WARNING: long, rambling post ahead… Sorry!!
Nate and I took a long walk in the woods last night, and while we were talking we realized that this week marks a year since we became a self-employed family!! I’ve been at it longer than he has, since I quit my job when I had Aspen a year and a half ago, but when he quit his corporate job a year ago it upped the ante for my art business. My art officially became one of the ways that we pay the bills, and we both embarked together on this crazy journey that we like to think of as following our dreams.
I’ll admit that there have been ups and downs, and I’ve had my moments of lying awake at 3:00 in the morning wondering what the heck we’ve done, but I don’t have any regrets, and I’d do it all over again if I had to. I’ve been a bit stressed out lately, mostly because the news is so negative these days – in my darkest moments I wonder if we made the right decision to do all of this. In all of my other moments, I KNOW it was the right decision.
I’ve been slowly going through the archives of this blog and categorizing my posts, and it’s been a really positive experience to look back over the past few years and see where I’ve come from. When I started this blog two and a half years ago, I was lead process engineer on an $800 million scrubber project for an oil-sands refinery in Canada. I was frazzled with the stress of being in charge of the process design phase of such a huge project (hello – those are my initials on every drawing and calculation!), managing people for the first time, and dealing with the pressure of being the only female engineering lead on the project, not to mention the youngest by about twenty years. My life was defined by my climb up the corporate ladder, and I was heading for a nice job in project management. I made a lot more money than I do now, and I was completely miserable.
For reference, here I am, enjoying the scenery in the middle of an oil sands mine in Ft. MacMurray, Alberta (and this was a day with a GOOD view – normally I was sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer):
Actually, if you REALLY want to see how far I’ve come to get to this point, maybe I should rewind to my days working for big oil down in Texas. Here I am getting ready to inspect some equipment during a chemical plant shutdown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – you know your job sucks when the chemicals are so dangerous that you have to dress like this:
I was working for ExxonMobil at the time, and my job (when I wasn’t inspecting equipment), was to design computer programs that would optimize the amount of money the plant would make on a given day, depending on things like oil prices, chemical sale prices, etc etc. It was incredibly unfulfilling, and I hated Houston, so we moved back to Colorado and I got a job designing pollution control systems for coal-fired power plants. More my style, but I still wasn’t happy, and I started this blog to rant a bit about my job and talk about some of the things that made me happy, and it morphed into the art blog it is today.
When I look back at the girl I was then, I’m thankful that I was able to see how unhappy I was, and that I knew exactly what I really wanted to be doing. Before I got pregnant with Aspen, I had decided that I wanted to try and make it as an artist, and I started to get serious about taking the right steps to make it work. I think I first started talking about taking the leap in the two posts here and here. At the end of the first post where I talked about making a career change, I said the following:
“I don’t want to play it safe forever. I don’t want to have a long list of excuses someday. I’d rather aim for brilliance and fail than say I never tried for fear of exiting my comfort zone. I want to move forward – I want to choose experience over excuses.”
When I read those words the other day, I was in the midst of a stressful day and they immediately gave me a sense of peace. I realized that over the past year and a half I’ve left the comfort zone and challenged myself, and I’ve had more wonderful experiences than I can count. I love my job with every inch of my being, and I’m content with my life. I have a beautiful, sweet daughter, a wonderful husband, and I’m living where I want to live. I’m surrounded by beauty every day, and I’m following the dream I’ve had since I was a child to be an artist. And in following that dream (and working with Nate to achieve his), I feel like I’m being the best role model I can possibly be as a mother. I’m blessed to have this opportunity, and I’m going to try my hardest to do my best at what I truly believe I’m meant to be doing.
Now, isn’t it a good thing that I have this blog to remind me where I’ve come from? Nothing like a little reminder of my past life to move me from a place of stress to a place of peace!