Today’s shared stories come from interior designer Sukanya (Suki) Taylor, business start-up coach Stormy Sweitzer and financial coach Bari Linden Tessler.
As a passionate artist, crafter and blogger, I find inspiration everywhere; and as an interior designer, I try to channel that inspiration into my designs. I like to take risks, to discover and explore the new. For me, life is a journey, an adventure, endlessly interesting and rich with possibilities. Needless to say, I’m absolutely passionate about what I do.
My first memory of art was when I was in primary school. I was given a homework assignment to draw a picture entitled “My Home”. When I showed my picture to the teacher, she didn’t believe that I had drawn it. This made me very upset and I started drawing like mad at every opportunity … that was the beginning of my designer journey.
My schooldays came and went, culminating in a degree in interior design. Soon after, I landed my dream job: working as an interior designer and teaching drawing on the weekends. Needless to say, this kept me pretty busy but I was finally getting paid for doing what I love.
Five years on and I decided to broaden my horizons in the UK, a country just brimming over with great art and design, so I signed up for a marketing course at the University of the Arts London – a fantastic experience that really challenged me.
Right now, I’m living in Australia and running a little design studio from home. It was really tough in the beginning. The biggest obstacle was not having a regular income. There were times I found myself thinking ‘what if?’, but I tried to keep sight of my current dreams as well as the ones I plan to chase.
In the beginning, I had to do retail work part time to support myself while I was building up a regular clientele. But I never gave up and nowadays I’m as busy as a bee. It’s meant lots of late nights and gallons of coffee but it’s been a labour of love and when the jobs are done, the smile on my clients’ faces always makes my heart beat a little faster.
The best part of working from home is that I get to do my research on a comfy daybed with a little daydreaming thrown in and any time is Me Time.
Sometimes, I put up twinkle lights and let myself drift away into a designer fantasy where my dreams are magically transformed into reality and creativity sparkles like fairy dust…
…and then the phone rings.
“Studio Suki; Suki speaking.”
[All images courtesy of Suki Taylor.]
Have you ever had an experience, a moment, or an encounter that struck you upside the head and soul so clearly that you couldn’t shake it? Maybe it lingered, lifted, created curiosity, found its way into your thoughts and actions whether you recognized it or not at the time.
For me, this moment occurred when I was 8 years old – almost 30 years ago. I was at a slumber party. As an early-riser, I was the first to wake up. And with nothing to do, I turned on the TV. On Sunday mornings in the early 80s, it was common to see infomercials from relief organizations that did work in the developing world. The program that was on that morning was about leprosy in Africa and how it affected so many people there. It affected me, too – though in a very different way, and was a sign of how I would engage with the world as I grew older.
When my school-teacher grandmother took me to Eastern Europe (before the Berlin Wall fell) one summer, it cemented my feelings that the world was a curious place, full of wonder as well as woe.
From that point forward, I spent a great deal of time doing three things:
- Travelling abroad (living in 4 and traveling through 25 other countries by the time I was 22);
- Studying languages (Spanish, Russian, Romanian, and a smattering of French) and subjects that might allow me to make an impact (Economics, Public Health); and
- Doing volunteer and social impact work.
My first job earned me a poverty-level wage, but I was helping raise awareness about hunger and build emergency food stores for people around our state. Months after starting the job, I set my sights on joining the Peace Corps. I had heard that the application process took a very long time, so I was shocked when just four months after my initial enquiry, I was invited to be a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Development Consultant in the former Soviet Republic of Moldova.
I’d never even heard of Moldova, but soon, I was helping people start not-for-profit entities and learn how to write grant proposals. This, I believe, was the start of my love for creating new organizations, for building systems, and for teaching about the start-up process.
These skills came in handy for me over the next 10 years in the various jobs I held, where I often took on the role of start-up go-to-person, and as an on-and-off-again consultant. And then one day, the dam broke and I quit my job. I wanted to use these skills to make my own ideas happen and to find a way to combine my interests in environmental, health, and social justice issues with my start-up tendencies.
My first business was a green one – selling fair trade and eco-friendly baby gifts and clothing. The next was a technology business that was inspired by the frustrations I encountered with children’s clothing. Both ultimately closed, but in the process of running them, I learned that I loved to solve problems, make a difference, be involved in the excitement of starting something new, and use business – something I had previously wanted nothing to do with – as a tool for doing it.
Today, I have my fingers in many pies as a food-loving, world-travelling, do-gooder with a love of start-up activity and making lemonade. I have returned to my social impact roots, helping nonprofit organizations/NGOs and social entrepreneurs that want to change the world create revenue-generating enterprises that allow them to do just that. There’s no better thing for me than being able to work with organizations and causes I support, while using my skills and interests to help them create sustainable impact.
In addition to my social impact coaching and consulting, I blog about food and help others transition to a healthy, gluten-free and dairy-free diet through classes and group support. And, I’ve come full circle with the Africa experience, helping my husband, a South African, market tours to his home country.
It’s been a challenging and, at times, frustrating and time-consuming journey, but to be able to spend my time creating my own way, helping others create theirs, and making a difference in the process is a fabulous thing. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is this drive to do what I love that keeps me going and helps me stay focused on the things that allow me to do it – like making sales calls and sending out proposals, like filtering out distractions and saying no to opportunities that really aren’t, and like staying within a budget when I have to.
I hope that, if you are reading this, you understand that the effort is worthwhile and that the journey is not impossible if you are willing to work towards it. Do what you love, by starting every day with the conviction that you will and by taking one small step forward. The momentum builds from there.
[All images courtesy of Stormy Sweitzer.]
To find out more, visit her website here.
Bari Linden Tessler
My desire to be a therapist, business woman and/or dancer had been circling around me since I was a kid. At 23, I realized I wanted to be a Dance-Movement Therapist. Dance + Movement has always helped me get in touch with my feelings and articulate my vast inner world.
In my mid 20s I earned a master’s degree in Somatic Psychology from Naropa University. The program was fabulous. It helped me mature and develop in many ways. But there was a significant missing piece in my education that became apparent when my school loan came due. This was a scary event at the time, but it served as the catalyst for my Money Initiation. It shined a light on my complete lack of financial education. And it sent me down the path that led to my larger work in the world.
I then learned everything I could about bookkeeping and money management from the ground on up. After long hikes in the woods, I had the vision to blend my body–centered psychotherapy background with all of the practical tools and systems that I was learning. In 2001 I conceived the Conscious Bookkeeping Method, which integrates Financial Therapy, Values Based Bookkeeping, and Life Vision Planning. It’s a powerful blend of practical tools, deep therapeutic experiences, and expansive inspiration.
I have been offering my private Financial Therapy and the Conscious Bookkeeping Method course work for over a decade now for individuals and couples. I deeply love my work. This works includes lots of body check-ins and chocolate!
At age 38, I suddenly had the vision of having a child. I had been with my husband for seven years, and it was a surprise for him. We’d agreed that we were not going to have kids. But hey, a girl can change her mind, right?! So, my husband and I found a great therapist, and over the course of six weeks we were able to get on the same page again — this time as parents! We actually conceived Noah a few hours before our final therapy session.
Some people are long-term planners but I’m not one of them! I tend to plan a few months, to one year, at a time. My style is to keep listening and opening up to what is present and then take one step at a time as it makes sense to me. So, my current reality has happened one small step at a time.
To me doing what I love means that my family life and my work life are full of passion, fun, choice, creativity, depth, and growth. It means that at times I take control and make things happen and, at other times, I let go and allow life to just happen, trusting in its shifting cycles and phases.
It means that I get to find the best rhythm for my work time and my mommy time and that I get to enjoy each of these roles to their fullest expression. It means that I get to teach, mentor and lovingly guide people through a money initiation and into a place of maturity, consciousness and hope.
It means that I get to help people build bridges between money, body, mind, and spirit… while eating chocolate along the way! Doing what I love means that I get to work from home, hike the mountains just outside my front door, have tons of time with my 3 year old, walk a mere 100 ft. to visit my husband in his office, and get to be creative on a daily basis. Happiness is working your tushy off to do work you love, and sharing it with those who need it.
[All images courstesy of Bari Tessler Linden]