“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.” - Anais Nin
This is me.
I have shrunk, and I have expanded.
I was sitting at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants in town. A place I rarely have the opportunity to go to unless I go with a friend, because my 7-year-old has, let’s say, a less-than refined palate.
I was relaxed, and spread out in a booth at the back of the restaurant, snuggling my sleeping 6-month old baby girl. My good friend was sitting across from me with a smile on her face. She is one of those long-term friends—the kind I don’t get to see all the time, but there is a deep love, respect and authenticity between us.
We used to work together, and have seen each other grow and expand over the years. She has also seen me at my worst. Like when I was going through an existential crisis, a dark night of the soul, she gave me support and encouragement through it. Always believing in me—in who I am, and what my gifts to the world are.
At this particular moment in time I was halfway through my maternity leave. I know, I know, I am a lucky Canadian who was very blessed to have a full year off with my baby. I will never take that for granted. It allowed me time to contemplate life, my future, how I want to feel, how I want to feel at work. I knew that I really needed a change, but I was scared. Terrified, actually.
Me: “I really don’t know what to do after my leave is up.”
I had been contemplating taking the leap and starting my own venture for years. I am someone who is a natural visionary. People who aren’t visionaries, can sometimes find this quality of mine kind of annoying. I am well aware of this. I’ve heard so many people give me advice over the years. Advice to slow down, don’t put the cart in front of the horse—all those, in my opinion, not so helpful words of “wisdom.”
I am a pioneer and have the need to expand and grow in my work. I often have a few irons in the fire, and that works well for me. I had many opportunities to stretch myself within my job, but the opportunities were becoming more and more rare. The program had grown exponentially and was now in the maintenance phase. Although I was a leader, I found the new normal, limiting, and the program needed fresh eyes—a fresh perspective. The grassroots phase was over, and the reality is I wasn’t finding it invigorating anymore.
For many complicated reasons, I hadn’t taken the leap. All the what ifs were plaguing me… What if I can’t do it? Who am I to think I can start my own business? What if I can’t pay the bills? What if I give up my job, the business doesn’t work, and can’t find a new job? I can’t express how difficult wrestling with this decision was for me. It kept me up at night. I had days I felt immobilized.
I knew in my heart of hearts that there was something out there for me, but it was so very scary to give up the security of a long-term job with six weeks vacation, the community of support at an office, and the collective power of a group of people who are lit up by the same mission. And the people, oh the people I got to work with were so inspiring and resilient. The connections I had made over the years had changed me. Quite literally.
My friend looked at me in the eye and sternly said: “Jenn, God/the Universe has been giving you sign after sign that you can do this. It’s really TIME, really. It’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for you. I will be sad if you come back to your old job.”
I wish I could say that was the moment where it all changed for me, the moment where I decided I could do this. It certainly made an impact, but I continued to wrestle. I continued to see many signs that I should make the leap, and I also saw red flags that I shouldn’t go back to my old job. Still, uncertainty sat on my shoulder and muttered at me all day long, every day—for months. Then one afternoon in the heat of the summer, only weeks before I had to make my official decision, I had enough.
I drove to the lake, sat in a lawn chair for 4 hours and contemplated. This was when the epiphany hit me. I asked myself if I decided to go back the usual, the status quo, would I regret it in five years, in ten years? The answer was a resounding YES! The reality is that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. In regards to my career, I don’t have time to “while away the hours, conferring with the flowers.” It was time. NOW.
Go BIG or go home.
So I did it.
I took the plunge.
It was courageous and expansive.
It scared me to death. (The irony of being a visionary afraid of big risk is not lost on me, by the way.) Some people do these things all the time, and it’s not a huge deal for them. For me it was a big deal. My family was in a situation where the risk could’ve been quite destructive. But things have worked amazingly! The other day my husband Dave and I were at the park watching the kids play, and we smiled at each other with a knowing look—things are good. We are in a good place.
I have to say that eight months after that day at the lake, I KNOW that I made the absolute right decision. I am now in a place where I am walking in my potential. I am on a journey to be the best me I can be, and I feel my decision impacting the world around me. I’m experiencing a new sense of freedom that is so life-giving. During my wrestling phase I learned about The Desire Map. It’s about delving deep and figuring out how I want to feel every day. It’s GPS for the soul. I figured out some of my core desired feelings are freedom, expansion, joy, abundance. I needed to be true to myself, by honouring those desires and feelings.
This story is very key in the vision and purpose of my new business Luminate Wellness, I want to support other people in following their dreams—in learning about strengths, building on them, and reacquainting with the expert within, or the inner teacher. Can you imagine a world where everyone has figured out how they want to feel and they are making choices to live that way every day? Imagine the synergy, the energy, and love in the air. Wow. I get charged up thinking about that.
Another thing in my thoughts is that I want to be mindful to enjoy every step. Some days are hard. Some days that little voice of uncertainty still pops up on my shoulder and mutters at me, but I know I am grounded. Most times I am able to tell him off fairly quickly. I know that I have made the right choice.
A huge successful, moneymaking business isn’t the most important end goal for me. I want to savour every moment—that’s my goal. The amazing, and the not so amazing. I want to learn from it all. Time passes quicker than I wish it did, and I don't want to miss anything out of fear or mindlessness. I want to BE.
Who knows where this will go? I honestly don't know, but I’m all in, and I'm up for the adventure.
As for my fear around losing my tribe when I quit my job, well that hasn’t happened. I am intentionally building a new community around me. Just yesterday I sat at that same table, in the same Vietnamese restaurant in town, with a new friend—a friend who is also a visionary, a leader, an entrepreneur. We had a deliciously calm, kid-free lunch and talked about all the fun projects we are working on, and the new collaborations we have up our sleeves.
Life is good.
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin