Meloddy Solís is so full of positive energy and inner peace that it’s hard to believe there has ever been chaos in her life. But that is how her story went: struggles forced Meloddy to start afresh.
Meloddy is the third storyteller in our People with Purpose series, in which the people of Wärtsilä share in their own words about the major turning points in their lives, what brings purpose to their days and where they find the energy to get out of bed every morning.
Here's her story in her own words.
The lockdown in Panama was one of the most extensive ones worldwide. However, I managed to start a new hobby after the restrictions got less tight: now every morning around 5 am, I start my day with a 7 km walk. Even if we’re experiencing hard times, I get to witness the rebirth of nature. The sunrise and all the magical, blooming flowers remind me it’s the start of a new day.
As I go, I water the plants and I have all the animals and birds as my companion. There are seven homeless dogs cheerfully waiting to see me every morning – I take them food and water, and I play with them as we walk together. We bring security to each other.
At home, I have two chihuahuas, Elven and Davinci, keeping me company. They’re too small to walk with me, but whenever any of us is feeling sad, we comfort each other.
The main reason I started walking was to stay strong and able to provide a safe feeling to my closest ones during these uncertain times. I figured out that I needed to retain my sense of calm and walking would be a great way to take care of my mental health. Another motivation was to maintain my physical well-being, since I have asthma and am therefore in a risk group for Covid-19.
I’ve learnt that sometimes we get obsessed and focus all our energy on a problem while instead we should push the matter to the back of our thoughts and get our mind into a better place. This is what happened to me with my walks. I enjoyed the nature and watching the sunrise, I released some pressure and paid attention to details around me. I was able to stay calm, take care of my family – and I lost weight in the meantime.
I believe I can give back to my homeland with simple activities, such as walking. When I started, it was just me and the dogs. But recently, a neighbour told me how seeing me walk had inspired her. She had been worrying about unemployment before she started walking, but as she breathed deeply and focused on her surroundings, her mindset changed. We recently had an outdoor breakfast to celebrate that she found a job.
Many of my friends have been laid off or lost their jobs, and I’ve tried to support them by listening. I even started to take walks together with two of my friends. We walk at the same time, but in different places and time zones. We simply connect through phones to know we’re all on the road, me in Panama and them in Europe.
Besides words, we can express feelings through our actions. All my family members are old, so I’m taking care of them. I help in simple matters: I ensure my grandmother has food in the fridge and take my aunt to the beach so we can watch the ocean together. Everyone is now feeling a bit blue due to the pandemic, but I aim to change that by creating a happier environment for my family. And, at the end of each day, I can go sleep thinking “I created good memories today.”
Doing helpful things for other people is a simple way to spread the magic. You don’t need to do much to make a big impact. When we serve someone, this other person can share the idea, feeling and motivation with yet another person. Maybe we can’t change the world, but we can change the world for one person. And this person can then replicate the change, so in the end, we are changing the world after all.
I get to help others at work as well. Although my work is in invoicing, I have other responsibilities, such as university collaboration and being part of Wärtsilä’s social responsibility committee. Among other matters, the committee aims to increase the number of female engineers in America and share business knowledge with emerging talents. I’m happy to provide students with some real-life perspective, such as how companies retain quality while so many people are working remotely. Sharing costs us nothing, and as a result, we’re preparing the next generation for work life.
During the pandemic, I also came to understand that I want to study Industrial Engineering. I graduated in marketing and graphic design, which is far from my career in supply chain management. Even though I’ve never worked in marketing, I’ve always enjoyed arts and drawing. My background in design is also impacting how I work – I could never send an ugly report!
Our professional lives are like a fruit salad; when you mix everything – all your studies, professional experiences and skills – you have something colourful and unique. You develop yourself throughout your working life, and I wish to inspire others who dream about studying – you can truly start at any point of your life.
Before my 30s, there was a moment when I felt I had lost the direction in my life and I was also struggling financially. When the bank didn’t grant me a loan to buy my own place, I realised that I needed to take control of my own life.
I was thinking, if I didn’t fix these matters now, I would be struggling even when I’m 40. So, I started writing a list of things that I’d like to achieve, such as financial freedom – I wanted to be wiser and save money – I also wanted a new professional career and do something positive for my hometown.
Even if it was hard to step outside my comfort zone and into my learning zone, I feel proud for accomplishing all the items on that list. It was the start of my new life; I paid my existing loans years in advance and decided to focus on making all aspects of my life enjoyable. Since then, I’ve only selected jobs that I felt passionate about. That is why all my recent employers have shared my values, and they’ve all challenged me. That is why I ended up accepting a fixed-term contract in the field, far from all the luxury. I was ready to give up a permanent office position for this priceless learning curve.
Finishing one list doesn’t mean that I can’t start a new one, but with these sort of bucket lists, you have to be careful not to get too obsessed with the goals. Enjoying the path is most important.
Next on my list is travel. I’ve always wanted to explore the universe and other cultures, and I have some childhood dreams that I’d still like to realise. I want to travel to Lapland to enjoy the silence while watching the stars and the northern lights.
The bravest decision I’ve ever made was moving to the countryside to work in windfarm construction. While it was exciting, it also challenged me a lot – after all, I was a couch potato from the city. Since I needed to start waking up at 3 am, coffee became my best friend. But I also learnt that when you love what you’re doing, you don’t count the hours. My role was to oversee everything on the field – keep an eye on all the potential problems and safety aspects. I felt so proud for being the second woman handling windfarm logistics in Panama and to be part of a renewable project.
Another exciting challenge I experienced was in a mining project. Among the 5,000 employees, I was one of only 100 ladies, and I was so proud for getting the opportunity to grow into a role where I temporarily led the warehouse processes.
Still after all these adventures, I returned to office work – and it’s fair to ask why.
The main reason was that these jobs also changed my personal life. I was hours away from my family. While I had exciting times and a nice title, I ended up missing all holidays and birthdays. So, to get the work-life balance right, I decided to return to an office job where I could have more regular working hours and have time for my closest ones daily. Among all potential employers I was evaluating, Wärtsilä’s sustainability path convinced me to join the company. Its commitment to environment and clean energy inspired me.
For some, my work in invoicing might seem to be the most boring work ever, and even I’m not a numbers fan. But I’ve learnt that your point of view is a choice: you can choose to see how your work is impacting others, how you’re contributing to the big organisation, and you can always develop the quality of your work. So, during my three years in Wärtsilä, I’ve been improving the processes and our use of time. It’s enjoyable when you find another way to do things – suddenly, the task feels new again!
My parents have always told me to stay humble. You should of course enjoy winning a jackpot, as it will not last forever; after successes, your life will eventually hit a new downturn. But if you stay humble, you can take these ‘downs’ as learning experiences. They’re preparing you for the next chapter in your life, the time when you go up again.
The second important thing I’ve learned is: never underestimate the details. Today, we are not observing or listening enough. If we did, we could learn from other people. For example, at work, you should be genuinely interested in the person with whom you’re talking. Even if you’re higher up in the hierarchy, the other person might be as equally knowledgeable as you.
So, if we’re listening, people around us can help us to improve. We learn new perspectives and are able to keep our senses open to see beyond the obvious answers.
I enjoy taking photos to show what I see on my morning walks. Pictures are so powerful – you can brighten someone’s day without even knowing. Feel free to follow me on Instagram: melmsoli_pa.