my story

Are We There Yet?

I some­times think of my life as a series of amaz­ing mir­a­cles unfold­ing on a bumpy road.  I played it safe for a long time.  It was kind of like dri­ving a beige Volvo.  Bor­ing, but safe!  It seemed eas­ier to live my life being who I thought I should be instead of actu­ally being me.  And the truth is, I didn’t really know who “me” was at the time…and was lead­ing my bor­ing exis­tence because I thought that I was doing the thing every­one else expected of me.

As moth­ers, daugh­ters, wives and part­ners we have all sorts of dis­trac­tions and excuses for not becom­ing who we really are or own­ing our great­ness.  By not being me, I didn’t have to put myself on the line.  I didn’t have to fail. I didn’t have to look fool­ish.  I didn’t have to worry that I would offend some­one else or that they wouldn’t like me.

I spent years in the cor­po­rate world try­ing to fit in but never really felt com­fort­able in that envi­ron­ment. I played a good game but kept think­ing there was some­thing more, some­thing I was miss­ing; so I changed jobs every few years and kept search­ing. No luck.

I worked as an account exec­u­tive for a large adver­tis­ing agency, wrote a pol­icy man­ual for a law firm and worked as a “head hunter” for the adver­tis­ing indus­try, just to men­tion a few.  I went where the money was, not where my heart was.  Frankly, I had much more fun being a flight atten­dant back in the day!

Look­ing back, I should have gone to art school, but it never occurred to me that I could.  It seemed like too much fun!  I had always loved tak­ing pic­tures and doo­dling but never really thought of myself as being cre­ative and cer­tainly didn’t think of myself as an artist.  It was just some­thing I liked to do. Funny how we think that doing what comes eas­ily to us is the wrong thing for us to pur­sue!  In the end you real­ize that it was the ONLY thing to pursue!

After my son was born, I worked part time so that I could be there to see him grow and learn all those new things.  I then decided to ven­ture out of the cor­po­rate world and into the world of the entre­pre­neur.  I joined a network-marketing group and with high hopes, started a busi­ness of my own.  It was very time consuming.

I built a pretty good busi­ness work­ing day and night to accom­plish my suc­cess. I even had my son help­ing me some­times in an effort to bal­ance my busi­ness with being a mother and want­ing to spend time with him.  He was a trooper and loved to help.  He was 6 years old when I started the busi­ness.  He learned a few things about per­sis­tence and hard work along the way and was always my biggest cheer­leader.  It was dif­fi­cult leav­ing him to go to meet­ings and train­ing ses­sions for my group at night, but I did it because I had a dream about the free­dom I thought it would even­tu­ally pro­vide for us and all the things we could do when we had that free­dom in our grasp.

Unfor­tu­nately the com­pany changed its poli­cies and the bot­tom fell out of my busi­ness.  By this time my son was 10 and I felt like I had worked so hard for the past few years only to fail.  I was dis­ap­pointed and depressed which led to my health suf­fer­ing.  I got really sick.  I could hardly walk across the room with­out break­ing out in a sweat.  My brain was in a fog, I couldn’t work and I was in a lot of pain. This was not the exis­tence that I had dreamed of for myself or my son.

There was a gift in my ill­ness how­ever.  It gave me the time to take stock of my life.  What did I really want?  What was my pur­pose?  Where were my dreams? Where was my pas­sion?  What the heck was pas­sion any­way?  I started search­ing for all the answers that I was seeking.

Look­ing back on it now, I real­ize that get­ting sick is a pat­tern in my fam­ily.  I wasn’t the first or only one to have this expe­ri­ence.  In my fam­ily I found that you would work your­self to the bone and pull your­self up by the boot­straps, until the boot­straps are gone and there’s no way to pull the darn boots up.  Then, you’re cooked.

