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A Life of Service
Growing up working poor, I didn’t have much a vision for my future self. I was lucky to stumble into a
state college with $500 in my pocket and pretty solid work ethic. After finishing up my undergraduate
studies, the only thing I was certain of was that I was good at being a student, so I kept going. By the
time I was 24, I had a master’s degree, a fair amount of student loans and little direction as to what to
I painted houses with my dad for a while until I got a part-time job in non-profit. For the next 18 years, I
pieced together a career in the social service sector. I was never really happy or fulfilled, but I kept
telling myself that I would rather be of service in this capacity than working for a big corporation with no
heart (as it turns out, I discovered a lot of non-profits are just like corporations, but with much smaller
In December 2007, I had my last drink. After years of binge drinking and blackouts, I had an awakening. I
was burning the candle at both ends and living a lie – responsible professional working to support
community-based substance abuse prevention efforts who was drinking and driving on the weekends. I
didn’t know it at the time, but it was my first profound spiritual experience. I stayed dry (physically sober
but not working a program of recovery) and life improved a bit. I still hated my job and I was still
suffering from depression and anxiety.
When my dad died in 2011 from a short battle with colon cancer, I slipped into the worst depression of
my life. I didn’t want to live and even though I was being treated for depression and seeing a therapist
weekly, I couldn’t see any reason to go on living.
Looking back, the problem had pretty simple solution. I was totally stuck in self – absorbed with my
depression and grief – and I was not being of service to anyone. My mom suggested I go to a recovery
meeting. I conceded mostly because I was out of ideas and desperate enough to try anything at that
So, at 5 years “sober” I began working a structured program of recovery. Things changed rapidly for me.
I felt like I belonged to a community of men and women who were as happy to support me as they were
to receive support from me. The exchange was simple and powerful for me. A year later, I began to
support women on their journey to freedom from addiction. I found that to be of service to others,
selflessly and earnestly, was the best high I had ever experienced. It was then I realized that the surest
way out of your own suffering is to be of service to others.
One of the things I have come to understand is that no matter what “job” I have that pays my bills, my
only true job in this life is to be of service to others. This realization has alleviated a ton of unnecessary
suffering around my favorite existential crisis of all time (“What Am I Doing With My Life?”). What I am
doing with my life is my best to be a decent human being, to avoid resorting to old coping mechanisms
which want to destroy my life and to share that experience, strength and hope with others.
Just over a year ago, at 9 ½ years sober, I felt a spiritual stagnation and was searching for something to
take my recovery to the next level. I attended a breathwork workshop with Danielle Hering and during
the 6-hour drive back home to Tucson, all I could think was “I must share this with others.” One year
later and I am offering breathwork sessions and classes regularly in Tucson.
I have always felt called to help others, but I never had the tools to do so effectively. Now that I am in
recovery and a certified breathwork facilitator, I feel more capable and confident to truly be of service.
Often clients will come to me when they are out of options or at the end of their rope, spiritually and
emotionally. After a session, to hear them report feeling unburdened, more inner-peace and integration
is a gift I can’t describe adequately.
Today, I experience no greater satisfaction than when I am holding space for someone and championing
them on their personal healing journey. Before each session, I humbly ask to be of service to each client
or group with the intention to create and hold a safe space for their healing to take place.
During a recent breathwork session of my own, I consciously offered myself to spirit to use me as an
instrument of love, compassion and healing. In that moment, I wanted to turn my whole self over to this
work. This is a far cry from the old perspective on life that prevented me from surrendering to anything
other than my carefully crafted agenda. Dedicating myself to a life of service means I get to experience
less resistance and more gratitude with every passing day.
While I don’t have the professional or socioeconomic status I once did, I have never felt more useful to
my friends, family and community. I have heard others speak about “living life on purpose” and that
resonates deeply with me. I am grateful to realize my purpose to be of service to those seeking support
as they heal. The peace and harmony in my life now tells me that I am more in alignment with my soul’s
work in this lifetime than ever before.
At 42, I feel like I am just getting started living a life of my dreams. The gift of service work has been
greater self-love and self-acceptance. I look forward to what opportunities the future holds, not just for
me, but for those I can serve along the way.
by Amy Schaller