Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Roughly three years ago I left a life full of adventure, security, and purpose for something unknown and scary. Before this major life change, I was teaching art to school-age kids at a military after-school program in Germany. I worked there for 7 years and became one of the most senior staff. I had a fantastic life overseas, traveling often and truly loving my job for the first time in my life. After I became pregnant with our second child, we decide to make our way back to the States to be closer to family.
I was 7 months pregnant when we moved to Arizona. In July. And I HATED it there! I was in an unfamiliar place, adjusting to a stay-at-home life, and constantly on the guard for scorpions, who frequently creeped into our house. I felt like I had lost everything I accomplished and any opportunity for adventure. Motherhood did not give me the sense of fulfillment and purpose that I expected, not enough of it anyway. As my mom warned me, “motherhood is a thankless job”. I began to battle with anxiety and anger, like I had never experienced before.
Not realizing at the time that these were symptoms of postpartum depression, I began searching for other ways to get that sense of accomplishment and purpose – and also get a break from the home and kids. I also felt like I was losing myself at home. I wasn’t the person I had been months before, the world traveler, the career woman. I wanted to find myself again, do something just for me, so I began volunteering with a couple wildlife conservation groups.
I loved being part of these organizations I was so passionate about (I still volunteer for two wildlife conservation groups here in Utah), but while they did give me a sense of purpose and much-needed break, my mood did not improve as much as I needed. I felt so much guilt that it was eating me up – guilt for not being home with the boys, guilt for not wanting to be home with the boys, guilt for not showing more gratitude for the opportunities I had, guilt for costing us $50-$60 in babysitting every time I volunteered. Money got tighter; my anxiety got worse. I felt trapped. I felt like I couldn’t go back to work, because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to do that would give me the enough income to cover daycare costs. And as much as I didn’t like many things about being a SAHM, I still valued that time with my boys and the flexibility to pursue other interests.
After struggling with these feelings for about a year, my cousin talked me into leading a painting lesson for a few of her girlfriends. She provided a brunch and had everything decorated so beautifully. We painted wisteria blossoms creeping over a fence. It was a lovely time, everyone was smiling, and I remember thinking, “this is something I can do! I have something to offer, something people want, and I could offer it right at my own house!”
Shortly after that event, we ended up moving to Herriman, Utah. I asked around about any interest in art classes and was blown away at the results. My first paint night (a parent/child paint night) sold out. I borrowed folding tables and chairs from my grandma and squeezed 22 people into my front room. I was surprised at how natural this roll felt, how comfortable and energizing it was being in front of this small crowd.
Since then, I’ve offered various art classes to kids, painting events, and private parties for birthdays, church events, and fundraising functions. I love creating an experience, complete with decorations, food, and music. I watch people get into that creative space, where they can just let go of their outside worries and express something inside of them, and I’m grateful to help facilitate and share in that. I watch parents and their children create things together, knowing they will leave with a memory they will share years from now. Recently, I started offering paint nights at a local bar, and while I can’t decorate or offer my own refreshments, the bar provides a perfect care-free atmosphere. I love the smiles.
Pursing my own business has led me down a path I wouldn’t even let myself consider a few years ago. I thought you had to have gone to school in business to run a business. I thought you had to have a background in website design to create a website. I truly believed I wasn’t smart enough to do either of those. I thought I wasn’t good enough for a lot of things. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I began to question beliefs I had about myself my entire life and push aside fears that had been holding me back. And I am constantly shocked by what I can do! It’s true that you are your thoughts.
It’s true that you are your thoughts. Be mindful about what you’re telling yourself, because you just might believe it.
Disclosure: Please understand that this is my story, and I am in no-way making judgements about anyone else experiences, decisions, and characteristics. We all differ in how we see the world, how we decide to live our lives, and how we parent – that’s what makes the world so beautiful.