How Leaving My Day Job Helped Me Find My Life's Work
Hello Blog Family!
I am returning to you after a small hiatus, but the longest one I have ever had since I started this blog over 10 years ago. The past 14 months have been full of transitions for me, Sometimes, you just need to cut back on some things to get centered, and also get other projects finished.
The idea of getting centered and taking care of YOU is key to my message today. You may notice, if you follow me here or in my social spaces, I am someone who needs my plate full. I am not happy if I am not making something and sharing it. Over the past 10 years of this blog, I worked full time as a creative leader at a Chicago ad agency while donating my time to charity work, raising and guiding my family, creating things and publishing them here, leading a girl scout troop...the list goes on. It was no surprise to anyone who knew me that by the summer of 2017, I was burned out. I felt creatively and emotionally spent. I found "the negative" at work everywhere I looked. I spent my dinner time with my family crying. My husband urged me to find a new job, thinking that was the fix. That was not a possibility for many reasons-the main ones being that my previous employer was...let's just say...not good at letting people go work anywhere else. Also, he legally had us all handcuffed with insane non-competes. But besides all of that, I did not know what I wanted anymore. I was actually asking myself, what did I want? Every career decision I ever made was for the benefit of someone or something else, including staying somewhere unhappily just to help my own team.
So I dove off the rat race wheel and took a summer off. In the fall, I built my portfolio back up, dusted my resume, nurtured my network (which I let languish because of my employer's paranoia and a 60-hour work week). I had a lot of coffees, met new and inspiring people, reconnected with colleagues I adored, stayed in touch with my old team, had quite a few interviews. But nothing clicked into something permanent. I began to sink into a depression of sorts as winter wore on. This happens to me in the winter anyway, but the feeling of not getting ahead or landing in a "job home" during this imaginary timeframe I gave myself was wearing on me.
What I learned was, when you hit rock bottom, you get cracked wide open. And that's when all the good stuff comes pouring in. Subtle things kept popping up in my day to day and would repeat themselves thematically. I began to wonder if "someone up there" was trying to tell me something. For instance, a friend of mine recommended a meditation seminar out of the blue that also showed up twice in my facebook feed and my email. Instances like that. When those things happen, I have learned that there is a higher blueprint working on your behalf and that it's not a coincidence.
Listen. And I did.
Gradually, what happens, is you get in a flow. This whole journey has been so rocky, scary, bizarre and magical. I realized I could not control anything except my own thoughts and actions. I can't force anyone to hire me, or do anything, really. I began doing things that I could control. I began meditating and taking morning power walks for myself. The more I quieted and trusted, the more things were introduced to my world for me to do. For instance, an online seminar popped up in my feed on how to start an online store for the blog, or a tingling sensation to reach out to some old colleagues for freelance work that turned into a year's worth of revenue. A friend recommended a podcast out of the blue that addressed issues I was dealing with in my own head. Also, messages hinting that I needed to deal with what was blocking me, deep seeded issues about money, abundance, worthiness, even getting past shyness. This last one forced me to introduce myself to people I didn't know well. One connection made two more. If I was asked to donate my freelance time on something, and I had it in in me, I served. I trusted that the work could bring more in other ways, and it did.
Once I discovered through meditating that my purpose was to create and serve, it brought me into alignment with my true self. And then more inspiration came. The more I answered the inspiration, the more freelance opportunities came, too. What I realized quickly, was that not getting hired at those full-time positions wasn't rejection, but realignment. I was meant to work for myself right now, to give me the flexibility to create things that needed to be made.
To that end, beside the shop (see above and check me out on Etsy!) I just self-published a book on Amazon! The idea came to me when I was researching some wall art I wanted to design for the shop, highlighting Midwest native plants to help pollinators (artist meet gardener!). Then I listened to a podcast episode on Cathy Heller's Don't Keep Your Day Job after my walk one day. Cathy's guest was a food blogger who self-published a book on Amazon, and much to her own surprise was doing really well. Then EUREKA! I had the idea to use my poster art research into something bigger. The pollinator problem is real. Choosing and planting natives to help them is overwhelming. Why don't I create a book that helps people tackle it in an easy way-the way people plan their garden beds-and with my own illustrations and writing? I can help others help the planet, in my own voice and style.
Thus the hiatus, my friends. When the muse speaks, you have to answer. If you don't, she will find someone else to get the creative solution out there into the world. I wanted to deliver on this one. If you follow the blog, you know I love gardening, and I love the planet, and I love beautiful things. I hope you find all of those things in this book: BEE NATIVE! FLOWER POWER. I hope to make it part of a series, where I tackle different regions of the US. Planting just ONE native plant can make a big impact.
But with much fewer tears at the dinner table.
Thanks for sticking with me. We are back on the posting schedule now and check out my Fridays with Flora on my youtube channel, published every other Friday.
Peace and Blessings