Last night I attended Chris Guillebeau’s book tour. For those that don’t know about Chris, he’s the author of both the site and the book The Art of Non-Conformity. His 97 day, 50 state, 10 Canadian province book tour is self funded. When he’s not touring North America he’s traveling the world. Chris’ goal is to visit all 192 countries by April 2013 when he turns 35. Why is he doing this? He’s living a remarkable life and encouraging others to live a remarkable life on their own terms as well.
This stop was a little bit different as it was hosted in a classroom at the University of Baltimore (afterward a small group adjoined to The Brewers Art, a local bar). Thursday Bram helped to set this up and it was while talking to her that I realized just how much I never want to work retail again. So much so that I got really worked up and started crying.
I used to work for a national camera retail chain. Like most retail stores that meant working weekends and certain holidays. I was required to work Black Friday (in the US this it the day following Thanksgiving in November) which is a huge shopping day of madness with crazy sales. Employees were also required to work Christmas Eve, by which time I had always lost my voice from talking so much. Due to my required work schedule I was unable to see my family during the holidays for several years. It was worse the year I worked as a manager. I became so stressed out I wasn’t sleeping well and I was not a nice person. When the chance came to work a 9-5 job I grabbed it with both hands.
My new job was a breath of fresh air. Vacation between Xmas and New Years? Not a problem, my bosses weren’t going to be in that week anyway. I was able to see my family, an 8 hour car drive away. Finally, I was able to make plans for dates more than two weeks in advance. Weekends were mine to do whatever struck my fancy.The last two years working in an office has allowed me to mellow out again. It also involved enough free time to explore the internet and find people like Chris.
Since college I have flirted with the idea of starting my own photography business. Fear and insecurity has always gotten in my way. Last night I was introduced to several people, followers of Chris’ blog, who are living life on their own terms. Doing work that they love. I met Jill Fellman, who provided cookies and water, who is a fitness instructor and has started her own company selling organic cookies that she bakes. I also met Liz and Ryan from elizabethryanphotography.com . What some amazing, generous people. And Happy. The happiness was radiating from the 1,000,000 watt smiles on both Liz and Ryan. These are people who love what they do and where they are in life. Liz, Ryan, and Jill were kind enough to answer my questions about starting a business and the other various concerns I’ve had for a while.
Coincidentally, someone I knew from college showed up at the bar last night, just as things were winding down with the AONC group. A mutual friend had told me that this guy worked in town and I should look him up. Well surprise! It turns out that he’s a lawyer in Baltimore. He also volunteers with a local artist support group (can’t remember the name right now, will update later) by providing free legal advice to struggling artists. Upon mentioning that I’m an artist, he asked me what do I need to know?! Hello! Big sign from the universe here!
Last night I couldn’t sleep. Too many thoughts were going through my head, keeping me awake. I finally fell asleep this morning, and while I’ve been in a fog for most of the day, the fear that I previously experienced when thinking about starting a business has all but disappeared. There is still a little bit of fear. But there is more excitement.
Thank you Chris, Thursday, Jill, Ryan, Liz, and all the others that showed up last night. (Jeff, I didn’t have a chance to talk to you last night, but you said some stuff that resonated with me. Thanks for getting up there and sharing your story with us.)