By Guest Blogger Shannon Henrici
Having grown up in a very negative and heavily critical environment, I had a hard time trying to find myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think my parents meant to do harm. They were criticized by their own families and had not stopped the cycle. They used to say, “If we don’t tell you what you are doing wrong, who will? We tell you out of love.” I hear the sentiment, but I am here to say “BULLSHIT!!!” Life is full of critics, home is the safe place.
My journey to find myself and a life of happiness has not been easy, but definitely worth it. My first step was to stop being the victim and get control of my life. I let life and everyone around me direct me. I was too afraid to get off the fence and commit to a goal.
In college I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with my life, so I let my parents decide. Therefore, if I failed I had someone else to blame. My father wanted me to be a CPA, “they make lots of money and that was the most important thing.” Slight problem, I transpose numbers and literally SUCK at finances. I tried to make it for four years, before I just knew it wasn’t going to work. I changed to Marketing, because I love helping people and analyzing their needs. My parents’ response to this was that women can’t succeed in sales, because they can’t travel when they have families. Again I call “BULLSHIT!” My mother was a very good teacher and I admired her for this. I might have even considered being a teacher, but again the message was that teacher’s don’t make enough money. Letting my parents control my direction and blaming them for my mistakes, were the ties that bound me to my fence.
Right out of college I got a great job working with NationsBank, now owned by Bank of America. I was so proud of myself for landing a job that my parents could brag to their friends about. Again, I was living my life as they thought I should. I wasn’t happy. Corporate life didn’t suit me, and the banking industry didn’t interest me.
After a year of misery, I found some reason to leave. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I had to pay my bills. Instead of sitting on my fence and staying miserable, I made a huge change. I moved to Virginia. This was the first time I had left the state of North Carolina. I left on a whim, but it was the best thing for me. I was able to start the search for myself, without the influence of my parents.
Taking into account my strengths and interests, I started a career in system analysis and programming. I went back to school for a computer science degree. The parts of my job I loved, analyzing and creating systems to help others, was not enough. During this time I had married a network engineer, and seen what it took to be successful in this career path. I didn’t have it. He spent many hours studying and playing with new technology. This didn’t interest me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, why did I have such a hard time with this environment? I even began to think, with the help of my parents of course, that I couldn’t commit to a job. I headed back down that path of self destruction, with no end in sight. I was not fun to be around, and I punished those around me for my uhappiness.
Have you ever noticed that whenever you start drowning in your own self pity, life gives you a kick in the butt? My husband decided he wanted a divorce. We were mutually destroying each other and therapy wasn’t helping. Scared? You bet! I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to go, how I was going to support myself, and if I would ever be happy.
My mind started screaming, “GET YOUR ASS OFF THE FENCE!! GET CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE!” After taking an inventory of my life, I found my goal in life. It was very simple, “BE HAPPY!” At first I was a little confused and the goal seemed so ambiguous. What is this thing called “happiness?” How do you obtain this? At the time, it was like trying to catch snowflakes. Each time you think you have caught one, it melts to nothing in your hand. My frame of reference for happiness was what my family’s definition, MONEY and lots of it. Expensive vacations, fancy houses, perfect appearances, and material possessions. My pursuit for money wasn’t making me happy and I didn’t see that my family was overly happy either.
Instead of relying on others to direct my life, I ventured many things to find my perfect fit. I invested in ME. I thank God everyday for what seemed like the worst event in my life, my husband leaving me. My gift was the power to believe in myself. Some of my unrecognized talents started to develop. I have an innate ability to communicate with the lost souls of animals. Empathy, compassion, and analytical skills allowed me to help those in need. I have always loved animals, but never considered myself an expert. My decision to take my passion and turn it into a career, proved to be my defining moment.
I started my own in home pet sitting service. In less than a year, I was serving over 200 customers. Many of my customers turned to me for advice with their furry babies. I loved giving them the peace of mind that their beloved ones were taken care of, while they were away. Doesn’t seem like a big thing, until you are the one leaving them behind. The service I provided fulfilled my needs and helped my customers. With my work, I managed to support myself, buy a small house, and marry a wonderful man. Finding a career in something you are passionate about, makes you successful. One of my all time favorite books is “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow”.
My pursuit for money as a gauge for success, changed to being proud of myself and what I had created. Money is a necessity to keep a roof over your head and food on your table. Any leftover is gravy. One of my favorite quotes is, “Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness. “ By William E. Gladstone.
I had my first child 19 months ago. The thought of raising a child scared me to death. I have learned to rely on my talents and lots of love to get me through. Is my child perfect? In my eyes, YES! In my daughter’s first month of life, she was diagnosed with a genetic disorder. It causes seizures and developmental delays. In my past life, this would have destroyed me. I didn’t have the strength to step outside of my own misery to handle anything. But now, I enjoy every day with my little girl. I don’t focus on her condition, I handle it.
With the birth of my little girl and my husband’s job relocation, I had to close my pet sitting business. I was sad, but I knew it was only fleeting. I got the chance to take my new found talents and take a new path. During this time when no one is hiring and most people are desperately trying to hold onto their jobs, I found a wonderful job working for My Baby Clothes Boutique. My passion to connect with people and share with them, gives me the skills needed for this job. I get to guest blog, read blogs, research parenting trends, and share with the parenting community. Not to mention my little girl wears the best baby clothes on the market. 🙂 I don’t consider myself a writer, but I do enjoy telling a good story. I love to make people laugh. If I get one person to laugh, my job is done.
I can remember having a conversation with my mom about someone who was upsetting her. She said it wasn’t one thing in particular that bothered her, it was all the little things. This statement made me stop and think. Yes, it is the little things! The little things that bring so much joy, the little things that make me stop and appreciate all that I have. The little things are what are so BIG in contributing to my happiness. The huge grins and belly laughs from my little girl, tiny little toes and fingers, tiny fingers pointing out their newest discovery, and those little words “Mama”. One of my favorite parts of my day, is to pick her up from daycare. She sees me and her face immediately lights up with so much joy. I get down to her level and she runs into my arms for a gigantic HUG!!!! It doesn’t get much better than this.
Take it from me, a person who thought life only had one path, it doesn’t. Life is a journey in discovery of yourself! Enjoy it, nurture it, feed it, live it!!!! Consider this the little voice in your head saying “GET YOUR ASS OFF THE FENCE”and go for it!
By Shannon Henrici of My Baby Clothes Boutique.
Tell us ladies, what did you think? Is life really a journey, not a destination?