That’s pretty much how I’d sum up the last 12 months. I’ve been trying to write this post for the better part of year and I hope you’ll bear with me, Friends, because truth be told, I’ve struggled putting my feelings into words. Today is a very special day for me, and I want to tell you why.
Exactly one year ago, I quit my day-job. I know, it doesn’t sound like much. But it had been a long time coming, and the series of events that finally pushed me into action were pretty crazy.
You see, slowly the winds around me had changed. This time last year, the creative work that once made my heart thump was making me feel miserable. I was working 12-15 hour days for months on end, and for folks who weren’t always so nice. There were days I was so busy that I couldn’t find time to eat – on more than one occasion I stopped drinking water at my desk because there wasn’t even time for trip to the bathroom. I no longer found any fulfillment in what I was doing, who I was doing it for, or where I was doing it. In order to Get Through The Day, I buried my true self way, way down – I didn’t know how to be me, in this place that was so very wrong, without going crazy.
Meanwhile, at home in the wee hours of the night, I’d been carefully building up a little fledgling stationery studio. Magpie Paper Works was a full-time “part-time” venture, and it meant the world to me. My husband called me a wedding elf – each evening I set up shop in the basement and cut paper, painted, wordsmithed, hand-printed and packaged… And then in the mornings, little boxes of new-beginnings winged their way across the country. Designing was more than a hobby – it was an opportunity to do good. To share love. It felt like shipping hugs! I wanted more than anything to focus all of my energy doing this thing, but Lovelies, I was too scared. You know that voice! The one that says you’ll never, you can’t…
And then the strangest four weeks of my life took place.
Now, I didn’t used to be one of those people who believed that everything happened for a reason. But last January, it sure seemed like someone or something was going to help me change my path whether I was ready or not.
There was a terrible car accident, in which my husband was hit head-on by a commercial truck. He survived, thank goodness, but we both came away with an awareness of how suddenly life can change. I no longer had a vehicle, so getting to work became incredibly difficult. My commute turned into a four-hour-a-day affair. (On top of a 15 hour day.) Then I was given an overseas assignment which triggered immediate & visceral premonitions of doom. (No joke – I had a full-blown panic attack in a Verizon store, when I was trying to buy a country-specific SIM card.) Next, a series-of-unfortunate-office-events-that-shall-not-be-described-here. The straw that broke the camels back? An ice storm rolled through town, and while I was trying to hurry into the office the next morning, I slipped & fell in the middle of a busy intersection, cracking my head open. On the way home, I noticed that a prominent billboard in the city had been changed and now read: “Looking for a sign? You’ve found it.”
I handed in my notice the next day. (Okay, so I gave them 4 weeks to find a good replacement, who I trained. I’m from the Midwest – Nice is what we do.)
On February 25th, 2011, I walked out of the open gate, feeling mostly terrified and a little exhilarated at what I’d just done. I had no idea what the future had in store, or where I would land (would I?). But as it turned out, if you’re crazy enough to leap, to trust in the unknown – and believe me, on the 26th I felt pretty crazy – the landings tend to take care of themselves. Part-time Magpie became full-time, and it didn’t take long before more work began to trickle in. Slowly, ever so slowly, the shell began to fall away and the old me started to flicker again.
Which brings me to today. Today is an anniversary I will celebrate until the day I die. In many ways, it’s the day that I felt my purpose + my hands get in sync. It’s the day that the Universe kicked me where I sorely needed it. When I decided to trust in possibility instead of fear. It’s a day in which I celebrate all of the growing and learning I have yet to do – Lord knows, it’s an infinite amount! And I’m so grateful! Not the least for all of the amazing people I’ve met and worked with along the way, and for the opportunities that lie ahead.
But most of all, I celebrate that little spark – the one that burns inside all of us, waiting patiently for the day when we’re ready to kindle.
I guess this is sort of my love letter to the Universe. It’s also a very wordy hug for each of you out there who might be thinking about taking the leap. Be you, Leapers! Be you, bravely.