This month I’m sharing postcards from the field. Hearing these stories is one of my favorite parts of my business. This one may sound familiar.


I have been in a terrible slump for seven months since I was unceremoniously shown the door at my corporate workplace. At the same time, I knew this was my chance to escape a career that sucked the life out of me anyway.

However, with no positive feedback for my entrepreneurial ideas, I kept going back to the same old well which had long since dried up. After all, my long resume showed years of accomplishment in my field.

After months of interviewing for jobs I didn’t want and countless hours scouring the Internet, I was still unemployed and more confused than every. So I’ve been on a quest to discover a new way of living, a better way, that makes me feel alive again.

But I had no guidance, only naysayers.

Ever hopeful that enough research would unearth the path to my new life, last Friday night I threw on some jeans and a sweatshirt and headed to the bookstore. I went straight for the business section and gathered as many books as I could carry over to the threadbare couch, thinking how well that tired, beat-up thing matched my outfit and spirit.

Carefully, I searched through each book for some glimmer of inspiration but they all seemed written for someone else until I picked up Making a Living Without a Job. It struck a chord immediately and I couldn’t wait to get it home and devour it.

I wrote down the ideas that seemed to be pouring out of my head faster than I could capture them.

Here’s the thing: I had these ideas before, but whenever I  looked back at them, they seemed foolish and impossible. I was listening to all the naysayers in my life, a tape I play over and over whenever I try to do something that is not mainstream.

I simply need to throw that tape away, but I guess I hung onto it as the voice of reason that kept me from investigating my wild ideas and crazy dreams. It really is not my own fear, however, that has held me back. It is the fear of others.

I can’t throw away the people who care about me, but I will not share my dreams anymore. The advice I receive paralyzes me from seeking what I really want and pushes me to search for a job that meets with their approval.

Their ideas and mine are so completely at opposite ends of the spectrum, I have been doomed to a merry-go-round of indecision.

Barbara, your voice is now the one in my head. I look at you and what you have created and I am profoundly inspired. I am encouraged to take the leap and do what I was put on this earth to do.

I am an artist and I was withering in the corporate world. I was drowning in a sea of confusion and you have told me that my ideas aren’t crazy, that it can be done. For that I am deeply grateful.

I will let you know how my new life unfolds now that the straight jacket has been removed from my creative spirit.

Kate Taylor, Minneapolis, MN

5 Responses to “From Fuzzy to Focused”

  1. Peter Vogt

    Hi Barbara,

    What an inspiring story of, well, liberation (and not just from a job). It’s fun to see people make their Declaration of Independence! Thank you for sharing it here!

    Since I can’t contact Kate directly, I’d like to tell her something here in hopes she’ll somehow see it (and perhaps others will benefit also — myself included!):

    Kate: You’re not alone. You’re not even close to being alone. I and many others I know could have written Barbara virtually the same letter you did. She’s inspired me, too. I got to know her when she lived here in Minneapolis, and I’m proud to call her my friend and cheerleader for my Joyfully Jobless life.

    But what I really want to say to you, Kate, is that the rest of the world frequently doesn’t know what the hell it’s talking about. One of Barbara’s (and now my) favorite quotes is from the poet Rumi:

    “When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home.”

    It sounds like you’ve reached the point — like all of us Joyfully Jobless types do … eventually — of seeing that you’re your own best advisor. And that the people around you are … well, not so much.

    You undoubtedly have much to offer the world. My guess is that even you don’t know the half of it — yet — but that you’ll discover it as you go forward and be, well, you.

    And just so you know: There ARE those of us out here in the land of the Joyfully Jobless who will support your aspirations, not shoot them down — who will help you see your gifts, not turn a blind eye to them. Especially since we know from experience that the self-motivation — the passion — generated from pursuing your own path produces more results than any other way can possibly match. (And by “results” I’m talking more than finances — although finances are right in there too.)

    You’re on your way, Kate. Go. Go, go, go.

    Peter Vogt

  2. Barbara Winter

    Oh, Peter, thanks so much for this. Nicely said. AND it reminds me how much I miss our coffee chats when we talked about such things.

  3. Gladys Strickland

    To Kate I’d like to say – HANG IN THERE!! It can be challenging in the beginning to face nothing but negativity because you are challenging other people’s status quo. Yes, you need to find other – supportive – people to hang out with, but that can take time.

    I am in the process of changing my life – moving to a new city and taking my business full time. This has been 4 years in the works. I am finding that as I get very clear on what I want and speak it with calm assurance, they seem to believe that I am doing it and don’t question me much. Or maybe I am so busy making my dreams come true, I just shrug off the negativity and keep going.

    Good luck!!!

  4. J. Taylor

    From one kindred soul to another. I so understand Kate’s letter. At least once a week I lament the fact that I don’t have a single person in my life with whom I can dream aloud and brainstorm with. The flip side of that coin is that it has forced me to learn how to encourage myself and to realize that I can’t seek an external answer to an internal question.

    Kate, I wish you best. Given the fact that we share the same surname I would like to think that we also share the same family.

    And, Peter, thanks for sharing Rumi’s quote:

    “When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home.”


    J. Taylor

  5. Jean

    Dear Kate,
    Thank you for your willingness to put it all out there! I want to second Peter’s comments and say that you are now part of an amazing tribe of people Barbara has gathered together who truly do understand and support your efforts!

    And….to J. Taylor: if you stay connected to this community, you’ll find LOTS of folks with whom you can dream aloud, brainsail (a word I prefer to brainstorm), and from whom you can get enthusiastic support and encouragement. And that group includes ME!(You can email me at
    Wishing you much joy and success in your journey!

    Blessings & joy,

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