I've called myself Buddhist since my late teens, but I've only been making it the central emphasis of my life since my early 20s.
I practice within the Triratna Buddhist Community, and on 23rd December 2010 I took the step of committing to living my life as a Buddhist and practicing with Triratna, through a Mitra ceremony. Mitra literally means friend - becoming a friend. It was an extremely profound evening and something that I will never forget. Such a special experience, and joined by friends and some family to celebrate.
Some time thereafter, I asked to train for ordination in the Triratna Buddhist Order. I knew that the Buddhist path is the path I wanted to walk for the rest of my life, and that I wanted to bring it into the centre of my life.
Ordination in Triratna is neither monastic or lay. It's a very serious step - a lifelong commitment taking many years to become ready to join the Order. Anyone can join the Order, regardless of race, caste, sexual orientation, age, ability or gender identification, and the Ordination teams work worldwide. Triratna is quite unique in that there is one equal ordination for all genders. Women are ordained only by women, men are ordained only by men (and there is a process in development for folks who do not fit in the binary gender classifications, too). In other traditions, women are ordained by women but then they have to also be ordained by a male monk.
Once ordained, I will not be going off to live in a nunnery, fear not! I will continue to be working 'in the world', perhaps with teaching responsibilities at my local Buddhist Centre, and life will continue as usual, or not .... who knows what the future may hold!
For me, my work is very much an expression of my Buddhist values and practice. I find that the core principles of Buddhism align quite closely with the core values of any positive, welcoming and friendly community, and I try to create and cultivate these values as much as possible.