Here's the second of two posts I'd like to share with you about making the leap from the corporate Rat Race to the creative life, as told to a radio-host and friend of mine...
MJK: A bit of background on this struggle was that my father lost his business when I was about 10 years old. My parents had to declare bankruptcy, we lost our home, my father began to drink, my parents split up, and it all got very bad for a long time. So, to me, losing one’s livelihood and income was the worst thing that could happen. I was absolutely petrified at the prospect of not having a job or revenue stream. And yet, I recognized that as a prison in and of itself.
And I began to wonder what would happen if I left my job, we lived on my husband’s salary alone, and I stayed home to focus on my own fiber art and make quilts for people.
FR: Tell us a little more about this embryonic idea of yours, where it came from and why it appealed to you?
MJK: That was the other part of the puzzle. About 20 years ago, I started developing techniques that allowed me to make quilts that look like faceted diamonds. Working on them brought me the greatest joy. People who saw them loved them and told me I needed to do more. I also had started making memory quilts for people out of their special clothes and t-shirts.
I really enjoyed this work because it brought such joy to my clients. They’d actually cry when I presented their quilts to them. Believe me, no Vice President of HR ever burst into tears when I presented a finished project to her at my old job.
I truly believe that regret is a terrible thing and should be avoided at all costs. I didn’t want to be 80 years old, saying, “You know, I really should have done something with those diamonds…” So the desire to pursue my passion grew and grew. When I realized that our passions are really given to us by Spirit as a means of Self-expression – that we must follow those passions to live a fulfilling life – then the fear started to fall away and was replaced by this feeling of trust. Trusting that, even if I didn’t have a plan and know how everything was going to turn out, things would be OK.
FR: How did you create some sort of safe harbor for yourself in this highly uncertain, unstable period? Where did you find support? (Or did you?) Books? Friends? Partner? Other?
MJK: I know that I’m very, very lucky to be in a partnership with someone who supports my dreams and passion. My husband Joe has always supported me. We’re a team. Not everyone has that. And the risk is much greater for someone who doesn’t have the safe haven I do.
However, it was still scary and risky to go from two incomes to one. And also emotionally risky to go from being someone whose image was bound up in her career advancement to someone who does her own thing without all that external reward.
And difficult to deal with the feelings of being completely selfish, not “pulling my weight” in the partnership, not “accomplishing” anything with my life.
FR: Tell me how you prepared yourself to take this gigantic leap of faith.
MJK: I paid down some debts and spread the word among my previous clients that I was going to do this…and then I just did it. It was a big leap.
FR: How did it feel the day you quit your job? Did you shout for joy or did you have mixed feelings? Regrets?
MJK: Absolutely exhilarated. Feelings of unbelievable freedom and joy. After I left the old job, I had nightmares about being back at work and thinking, “This is wrong. I’m not supposed to be here!” That was validation.
FR: As you embarked on this new path, did things go according to plan? Were there unexpected twists and turns in the road?
MJK: Well, there really isn’t a plan. I’m saying YES to things that appear before me. Experimenting and exploring. You really can’t have a plan if it’s a true exploration, right? I'm creating lots of new work, writing a book about the diamonds, and preparing to do some teaching. It's been wonderful, too, to have galleries show interest in my work and book exhibits.
FR: Looking back, what were some decisions made, steps taken, advice given that stand out in your mind which significantly affected where you are today?
MJK: Listen to your gut, your intuition. We have that inner voice for a reason, for direction.
Choose joy. That’s why we’re here. We’re not here to suffer and sacrifice. That’s a total con job. We’re here to thrive and to enjoy life.
Only you can change, don’t expect anything or anyone else to change. Learn to live within it or not.
Change won’t kill you. Fear will. You can actually stress, worry, and anger yourself to death. It’s a horrible way to live and to die.
FR: Where do things stand now in your business, and what are your plans for the future?
MJK: I’m building a business. I’m having fun. Meeting great new people. Enjoying the freedom and the ability to be myself and do what I want. To me, that’s a kind of abundance that far exceeds a lousy job with a big paycheck.
FR: What are some of the lessons you learned along the way, and what would you say to someone out there who feels stuck in a non-fulfilling job?
MJK: The things I mentioned a few minutes ago…listening to your feelings and intuition. Choosing joy. Eradicating fear from your life. Feeling stuck is a self-imposed prison of the mind. The mind is the most powerful tool for change you have. No one has the answers except you. You know what’s right for you. Trust your Higher Self.
(End of Interview)