Today’s *shared stories* come from Stephanie Guimond in Canada and Julia Dolowicz Harvey in England
I’m an artist, a visionary and an avid left-brainer (read: I paint, dream big and I love spreadsheets). Doing what I love means:
a) creating meaningful work and revenue related to art and creative expression, learning & growth, space and community or business and productivity,
b) working with others to help them create their own meaningful work, and
c) making sure my chosen work is part of a bigger picture, supporting the life I want to create overall.
At least that’s what it means today.
After spending nearly 10 years coveting the possibility of multiple income streams and fulfilling work, in October 2011 I took the leap and left my government 9-5 job to pursue something more meaningful. (Full disclosure: when I told my boss I was leaving she generously suggested that I take a one-year leave which I did, so technically as I write this I’m on leave.)
I loved several aspects of my job and tried hard to make the 9-5 work, but the desire to do something different kept coming back every few years, each time more pronounced. I could no longer ignore it. Months leading up to last year’s decision to leave became fraught with hemming and hawing to the point where I just had to choose one way or another: branch out on my own or stay.
So here I am, smack dab in the middle of my journey in creating work as a solopreneur.
I’m in the space between, working on foundational projects and products that fuel me day in and day out, but I’m not yet bringing in revenue. It’s a place of possibility and hope intermingled with fear and doubt, of satisfaction at seeing things come together and frustration at wanting them to come together faster.
It’s a place of opportunity.
Today my biggest obstacle is fear of never having a substantial income again, but I see possibility in others making a good living doing what they love and that pushes me to not give up. Through small actions I try to move through this fear as gracefully as I can, regularly calling on the Universe for healthy doses of faith, patience and confidence in my ability to make it work.
I am grateful for the opportunity to create work tailored to my soul and life goals. The journey started years ago, but I feel like it’s just beginning. Here’s to seeing where it will lead…
[All images courtesy of Stephanie Guimond. Profile shot taken by Jag. Find out more about Stephanie on her website or visit her shop]
Julia Dolowicz Harvey
‘Doing what I love’ is about creating the life I want to live. It is related to my work but it’s also connected to my environment, my home, marriage, friendships, family, animals, community, the planet and even my spirituality. All of these are so important to me – I need to ‘do what I love’ in all of these areas. I need to be in tune with the very core of myself and honour what’s deep inside. There have been times when one area of my life is ok, the other fantastic and another abysmal; they all have a knock-on effect on each other. Happily I can now state that I am now doing ‘what I love’ because I am a Writer, Artist and Healer. This has led me to become an author, sell my art, teach workshops and offer reiki healing sessions.
In 2009 I was made redundant from my job at the University of Liverpool where I worked as a Career Development Manager – it was a good job that saw me travelling around the UK delivering workshops and presentations about how to create and develop your career, your life and your dreams.
I was gutted.
Having been at the university for 4 years, previously within the education team working with 16-19 year olds, I was always designing and delivering workshops and programmes. With a lecturing background, degree in Health, teaching certificate and counselling and NLP qualifications, it all worked beautifully.
It was only on being made redundant that I realised there was something missing. I was on auto pilot.
When I eventually finished work, synchronicity entered and family offered us a chance to move to France for a while. Two days after that phone call; an old colleague contacted me as she was moving back to Liverpool from Devon. Voila. We all house shifted.
Spending 5 months in France, we all went, me, my husband and Lucy, my adorable Jack Russell (she got her passport too). Here I immersed myself into my long-standing dream of becoming a writer and artist and I began to write my first book ‘Writing a UCAS personal statement in seven easy steps’. I started with subject matter of what I knew for sure, supported by my work history and background – writing expression statements to apply to university in the UK. I also reignited my passion for art and mixed media, buying a whole lot of art supplies from a lovely lady who was selling them to buy a motorbike. Once again, this sparked my sketching spirit, my love of colour, prisma pencils and paint. In my 5 lovely months, I practiced my French and living in the countryside. C’est moi!
Whilst in France, I began to create my cocoon art commissions for family and friends and I wrote, wrote, wrote, alongside developing my “ME mentoring” – where I support and mentor individuals who are suffering with M.E*/CFS* or Candidaisis, as well as career/lifestyle coaching. All of this I did over Skype.
*Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome
Back home to Liverpool having pitched my proposal to a publisher just as I left France, I received ‘the email’ four weeks later to say they wanted to publish it!
I then set about continuing ‘to create the life I wanted to love and live’ back in Liverpool. I began to build a portfolio of work and got a job as a careers coach at a local independent school and also worked in a health food shop – this was my bread and butter money, enabling me then to focus more on my writing and my art around it.
Currently, I work as an external marker for Liverpool John Moores University’s World of Work programme and am putting finishing touches to my second book ‘Creating your First Ever CV in 7 easy steps.’ In April, I will begin my 44 Wisdom Card Project, which will see me complete a set of 44 oracle cards, art work by me, with messages and wisdom inspired by others and written by me and I continue to create my commissions in my quirky cocoon style and have completed 12 in the last year.
There is no doubt our style of life has changed – more so relating to money and expenditure as we are no longer earning a full time salary. Both me and my husband work for ourselves. He used to work in Iraq as a close protection officer and he’s now a passionate earth warrior and keeper of the garden – he’s a gardener. However having become more money aware I feel better off – with my life, my health and my creativity.
With hindsight, I wish I would have taken the leap and gone on some creative retreats sooner. Especially when I was working full time. If I had attended workshops even when I wasn’t ‘doing what I loved’, I would have nourished my creative soul. I went to Portugal in May last year to do a ‘Flora Bowley, Bloom True’ workshop and I wish I had done it years before. It was so releasing.
I now realise that travel and removing yourself from your familiar environment really does get creative juices flowing.
Having my own mentor early on to focus my creative business would have been a good move, to help me plan things a little more. I didn’t have a marketing plan, and still need to develop this side of me.
My big dream is to have my third book published called Healing ME Healing You, all about how I healed myself from ME/CFS when I was in my 20s; have an exhibition of my 44 Wisdom Card Paintings at a wonderful venue in Liverpool; and to illustrate and publish my mum’s poetry. She’s 76 and a poet, now doing what she loves! Big dreams! But then you did ask.
[Images courtesy of Julia Dolowicz Harvey. To find out more about Julia visit her blog or her art website]
See here for more inspiring *shared stories