Today’s *shared stories* come from Jackie Stewart and Sue Bulmer
It never occurred to me NOT to earn my living from doing what I love. Well I suppose that’s not strictly true. When I was a student I worked in hotels and I’d wake to that sinking feeling of dread; wishing I didn’t have to go to work and knowing it was just a means to an end. When I left university I never wanted to feel that way again and now, almost 20 years later, I haven’t felt that dread since.
Doing what I love for life means listening to my intuition and letting my heart guide me every step of the way.
When I was a little girl growing up in the Scottish countryside I wanted to make books. I moved to London to join a temp agency that specialised in media and publishing jobs and got my first job with a mental health charity who published their research findings.
I’ll never forget the moment the printers delivered the first book I ever edited and designed. Stroking its shiny cover, burying my nose in its fresh inkiness and flicking through its pristine pages.
I worked at the charity for over 3 years before the joy began to fade. I tried to ignore the parts of the job I didn’t love because there were many parts I did love but in my heart I knew it just didn’t fit any more.
I’d started reading books about complementary health, I was studying kinesiology at night school and I’d taken a weekend reiki course. I wanted to do something with holistic health but I wasn’t qualified in anything yet.
Yet my body was telling me that something had to change. I was getting migraines that lasted for days. When we don’t listen to our intuition, our bodies will usually shout loud enough for us to notice.
So I listened to my body, took a leap of faith and left my job. A couple of days later I picked up my favourite holistic magazine to see they were advertising for an editor. All the skills I’d learnt at the charity were exactly what I’d need for this job and the office was a short walk from my house. Perfect synchronicity.
Gentian is the Bach Flower Remedy for faith, a Soul quality that isessential for doing what you love
I took the job and a 50% salary drop to do what I loved. I could barely afford to pay my bills but I was ecstatic. There were only 3 of us in the company so I was involved in everything. I created page layouts, wrote advertorial, typeset ads, wrote book chapters and unwittingly became a font snob! I met the most amazing teachers, healers and spiritual visionaries who came to talk at the festivals we organized.
I discovered flower essences and it was love at first sight.
After 2 years’ working for the holistic magazine it was time for another leap of faith; a prompting from my heart; a message from my Soul. I resigned.
I’d made great contacts in the holistic world and had a vague notion that I would set up a holistic PR company with a friend, do some healing and spend weekends selling my silk paintings at a local craft market.
It turns out you need more than vague notions to set up your own business!
Within 6 weeks I’d run out of money and was looking for a job again.
So I took a part time job and began a 2 year diploma course in vibrational medicine that would teach me all about flower essences.
Within a few months my world turned upside down. I was pregnant, my mum had died, my relationship had fallen apart and I felt so vulnerable I knew I had to return to Scotland. I was longing to be more creative and my sister had been successfully selling my artwork in Scotland, so I moved to the village where she lived and commuted to London once a month to finish my diploma.
I enrolled on a local business start-up course 2 weeks before my son was born, so I now had a business plan and a business mentor who met with me monthly. I sold handmade cards and artwork to craft shops and galleries and began to build my healing practice from the spare bedroom. I was on my own with a baby so it was a huge juggle, working while he slept which wasn’t very often! I regularly worked late into the night and my social life was non-existent. Yet somehow I had enough passion and determination to keep going. Those first five years were hard work and it wasn’t until my son started school that the pressure began to ease.
A new direction emerged when someone approached me at a craft fair asking if I’d like to teach adult education classes on creativity. I was terrified at the thought of standing up in front of a group of strangers trying to teach, but it never occurred to me not to do it. I knew it was good fear: the kind of fear that stretches you outside your comfort zone to open you up in new ways.
I discovered that I had a knack for writing meditations that people loved. The soft voice that struggled with shouting ‘last orders at the bar please folks’ in my student days was just the right tone for guiding people in meditation! I began every creativity class by taking people through a guided meditation and I loved holding that space of quiet reflection.
The adult education classes led to another project where I ran workshops and published workbooks for almost 3 years. I’ve worked on other similar freelance projects for charities and community groups since then and loved them all.
Yet I wasn’t living the big dream of working full-time with flower essences. The big love that had been calling me ever since I took my first flower essence.
I kept reaching out for the dream, taking tentative steps to bring it closer. I’d started by working with clients locally. I began to organise workshops in my own home, and said yes every time someone asked me to run a workshop.I set up my first website and it’s been evolving ever since. Now I work with people all over the world by email and phone as well as seeing clients in person. Last year I set up a project growing the Bach Flower Remedy plants and teaching the local community how to use them.
