In the late 90s, I was writing catalog copy for Fingerhut, a part-time freelance job which I greatly enjoyed. The woman working next to me, Diane LaMere, was doing the same work but felt very differently about it. She found the work tedious and longed to spend her days painting instead.
One day, after she mentioned again how she didn’t want to be there, I asked if she needed to work at Fingerhut to put food on the table. No, she said, her husband could support them both if need be. “So why are you still here?” I asked. “What’s stopping you from doing what you love?”
The question startled her. She just looked at me and I could see the light bulb go on. In a matter of weeks, she had turned in her resignation and was gone.
Fast-forward ten years to this week when I received an e-mail out of the blue:
I don’t know if you remember but I used to sit next to you downstairs at Fingerhut. I really didn’t like the job much and I remember complaining about it to you and you said why don’t you quit and do something you like. And so I did. I am now a full-time artist. I paint mostly landscapes, some figure work, also. I have a studio in the Northrup King Building and I couldn’t be happier. You can look up my work at www.dianelamere.com. if you so desire. Anyway, thanks for the push.
I love it! There’s nothing better than seeing somebody take a leap of faith and end up in a life they dreamed of. Way to go, Diane!
UPDATE: On March 6, 2011, Diane sent out this message:
I am extremely happy and humbled to announce that my painting, “The Hush of Winter,” was accepted into the 2011 Salon International Exhibition at the Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, Texas. The exhibit can now be seen online and is available for purchase. Click here, then click on the Salon International box on the right to see or buy paintings in the exhibit. The exhibit runs from April 1 to April 22 at the Gallery in Texas. It’s a spectacular exhibit of 415 paintings selected from 1163 entries representing 47 states plus Washington DC as well as 13 additional countries.
Take care to do what you like or you will be forced to like what you do.
George Bernard Shaw
Diane wasn’t the only Fingerhutter I nudged. One day, five years before Diane’s epiphany, I walked by a cube and saw a last name I recognized from my school days in St. Cloud, which is sixty miles north of Minneapolis. I asked the woman, whose name was Sharon Reber, if she was related to Gary Reber, whom I knew in eighth grade. Yes, she said, Gary was her cousin. It turns out that Sharon’s photo was in my yearbook as a freshman the year I graduated.
Sharon and I became friends. She too was miserable at Fingerhut. She had been there seventeen years and felt trapped. One day she mentioned that she was still teaching an aerobics class, a part-time job she used to love but now dreaded. When I asked her why she didn’t quit, she said she wasn’t a quitter. I told her that it wasn’t about quitting, it was about letting go what no longer served you to clear the way for something better to come into your life. I saw the same startled, on-goes-the-light-bulb look on her face. She soon stopped teaching aerobics. Even better, after much encouragement, she resigned her position at FIngerhut and went back to school to become a nutritionist, a job she still greatly enjoys today.
Sharon (now Johnson) has told me a few times that she credits me with inspiring her to follow her dream. Well, I guess. But ultimately, it was she who had to dig down deep and find the courage and faith and do the hard work to completely overhaul her life.
When I e-mailed Sharon to ask her permission to use her story in this post, she replied:
I’d really like it if you could let people know that through my current work I have had the great honor of helping other people see their beauty and value and take chances in their own lives. Treating eating disorders is seldom about the eating disorder. If you had not inspired me, so many other lives might not have had the positive intervention I was able to give. It’s the ripple effect in real life. Although I feel there is still something else I am meant to give, this job is preparing me while giving me the gift of giving.
Kudos to Diane and Sharon and all the countless others who have walked out the door of a job that no longer served them and created a new, happier, more fulfilling life for themselves.
So . . . what’s stopping you from living the life you were born to live?
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ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
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SEE EVERY MOMENT AS A GIFT
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• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
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Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.
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