When I came up for air at the end of my graduate degree in psychology I looked around at the paths open to me and didn’t like what I saw. I seemed to have two choices: become a stay-at-home-mama (superheroes) or follow a career path that required me to give up my space, time and freedom (slavery). I didn’t like the look of either.
I felt sad and discouraged that there were so few options and out of the ones available, none lived up to what I considered, the nature of an aligned and in-tune life. Instead, they required a kind of hardening of the spirit, hustle to move forward and competition with others grappling over measly crumbs of a possibly fulfilling career. I chose an alternative (less esteemed) path…
I wanted to have fun and explore the world and garner a broad range of life experience that I could draw from. Somehow I had the wisdom to reach for experiences over titles or tangible things. I left every comfort behind me and made adventure my guide as I starting working in the music industry.
I was cool in those days.
Working as an artist coordinator at underground psychedelic music festivals I crossed the globe many times over. I had mystical experiences. I watched people lose their minds and lives to drug habits. I slept on floors in random squats. I rediscovered myself and the meaning of life over and over again. I made friends and lost friends and took lovers.
The one thing that stayed with me was the relentless curiosity on what made people do the things they did, say the things they said, and experience their lives in their own unique ways. There are as many ways to experience the world as there are people. Not a single one of them is the same.
I started writing about them. Every month I wrote long, psychologically-analyzed, descriptively detailed group emails about my travels and what I was seeing to my list of friends. Every month that list kept growing. People were intrigued by the strange bound-less unconventional life I was living. I didn’t have much money nor a permanent home. I lived off hope and dreams and the next adventure.
At some point, someone told me I should write a blog. I adamantly said “no”. It was 2008 and I wildly opposed to the Internet. I didn’t have Facebook. I chatted on MSN messenger once in a blue moon. And I wrote a monthly group email to my fast-growing group of world-wide friends.
That year I moved to London (for the 2nd time in my life). I slept on my friend’s living room floor while I looked for work. I worked making cold calls as a telemarketer out west for 3 days while it trampled my soul. I worked as a receptionist at a real estate agency in Clapham for 2.5 weeks which squeezed the life out of me. On my 3rd Wednesday, I went on my lunch break and never came back.
Finally, I was hired as an events coordinator for a reputable dance company in Holborn. My boss was a micro-managing dragon-lady with horrible acne, but my co-workers were 5 angels from different parts of the world and together we represented the international department running dance events around the world.
I moved into a bright, sunny apartment in Hackney that I shared with a Spanish gay hairdresser who worked for tv and a fashion designer from Georgia (the country). This was the year that I threw myself into manifesting. After years of drifting with adventure my only cause I was ready to start wanting and asking for more, even though it didn’t all make sense to me at the time.
That sunny room in Hackney in 2008 was the foundation of my now popular course Manifest More.
London was and always has been like a mother to me: nurturing me, holding me and giving me space to soothe my soul and grow. After a year of working in an office and living in a busy city, I started to get restless. I was ready to move on and start creating something new in my life. I didn’t know exactly what it was that I wanted. I only knew what I did not want: to work in an office, headed by a dragon-lady, without adding anything meaningful and worthwhile to the world, for the rest of my life.
So I followed my heart and booked a flight to India. I didn’t know it at the time but I went to India to search for my purpose. I didn’t find it in the 4 months I spent there. What I did find was an unbreakable inner strength. And the deep desire to help people and be creative. I kept looking tangible answers. For that “thing” I was destined for to fall into my lap.
3 months in Europe. A month in the Middle East. 2 months in Thailand. A month in Japan.
A year later I arrived back in London. I felt more lost and confused than ever.
I tried to put some pieces together: I love fashion, and sustainability and being creative. I had connections in the fashion industry in India. I decided to build a small eco-friendly fashion brand. I called it Etica & Ella. With no understanding of marketing and sales and the confidence of a field mouse when it came to business I poured tens of thousands of dollars into an idea that dismally failed. The idea was good. But I didn’t have this systems, support or shrewdness to sustain it.
My boyfriend at the time suggested we move to Sydney for his career. Dejected with the word “failure” stamped across my heart I agreed.
At that time I decided 2 things: 1. that I knew with absolute certainty that I had to work for myself, and 2. that this was the last time I was ever going to work for someone else. I sat down and wrote a job manifestation list to end all lists of exactly what I wanted: A job that would teach me everything I needed to know about running a small business, that I could walk to from home, paid well and was close to my yoga studio.
Two months later, I became the business manager for an acclaimed author and motivational speaker. It gave me everything I wanted. While in that job, I started a blog, and wrote frantically every day, posting 3-5 times per day. I was finding my voice, figuring out my “thing” by actively showing up day after day and pursuing whatever lit me up.
2.2 years later in mid 2012 I decided I was ready to take flight and try again. I spent a year travelling while I built up my name, copywriting and managing social media accounts for other #bossgirls as I went. 3 months in Amsterdam. 3 months hitchhiking from Mexico to Panama. 3 months in San Francisco. 3 months in LA. In August 2013 I signed my first clients. I officially had a business.
That first year was haaaaard. Harder than I could have ever imagined as I navigated my own insecurities and the mysteries of running a business that was both authentic and financially viable. I moved to London for the 3rd time and discovered the heart-healing love of unconditional support that I received from the women in my life.
In agonizing anxiety on how I was going to make enough money to live each month and remain integrity and authenticity I kept showing up day after day after day with nothing but stubborn persistence to make my dreams of creating a job that allowed me to truly be an extension of ME as well as give back to the world. I left London for India and then Australia as I entered my second year of business.
Things started to feel lighter and get easier. I found my flow. Systems and business practices started making sense to me. I began feeling proud of my achievements and the tremendous journey I had embarked on. It was so much more than starting a #heartfulbiz. It was a life education that shone a light on every shadow in which I attempted to hide. I had unwittingly dedicated my life to growth and expansion.
Now in my 4th year in business, I continue to learn, to grow, to be stretched and expand. The process is much sweeter and easier now as I’ve put practices in place that hold me in a safe sacred space as I move through them. I see it as my duty to teach what I learn and share the journey and lessons to make it a little bit easier for all of us. That’s why I created The Heartful Biz with my friend Claire.
Right now we have a free 90 minute Q&A video for you answering 10 of the most potent questions we get asked time and time again about creating and running a heartful biz. Register to access the Q&A here.
Photos: Alana Rae Photography