Dream Abundant Dreams

Today I was looking at some collage work I did in 2005.  I was seeing a hypnotherapist to make some positive changes in my life, and she asked me to make a trajectory for the year 2006.  I wrote down on a piece of paper the places I wanted to head that year – the emotional, physical, and spiritual destinations I wanted to visit.  But it didn’t seem enough to write about it on paper, I wanted to create images to go with the words.

The images are what I was looking at today.  I am just awe-struck at how much more my life resembles what I was longing for back then – AWE STRUCK I tell you!  In 2005, I had just moved back to Santa Barbara.  I was renting a room in a house with other renters, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, all I knew is that I wanted to live in Santa Barbara again.

I had lived in Santa Barbara a few years before after I graduated from college with a degree in Computer Science.  Once I graduated I did what every good graduate does and I pounded the pavement looking for that great job – the one I had been dreaming of my whole college career – with a great salary and benefits – the job that would provide for my material needs until I retired.  When I landed that job, I thought I was set.  I had climbed the mountain – I was home free now.

The only problem was that I felt like every day I went to work, it sucked my soul.

I did not feel like I was doing my life’s work.  I felt like a drone, working for a paycheck.  I looked around to see if anyone else felt the same way I did.  Everyone else seemed to be happy and content.  But I was not, and after two years I came to the edge of my own personal cliff and looked over it.  I could leave all of the safety and security I had built up around myself, or I could continue on, and let my soul die a slow death.

I decided to jump, and to take a chance.

I quit my job and went to Rome for the summer and volunteered at a cat shelter.  I did not know what I was doing with my life.  I had no road map.  I believed that I would probably never have a salary or benefits again, and that the whole world would judge me as stupid for getting a degree and not using it.  And I did not care.  I had some important things at stake – life just seemed too short to throw away that vital happiness that comes from being fulfilled.

Don’t get me wrong now – I was scared *shitless*, but I was more scared of what I would become whiling away my years at a job that was completely and utterly unfulfilling.

After I came back from Rome, I moved to my mom’s house.  Bless my mom, she let me move in and take some time to take stock of my life.  I thought I would be there a few months before I found another job in Santa Barbara, but what was supposed to be 2 months ended up being 2 years.  And it was during those two years that I got the most wonderful gift of my life – I got to figure out what I would do if I didn’t need the money.

My mom did not charge me rent (again, bless her soul, bless her soul!).  So I got to ask myself a question I hadn’t really asked myself before.   What would I do with my time if I wasn’t working for a paycheck, but for pure pleasure????

Try asking yourself this.  If every day was a paid sick day, what would you do?    Is it what you do now?

The Journey (cover) Twelve - Transformation Three - Creativity Sixteen - Birthday Eleven - Soul Mysteries

I have come to believe that this is one of the great pillars of happiness – working at something you love doing, rather than working for a paycheck.  When I asked myself to dig deep and give an honest answer about what I *wanted* to do with my time, and not what I should do because I have such-and-such degree, or what I should do to make good money, have security, etc. etc. I got some surprising answers.

I love animals, so the first thing that came to my mind was that I wanted to work as a pet sitter.   I guess I had heard of this job somewhere before, and I decided it was right up my alley.  I flipped open the phone book at my mom’s house and called every pet sitting place in town to see if any needed any extra help – and I got one call back from a gal named Debi who ran and owned Desert Pet Sitter.  That was the beginning of one of my best working experiences ever.  I got up every morning THRILLED!   I got to go from house to house visiting cuddly animals, playing with them and petting them.  I got to see amazing homes in posh country clubs, but I always felt like I had the best gig of all – I got to spend time with animals for a living!

And when I wasn’t doing pet sitting, I was staying up into the wee hours creating web sites and ART.  Lot’s of art.  A friend and I even got together and got a booth at the Thursday night street fair in Palm Springs and SOLD art!  I didn’t sell a lot, and I definitely didn’t sell enough to make a living, but it was the first time I put my work on display and had people look at it with the potential to purchase it.  It was powerful having an outlet and made me want to create even more.

In the two years I spent with my mom I felt like I got to reinvent how I thought of myself as a person.  I got to break free from the shackles of the degree I had gotten.

I got to find out what my tune was when no one was dictating it for me.

It was funky and quirky, but it was all me – pet sitting, web sites, and art.

Getting myself back to Santa Barbara was scary, but I knew it was where I ultimately wanted to be.  I took a summer internship re-designing a website.  When that ended I worked at Michaels in the framing department until I realized I might have trouble buying food on the paychecks I was getting.  Then I worked for a company that did e-commerce sites which was a little way too stressful for my liking (but I learned a ton).  I felt very drawn to education, so I decided to see if my technical skills could be applied in that arena, and I now work in education at a job that fulfills me and challenges me in so many ways.  And I live in an amazing cottage with an amazing boyfriend/fiance/partner/best friend person with the cutest and cuddliest dog and cat, and I get to paint surfboards and create living wreaths, and put artwork for sale on Etsy – and my life is so far from where it was when I was working at a job that I hated every day.

It’s always a work in progress, but I can say that I am truly, truly happy, and so grateful I jumped off, bucked the shoulds,  took out my machete and forged my own quirky path to where I am now.

One of the greatest things I learned from this experience was that if the universe is calling you, it will rise up to meet you if you heed the call.

