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Life is a Long Game —Seek Happiness (Even Bliss) Every Step of the Way!

When asked what I wanted to do as a kid when I grew up after my ambition to be a fashion designer was laughed away by those who did not see it as a profession—I stated that I wanted to be a psychologist. They immensely helped me growing up as a very anxiety-ridden kid who experienced self-doubt and mild depression. I never thought I was smart enough to be a lawyer (even though I probably would be the first to litigate for my limitations); I could not stand blood —having witnessed my dad's films of open heart surgery (he is a cardiologist) accidentally slip into the family movie watch night—a bloody beating heart gave me many sleepless nights as I could not get the horrifying images out of my head—so MD was off the table.

Always a Looking for Inspiration

I cut out the words "Think Positive" and affixed them to my bedroom wall to inspire me to get through most days. I was looking for something that gives life meaning and had many questions about the purpose of most things. I felt like I didn't have anything figured out and needed to. Navigating this world for me took work! But there was a stigma surrounding people who were vulnerable and sensitive—an empath. In the 80s, especially as a middle school student, you were eaten alive by others who wanted to redirect negativity away from them onto another awkward kid who just wanted to survive the day. I spent a lot of time hiding. I could not understand what was wrong with me and why everything was so challenging. And most assuredly, I couldn't even imagine being able to help others when I felt so screwed up. Ahh, the memories- looking back, it is pretty comical thinking that I should have had it all together at merely 13?!?

So turning away from wanting to get stuck in a whole "fix" yourself profession where I was outed for being less than and never enough, not wanting to bring more attention to my flaws and feelings of inadequacy, I realized that my ability to learn languages quickly opened me up to my other loves, traveling the world and meeting all sorts of interesting people—especially looking for individuals who were not anything like the jerks I crossed paths with where I went to school— and where I hoped I could figure out what skills I had to play with to become independent and successful. I was always a creative person—I loved wiling away hours coming up with stories and spending time drawing but didn't seem to think this would get me anywhere—so I kept that knowledge in my toolbox as I got curious and perused what came next.

The Love of Language and Travel

After living in Colombia, South America as an exchange student, I opened my world to a better narrative founded in a new culture (great food and Latin music) and language, falling in love for the first time and genuinely liking myself. The seeds for a successful and exciting story— or at least one I would want to read — were planted, and I used all of it in my application to get into the college of my choice. And I got in, and when I moved to the chilly North, there, in the halls of higher education, I found my tribe—so many more people who loved me for me. I grew more comfortable in my skin and was open to new experiences— I lived in Italy for six months, traveled all over Europe, and went on service projects in Latin America. And at the end of four years, I left with so much more than an education—I had a community and a circle of friends who had never left my side.

Becoming the Master of My Life

After graduating from Boston College with a degree in Romance Languages and taking a GAP year living with my parents again before it was a thing, the Foreign Service seemed like a good career path to follow. My grandfather was a Congressman of NY in the 60s, and it seemed respectable to follow a path where I could be a public servant. Needing to accomplish and build on something to keep the momentum going was always foremost in my mind, coupled with not wanting to be the "black sheep" middle child who brought shame to the family name. Not wanting to go too far from my parents, I moved from Central to South Florida with my new partner in crime, my Shetland Sheepdog Alfredo Luigi, and set out to get a Master of Arts in International Studies from the University of Miami.

Still holding a vision of traveling the world foremost in my mind, the universe had other plans for me when I discovered that joining the Foreign Service would definitely have me traveling, but in doing so, I would have to leave behind the only constant, my dog Alfie, who gave me unconditional love during the last two years and I wasn't going to leave him. So, I did what most college graduates do when they lack imagination; I went to Law School.

The Rule of Law-Finding Order in the Chaos

Yes, I decided to go to law school because of my dog, and I figured it was time to prove my younger self wrong—I was smart enough, after all.

And I was good at it. I had an uncanny ability to remember facts and engage/read people. I learned to see things in MACROs—the big picture. I learned to break down problems to figure out solutions and looked to get to a win/win for all parties involved. That path certainly did bring me success in many ways: I landed a prestigious job litigating with the Department of Justice as an INS federal attorney (my career transitioned to the Department of Homeland Security/ICE in 2003 due to the 9/11 terror attacks and the reorganization). I took the opportunity to create a fantastic legal intern program working with a great team in-house and the local and national law schools where I supervised, taught, and mentored at least 300 students during my tenure.