Sub­con­sciously, I sup­pose I didn’t know any other way out.  If I was sick, I couldn’t work and I didn’t have to par­tic­i­pate.  At the time it seemed all I could do.  In ret­ro­spect, it seemed like it was eas­ier to be sick, some­thing I knew, than to make a deci­sion to be happy and healthy.  If I got healthy, I would have to con­tinue to do what I didn’t want to do.  That is, liv­ing my mediocre life. Or so I thought.

I felt I was liv­ing a life pro­grammed by some­one else and frankly I wasn’t doing any­thing to change it.  I guess I didn’t believe any­thing could change.  I felt trapped; and let me tell you that “trapped” is not the way to go.  It’s like the ani­mal that gets caught and chews its own leg off because it would rather be free with one less leg than be at the mercy of some­one else.  I was that animal.

I started out my life, happy and mis­chie­vous, cre­ative and fun…then some­where along the way…I lost myself! I was at the mercy of other peo­ple because I didn’t know who my authen­tic, true self really was anymore.

I could say it was the cor­po­rate world that sucked the life out of me…and I might be right.

I could say it was get­ting lost in what I THOUGHT peo­ple expected me to be instead of being me for me. True and get­ting warmer.

I could say that my life was on autopi­lot. That I was in a mar­riage that I wasn’t happy in because I wasn’t ask­ing for what I needed, because I didn’t know what I needed. True and oh yes, much warmer.

I could say I didn’t real­ize I had a choice to cre­ate my life the way I wanted it to be.  True and get­ting hot!

I could say I wasn’t fol­low­ing my dream, because I’d for­got­ten what my dream was…Bingo!

One day some­body handed me their busi­ness card and on the back were these words,

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blos­som”~ Anaïs Nin

The penny dropped.  I couldn’t do it any­more.  Some­where inside me I knew I had to change or con­tinue to suf­fer need­lessly.  I made a deci­sion to rein­vent my self and my life.  Not easy and really scary but a change that was needed in order to keep mov­ing for­ward in life.

I did a lot of inner work.  I read every­thing I could get my hands on from self-improvement to med­i­ta­tion, from spir­i­tu­al­ity to how suc­cess­ful peo­ple think. I got a divorce when my son was 13.  It was a dif­fi­cult deci­sion.  It was espe­cially hard on him because he didn’t under­stand.  I was on my own now, rais­ing my son with shared cus­tody won­der­ing what the heck I was going to do for an income.

It was impor­tant to me to work hard while he was at school and I real­ized that the time that I spent with him needed to be focused.  This was not always an easy thing to do and some­times I didn’t do a very good job.  He was a teenager and at that age they want you around, but they don’t want you around.  If you’ve got one, you’ll know what I mean. Find­ing the bal­ance was a chal­lenge.  But some­how we learned together.

Per­son­ally, it took me a long time to find and then do things that made me happy. It was a new con­cept for me. I made a list of things I knew I didn’t want and then turned it around into things I did want. (I strongly sug­gest you start a list like this.  It’s easy to define what it is you don’t want in life and once you have that under­stood you will find that learn­ing what you DO want in life is a much eas­ier process).

I started tak­ing pho­tographs again.  I began doing things for me as Linda instead of, Linda the wife and mother.  Yes, there is a dif­fer­ence in this!  Once you have a fam­ily, it gets very easy to for­get about the things that make YOU happy because you are so focused on mak­ing THEM happy!  There is a bal­ance that can be had and it is imper­a­tive for you to be happy so that you can put your best self forth to your family.

My life really changed when I made the deci­sion to call myself a pho­tog­ra­pher.  One day, I just did it and start­ing liv­ing it.  When peo­ple would ask what I did, I’d take a breath and say, “I’m a photographer!”

With no for­mal train­ing I started my pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phy career.  I fig­ured it out as I went along.  I started doing fine art pho­tog­ra­phy, took por­traits, did wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phy, preg­nancy pho­tos and even applied for some juried art shows at the LA Mart and actu­ally got selected!  I did “Art by the Beach” sell­ing my pho­tographs and cards every Sun­day for a few years as well.

