As you may well know, I majored in, and before I moved to Minnesota, worked in Interior Design. When Hubs and I decided to move here after a job offer for him, we decided I would stay home to raise our then 6 month old. The switch to stay at home mom in a new place wasn’t easy for me, but eventually I fell into a routine. I found other moms like me and had a supportive community. I was comfortable being a SAHM and as time went on, even found myself saying “I don’t know if I’ll go back into design.”
You also know that during that time, I discovered cake decorating, at first as a much needed creative outlet APART from motherhood, which eventually turned into a wonderful side business.
Then our baby went to kindergarten and everything I thought I knew about the direction my life was going in life soon went out the window. I applied and interviewed for two design jobs, but did not get them. My cupcake business was overwhelming our family life. And then, you may recall, tragedy struck when my niece Brittany died in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver. My whole life focus shifted. I took a break from baking for a bit and took a part time job with my kids’ school district.
For the last four years I’ve worked to keep a balance between work and family life. I work full time now as a special ed paraprofessional still at my kids’ school. I’m home when they’re home which is a gift (most of the time). I’m baking pretty steadily now, but sometimes I say “no” and choose traveling with the family or sports games ahead of expanding business. And I’ve found another hobby with brush lettering. I don’t know where that will go, but I’m really enjoying experimenting with it in my spare time.
In the last six months I’ve been feeling another shift. As our kids continue to grow and our family life changes, I have a desire for something MORE professionally.
I thought in depth about opening a coffee shop and bakery. I came up with a name, drew a logo, and had my eye on commercial real estate. But…then I realized how much of my life would be devoted to having a storefront; early mornings, holidays and weekends, precious few trips to the lake or back home to North Carolina. So I backed away from that dream.
I looked into going back to school for education. I researched schools and online programs and ordered my transcripts from the universities I went to before going to design school. I think I’d be a good teacher, either classroom or special education. I love my job now and I’ve learned so much from all the wonderful teachers whose classrooms I’ve had the privilege to work in. But…falling in love with brush lettering reminded me that if I don’t do something more creative with my life, I will not fully live.
And then there’s design. My first love. I often go online and look for local design jobs. I designed our house from the floor plan up. I still design for myself in my own home and sometimes for my friends homes.
Late this summer our church gave the go ahead for freshening up the main gathering areas outside of the sanctuary. I helped select paint colors, new furniture, and wall hangings. The transformation was much needed and kind of amazing to see. After our fall kick off Sunday, one church member came up to me and said, “Libby, you did such a wonderful job! Is this what you do?” When I told her that I don’t work in design now but I used to and maybe someday I will again, she said “Well you need to get back with the program, girl!” Ha! I love church ladies.
That was really wonderful to hear. And seeing our church skip a few decades and come into 21st century style with a little paint and decor gave me a high I remember from my early 20s when designing was my job. But it also made me kind of frustrated.
Right around this same time, Hubs brought home a design magazine, handed it to me and said “I only looked at this for three seconds and thought, ‘Libby could do that.'” That was one of the sweetest things he’s said to me lately. When I read the cover article I realized it was about one of the two companies I interviewed with 5 years ago and didn’t get the job. Of the two openings it was the one I wanted most, and the one I was most disappointed about at the time. (Side note, the other company has since gone under in pretty dramatic form with unfinished work and unpaid contractors. I’m really glad I didn’t get that job!) When faced with what I WASN’T doing with my life, my oh-how-sweet-my husband-is mood quickly turned into a well-that-really-sucks and why-isn’t-this-happening-for-me-yet mood. Poor husband.
I read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis this summer. There’s a part in her book where she tells the story of adopting her daughter. That book is a must read so I won’t tell you all the details except that it was a process of repeated, painful, disappointment. What she wrote that hit home for me was, during that time in her life she prayed and asked God why He would give her heart the desire to adopt if it wasn’t going to work out. (Spoiler alert, it eventually does work out.) But when I read that, I cried. I mean, I CRIED. I have seen so many dreams come true in my life that at one point I wasn’t sure how they would ever happen. The designer dream is a desire of my heart that is yet unfulfilled. It is one I know has been inside of me since I was a child. I have an old notebook with floor plans I drew of cat houses. I was a cat designer before I was a human designer! But not knowing how it will play out now in my life is SO HARD for me, you guys. I just have to continue to have faith that there is a plan, there is a time, and there is a place for me in design. God doesn’t give us these desires for nothing.
If you’ve read all of this and you were waiting for me to drop a bomb and tell you I’ve accepted a position to be a designer for a local residential builder (my dream job!) I’m really sorry to disappoint you. I’m still in the midst of this journey, not on the other side. But who knows. Maybe the next step in being on the other side is writing this blog.