well behind me. Yes, I sometimes feel sad but it’s no longer an acute pain in my heart. Most of the time it now feels amazing to be living a joyful, fulfilling, and meaningful life. Even if it’s different from the one I’d envisaged. You can read more about how I came to terms with this <HERE>.
The purpose of this blog post is to share the number one thing that made the biggest difference to me on my quest for meaning: leaning into charitable activities.
We create the meaning we experience
It’s not what happens to us that determines how we feel but how we choose to respond to events. This includes how you define the meaning and the extent to which you explore the many different ways to add meaning to your life.
Create the space, lean in, and trust
I’ll never forget the day I walked away from a lucrative corporate contract and set the intention to do something more meaningful with my life. I didn’t know exactly what other than I wanted to find a charity or cause, that could make good use of my skills, helped children, and involved overseas travel. It was a leap of faith and trust.
Take inspired action
The very next day I got an email about an opportunity to help young genocide survivors in Rwanda. I took this as a sign I emailed back straight away. Eight weeks later I was part of an incredible team helping people Rwanda overcome trauma and learn how to turn their lives around.
What I thought was going to be a one-off trip turned into eight trips over five years.
It was inspiring to watch these young people flourish over the years. Their courage and ability to heal from the worst horrors any human being can ever imagine was astonishing–to the extent, they forgave the people they’d seen killing their families.
These young people gave me new hope in humanity. The trauma they felt is similar to what drives others to terrorism. Yet the young people we worked with learned how to recover from their trauma and reconnect to the natural stage of love and peace in their hearts. It’s wonderful to know most are now respected compassionate leaders in their communities.
A different perspective on meaning and worthiness
I used to think that having children was the only real purpose in life. At a conscious level, I knew there are many ways to leave a legacy but, no matter what I did I never felt good enough.
Getting involved in charitable projects has changed that. Being part of something based on service and contribution has helped me feel I am doing something worthwhile. My life has a purpose again. I no longer feel worthless.
My friends in Rwanda showed me how to reconnect to my heart again and gave me a new sense of purpose and perspective. Who was I to dwell on the loss of not having children? There are so many people in a much worse situation than me.
Yes, it’s healthy to go through the grieving process. But I’m not willing to let my childlessness define me.
A new sense of belonging
My voluntary work and fundraising have also resulted in lots of wonderful new friendships, many of which are with other childless women. I no longer feel alone. I’m part of a tribe of a growing tribe of incredible women making the world a better place. That feels good.
Focusing on impact
It’s amazing to think about what’s unfolded since sending that first email offering to help in Rwanda. My life has been enriched and blessed by many experiences I would not have enjoyed had I had children. Focusing on impact has also helped me embrace life with a new sense of meaning and vitality. I am particularly proud to have:
- Raised over £150,000 for charities doing incredible work in the world.
- Built a school in Cambodia – leading a team of friends who raised the funds and together we visited the school that will have a positive impact on the community for generations to come.
- Been involved in the making of a multi-award winning documentary film about our work in Rwanda, educating professionals on the power of healing trauma in the wake of human tragedies.
- Written two best-selling books – inspired by the work we did in Rwanda and the creative fundraising I do through my business.
I originally thought my legacy would have been my own family and children. It seems it’s about leaning into how I can make a difference in the world in other ways.
So what’s next?
My focus now is to make the most of life and help other women over forty to live a life of meaning, vitality, and impact. My motto is to lean into things that light up my heart and make a difference in the world.
I enjoyed the experience of building a school in Cambodia so much that I’m leading another team of women who are raising funds to rebuild a school in Lombok (near Bali) that was destroyed by a 2018 earthquake.
There may be times in the future when I’ll feel a sense of loss again e.g. missing out on having grandchildren. But I won’t dwell on that. Instead, I choose to focus on the liberation I can enjoy as an older woman who is free to create and embrace a different sort of meaningful life.
What about you?
How could leaning into charitable activities could change your life?
Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of 100,000 people–by making it easier for women over forty to enjoy a life of meaning, vitality and to have more impact in the world.
Alisoun’s keynote talks, training, mentoring, and best-selling books Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes and Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success have favorably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. She loves doing humanitarian work, fundraising, and living by the beach in Scotland.
Alisoun is has written the following free resources:
- Ebook: 101 Ways To Attract Great Clients, With Heart, Integrity & Social Impact (click here)
- Ebook: 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Charities and Social Causes Through Your Business (click here)
- Ebook: How to Enjoy a Deeper Sense of Meaning in Your Life – coming soon.
You can connect with Alisoun here: