Today’s shared stories come from Pauline Leger and Janet Forrest, two inspiring women in their fifties, who are proving that the rewards of doing what you love are huge and meaningful.
We all have our own definition of success. To me, success is waking up in the morning and feeling energized and inspired to face the day.
I’ve known people with full bank accounts and empty hearts, so I learned at a relatively young age that although money can certainly make life more comfortable, it is worthless if it is earned in a way that dishonours who we are.
It took me a while to find a career that suited me. I always knew I was an artist at heart, but like many others of my generation, felt the pressure to put my artistic endeavours aside and get myself a “real” job.
I did many things from being a bank teller to a prison guard, and finally in my mid twenties, at the advice of an old artist friend, I got a degree in Graphic Design. It was the closest profession (for me) to being an artist with the comfort of a regular paycheck. After graduating, I got a job as a designer with a large corporation. The work lacked challenge and creativity – but the salary was good and overtime hours were kept to a minimum – two big pluses for me at that age – so despite the boredom and the mundane meetings – I stayed… for 11 years.
Until that fateful Monday on May 17th, 2004, when I and several other colleagues, were downsized – a fancy way to say fired. My husband and I were in the middle of building a new home and we had an eight year old son. Two weeks after I lost my job, my husband was laid off. Our worlds crumbled.
When I look back on this time, I remember a feeling of failure (although I had done nothing wrong) and the unsettling feeling of not knowing how we were going to manage. But I also remember a feeling of freedom. I had the choice all of a sudden, to DO WHAT I WANT. I had been in a corporate environment for 11 years, and although it had its benefits, I was suffocating.
I read somewhere that when we’re unable to make important decisions on our own, they’re made for us. It took me a while, but I eventually saw the loss of my job as an opportunity. All of a sudden, there was hope. I felt powerful and free to finally make my life what I wanted it to be. We always have this freedom, but money is often a great demotivator and we often stay in unfulfilling jobs for the wrong reasons.
In 2005, after much soul searching, I started a small homebased business and began freelancing. My initial reason for becoming an entrepreneur (I hate to admit) was based on fear. I didn’t want to put all my eggs in the same basket again. I didn’t want to be at the mercy of someone else’s rules, someone else’s decisions – especially when those decisions affected me directly. I wanted to drive the bus from now on and I was going to do everything I could to get myself at the wheel.
This initial fear transitioned into passion, and the passion into love, and I’ve been at the wheel now for seven years. With each passing day, I find myself more and more energized and inspired by what I do. I now divide my time between graphic design, illustrating children’s books, and teaching at a local college. I am totally fulfilled and I love waking up in the morning, knowing that I get to do what I love all day. By my standards, I am successful.
Doing what you love doesn’t mean it’s always easy, or that every day is filled with rainbows and sparkles. It means you’ve made the decision to follow your heart and you’re willing to do the work it takes to live the life you were meant to live. There are ups and downs and moments of doubt – but the rewards are huge and meaningful.
The Do What You Love e-course was definitely a catalyst to guide me towards an even more fulfilling creative life. It opened so many doors for me, and confirmed that I am indeed listening to my own heart. I am so grateful to Beth, and others like her, who have chosen to share their courage with the world and inspire us to follow our own paths.
[All images courtesy of Pauline Leger.]
Find out more about Pauline on her blog.
I am very fortunate to have spent the biggest part of my working life doing what I loved – I opened my own gift shop, and operated it for 20 years. There wasn’t a day during that time that I ever woke up in the morning wishing I didn’t have to go to work. I was able to use my creativity daily – buying merchandise, designing and implementing displays, promotions, doing newsletters… every once in awhile I even got to actually create product.
Then life changed, as it has a habit of doing, and I sold the business, or, as I’m fond of saying, I traded it in on grandchildren. Being a grandma (or Gaga, my grandchildren’s pet name for me!) is a wonderful experience, and caring for my babies while their parents work allows me to have a closer relationship with them than most grandmas get to have. But, they’ll soon be in school full time, and life will change again.
This year I will turn 60 <groan> and it has occurred to me that unless I’m thinking I’m going to make it to 120, I’m way past middle-aged and into (dare I say it?) elderly <big shudder!> territory. That means that if I have any goals or desires to accomplish anything else in my life, I’d better get to it! I like to think I’m a very young 59, (isn’t 60 the new 40?) but let’s face it, the years don’t lie!
Last year I began to feel the creative urge welling up in me in a big way. I had a vague notion that I wanted to paint, but I didn’t even know where to start. Roaming through the bookstore one day, I stumbled upon Kelly Rae Robert’s book Taking Flight. As I looked at her paintings it was as if my heart had been poured onto her canvas.
That led me to signing up for her class ‘Flying Lessons’ and to an incredible group of women, and between the classes and the support of my new tribe, I found the courage to begin a blog, and ultimately to paint. I’m still developing my style, but I’m painting. I’m actually painting. I am doing what I love!
Additionally, I’ve learned to dream, and to dream big. Kelly Rae put out a call for an unpaid internship to help her with a project she wants to do. Thanks to the confidence I’ve gained, I actually applied for the position, sent in the “audition” pieces she asked for, and just learned that I have been chosen for the position.
I have no idea what kind of adventures life still holds for me, but I’m looking forward to each and everyone of them, knowing I will spend the rest of my days doing what I love!
[Image courtesy of Janet Forrest.]
To find out more about Janet visit her blog.