You know how sometimes you just know when something feels right? I recently saw a Ted Talk's video where the speaker shot down "trusting your gut" and "feeling things in your heart" - he basically said that whole schpeal of gut/heart trusting really referred to the limbic brain, which handles our behavior and beliefs (by the way, if you haven't, you should really watch this Ted Talks video about Leaders Inspiring Action - it's pretty mind-blowing). Whatever the heck makes you trust your gut or your heart, I had that feeling about 4 months ago.
I'm a perfectionist by trade. My entire life consisted of being an over-achiever - not because my parents asked, but because it helped me sleep at night for some odd reason. It made me really proud of myself. I got into the colleges I wanted to get into, and of course, like the over-achiever I am, went to law school. I wrote onto my law review, tutored 1L's in contracts (the cherry on top of over-achieving), landed a job at a big-firm, and graduated magna cum laude. I then passed and endured the excruciating process that was the Florida bar. I'd like to report that yes, I am still alive after that horrific experience and am licensed to practice law in Florida (although I have about 14 hours of CLE credits due by the end of the month - it will get done, i swear).
So I practiced for 3 years, 3 WHOLE YEARS AT A BIG FIRM. I have law school friends that tell me they were surprised I lasted so long, but I did. Hooray! For the record (pardon the pun), I don't regret going to law school and I don't regret practicing law. I learned things in law school and practicing that no other career or degree could have ever taught me - I learned how to speak in public, how to write and communicate effectively, how to plain-old "figure things out" in lieu of failure (pretty much), how to discipline myself when it came to my studying and my work, how to defend myself, motivate myself, how not to compare myself to other CRAZY law students (law students are so crazy they should film a reality show about them - it's on another level of abnormal), and for that matter, to anyone else. So, post-Florida bar, I started working in the litigation department of my firm. Wasn't a fan of the whole arguing my point in front of people - my husband would beg to differ but I didn't care to be right at all the time, at least with clients. I didn't have that surging litigator blood and I refused to ever attend a deposition. I recognized that there was obviously an issue with that so after a year I asked my firm if I could transfer to transactions. Lo and behold, there was an opening in the real estate department. I took it as a sign, and voila! I was a real estate transactions associate within no time. Did I like it more than litigation? Yes, for sure. It fit my personality so much better. Negotiating and finding a happy medium was my thing and carrying a transaction through to the end actually had tangible results compared to never-ending litigations.
My husband and I got engaged at some point during my practice area mid-life crisis, so of course, the whole crisis period really wasn't as important as what my wedding would look like (obviously). So I'd attend all these vendor meetings and I'll never forget one day, while checking my emails like a crazy psycho (praying i'd dodged partner emails), I found myself sitting in this office talking to a chiavari chair rental company owner (who by the way had built a RENTAL EMPIRE - I saw his warehouse and it was legit) and actually being envious of his job. No, I did not want to build a rental empire (honestly, I wouldn't compete with him anyway) but here is this young guy who took a chance to run this empire, comes and goes as he pleases, and actually orders pizza for lunch!!!! Incredible (30 emails in my inbox).
And so began the beginning of my gut feeling. I planned my wedding. A whole year and a half. It was fabulous. I had so much fun, and I know most brides have fun planning their weddings but I really, really had fun. Everything made me so, so happy - my tablescapes, my flowers, menus, escort cards, calligraphy!!!, the bridesmaid dresses I designed, my two pairs of Jimmy Choo wedding shoes (yes, I lost the first pair after my first fitting), my DRESS. Ugh, that dress was my favorite part. It was so me. All that beauty got my heart racing like nothing ever did. The wedding came and went and, not surprisingly, without anything to distract me, I got depressed at work. I hated it. It didn't make me happy. It never did really but honestly, it didn't seem like it was supposed to make me happy. 98% of the lawyers I worked with weren't happy. It was supposed to be like this because work is work. Right? So I told myself.
But my gut told me otherwise. There's no way it's supposed to be like this. I deserved to be happy at what I did everyday and more importantly, I wanted to be happy at what I did everyday. I remember telling my husband, who had just started a position as the director of business development for a start-up (his dream job), that our babies deserved for us to "love what we do" so they could learn from our examples, just like we learned from our own parents. And we were only 50% there. So I was going to make it happen because my limbic brain told me to make it happen. He nodded his head and said, ok, I want you to be happy so make it happen. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for his support. He's awesome like that. Thanks, babe.
Like the multi-tasker I am, I started dabbling in card stock design about a month after the wedding. Totally random but I had such trouble finding custom menus, programs, escort cards and other really important details during my wedding I decided to take on the craft in the second bedroom of my apartment. It was really a distraction from work but once I started to showcase my designs and book events, it became "my way out" from lawyer world, and so much more of a feasible reality. At this point my husband started traveling to Seattle for work A LOT. His company was based out of there and I wanted so desperately to travel with him but of course, remained chained to my desk staring into the abyss of legal agreements with no end. But I kept trucking. I opened House of Lilac in April, had 5 events in July, and one day after crying in my office at work, called my mom and said, "I'm leaving in a month." I knew at that point that there was no turning back. Maybe a blessing, maybe a curse, but I'm extreme like that. In this case, a blessing. I gave my leave on August 4 in a really cute leopard dress and Manolo Blahniks (obviously), walked to my office and started crying of relief.
I write this in Seattle, with my husband for work, where I work everyday on House of Lilac. If we're not here, we're in Miami living with my brother and sister in law and my two nieces (the best roommates) waiting for the renovation of our new house. House of Lilac is currently a house of all things beautiful. We focus on event design and planning, have a shop we're trying to grow, and have a dream of turning this blog into a popular lifestyle blog. I thank my limbic brain everyday that I made the decision to be happy because I can't imagine living a life not doing what I love. I should have probably followed my gut (enough of the limbic brain) years ago - the creative me was always there. I wanted to go into fashion in high school but some stupid person told stupid 17 year Melanie that she was too smart to go into fashion. And of course, that stuck with stupid 17 year old Melanie. But teenagers are stupid so I forgave myself. And yes, my only favorite part of being a lawyer was wearing new outfits and/or pumps to work - it made Mondays so much more tolerable. And yes, I love interior design and was bred by architect and interior design parents and I'm good at it - I probably should have studied that, honestly. But, what's that cliche saying - everything happens for a reason? Well, everything I went through got me here to this computer screen typing away at what seems like my life story. And hey, I'm a lawyer! It's really useful, TRUST ME.
So I'm done. By way of introduction, this is me telling all of you to always follow your gut. It really does want you to be happy.