As scary as following inner knowings might be, I think it is far more painful to live with those inner knowings and never know what may have been if you had chosen faith, trust, and intuition over security, safety and what you “should” do.

What leaps into the unknown are you taking right now?

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13 responses to “Dream Abundant Dreams”

  1. Sara

    Kristen this is such an amazing story of your journey. I am so so glad you followed your path which led you to now. Incredible!
    And thanks for sharing your image collages – these are lovely!

  2. Jadyn

    I love this! So great to read your story of taking a leap and how it worked out for you. I just put my University studies on hold and am seriously considering switching directions and getting a certificate in home decorating instead – just b/c I think it will make me happier and I’d love to help others make their space feel happy…it feels scary even though perhaps it doesn’t need to be. Anyway, just wanted to let you know your post spoke to me today.

  3. *Kristen*

    » Thanks Sara! I am glad I decided to follow the path, too. And the path continues! You just never know where life will take you.

  4. *Kristen*

    » Hi Jadyn,
    Thanks for stopping by! Even though it was scary, if I had things to do over again, I would definitely take the leap towards doing what fulfills me, rather than staying safe. In my opinion, inner longings and dreams are one of the few real road maps we have. I feel like they were sort of built inside of us like guide posts. Unfortunately, they don’t always match up to the standards of others/the culture/ourselves.

    When I am faced with looking over the edge of big, scary, cliffs, I try to remind myself that I can always change my mind. When I quit my job I told myself that I could probably always find another soul sucking job that payed decently :) It’s good to explore the options first, before you settle for that, though :) and I try to talk back to that doom and gloom voice as much as possible, too. It has its place, but it’s usually not the best guy to listen to when I am taking leaps of faith :) My mantra during some of my scariest times, when I thought I was a failure or made a huge mistake was “The Universe has my back, the Universe has my back.”

    Good luck on your journey! the Universe has your back, too!

  5. Amber Dusick

    Great post! I’m so glad you are so much more where you want to be now. Me too! I’m glad I quit my job six years ago. Never looked back.

  6. *Kristen*

    » Thanks Amber! So glad you quit your job and found your happy place, too! I think that each person that finds a path to their own happy life raises the happiness vibration of the world a little, and helps all of us out collectively.

  7. Lis

    Before I can even comment on your journey, i have to say how much i ADORE the images here! This coming from an art historian (lots of graduate studies) who hardly uses much of her degree (but had a blast studying art and traveling!) You’ve really got my creative juices flowing as i have tons of old textbooks with images awaiting rebirth.

    But OMG thank you thank you thank you for sharing your story. How inspiring to read and recognize you fearlessly answered your heart’s whispers and that you are choosing to mindfully live and engage with your life.

    My story has many instances of jumping off the well trodden path and seeking another route … and today i feel i am living my dream life while continuing to dream bigger, deeper, wilder. when i gave up my full time “career” (which was a noncareer in my mind) to study yoga, I had no idea how i would pay my share of the bills. and as you experienced, i answered the call and the universe came in to help and part time teaching jobs seemingly materialized.

    But that is my past … my present leaps … i am painting more and more and allowing myself to be engaged in the process and letting go of the need to attach it to anything else at the moment. my tendency has been to do something and believe i needed to find a way to make money with it, to justify me doing it. now i realize my growth, my pleasure, my excitement is all the justification i need. the rest will follow.

    you’ve really made my day today!

    xo Lis

  8. Lori

    WOW Kristen. What an AWESOME post. I love love love it. Me too- I can totally relate to you. I am still a work in progress but soooooo grateful I am not doing work I do not love (that I did for so long.) CHEERS to you! xo

  9. *Kristen*

    » Awww, that makes my day that I made your day! Go get your scissors out and cut some books up! It’s SO MUCH FUN! :)
    You said something that really struck a chord with me in your comment about how you feel you need to find a way to make money doing something to justify doing it. I love doing artwork, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to live off the proceeds of my creative sales, but I LOVE doing it, and I don’t want to love doing it any less whether it does or doesn’t make money. I also love what you said about dreaming bigger, deeper, wilder dreams – YES!!!!!! YES!!! YES!!!!! And that really makes my heart sing that you jumped off a cliff to study yoga :) What a wonderfully crazy amazing thing to do and succeed at!!!!

  10. *Kristen*

    » Hi Lori! Thanks for stopping by, glad you are doing work you love!

  11. Teresa

    Kristen, thank you for sharing this story! I felt the exact same way, with the soul sucking, feeling scared, etc. My husband and I took a chance earlier this year and left our “great” jobs to see the country, live in our VW bus and just spend time together. We didn’t know how we’d make it happen, but we asked for help and the universe answered in ways we had never imagined! You’re right – it’s far worse, I think, to never take a chance and do what you want to do (or to take the time to figure out what you want to do), but to keep doing what you think you “should” do. Life is for living! I’m glad that you are where you are today :)

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  13. Veronika

    Good for you for taking your own path! :) I also got a computer degree and have been working in IT jobs for nearly 15 years now, I’ve learned a lot, met some incredible (and some really awful) people and on the whole it’s not so bad, but it’s definitely not what I want to do for the rest of my life. The best thing though is that ever since I’ve been spending most of my free time creating art I’ve stopped getting stressed about things at work, I still do the best possible work I can while I’m at work but because I have a passion outside of my work that makes me happy I somehow stopped getting too bothered about any ‘drama’ that can sometimes go on at work. And it feels good :)