Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have The Tea Pixie sharing her inspiring journey.
Reinvention is an interesting way of looking at life changes. It suggests we were invented. I am the result of everyone who came before me, and I am their original invention. If you keep this in mind as you read my Second Acts story, you will understand my life decisions.
My Mom graduated from high school when I was 12. When I graduated from high school, she graduated from a technical institute as a certified Laboratory Technician. Her courage to return to school in her thirties inspired me to study in university. I never envisioned my life beyond university, so when I graduated with a degree in communication and $11 dollars in my bank account, I raced to get employed at ANYTHING!
Within a year of graduating, I was a researcher in educational television, and within five years I was a supervising researcher. I was doing well-paid work that fit with my values, I felt that I was successfully serving my staff and the population that relied on the service we provided, and I really loved the people I worked with.
Trigger for Change
But working long hours in a luxurious office was only one of many stairs in the grand staircase that is my life. Having a child seems so biologically natural but with the introduction of contraception, having a family is now a basket full of choices, not only a choice between having children or not. I wanted to raise a child.
At age 32, I brought our amazing daughter into the world.
And then I left my job.
It was not an easy decision, but I couldn’t see how I could be dedicated to my job and dedicated to raising our daughter – something would suffer. My husband’s response? “Two can live as cheap as one!” But we were three.
I left that job with tears in my eyes and began searching for alternative work. Many people work for themselves, even though statistics in Canada indicate that the average income of self employed people is less than $10,000 per year. I did not see myself as an entrepreneur…yet.
I began by voluntarily writing a communication plan (my first ever) for a local business and that document garnered me a part-time marketing manager position. My daughter would join me in meetings, happily munching away on Cheerios while I negotiated advertisements. I no longer had a work persona – what you saw was what you got.
Among myriad ways of making that business into a household name, I was publishing a quarterly newsletter and was surprised to learn that customers excitedly awaited each new publication.
People wanted to read what I was writing.
Boom. BOOM! And that is when I started to write, and write, and write. I took on book contracts, waiting until my daughter had fallen asleep and then writing on the computer in my storage room until 2am, getting up with her at 6am. Some days I was delirious because, as I discovered, I couldn’t survive with only four hours of sleep every night. Did I know what I was doing? Not a chance. I had never written a book before and wrote that first book outline based on a two-hour meeting on the 18th green of a golf course while drinking ciders. And I discovered that I loved working like that, unsure of what I was creating, but confident that I could figure it out.
Why was I confident? Because I had loads of failures and I survived them. One of the best of the worst failures was a book that got published with one line of complete gibberish in the middle of the book. Complete gibberish. On that project, I was the writer, the content and copy editor, and the publisher. I thought I was sunk. Instead, I was given an even bigger contract with the same organization – and became a book layout designer, as well.
And, art kept me sane through everything. When parenting was hard, I painted. When the work flow was unsatisfactory, I studied the flow of metals as I made jewelry. Doing art together was a wonderful way to connect with my daughter and provide her with the opportunity to explore her power and control. She also saw her Mom doing art as a normal part of life. Working with the unknown that is central to producing artistic pieces, just furthered my courage and my ability to face challenges.
Where Am I Now?
Eighteen years later, my daughter is in university, and I am working in research in women’s health, and continuing my life-training as a semi-precious metals jewelry designer and artist. Being a parent is a really, really hard job. I recommend it, wholeheartedly, as the most rewarding job I have had the good fortune to do.
I also recommend jumping into the unknown, even if the jump is small and the unknown seems insignificant. To get to the bigger jumps we need to learn that we can handle the smaller ones. But pave your own road – make your opportunities. When you realize that you have something (a product – a service – a skill) that people want, sell it. You might not know the “best” way to sell it, but there is no rule that says you have to do it the best way, you just have to do it.
As Sue Monk Kidd says: “If you need something from somebody give that person a way to hand it to you.” My life choice was to invent my daughter. I made everything else happen to support that.
Thanks for your insights and advice. Best of luck with all your creative endeavors.