The study of law introduced me to my life partner as we spent hours in the law library preparing for the Florida Bar. So many doors opened for me, and I learned how to see the world through a critical lens—understanding that everything unfolds as it should and there are no mistakes along the way. With a greater appreciation for how society works and the importance of integrity and trust to keep balance when things go awry (need I say more after the presidency of #45), when I did decide to resign from a 20-year endeavor and career, I knew I wasn't starting over but building upon all the wisdom gained—it's hard to ignore "the game of life" when the veil is lifted. You see others for who they are, not what they propose. And I am so proud of the perspective and life lessons that that chapter taught me well.

Freedom to Become a Better Author of My Life Story

And adding to my resume, ICF coaching credentials, an award-winning non-profit called SHINE Networking Inc. (that has presented many scholarships and awards supporting many in the community who are innovating positive change), an award-winning YouTube/podcast host (Manifesting with Meg and Amazing Authors) a TEDx Speaker and an award-winning author of inspirational non-fiction books of which I have written three (Butterfly & Bliss Trilogy: The Magical Guide to Bliss, Sparkle & Shine, and Butterfly Awakens), I find myself at the beginning of a new chapter - a new crossroad- that brings me back to my beginning ambitions as a teen.

Masters of Happiness Studies

On August 28th, I am starting a Masters of Arts in Happiness Studies and the Science of Well-Being taught by Dr. Tal Ben Shahar at Centenary University, and hopefully, to get a Doctorate soon after that. Who knew this was a thing?

Before I left the federal government, I was interviewed for a promotion to a management position. During that interview, I was asked (I interpreted it as what I hoped to bring to the agency) where I see myself in five years if I got the nod. I stated that I wanted to address the burnout that I and my colleagues experienced as a serious health hazard that came from this job. Having to go to court and listen to stories of what happened in immigrant's home countries truly was punishing day after day if there was no way to take care of our mental health and wellness. I submitted that I would get a Master of Art in Positive Psychology to workshop a governmental wellness program to implement for my peers, giving them tools to become resilient. The looks I got from the panel told me that was not going to happen, and more likely than not, I did not get the promotion (I did not).

But six years later, talk about coming full circle; not only does this course of study deal with the field of positive psychology, but it also focuses on educating leaders who are committed to the cultivation of well-being in themselves and others, to the fulfillment of society's potential for both happiness and goodness. The rigorous ideas and evidence-based interventions that are part of the MA in Happiness Studies will help me bring out the best in my family, colleagues, clients, students, and myself. I am already the chair of the Wellness committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, where I can still help lawyers in a different capacity.

I am excited to begin and curious about where this course of study will take me. What I genuinely believe to be true—life is a long game if you are lucky; I always seem to be where I need to be. I like to think I have a guardian angel watching over me—that and, truth be told, I am paying attention to the opportunities that resonate and keep me learning; I hope that never ends.

Big Takeaway

As we live our lives on this journey to bliss, each puzzle piece found, we get to create a masterpiece that sets out a legacy that will make us and our people proud. We will one day look back when it is our time and have no regrets because we are the manifesters of our dreams; If we pay attention to the opportunities as they present themselves, get excited about goals realized for ourselves and others, ask for help and do our best to help and inspire others to do the same, we will be at ease knowing we did not waste a minute of this one precious life—writing much and editing often. Collaborating with people through shared ideas and insights brings joy, and the travel to visit places and see things is just the sweet nectar of life. The magical momentum of life continues. The path has not been perfect, but we can never give up because we know as long as we are alive, there is more of our story to tell. This is seeking true happiness, and perhaps I was on to something as a young girl; I just had to be patient and live many chapters before what I was seeking found me—Onward, we got this. Butterflies, get ready to dazzle! I believe in you! Hope to meet and share with you all on future travels.


Meg Nocero, is a former trial attorney turned TEDx inspirational speaker, empowerment & happiness coach, and award-winning author of three books: The Magical Guide to Bliss, Sparkle & Shine, and Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief. Nocero appeared on stage in Miami with Oprah in 2014, on CNN Español, BookCon live, podcasts, and online media such as MSNBC, CBS, Boston Herald, and Chicago Tribune. She is the award-winning host of a YouTube/podcast called Manifesting with Meg: Conversations with Extraordinary People and an IG Live called Amazing Authors. She also founded the award-winning S.H.I.N.E. Networking Inc., a nonprofit that hosts uplifting networking events and provides educational scholarships to young innovative leaders in her community. She is currently working on a screenplay for Butterfly Awakens and a novel, The Sunrise of a Soul’s Bliss.

Manifesting with Meg: Conversations with Extraordinary People.

Twitter: @megnocero

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