I started a Real Estate pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness and built up a good clien­tele.  Then the real estate mar­ket crashed and I lost 80% of my clients.  Just another bump in the road.

I thought, how could I turn this around? So I wrote and pro­duced a real estate DVD to teach real estate agents how to take bet­ter pho­tographs, called “Fab­u­lous Pho­tos in Under an Hour.”  If you can’t do it for them, show them how!

By this time I was start­ing to under­stand that when you hit a bump in the road you just need to keep going and that it isn’t what hap­pens to you or how big the bump is, it’s how you maneu­ver around the darn thing that is impor­tant. Cre­at­ing your own road is the key and the way to do that is to focus on the solu­tion not on the prob­lem.  If you are hav­ing the prob­lem there is going to be a solution…you just have to find out what it is and take action.  I real­ized that I cre­ate my life every day and that cre­at­ing it in a con­scious way is a bet­ter choice than just let­ting life hap­pen to me.

While doing the real estate pho­tog­ra­phy, I had started to teach work­shops about how to cre­ate your life con­sciously and inte­grat­ing art, pho­tog­ra­phy and writ­ing into the pro­gram.  I loved doing this and to my sur­prise, I felt like I was really mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in people’s lives in a much dif­fer­ent way.  I was com­ing from my heart, not my head.  I had found my calling.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that pho­tog­ra­phy would lead me to doing what I love, work­ing with peo­ple and help­ing them redis­cover their pur­pose and passion.

I found that I love to help peo­ple step into their true poten­tial with this deli­ciously fun and cre­ative process. I real­ized that so many peo­ple were miss­ing that cre­ative com­po­nent in their lives.  I believe that when you allow your­self the time to play in a cre­ative way, it gives you the space to breathe and lis­ten to your inner call­ings thereby allow­ing you to be happy, cre­ative and more abun­dant in both your busi­ness and per­sonal life.

In my strug­gles over the years, my son has seen me fall and pick myself up again, to have an opti­mistic view that some­thing bet­ter is com­ing.   Some­times the only way out is through.  We learned many lessons together because I had the courage to keep going and fol­low my dreams.

I am now happy, healthy and pur­su­ing my dreams of bring­ing cre­ativ­ity and fun back into as many lives as pos­si­ble.  My son has recently grad­u­ated col­lege and I am blessed to have a won­der­ful rela­tion­ship with him.

I want to remind you that we live in an amaz­ing world of pos­si­bil­i­ties and it’s time we remem­ber to believe in mir­a­cles again.  Some­times you just have to say the words out loud or write them down in big block letters.

I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES

As Joseph Camp­bell said, “We must be will­ing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is wait­ing for us.”

Most peo­ple know what they don’t want but strug­gle to be clear about what they do want.

Ask your­self what is it that makes you happy—I believe we are put in this expe­ri­ence, in these bod­ies to be happy — to expe­ri­ence joy and to smile a lot more than we do.  I think you believe that too.

Remem­ber to draw on your inter­nal resources like courage and per­sis­tence.  Remind your­self that you are not a vic­tim of your own cir­cum­stance like I thought I was.

I spent a lot of time look­ing out­ward for the answers only to real­ize that when I got quiet and looked within, the answers came.

There is no magic wand— just give your­self per­mis­sion to fail so you can give your­self per­mis­sion to suc­ceed. Remem­ber, noth­ing melts fear faster than action.

So I want to encour­age you to have the courage to move for­ward. Take a chance on your dream. Don’t strug­gle by your­self like I did.  Ask for help.  Seek out ways to find encour­age­ment and support.

It’s time to move in the direc­tion of your greatness.

One Response to my story

  • Deborah Weston says:

    Just wanted to drop you a line, hav­ing had my good friend, Angela Far­ley, rec­om­mend your web­site to me. She appre­ci­ated my sit­u­a­tion, as a sin­gle par­ent of a teenage son, hav­ing just been made redun­dant from a career in the City — the only one I’ve known for the last 31 years!

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