A Research Paper By Stefanie Degen-Schmidt, Life Coach, UNITED STATES
LIGHT ON! Discovering Fulfillment
LIGHT ON! Discovering Fulfillment is my heart’s passion project within my LIGHT ON! World mission. Everybody in this world is unique and creates their own life’s path. I started my research of true-life stories in August 2021. I interview people who live a fulfilling life, whatever it means for them. By sharing these inspiring life stories, I would like to encourage other people to get unstuck, take responsibility for their life experiences, and discover a life full of meaning, joy, and fulfillment.
Interview With Nina Discovering Her Fulfilling Life
Stefanie: Hello Nina, how are you today?
Nina: Hi Stefanie. I’m doing well, thank you. What about you?
Stefanie: I’m also doing well, thank you for your openness to share your story with me. As I mentioned in my email, I research true life stories of people who are living a fulfilling life – whatever that means for them. These inspiring life stories may encourage other people to discover and live their journey of a fulfilling life. So, I am curious, what does your fulfilling life look like?
Nina: It is a long life story. Allow me to go into the past to describe my journey from where I was to where I am now. I always wanted to live somewhere else … I grew up in the mountains in Austria, which is a beautiful country for me! But I love the warmth and the contact with open-minded people. Austria was not the right place for me. I had the desire to break out into the bigger world when I was 20, 30, and 40.… At some point, I got sick of feeling this inner urge so strongly but never acting on it. My body kept giving me signals. I had developed severe insomnia for years. I tried everything possible to stay afloat. But at some point, I had to break out of that system. It was only possible for me by really pushing my boundaries.
When I was 41 years old, my husband and I decided to break out. It was May 2017, a beautiful day in Tyrol and there was no single event that led to our decision. It was very simple; we gave up all external obligations and took responsibility for our own lives. The plan was clear, we would leave everything behind in Austria and plunge into the adventure of life.
It started six months later. We flew to Canada, bought a big bus, and just started driving. Instead of being able to enjoy everything, the complete opposite happened. The first months were extremely difficult. We plunged into nowhere without knowing what to expect. At that time, we had been together for 14 years. But we were two people who were completely lost. We didn’t even know each other anymore because we first had to recognize who each of us was as individuals. Without our jobs, without our village, without our daily structure, and without our predictability, we went through a roller coaster of emotions. We had fears of not being able to let go, of pain, of anger, of worry that we had made the wrong decision, and of existential fears. Like two crazy people, we traveled all over the USA in nine months – it is a huge country. We ran away from ourselves like two madmen. Eventually, we found ourselves on our journey and rediscovered each other as a couple. And we are grateful for it every day. Today, we are starting our fourth year on the road, traveling the world, experiencing cultures, and a life full of obstacles and challenges. It turned out traveling is the greatest and most transforming experience of my life!
Stefanie: Thank you very much for sharing your incredible life story. I acknowledge you for your courage to break out of the system into the larger world and to push your boundaries to discover fulfillment. What have you learned on your journey?
Nina: I learned to let go of the past, to be grateful for what I have, and finally to love myself. I had a difficult childhood. The more I put pressure on myself to let it go, the worse it got. I thought to myself that if I left the country where “it” happened, I would certainly be much better. I am better now, but it has been a long journey. In my fulfilled life I am thankful for the positive things I have now including a very loving partnership. But I also accept the painful things from my past. This is me. They are part of my life. I can finally be myself. I’ve learned to love myself for who I am and to treat myself like a child, giving the child what she needs: love, calm, affection, a hug. Now I allow myself to explore many different facets of life. Life is colorful and so are we. I can watch butterflies for hours, listen to the sound of the sea and get strength from a sunrise. I love animals, the big ones more than the small ones. I like to swim in crystal clear mountain lakes in Wyoming. I love to walk on the endless beaches of California, and like a little girl, I happily collect colorful shells and stones in New Zealand’s lonely bays. My greatest passion is cooking and baking healthy, delicious dishes and enjoyable food – I am an absolute foodie!
Stefanie: When you talk about your journey, I see your excitement and rising energy; what is so inspiring and contagious. What drives you to travel and explore the world?
Nina: I am happy when we travel and when we see great things like the Grand Canyon for example… an incredible natural spectacle. We have already toured North America, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and Mexico. In North America, we drove away from “Covid”. We exchanged our motorhome for a truck with a camper and went on an adventurous journey through Mexico. We are currently on the road again in the USA. We are always on the move with an irrefutable desire to explore, discover, grow, learn, and share. Through our story, we want to inspire people to find their adventure. To be “on the road” means to deal with the unforeseen at every moment, to assert oneself, to come to terms, to find compromises, and to improvise. And as a reward, some moments are priceless and unforgettable.
What Makes up a Fulfilling Life?
Stefanie: Itis so powerful that you want to inspire people to find their adventure. What is it in your life that matters most to you?
Nina: I enjoy most my relationship with my husband, my calling to serve people as a Health Coach, my comfort with self-determination, and the many small things in life. My husband and I now get along so well that we can live in a van that’s two meters square. A few days ago, we had coffee and cheesecake. It was so good for us. These little things in life are just beautiful. We only live out of a suitcase, and we are very good at dealing with money. We have two hands, and we are both talented. Each of us has something that we can do to earn money.
I found my calling 25 years ago. I serve people on their path to health with love, patience, medicine, naturopathy, and a large portion of empathy. What is also great for me is that this life is self-determined. I don’t have any more appointments that I don’t like. I no longer want to have obligations that are not good for me. I want to be able to decide every day who I want to be and what I want to do. And I can do that now. Life is an adventure! It is full of extraordinary moments for anyone who is ready and has the will to strive for them. Life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, that’s what makes up a fulfilling life for me!
Stefanie: Thank you so much, Nina. Your story about your fulfilling life touched my heart. I am so excited to be able to share it with other people around the world. It has been such a pleasure to have this conversation with you.
Nina: Thank you, as well. It was also a pleasure for me. I wish you all the best with your heart’s passion project as you continue to encourage people to discover fulfillment.