I offer Soul medicine in the form of flower+ crystal essences, emotional healing, spiritual counselling, guided meditation and an e-course for reconnecting with nature. I know that I couldn’t sit in a consultation room seeing clients back to back every day because I need variety; I need to be outside spending time with the plants that essences are made from and I need to use my creativity.
My working life has been a series of leaps into the unknown, using my heart as a parachute. Sometimes I’ve landed on my feet, sometimes I’ve ended up in financial disaster and despair but there’s been Soul wisdom to discover every step of the way. Every single job I’ve done has given me skills that I now use in my flower essence practice, like creating page layouts for the e-books I started writing last year or designing packaging for Soul blends. I love the way that life gives us what we need, even though it’s often only with thewisdom of hindsight that we realise everything was exactly how it needed to be.
Doing what you love for life takes courage, passion and faith but nobody else can do your ‘thing’ but you. Every time another one of us commits to doing what we love for life we’re adding to the energy of love in the world. And that, I reckon, is the most important job we can ever do.
[All images courtesy of Jackie Stewart/image credits Jason Smalley. Find out more about Jackie on her website or join her e-course Barefoot Breathing]
I’ve always been creative from way back when I was young. I grew up on a farm in the North of England enjoying a stable and loving family life and upbringing, with my three sisters. From a young age I was always drawing and painting, writing and dreaming but at the time I had never even considered making a career out of being creative. However, I pursued a career in Pharmacy, after studying hard at school and college and I have worked in Pharmacy since 1994. I met my lovely husband to-be, we moved in together, got married, went travelling for a year for our honeymoon and then when we moved back we bought a house in the countryside where we planned to bring up our family.
All sounds like the stuff of dreams doesn’t it, working hard, enjoying our lives, calling all the shots and planning how things were going to be. This was all fantastic until we realised that the one thing we wanted most of all was probably not going to happen. We had tried desperately to start a family for several years going through the trials and tribulations of invasive and stressful fertility treatment, watching with bittersweet envy as our friends all fell pregnant and had babies. It was a very difficult time for us both, one which I never thought I’d get through in one piece but I’m now stronger, more determined and happier, and live a more fulfilled, content life as a result of what I learned about myself.
At one very low point when I didn’t know where my life was heading my sister suggested to me that I enrol on a Foundation Course in Art and Design, something we had talked about together, but had been forgotten about in the turmoil of the time. This gave me something to focus on and I rediscovered my creativity and love of drawing. I needed something to fill the gap that I felt in my life, something to make me feel creative again after feeling like such a failure and so inadequate. Luckily my husband was very supportive and he thought it was a great idea so off I went to college, finally taking some positive action to drag myself out of the doldrums!
I threw myself into my course and feel that this was my saving grace. I knew then I felt so much enjoyment from being able to create something that I knew this is what I wanted to pursue. I’m a very practical person and I knew that the likelihood of being able to give up my day job immediately and actively pursue a career as an artist was financially a ‘no-go’. After all I had a relatively stable day job, which paid the bills and enabled us to have a comfortable standard of living. I was being realistic and I knew that I had to take ‘baby-steps’ and take my time to eventually reach my goal.
So I had to think of a way I could still follow a creative path and earn a steady income at the same time. I cut down my ‘day job’ hours, had the old pigsty at the top of our garden converted into my gorgeous studio, and I now work up there two days a week, and evenings and weekends when I can. I slowly started to build up a small business selling my art work and the longer I spent doing this the more my confidence grew and I realised that I could have the freedom to be able to work for myself one day.
I’m still not all the way there yet but I’m learning that these things take time. I’m more patient now, and realise that getting what you want out of life can take time, energy, dedication and patience. It’s not all about immediate gratification but it’s all about the journey and the process.
To me, doing what I love means having freedom in my life to do what I dream of, having time to be creative, time with my family, time to travel and explore new places, and time to just be. I think it’s really important to realise you can choose your own path in life, whatever that may be, realising that you can influence the way your life leads you, even if at times it feels the opposite, making the most of opportunities, and turning the bad things that happen in your life into positive things, constantly learning, trying out new ideas and celebrating and loving what you have in life and not grieving about what you do not. Doing what I love is living with a positive outlook and knowing that however bad things get, they will get better. Every cloud has a silver lining and without my cloud and its silver lining I wouldn’t be doing what I love now.
[Images courtesy of Sue Bulmer. To find out more about Sue visit her website]
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Want to get closer to doing what you love? Why not join the transformational Do What You Love e-course, to identify your passion and make it a greater part of your everyday life? Class begins on May 14. Find out more and register here.