I’m drawn to stories of re-invention. Imaginative people who have either turned a bad situation that was thrust upon them into a win, or have intentionally redrawn their life maps. People with audacity and nerve.
I love meeting and talking to courageous people, with adventurous spirits. This weeks article is part two in an ongoing series of interviews seeking to capture these inspiring stories …….. I have known Heather Suffron for over ten years. In 2016 she became a client of mine, as she began to seek answers to, “What is my next adventure?” Here is a little bit of her story. She is a fabulous writer, so our interview took a written shape. I sent her my questions, and she sat with them, reflecting and then sending her response back to me.
DC: What prompted the re-invention?
Heather: “Well, according to the lovely Debbie Campbell, I’ve had two re-inventions (that she knows about) – one when I quit my job and packed myself off to volunteer overseas and one right now, as I begin a new chapter by getting certified to teach English as a foreign language and see where that takes me.
I guess I would not characterize them as re-inventions as much as new dimensions (or directions) just waiting to be explored and allowing those passions to shine for a while.
1 – Identifying what prompted the first adventure is a long story (and can found in my yet-to-be- published book!), but it was a combination of factors: both of my grandparents passed away, my parents retired and moved to their “cabin in the woods,” and I had a decent job, but not one that I was passionate about or considered a career. I was gifted a small inheritance from my grandparents’ estate, and I didn’t want to just stay put and watch life float past. I wanted to see the world, but I didn’t want to simply be a tourist. I also wanted to make a positive impact on the places I visited. I came up with the concept of combining my desire to travel the world while volunteering along the way long before I got on the plane and did so, but the idea sang in my heart, and it didn’t stop, so when the closest people in my life were called away, it was time for me to follow this dream.
2 – The current prompt is both practical and idealistic (an unlikely possibility, I’ll admit) in nature. I’ve been running my own pet care business for the past 13-14 years, and it has been my sole source of income since returning from my overseas adventure 3.5 years ago. I appreciate so many things about it: the flexibility and autonomy; the variations in locations, situations, responsibilities, and pets; my wonderful clients; and of course, the awesome pets. However, it was never my intention for that to serve as my career, and while I’ve been blessed with a wonderful word-of-mouth referral system, my schedule – and therefore, my income – has been inconsistent (some months I’m booked stem to stern, while other months are slim-pickings, so to speak), and I have to cover all expenses (health care, social security, taxes, supplies, gas, etc.). Furthermore, although I adore the pets I care for, it isn’t the most intellectually stimulating job in the world, so I find that it is time for a new challenge and a new adventure. What is so great about this one is that I’m really excited about pursuing it! I don’t think the importance of education can be emphasized enough, and in today’s world, it is especially beneficial to know English. Top that off with my love of adventure and experiencing new places, and the fit resonated loudly in the rare quiet moments. The increasing urgency to find something more self- sufficient that would also allow me to save money and the possibility of fulfilling career-oriented desires for this non-conventional gal propelled me in this direction.
* I think the overriding drive in both cases was the sense of necessity, for lack of a better word – like if I didn’t pursue this dream, I would regret it and always wish that I had. There is a great quote (often attributed to Anaïs Nin, but research indicates it was most likely from Elizabeth Appell) that hits this at its core: “And then the day came when the risk to remain tight, in a bud, became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Yes, there are challenges, and growing pains and scary moments, but that is part of learning and growing and becoming more of who you are capable of being, and it is so worth it!
DC: How did you go about it?