When A Dream Job Is Hard


KathleenMichelle

The past couple of weeks have been hard. Little things have been adding up. Like sideways glances and snippy almost-fights with my sister – which always seem to result in epic nightmares that wake me up with a racing heart – grateful that it was just a dream. Or butting heads with my web developer (who is also a close friend) who happens to be just as stubborn and opinionated as I am. Or botching a print job and eating the costs for a reprint (I should note here that it wasn’t that bad – the client even told me not to reprint but for my own good karma it was important to me to get it right). And on top of all of that I feel like my attention is divided – when I’m with Jeremy I can’t seem to focus on his words or look him in the face because my face is in my phone and my thoughts are with my work.

The photo above is from yesterday morning – I was having breakfast with an inspiring new friend (who deserves a post of her very own) when my printer (also a close friend) tracked me down to sign off on a proof right there in the middle of the restaurant. This photo is my new favorite. It’s a reminder that sometimes there is no such thing as a work / life balance because it’s all the same when your clients & vendors are your friends. When breakfast turns into business. And when business is personal. It’s a reminder that I’m redefining what it means to put in a full day of work and redefining what it means to work hard.

So yes, the past couple of weeks have been hard but underneath it all I’m so very grateful. I’m going to focus on bringing that gratitude (and focus!) back to the forefront. Coincidentally, I haven’t been carving out time for my morning walks or meditation. It’s hard to say if that is directly related or not but I’m not going to take any chances. I’m hopping back on the groovy wagon as of today.

Photo by Greer Inez. Follow her on Instagram @greerinez. 

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Pretty Things Peepshow

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Just a reminder for OKC locals that Donny and The Pretty Things Peepshow will be performing at the Blue Note (23rd & Robinson, OKC) tomorrow. The show starts at 8PM. Because they’re not selling tickets in advance I would get there around 7PM or so (and have a beer with me!).

EDIT: I just heard from Donny that doors open at 8 and the show will be around 9. 

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Urban Cowgirl Summer 2012: Part 1

After seeing Urban Cowboy, in its entirety, for the first time ever earlier this year I was inspired to theme this summer that of the Urban Cowgirl. So this weekend, my friends at Langston’s Western Wear hooked me and Jeremy up with some legitimate cowboy boots and took us out for a night on the town.

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So we went to a nightclub that caters to cowboys – just like Gilley’s in Urban Cowboy! There’s a huge dance floor, sprinkled with salt, for some serious two-stepping and line dancing. I tried to join in one of the line dances but once I realized that if I snuck in on the edge to learn the moves, because of the nature of line dancing, I would soon be in the front of the pack not knowing my left from my right. So I chickened out.

There were also beers. For a quarter. And with that I had my first Coors ever. It most definitely helped me slip into my summer role of Debra Winger as Sissy.

And finally – there was bull riding. And no, not mechanical.

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I’m going to admit that as the cowboys were leading the bulls into their pins, and the clowns were warming up by running circles in the ring, I felt a little nervous. I had no idea what I was about to see. I wasn’t sure if someone (animal or man alike) was going to get hurt. But what I learned that evening is that when it comes to bull riding: the bulls win every time. At least on this evening they did. And the cowboys were pros at getting out of the way. I also learned that 8 seconds is a long time and the term “cowboy up” makes so much more sense to me now.

Jeremy’s boots are Justin. And if you’re wanting a pair for your own cowboy summer make sure to order a size smaller than you usually wear because these typically run large. My boots are Ariat.  Full disclosure: Langston’s Western Wear outfitted us with boots and bought us quarter beers and nachos. 

Straightjacket Secrets

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The cool thing about having a sideshow performer for a brother your whole life is that you are privy to the inside secrets of the trade. I mean – everything he does is real – there is no trickery to it. But take the straightjacket escape, for example. It’s easy to do – unless you’re insane.

And hammering a nail into the back of your head isn’t special either. Everyone has the anatomy to allow them to do it. Just not everyone does. But what makes Donny special is his ability to talk up his act and at the same time put an unsettled audience at ease.  Watching Donny grow as a true performer and owning every stage he sets his foot on makes me one proud sister.

Donny is on tour right now with The Pretty Things Peepshow. For a list of tour dates click here.

And if you’re in OKC you can see him and the rest of the Pretty Things troupe perform next Thursday, May 31st at The Blue Note.

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When to Quit.

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It’s been almost 2 years since I left my dream job as senior art director at my old advertising agency – but I can still taste the anxiety that decision left me with.

So when Ramona, an aspiring creative entrepreneur, emailed me for advice about leaving her current job for another job that is a bit more of a creative challenge it was a no-brainer that she should do it – but I know first hand how much emotion can cloud your perception when it comes to weighing the pros and cons to make such a bold decision.

I want to share with you all my email correspondence with Ramona where I help her break it down. Even though Ramona’s circumstances are specific (and those specifics should be considered even when following your heart) I think it could potentially help a few of you who are struggling with the decision of when to quit too.

From Ramona:
Subject: Taking the risk to following your dreams or staying safe???

Dear Kathleen,
I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and you truly inspire me when it comes to starting your own business, following your dreams and the such. I am writing your today for advice as I find myself in a situation where I have to make a pretty tough decision.


So here’s my story: I graduated from university in 2009 with a degree in International Business Management. I have been working as an assistant for the CEO ever since in a small company doing regional development and marketing.
 

