About four weeks ago, I posted a picture on Facebook of a glass of champagne, hinting that I had something to celebrate. This past week I did so again – declaring that the celebration was now officially “on.” In between the two pictures and the posts, many have guessed, others have blatantly asked, but most have just requested that I end the suspense already.
It’s not an engagement.
It’s not a book deal.
It’s not a lottery win.
But from where I sit, it feels like all three of these rolled into one.
Some history. On March 31, 2009, I got laid off from my job. I won’t go into the years of angst that created, the gallons of tears I shed, the anxiety and worry that plagued as to how I would continue to pay my bills, take care of my girls, and manage my life.
For six years now I have pieced income together. Consulting gigs. Contract work. All part time and three or four things at a time. I’ve purchased for my own medical/dental benefits, forgotten what
paid vacation means, and have slotted my writing, my daughters, my life into a schedule that has been driven by keeping plates spinning and responsibilities sustained.
One of those “pieces” has been my role as a trainer/facilitator with the Department of Labor. For 5+ years I’ve spent 3 days a week with Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps separatees/retirees – helping them with their transition from military to civilian life. I’ve stood at a podium, clicked through Powerpoint slides, provided witty anecdotes, written on more whiteboards than I care to count, talked about resumes / networking / interview skills/salary negotiation, and gotten choked-up when, each week, I’ve thanked them for their service and genuinely hoped good things for their futures.
I’ve been grateful. It’s been rewarding. It’s been constant. It’s paid the bills. And only a few plates have crashed to the ground.
In the midst of all this, I have been working on my business, this business, my heart. All along I have been waiting, hoping, praying for the scales to tip, for earnings to be significant enough that I can let go of outside work and devote my time and energy to that which I prefer. And all along I’ve been dreaming about finding any way in which I can be ‘location-independent’ – able to work anywhere there’s internet connectivity, my laptop, and good coffee – no suits, commutes, or witty anecdotes required.
Cutting to the chase. As of April 1, 2015 (exactly six years later – how amazing is that?!?) I will be working exclusively from home. Even better (if that’s possible), I’m being provided medical/dental benefits, paid vacation and holidays, accumulated retirement and sick time (whaaaaaat?) – all the things I’d long-since abandoned and complete flexibility as to how I structure my time and total freedom to integrate my business, this business, my heart into
every day – not just some; no longer squeezed into the slightest open moments, my lunch hours, late at night, and during the dark morning hours far before any civilized human is awake, let alone out of bed and at their computer.
In the interest of transparency, it feels important to acknowledge not only how hard it is to grow an online business, but to name honestly that mine does not support me (yet). Oh, the progress I’ve made. Oh, the gift it’s been to watch its slow-but-sure movement and growth. Oh, the thrill to pay taxes that hurt just a bit this year – realizing I earned more than I’d saved for.
It feels important to acknowledge just how hard it is to press on and persevere as an entrepreneur when we see people around us who appear to have somehow landed on the perfect formula, the ideal business model, the phenomenal and endless client base. I don’t know if they have, or not.
What I know with complete certainty is that I have built a business, this business, my heart, while working like a crazy person, making huge compromises in many aspects of
my life, and somehow surviving. What I do know is that it has been – and continues to be – a TON of work (unpaid, paid, piece-meal, part-time, and combinations thereof).
I am still in shock, quite frankly, not yet able to grasp what it means that five whole days stretch before me this week – and many, many more to come – without the necessity of a calendaring system sophisticated enough for the Pentagon, with nothing other than yoga pants as dress code, with no lunch to pack, with no traffic to endure. Really, I can’t quite get my head wrapped around it. But my heart? It is certain. It is sure. It is full-to-overflowing.
It will be a glorious day indeed when I am writing the post about leaving behind even this job because my business, this business, my heart now makes enough to support me (or a very lucrative engagement happens or the book deal comes or I win the lotto).
That day I will do more than post a picture of a glass of champagne on Facebook. You’ll see me bathing in it!
This morning I read my Sunday pleasure, Brain-Pickings Weekly, and nearly came undone over this quote:
Start with a big fat lump in your throat. Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love. And don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can. Imagine immensities. Don’t compromise and don’t waste time. In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide that you want one. Start now. Not twenty years from now. Not thirty years from now. Not two weeks from now. Now.
Sometimes we don’t get to choose when we start. Events overcome. Layoffs happen. Change is forced.
Always we get to do what we love – even if it’s in the dark, behind the scenes, after hours, and barely noticed.
And sometimes everything changes. Miracles happen. Perseverance pays off. Grace pervades. Champagne pours. *clink*