When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a teacher. As I got older my dreams changed and with the introduction of Junior Achievement into my life I wanted to own my own business. I wanted to be a business woman like my mom. I wanted to wear a suit and heels and drive a sporty little car. I wanted to show up every day to a beautifully decorated office with all the cool gadgets and do work that I felt was important… work that I was good at. I wanted to carry a brief case and hold important conversations with powerful people.
I fell in love at 16. I was pregnant at 17 and a Mom at 18 and again by the time I was 20. I started and quit college. I worked as a waitress, worked in retail, worked at our apartment complex. I put away my dreams and found something a little more attainable and I went to school for and became a nail technician. Then we moved to Las Vegas and the license didn’t carry over so I had to start yet again.
Started and quit college twice in Vegas. Found a good job in property management. It wasn’t my own business, but I did get to wear the nice clothes and heels. I got to go to work every day in a nice office with all the fun gadgets and I was making good money. It was very social, I met so many different types of people and it was important work. I managed people’s homes. I created budgets, implemented marketing strategies, trained employees, had power lunches and I was good at it.
One divorce later I was starting on the bottom yet again and working my way back up. In the midst of that I met Don, fell in love and got married. In 2001 Don received an inheritance from his father’s passing. He gave me a pretty good slice of it to start an online business. I had only had a computer at home for about 3 years at this point and the only things I had used it for were playing games, email, AOL and printing out things. I was barely aware of the internet or even the potential this internet thing was capable of, but I had been talking to a guy who was hugely successful online and I (being the oversized dreamer I was) was absolutely sure that I would be too.
The online business was supposed to basically run itself and I would rake in the profits. It didn’t really go down like that – I’m pretty sure the business never made even one sale – but the one very positive thing that came out of that fiasco was that I started learning about graphic design and web site design. I learned that I had a knack for it… that I loved doing it. I went to the library and I checked out about 10 books on HTML and how to write code. I fell head over heels in love with it. Turns out I’m kind of a nerd. Code talk makes me so happy.
My career in property management was chugging along nicely, Don and I had a baby on the way and the web site thing was fun. I was teaching myself when I had time, playing with designs for friends but still not really seeing the potential of it. But I loved doing it.
I lost a good job in property management and Don got a transfer to Arizona in 2003. There were no property management jobs in Havasu so I tried the stay at home mom thing, went to work at Wal-Mart, at an RV park, at the church, at my friends’ businesses, at Chili’s, at the newspaper. Through all of that I continued to play with graphic design and coding. I learned new tricks, watched new tutorials, tried everything. In January of 2006 I decided to start my own business.
MDC 5 Design Services was launched. I even had a business license and business banking account for a while. I was working out of the house and I wasn’t making much money. I did more bartering and sowing into other’s businesses than I did actual paid business but I was living a dream. I was taking potential clients out to lunch, I was having important conversations, I was doing something I loved. I actually had quite a few active clients. It was a very exciting time.
I could afford to do what I was doing because Don’s job was paying all our bills. Then the economy crapped out and suddenly life came crashing in on top of our heads and the business was put on the back burner while we tried to hold together our quickly disintegrating finances. By 2009 it was clear that we weren’t going to be able to stay in Havasu and a cross country move brought us to Texas.
Filled with a trepidatious hope, I spent the first couple of months we were there dreaming of ways to revive MDC5. In my mind, I saw myself kissing Don goodbye as he left for work and putting Christopher on the bus to school, settling Colton in to play and then, cup of coffee in hand, getting to work. I designed a new portfolio site, I designed business cards, flyers, brochures. Really started to get excited again and then I got offered a job at a local apartment community. It was a good job. It was good pay, perfect hours, beautiful property and in town. I had a choice to make. Take the sure thing paycheck or take a flying leap and hope like hell MDC5 would take off and produce a payday.
I chose the sure thing and put the design work back on the back burner. I loved my job. Well, for the most part. I didn’t love my dragon-lady crazy boss but I didn’t have to deal with her very often, so it was ok. Don found a job he hated that paid him very well and in the spring of 2011 we started talking about me trying to make a go of the design business again. We planned it out, figured out how long I needed to stay at my job to pay a few things off and lower our monthly bills and save a little. So we started building towards me quitting in the summer of 2011. I was very excited.
We did what we needed to do and, as planned, I gave notice. Dragon lady took it exactly as I expected her too. She said pretty much nothing about it and lied to her boss about why I was leaving. When her boss asked me why, I told her. She offered me a promotion and a fairly big jump in pay. Yet again, decision time. Take the sure thing promotion or leap of faith as planned.
I took the promotion. It was August. By the end of October I was unemployed. The dragonlady had found a way to get rid of me. Worse than that, Don had lost his job in September. Life was chaos…. utterly.
Don found work with a friend that he could do from home. I couldn’t find work. So the design work became my only real option. It was do or die time. Problem was that we weren’t sure we were going to continue living in Texas so there were some challenges to getting the business off the ground. Not to mention, the huge blow my physche took when I lost that job.
I was in a very strange place mentally. I had no zest, no gumption, no get up and go. I wasn’t dreaming, I wasn’t hoping, I had no faith. I was living day to day like a zombie. I couldn’t find my eternal optimism. I couldn’t find my joy. I felt very defeated.
In January of 2012, I started a new online business that showed some potential. It still wasn’t paying the bills.. but, it might. A glimmer of hope found it’s way in.
Then in June of 2012, we made a huge leap of faith and moved – yet again – to Georgia for Don’s job. He no longer had to work out of the house. He was going off to the office every day. I was going to take the summer to get us settled in and start looking for work in the fall. All the while continuing to work on the new online store.
I’ve hit a few bumps in the road but over the last 7 months, I’ve been able to learn more and make huge steps in the development of my design skills. Don’s work is paying our bills again and life is settling into a nice, easy routine. Life is good and I find myself daring to dream again.
At one time, when I dreamed of what I wanted my professional life to look like, I saw me at home, in my home office, working on a nice computer, listening to music, setting my own schedule and doing work I love. I realized this morning that I am living that dream…. right now.
That is my reality. The problem with the dream is that it is a bit lonely here during the day and I am a bit of a social butterfly. I need more people interaction in my life and I find that my dream is evolving, yet again.
I am excited to be doing design work again. I am thrilled at the way the new designs look since I’ve been able to really focus on learning some new skills. I love, completely, spending my days doing creative work and I really love being able to set my own schedule and be home when my kids get out of school. To me the next logical step is to dream of an office. To dream of a place where I can invite potential clients to consult with me on their dream projects. Maybe a place that has an office for Don to do his work and office for me to do mine. There might be a break room type of room where we could meet to eat lunch together. There could be a space in the front where I could sell the creative things I make (which only sell online right now). A place in the corner for our kids to do homework or watch tv as the afternoon passes. A place with a nice desk, a comfortable chair, bookshelves and pretty paint. A place that was professional and friendly and comfortable. A place that would make me look forward to going to work every day. A place that would foster success. A space away from the house that sets the tone of creativity and productivity every day. My business. My office. My dream.
I am nervous about dreaming of bigger accomplishments again, but it does feel good to know that I am still able to dream. Sometimes in the hard times it is easy to think that you may never dream again. It’s nice to know that passes and the dreams come again. Now to make them a reality. It’s time overcome my ever present self destructive tendencies and find a way to do some good.