At first I was challenged, had my own projects and was able to grow. But now I am bored most of the time. Yes I get a good paycheck at the end of the month, but I do not accomplish anything – I have to add that I am the kind of person who needs the challenge. I always want to grow and move forward. If I’m really in it, busy (in a good way) and challenged I become really creative and I work harder than anything. But I haven’t experienced this in a long time. I have of course applied for new jobs in communication, marketing, events but so far nothing has worked out so far.
My dream has always been to be a freelance one day doing creative consulting and events and weddings and maybe development help in 3rd world countries.

I know my time to be a freelance has not come yet. But… here’s the thing. I go to a church here and they opened up a public restaurant/café last October. It’s seriously a great restaurant and one that’s offering foods that do not exist in this region where I live yet. It’s very stylish and always displays local artists and it’s cozy and the food is truly great! Sadly, it’s not running the way it should be yet due to lack of leadership from the manager. Last week the owners sat down with me and offered me the position as restaurant manager. They told me that they believe that I can manage and lead people, that I would bring a heart and a vision and creativity in it that could turn this thing around and make it to the place it could be.

Wow… I was pretty overwhelmed and honored and scared I guess. I have no experience whatsoever with leading a restaurant. Like nothing. Plus, I would for now get less money than I do now and my time schedule and everything in my life would change.

If I’m honest with you I have always looked up to women who followed their dreams no matter what. Who got out of their comfort zone and just did it. They were passionate and made it happen. I’ve always wanted to be that kind of a woman. I do believe that if I take on this job it would be one step further to being a freelance one day as I would learn how to run a business. It would be great challenge and a great risk. Yes, running a restaurant sounds fancy and I often romanticize everything in my life and dream a fairy tale. I do know it would be hard work and busy schedules. I just really want to accomplish something in my life. Not for the money or for fame, but for myself.Isn’t now the time to be risky and go after my dreams and just get out there and do it? Follow my heart and dream?

I know I am totally writing you all this personal stuff and I don’t even know you but I wanted to ask you because you seem to be the person who did it and you know how much work it is. Do all my thoughts make sense to you? Do I sound a little weird just telling you all this?

Love,
Ramona

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KathleenThirdDegree
My former life as senior art director at a really rad ad agency – it was a tough decision to leave. Photo by David McNeese.

Here’s my repsonse to Ramona’s dilemma:

Hi Ramona!
First off, I’m really flattered that you thought of me as someone to come to for advice. It really means a lot! I don’t have all the answers but I have been in the position of making hard career decisions – so I would love to share my point of view on it all.
Reading through your email it seems as if your main hesitations to jump ship come from: A) Money, B) Lack of Experience, and C) Fear of Change. I would like to address each of these and break it down so hopefully it’s a little less scary. 
FEAR OF CHANGE // 
I’m going to start with Fear of Change because this is the one I know best. I remember very clearly when I was thinking about leaving my ad agency job to go freelance that I was most terrified of making the wrong decision and stepping into the unknown. I was fraught with anxiety that I was killing my career and for what? In hindsight, I am clear that there is no such thing as a right or wrong decision. If you insist on moving forward in life you won’t ever make a wrong decision – because it just doesn’t exist – but only if you use every experience as an opportunity to learn. Making a decision at all (and then actually executing on it) is the hard part. 
I think a nine-to-five job with a steady paycheck provides us with a certain amount of security but the truth is things can always change at a moment’s notice. Consider this: what if your boss was planning on closing up shop or letting you go tomorrow what would you do? You would probably consider it a blessing and take the job at the restaurant. The only difference is that someone else made the decision for you. Be brave enough to make your own decisions
LACK OF EXPERIENCE //
Along with being afraid of change – I was also terrified of the unknown. Here I was feeling like a spoiled brat because I was leaving my dream job for uncharted territory. I felt inexperienced and had no concrete picture of what freelancing would look like – and that was scary. This turned out to be a blessing because it meant I could decide for myself what that would look like. I think the same will go for you. You will be able to manage this restaurant the way you see it. Because you have no experience you may bring a certain amount of creativity and individuality to the job that no one else could. My advice is to be transparent and honest in this process. Authenticity will bring people who want to help you succeed to the forefront. 
And here’s another secret I’ve learned in life: Beyond a little bit of training and education, EVERYONE is making it up. Nobody is born a business owner or manager or killer designer. You’ll figure it out as you go – and that’s the beauty of it. 
MONEY // 
While I’m a huge advocate for creative entrepreneurs doing their thing I’m always hesitant to tell anyone to quit their nine-to-five (before they’re ready) because of the money issue. Nothing kills creativity like not being able to pay your bills. That’s just the truth of it. But in your situation at least you’ll still be making a steady paycheck – just a little less than you’re used to. However, it sounds like the trade-off could be worth it. I think as long as you can still pay your bills the money issue isn’t much of an issue, for now. 
Obviously, you can ask your employers for a raise as you bring some life (and organization) back into the restaurant. But more importantly, if your end goal is to work for yourself, I would consider how your new role as a restaurant manager is adding to your expertise as a creative consultant and event planner. I would also think about how you could begin to build your business on the side. Put together a portfolio of weddings & events you did for friends and start charging for your services (even if it’s just a little bit at first). You’ll feel that much more confident when you finally make that leap as well. 
IN CLOSING // 
It sounds like, for you, the decision has already been made. Quit your job and follow your heart. I say romanticize the restaurant and hang on to that fantasy – that’s what will make you a successful (and happy) manager even when things are tough. And know that this decision isn’t permanent – when it’s time to move on again you’ll move on.

XO,
Kathleen

What do you guys think? What advice would you give to someone in Ramona’s position?