Creating a Life Worth Living, Part 3

Copyright 2006 Melissa Galt

Getting Launched and Letting Go

In the meantime, I was launching my own design practice six months earlier than planned. I had to put some pieces inherited from Mother up for auction to gain some working capital and pay down debt. I like to think of it as she was there to help, but it was tough because they were pieces I had grown up with.

I had never worked with an independent designer, so I was truly winging it. I made a lot of blunders, yet knowing I was pursuing my passion made it all possible. It was scary without a client for three months, so I stayed in catering for a year and a half. My classes were popular and soon I was seeing business growing. Referrals didn’t really kick in until the eighteenth month mark, not unusual, but it seemed forever. In the meantime, I focused on abundance, on prosperity, and fought back any doubts.

The Lesson: It is our doubts that betray us, and since what we think about expands, it is critical to focus exclusively (though not blindly) on positive results and achievements and let go the what ifs.

Time to Think

In 1999 I took five weeks off for a trip to Australia and New Zealand. It was during this trip that I reached some true milestones. I had unknowingly battled long-term depression since my early twenties, unknowingly since it was undiagnosed, and I just assumed that the emotional rollercoaster I was on was part of who I was. It was tough, the high highs, the rock-bottom, black lows and never predictable.

No, I didn’t qualify as bipolar; that would have been too easy. And besides, it was the age when depression was “cool.” Pop a pill everyone said. I wasn’t into medication aside from the occasional aspirin and vitamin C to ward off a hangover (I unsquared after college).

I thought that maybe this disorder ran in the family, knowing that my mother had been a big proponent of counseling and remembering the saying about great-grandfather, that genius is always next to madness. But the Australia trip was solo, and for the first time in my life I felt at home when I stepped off the plane in Sydney. I can only guess it was some unique imprinting from when I was a one-year-old and taken there to live for a year on my parents’ ranch, an indelible impression.

The Lesson: When you find your roots and a real sense of home, you experience a sense of security that is previously unknown. Perhaps you are lucky enough never to have lost it, but if you have, it is still to be found.

Fearless Results

Anyway, it seemed a big adventure and I wanted to do it all. From climbing the Sydney harbor bridge to bungee jumping and tandem hang-gliding in Queenstown, New Zealand. I suddenly realized I had no fear. I wasn’t careless or carefree, but I had been to such dark places emotionally and mentally, that I realized that each and every day is a choice for each of us.

Few like to admit that, and most immediately assume I am talking life or death. Well, I could be, but consider that so many people go through this life only partially alive; I had, and I finally realized it and made the decision to live fully going forward. And since that was the case, I was going to seize it, live it, and experience it to its fullest. Having always been very unathletic and convinced that I couldn’t do anything of that nature, this was a huge step.

Now, whenever I feel even slightly stuck, or my life seems to have stalled, I will do something new whether it is parasailing, sky diving, or attending an event where I know no one (that can be truly frightening, if you let it).

The Lesson: Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

Success

I returned with new vision, new ideas, and new energy. And by 2000, after six years in my own practice, I had a full assistant on board and two other part-timers. The company was slated to break $1 million in sales and I was opening a retail venture the following year.

But, yikes, I had forgotten one of my previous lessons learned. I hated retail! I hated staying in one place all day long, relying on others to come to me for business rather than going to them. I loved setting up the storefront, the renovation, the design, buying goods for sale, inventorying and all. It was much like the best parts of my first career. But the old day-to-day operations were the same — mundane, tedious, and not for me. Of course, opening the month of September 2001 definitely put a damper on things as well. I stuck it out for two years, but found it just wasn’t working.

I was the first kid on the block of a restored strip center in what should have been a great location but without like-minded vendors nearby and traffic really stopping, sales were weak at best. I pioneered and that can get very expensive! The good part is that I have acquired two very valuable and wonderful clients from that experience.

The Lesson: Each new experience allows us a new learning opportunity. There is no such thing as failure, just unrealized success or lessons not yet learned and therefore repeated. I learned a lot!

Regrouping

I opted to store my unsold inventory, placing it as projects arose, and return to focus solely on design services and teaching. I had even created a private certification program for decorators at my shop and moved that back to my office location.

It was a move that ultimately saved my business. I had to cut staff to bare bones and return to a revolving door of free interns every ninety days. Frustrating, but affordable. And while it has taken the last four years, we are back solidly and I am now reinventing myself again.

Once I made the decision in Australia that fear is a choice, I simply don’t choose it. Rejecting fear opened up unlimited potential and achievement for me. Most of us lose our dreams because we lose the possibility of them. I will never lose that again, because I have learned that I can redirect, refocus, and reinvent as much and as often as I need to.

I know that I have all the skills and talent needed to make my dreams a reality; I just have to persist and persevere. I want to give back, and give forward, and give today, and know that the giving I have already done is coming back to me in great abundance.

The Lesson: It is by giving of ourselves that we truly realize our worth and create a legacy for ourselves and for others.

Giving Back

I am now on a mission to share my experiences and my vision with others: to help them realize their dreams, and achieve their goals, and overcome the obstacles along the way. Too many we know stay stuck, complaining and waiting for some outside force to change what has to happen from within. It is truly disheartening to imagine how many achieve so little and wish for so much. Without purpose and passion, life is merely an existence and time filler.

The Lesson: We have this journey but once; make it count and make it yours.

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