Courageous Choices: From CPA to Interfaith Chaplain

At 51, Sonya left her Deep South hometown and CPA career to enter Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Sonya grew up in a Southern Baptist family and as an adult became interested in Buddhism. She has been a practicing Buddhist for many years.

During the economic downturn, Sonya lost her accounting position and navigated that experience into a life/work transformation. She applied and was accepted into a Buddhist inspired graduate program to become an interfaith chaplain. Her interests include hospice work.

I asked Sonya how this life/work development occurred. She said that CPA work had lost its challenge for years. But whenever she considered new options she would stop with thoughts of lower income, family, age, debt. “Given how I had learned to think, it seemed so impractical to change. Now I wonder how much the way we learn to think serves to maintain a status quo.”

I asked Sonya how she got beyond the status quo. “ When I lost my position,” she replied, “it sank in that what I had been taught about the rewards of being earnest and hard-working wasn’t happening for me or for lots of people. It sank in that if I did not take a leap, I would surely end up a burned out accountant.”

I wondered aloud whether Sonya had surprised herself. After a moment, she said, “Yes. I am surprised at how easy it was to move across the country from a place I had lived all but two years of my life. I am surprised at how emotionally supportive my family has been. And I am surprised at my resistance to writing papers and being a student again.” I thanked Sonya for sharing the story of how she is recreating her life toward sustainable work and sustainable world.