Blog My ramblings

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

After a decade of living in Belgium and attempting to build a career as an English teacher, it’s time to reevaluate my life and blaze a new path.

This past year has been filled with change for the world, my community, my family, myself and even this blog. I’m about to go into a long ramble about all the changes and what they mean for me. You don’t have to read this mini-novel, that’s fine. It’s much longer than anything else I’ve posted since starting this blog and I totally understand!

If you want to continue reading, please do! If you don’t, then may I suggest a little David Bowie interlude instead?

Eye opening developments…

In the last year, my world has changed dramatically. I had finally found a fulfilling job helping somebody I believed in fully work towards attaining their dreams. I was filled with inspiration and motivation and felt so devoted to this dream job that I committed myself to working there until retirement and letting go of my dreams of working for myself.

I was feeling less creative and productive in my personal life but I put that down to the frustration of trying to love a house which wasn’t my home and I assumed my muse would return to me after we sold the house and found a new environment for our family. I never thought my muse might have run off because of my job!

At the beginning of this academic year, my world started to crumble. Philippe had asked me to not put in as many unpaid hours at work as I had the year before because, well, my family missed me and I was a paid employee, not a limitless volunteer. I don’t know how much this had to do with a change I noticed immediately afterwards, but the person I was working for began to let their facades fall and I began to wake up to the reality of my work environment.

Their management style became one of passive aggression and negative reinforcement. I began to have panic attacks after every tiny mistake because I never knew when or if I would be called into the office and told that I was incompetent at my entire job as academic coordinator because I’d missed a spot of dirt on the bathroom floor during my morning rounds. I was hyper-aware of every sigh, every dirty look, every eye-roll because I never knew when an ambush was coming.

I am still absolutely positive that she is a good person deep down. I don’t know what kinds of stress she’s been under in the past year and I don’t know what sparked the change in her management style. I won’t go into details about who she is or where I was working because I truly believe in what we were trying to create. I still believe in the method and goals of the school.

My head was spinning simply because of how suddenly we went from nearly friends to an antagonistic working relationship. Sometimes when two people have inaccurate impressions about who they’re working with it can cause a drastic breakdown of trust when reality can no longer be ignored.

I cannot write about this situation from her perspective because I’m not omniscient but I imagine I’m the bad guy in her telling as well. Nobody’s the villain in their own life-story. To be honest, if our relationship hadn’t dissolved, I wouldn’t be filled with the hope and motivation that I am right now, so I thank her for that.

-End of disclaimer, you may continue reading!

I began to lose focus on the actual performance of my job because even when I KNEW that I had done something well, I knew there would be no praise, only criticism of whatever aspect wasn’t entirely perfect on the first attempt or at most, a backhanded compliment along the lines of “I’ve never criticised THIS aspect of your job performance!”

I tried to discuss the change in atmosphere with my boss and was told that since I was the only employee to voice my concerns, it was therefor all in my mind. Any attempt to communicate with her about changes effecting the entire feel of the company was met with a doubling down of her insistence that I was simply an overly emotional person and my statements had no basis in facts. If I tried to defend myself against a criticism which I felt was unmerited, she would find two or three additional, unrelated criticisms to add to the pile. I wasn’t actually working the job of my dreams after all.

Too independent for my own good?

I’ve been following a number of pod-casters and business coaches in the past few years since I’ve always had an independent, entrepreneurial streak and am constantly trying to learn and improve.

Many coaches offer free classes from time to time and though I kept signing up, I was consistently disappointed to find that I’d spent my valuable time attending a week-long infomercial and was not coming away with any new knowledge about myself and my business.

Then, one day, I discovered a coach with whom I felt an instant connection.

a photo of a smiling woman with dark hair, black cat's eye glasses and bright red lipstick. She is wearing a black t-shirt and a red headband while sitting in a yellow armchair in front of a bookshelf with a vase of pink flowers. She is smiling at a text window to the side of her screen where a participant in her wedinar (me) has written "I've been working with Esther since January. If any of you are hesitating, I can promise you that it's worth investing in a membership. You simply cannot find such an extensive circle of supportive women on your own. If you've ever been afraid to be 100% you around people then you'll quickly learn that this group can not only handle ALL of you but they want to help you become even MORE of what you are. The founder price is fantastic, don't miss out on it just because you're not fully sure, I swear it's worth every penny and THEN some."
The closest thing I’ve got to a physical photo of me with my coach. That was my comment in our most recent webinar chat.

Every brave woman is different. In my case I’m an introverted catalyst, a loud-mouthed introvert. A Highly Sensitive Person who happens to be a very intuitive empath. A multi-racial woman of color. A buyer of way-too-many art supplies and books, a quick-witted, very smart creator, and very often the Odd-One-Out. Yay to all the Black Sheep! We are often the ones who bring change, insight and transformation.

Esther de Charon de Saint Germain

She offered a week-long masterclass about identifying what makes you different and using that to begin building the life you’ve always dreamed of. It was a difficult week for me, we’d just moved and I had a heavy workload at the school but I attended nearly every conference call and came away with an overwhelming urge to stop conforming to what society tells me I need to be and to start creating the world I want to live in. Philippe and I made the decision to invest in her three month paid coaching program in order to help me reevaluate and plan the entrepreneurial journey I’ve always dreamed of living.

One of the toughest things for me to accept during my coaching was that it is impossible to do anything if you don’t have a support group. I’m the cheerleader. I’m the support group! I’m the strong one and it would be shameful for me to ask for help!

