This is me three years ago today. I was working in typical corporate job that had me doing regular 12 hour days. Most of my coworkers were nice enough, but the work was boring and unfulfilling and I felt like I was in prison. My creative and intellectual nature felt completely stifled and I felt as sad as I look, maybe even sadder.
When this picture was taken, I was in a lot of pain and probably drugged up as I was recovering from a broken shoulder the week before. I couldn't move my left side much, which sucks when you're left-handed. It hurt like hell, but the unhappiness was so much deeper than that. It went soul deep. My mom had just been diagnosed with FTD a few months before. I was overworked, completely unfulfilled and not living on purpose in any sense of the phrase.
There came a day in my convalescence when I realized that I was more than okay with trading all the pain that went along with being broken and unable to do much in exchange for a few weeks away from my job. How messed up is that? But the time off turned out be a good thing, because it gave me something we often don't take time for -- time to think. And I mean real thinking of the soul searching kind.
If anyone needed it, it was me. I was already unhappy. I had just been told my mom, my best friend, had a terminal, incurable illness and I felt so miserable and alone and wondering things like "What is the point of life? There has to be more than this." And so, I resolved to make some changes, among them to create meaning in my life and also look for a new job that mattered, allowed me more quality time with my mom, and actually gave raises and paid overtime, something my company was notorious for not doing, even though it liked to spout the grossly false claim that we had a standard 37.5 hour work week.
More importantly, I decided that it was time to really explore what it was that I was here to do. All my life, I had wanted to do something creative and something that made me feel like I was was using my actual talents to help people in some way that made a real difference. And then, as if in agreement, the universe gave me her affirmation.
A week after I returned to work, we all got called to a mandatory meeting, where we were informed that the company was in crisis and there were going to be massive cuts. Then I got the email over the weekend (yes, a fucking EMAIL after 13 years of service that included a lot of overtime and working through "vacation" days!) that said my position was being eliminated. If there was ever an affirmation that the only person who was going to create happiness and fulfillment in my life is ME, this was it!
It was at the same time terrifying and electrifying. The universe was forcing me to follow my sickbed plan to transform the way I was living. And I mean we've ALL done that, right? Said we were going to find that new job, lose 20 pounds, start spending more time with our families, take more me time, more creative time, more whatever time and then fallen back into our old habits? Well, this time, I was left with no choice.
At 45 years old. I was starting over.
And you know what?
I did it! I made a plan and I did all the things I had decided I was going to do. I went back to school and studied coaching, aromatherapy, and hypnotherapy. I became a Reiki Master. I got certified in Earth Medicine. And then I found a mentor to help me weave all of that plus my lifelong interest in writing, self-improvement, spirituality, goddess worship, and comparative religion with my love of fairy tale, folklore, and myth with my graduate degree in literature to create my Into the Wild Woods of the Soul programs.
I'm not going to lie to you and say it has been easy. It has not. There are still days when it is tough. While I have loved it in so many ways, it has also been a LOT of work and a lot of uncertainty. There were months when I didn't know how I was going to pay my bills. There have been times I've had to dip into savings to pay debts or borrow money to work with teachers, who had the ability to guide me in ways that I needed. And there is still a lot more work to do and a lot more to learn as I continue on this journey.
I am a huge believer in the magic of setting intentions and putting our goals out into the universe, but believe me when I tell you this:
No dream happens overnight or without effort.
And believe me when I tell you that anyone who tells you it will be otherwise it full of it. It's a really popular thing right now for business coaches to peddle the myth that having your own business is easy peasy and that you can make unlimited money in your sleep without ever working, but it's not true and anyone who claims otherwise is doing their clients a disservice. Yes, it is a labor of love and there IS a kind of freedom that comes with working for yourself and the trade offs are so worth it, but make no mistake that it IS work. It is all possible, but you have to do the work.
And it is work that I am happy to be doing and I've started seeing results, but it took time. I am so grateful to have had the support of some wonderful mentors. I know and welcome that I will have the chance to work with them again and with others as I continue on my path. And with the challenges there have been some decided boons and pleasures. I have connected with amazing individuals, whom I would never have met, if I haven't had the courage to put myself and my work out there. I have discovered that it is possible to find a fulfilling line of additional work that I never expected doing in translation, writing, and transcription contracting on projects for some awesome clients like writers, creatives, film makers, the U.S. government, the UN and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Most of all, even though walking my mom through her own journey with FTD, a form of dementia that like all forms of dementia is incurable and creates a loss of memory and other functions as it causes the brain to shrink. This disease takes another piece of her away from me each day and it is no understatement to say that walking with her through its progression is one of the most difficult and most emotional things I've had to do in my life. And yet while there is great sadness in this journey, I make it with an undercurrent of peace that was never present in my old life. I consciously have built a life that allows me to be there for her while at the same time expressing myself creatively and doing work that matters. I am so proud any time I get a message from someone who has participated in one of my programs telling me that it left him or her feeling empowered and inspired to make art or start a new business, make a major life change, remember their purpose or even just find a source of contentment and balance.
This work is important to me. Not just because I don't want anyone to wait 13 years to claim their happiness, but because I believe that we are all connected and because I am Pollyannaish enough to believe that happy, contented people are kinder people and that in illuminating that path to contentment for them, I am doing my little part in creating a kinder, more loving world.
And so, as Samhain passes and a new year in the wheel begins, I feel things shifting again as I retreat into the winter to listen for my path forward in the 2018 calendar year. Already, I sense some things I'm doing now will fade away, while others come forward. I welcome this with anticipation and such gratitude.
I know that this was long, but I hope that you've stuck with me and that this makes clear that you can reinvent your life at any time. If something in your life is not working for you, please don't wait. It may not happen overnight, but will happen. Take the steps to change it. And for God's sake, don't just sit there waiting for it to happen. I waited for 13 years and the only thing that gained me was lost time that I will never get back.
Miracles do happen, but they happen a lot more often and a lot more consistently, if you know where you're going and you help the universe by doing the work to get there. If you are feeling stuck, drop me a comment below or send me a message on my contact page. I have learned so much on my own journey that I am happy to leverage in helping you to find your own path too. I'm going to be offering some free month-long coaching opportunities to celebrate the anniversary of my awakening and would love to help you. Because, truly, once you find your path of purpose, the universe cracks open in beautiful ways and there is no going back.