ON FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS (AND GUT)

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.

show hide 10 comments

February 25, 2012 - 7:44 am

David Feig - Good grief, what a frightful year. I’m grateful both of you survived it, and glad life is becoming more fulfilling for you. Hang in there:)

February 25, 2012 - 8:30 am

Meaghan - You did it! And you’re doing it! Wacky wedding ladies like me would be lost without you…you are what this niche market needed. I’m personally so glad to be a small part of keeping you happy, healthy, alive and panic-attack free. So thank YOU for making this big leap. I will do everything in my power to continue supporting you and help make all the great rewards of choosing YOU seem worth it. Happy Day!

March 6, 2012 - 5:01 pm

Melanie - This is a beautiful and inspiring post. Thank you for it.
And all the best to you and your many many years of business freedom ahead.
This is my first visit to your blog – via the above image on pinterest. I’m off to look around some more – love it so far.

March 13, 2012 - 1:12 am

sas - Oh wow! I just found you via a link from another blog but I have already subscribed.

Your journey is fabulous – i love that you had SO MANY signs (sorry i laughed a little bit at the ice storm on top of everything else).

I am just at the start of my foray into following my heart. Your story will stay with me. Your existence gives me hope.

Sas x

March 13, 2012 - 5:07 pm

Jessica - From one Jessica to another, thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope to follow in your footsteps one day… just waiting ’til the hubs has graduated from school.

March 15, 2012 - 3:38 pm

Julie Goette - We really need to meet up for coffee or something. :) We are very much alike, and I LOVED this post!

Julie

March 20, 2012 - 3:42 am

Chontelle - Your story is inspiring. It touched a chord in my heart. Sometimes it seems so hard to take that leap but we always land on our feet somewhere. You have landed somewhere beautiful. Hooray for hearts and happiness. Chontelle xo

March 25, 2012 - 12:10 pm

Silke - Way to go!

September 9, 2013 - 2:28 pm

Joy - I just found you via your illustration on Pinterest + am heartened by your story. Your ‘series of events’ and that billboard sign took you to a lovelier journey for sure. I can relate to several aspects of your post, especially the stresses leading to your panic attack! But you braved it, so hurray for you! I’m going to enjoy looking through your blog here. Thankful for your post.

July 31, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Sally - I found this post looking for theme decor ideas for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). Their theme for this year is exactly the theme for this post: Be You, Bravely. I see you came up with it first. :) Hopefully they asked for permission? Anyway, I applaud you and your journey. Thanks for the encouragement!

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