I did something which I haven’t done since childhood, I called my mom and begged for her advice. I was filled with anxiety and stress, I was in a deep well of depression and I was beginning to have suicidal thoughts of the kind I haven’t had to battle with since I left my first husband. I reached out. She assured me that I could always count on her and my aunts for love and support and swore to me that I had more cheerleaders out there than I could imagine.

I posted on my Facebook wall that I was going through a really tough time and needed support. I was going to create a private group and explain my situation in there. I wasn’t going to add people who didn’t want to be there. Imagine my surprise when the group grew exponentially over the next few days. Even now, when I think of all the people who love and support me, I have to fight tears. I’m not that special, I don’t deserve so much love. And yet…and yet

My husband, my coach, my private support group, and the community of other brave business women in my coaching program have been invaluable in helping me reevaluate the direction my life was taking. I am someone who creates beautiful things. I am someone who feels most in tune with the world when I create things with other people. While the majority of my professional experience is as an English teacher, I’ve always felt a bit unsatisfied with this path because while I am passionate about English and love teaching, I wasn’t creating anything with my hands anymore.

A quote that I’ve seen here and there around the internet began to resonate with me more and more to the point where it would sometimes be the first thought in my mind when I awoke in the morning.

“If you don’t build your dream someone else will hire you to help build theirs.”

Tony Gaskins

My stress and anxiety began to aggravate my auto-immune disorders and towards the beginning of this year I was placed on medical leave until I could could get my health issues under control. When I attempted to return to the work environment right as the COVID-19 crisis began, there was no denying that this working environment was no longer my place.

After a serious anxiety attack, my doctor reprimanded me for returning to work at all and placed me back on medical leave. I was waiting for advice on how to proceed with the process of quitting my job for medical reasons and the day before the health-in-the-workplace adviser called to give me my next steps, I received a letter stating that I was fired for my insubordination and lack of professionalism.

“Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.”

Germany Kent

Unfortunately, I’m still not entirely free to pursue my dreams. Part of the firing process was that I have ten weeks remaining on my contract and the two weeks of medical leave only added to the ten. While the whole world has shut down due to the Corona virus, I find myself in the strange position of wishing that this confinement period outlasts the remaining time on my contract. One of the two situations is less directly threatening to my mental and physical health than the other. I’ve never been so impatient to find myself unemployed!

With all of the stress I’ve been under lately, I found myself unable to focus properly on the coaching program I’d invested in. Philippe was trying to remain supportive and keep his criticism to himself but both of us had expected that I would have a polished business plan ready to go by the end of the program.

In hindsight, we each had incredibly unrealistic expectations of what this program would provide me. It was a program to identify your strengths and begin building a brand based around your personality. It wasn’t a business plan creation program and it’s not like she was going to take the time to create a business plan for each of us to take home after the 3 months.

We invested in a program to give me the confidence to embrace who I am, the support of a network of sensitive entrepreneurs and the push to let go of traditional employment and break new ground as a brave business woman. I’ve gotten EXACTLY what I paid for!

I’m in the final week of my coaching program and in the past few days, I have been thinking constantly about the ways that I can implement what I have learned about myself, about the world, and about business in general.

“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

A couple of days ago, I woke up at 6 in the morning with my mind spinning. I suddenly had a crystal clear vision of what Create Happiness could become. I slipped out of bed and hid in the future library part of our home so that I could get it all out of my mind and into words before I lost it.

I have next to no experience creating business plans. They’re far too technical for me and require a lot of expertise and experience that I simply don’t have. However, fifteen pages later, I actually have a rather solid idea of what I want my business to become. Thanks to the guidance I’ve received from Esther and her community, I am finally able to let go of those parts of running my business which do not bring me joy and focus, instead on living a proper example of the lifestyle I am attempting to promote. I can hire experts to do the other aspects for me so that I am free to be the face behind the brand and spend my time writing and creating beautiful things.

I’ve been working on a business plan to take Create Happiness from just another crafting and lifestyle blog and turn it into a thriving, vibrant community for other multi-passionate creative souls around the world.

I am determined to build my business following my core values, sustainability, low-waste living, love of nature, creativity, compassion, and community. Part of this means that whenever possible, I will opt to support entrepreneurs, artisans, and small local businesses. The first step, then, was to go to a local Facebook group and ask if anybody could suggest a local web designer. There was an impressive amount of support for a firm here in Huy, Q.G. Entreprise. One of their designers reached out to me in messenger and we set an appointment for the next day to discuss my vision.

Yesterday I had my first meeting with a local web development and graphic design firm and to be honest, I was FLOORED by their reaction. They believe it is a concrete and well thought out concept and that it is something which has the capacity to truly happen someday.

Could it be possible for me to found a company which has durable, world changing effects while focusing on solidarity, community, and sustainability? I know hardly ANYTHING about the day-to-day running of even a small company! I just want to help people work together and make beautiful things. I want people to embrace their creativity as a means of learning about themselves and improving life for themselves, their family and their community.

I suppose, in this “Be the Expert” world, perhaps I am the expert of embracing creativity as a way to change your life and your world. I want to share my passion with as many people as possible and someday, perhaps I’ll find that I’ve created the world and community that I have always wished to live in.

In the meantime, I’m just going to keep creating beautiful things and prioritising joy and happiness in my life and my community.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! Please let me know what you think about the new direction life is taking me. Will you want to join the community once it exists? I’m already opening the door for collaborators if you’ve got an idea for a blog post or tutorial that you would like to share.

As your reward for sticking with me this far, let me share a beautiful video that I made of the apple tree in my new backyard. Here’s your daily minute of peace and nature:

By Create Happiness

I am a compassionate creative person on a quest to create the happy life I've always dreamed of, one happy little crafting moment at a time.

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