My name is Mandy, and I am a writer and artist, just like my ten-year-old self dreamed of. I actually get paid to write and make things. It’s pretty incredible, but it wasn’t always this way. I spent many of my early adult years working at jobs I hated because I thought it was what I was “supposed” to do. I was a creative kid, and I’ve always loved writing and painting yet, despite being raised in an encouraging environment, I lost my way. After getting married and having my son, I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile my dreams with my reality so I pushed my own goals aside. After a few soul sucking years of saying “maybe one day” and getting through the toddler years, I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t have these dreams anymore. I went back to the drawing board to figure out how to make my own goals and dreams a priority again.
The first thing I did was surround myself with like-minded people, friends who were also trying to launch creative careers. We carved out time to encourage one another and to talk about the challenges we were facing. I also connected with a couple of women who were a step or two ahead of me and they became creative mentors to me. Then, I started to set some realistic goals. This is critical. I knew I wasn’t going to release a novel anytime soon, especially since I still was working full time and raising a family, but I knew that there were smaller ways I could fulfill my desire to write and create. Next, I looked at all the ways I was spending my time. I realized there were several things in my schedule that were just a waste of time, several things I could eliminate, and others that I could ask for help with or delay. I committed to turn off my phone and TV multiple evenings a week after my son went to sleep so I could write and paint, even if it was just for an hour. Finally, I kept working my plan.
Starting any new thing is a challenge. There are a million reasons to quit, there are setbacks, there are failures, there are roadblocks. But, if you want something bad enough, you keep at it despite those things. The past two years I’ve just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and I’ve seen a slow and steady growth in my business. I am more fulfilled in my work than I have ever been and as a result, I am a better person, mom, and wife than I have ever been. Perhaps more important than any of that, I am showing my son that dreams are important and that with hard work, sacrifices, perseverance, and a little bit of luck they really can come true.