Today, there are moments when I look at my life and I am stunned. I live in a place where most people clamor to spend hard-earned vacations. My sweet bungalow home is my office and I am filled with inspiration. I have a creative circle of friends that enjoy life. Fresh, organic food is readily available and nature surrounds me, as I navigate this new "creative wellbeing" life style, where work is play and creating beauty is my trade. I am in business again and I love it.It wasn't always this way. I had a thriving company ten years ago that disappeared so suddenly it left me breathless, literally.
Recently I came across this tidbit from a memoir I am eternally in the process of writing. Reading this, I can see just how far I have come. My entire definition of success has been reinvented.
It was bleak winter when my company and I parted ways. January went by in a blur with all the packing and goodbyes at the office.The frenetic pace of my life had come to an abrupt halt, but inside I felt my pulse racing just like it always had. Even my daily yoga sessions didn’t have the power to counteract my natural tendency toward doing.The Zen of being still hadn’t quite sunk in yet. My mind continued to churn out ideas and I filled my sketchbooks with plans for future businesses.
As I tried in vain to settle down and enjoy this respite, I recalled the words of wisdom my attorney told me as I prepared to negotiate the exit of my contract during the last couple of months at Liz Claiborne. ” Sometimes a field has to go fallow for a while to be able to produce crops.” I should have taken her advice to heart. Despite her impressive worldwide fashion expertise and offbeat designer attire, she was a native Midwesterner with down-to-earth insights. I ended up using her more for psychological than legal counsel and relied on her to lift me up when I was feeling down.The main thrust of her encouragement was to urge me to think deeply about my “hierarchy of values.”
What was important to me? Money? Status? Freedom? I was so used to my jet setter lifestyle and executive benefits, I was almost afraid to look the question straight in the eye. I knew I hadn’t been happy for a while. My soul felt like it had been locked away and was aching to be set free.Was it possible that this might prove to be the perfect opportunity to live the authentic life I had been craving?
Funny that the most perceptive comments on my situation came from my attorney--but I began to seriously contemplate her query. She helped me understand that the essence of my brand was still part of me and I could coax it into a new incarnation if I had the faith and patience. She seemed to have a remarkable understanding and appreciation for my design style, even though I knew her personal tastes ran more to the avant-garde. It felt good to have someone (anyone) in the industry give me positive feedback, since I had come to her dejected and exhausted from the struggle of maintaining my dignity in the face of corporate rejection. She used to say to me, “If I close my eyes and think of you, there is a supernatural hum. You are the Martha (Stewart) that we might want to have over for dinner.” I was bolstered by her encouragement, but honestly I suspect that the source of the hum she was talking about might have been a result of the cases of diet soda she had stockpiled in her office. Still--her words gave me hope and I wish I had heeded them sooner.
By mid-February I was ready for a change of scenery. I had pondered my situation long enough and still sought something to quiet my restlessness. I needed to escape in the very best sense of the word. At home I tended to obsess about what to do next, how to combat my feelings of loss and why this had all happened in the first place. Every morning I got up and “went to work” which meant bundling up in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a sketchbook, writing notes to nobody and planning projects that had no audience.The faucet of my idea flow wouldn’t turn off and my metaphorical cup was overflowing. My biggest fear was that no one would have need for my creativity ever again.