A HeSo Lost and Found (Part 1)

“Find a way to get paid to do what you love.”

That ubiquitous advice used to drive me crazy because I had no idea what I loved to do besides for watching television and eating cookies – and I couldn’t find a single job listing for a cookie taster.

I started this blog as a public quest to figure out what satisfies my HeSo. In case you’ve wondered what HeSo means, it’s my nickname for heart and soul. Like a lot of people, I got to a place in my life where I had no idea what made my soul happy. There were lots of things that made me happy – but nothing on a deeper, spiritual level.

For so long I let fear (mostly fear of being poor) control my decisions. I didn’t know how to let passion take over. Besides, how could I let passion take over my decision-making process when I didn’t even know what I was passionate about. This blog was my permission to try new things, make mistakes, and ultimately figure out my HeSo project – or as the yoga sutras describe it:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Before starting this blog, I quit a lucrative job, and had $50,000 in savings. I was absolutely petrified that I would go broke and never be able to amass that sense of security again. But I had 40 loyal readers and I couldn’t let them down. In my first year on the HeSo project, I became obsessed with an invention I came up with for baby beds. I went through about $20,000 in savings for this project and ultimately had to let it go when I found out I couldn’t get safety approval. But here’s what I learned:

  • How to get comfortable taking a risk
  • How to run a small business
  • How to let go when something is not working.
Getting ready to give up on the foam

Me getting fed up with making the prototype.

It was really hard to let that dream go, and I retreated into a part-time job, thinking the security of a paycheck would help me feel like less of a failure. However, I’m extremely hard-working and that part-time job quickly became a senior management position and all of a sudden I was working sixty hours a week on a job I didn’t care about. I had to stop and remember the HeSo. I quit the next day.

By this time I was really giving into my writing urges. The dream of becoming a professional writer seemed far-fetched but that didn’t keep me from writing whenever I had the chance. Even though I was done to $10,000 in savings, I decided to take a six month break from searching for a career and focus on my writing. I took classes and began writing 750 words a day. This was really hard work, and even though it wasn’t fun all the time, my HeSo was growing – but so was my debt.

I reached a fork in the road. I realized I wanted to keep writing, but I also wanted to be able to pay the rent. I took on another part-time job that left me with enough mental energy to come home and write every day. At this time an amazing thing happened:

I told myself that I would apply for a “real” job once I dipped below my last $2,000 in savings, but until then I would push forward with my writing. Every time I came close to that threshold, money appeared from out of nowhere. First, I got a completely unexpected $1,000 refund from the government for a tax return from three years prior. Next, a client from my old job randomly decided to pay my bill which was overdue for four years. Later, I got asked to be in a focus group for one hour and the pay was $300. Again and again, money appeared when I thought I’d have to give up on writing. I decided to take that as a sign that if I was going to pursue writing, the universe will support me.

The beginning and the peak of BFI.

The beginning and the peak of BFI.

At this same time I came up with the crazy idea for Brutal First Impressions. I went to the park with a sign telling people I would give them my honest feedback about their general appearance if they gave me a few dollars. This was a HUGE hit, and everyone loved this idea – except for me. I take that back. I loved the idea, but I hated doing it. I’m naturally an introvert, so it was extremely uncomfortable for me to stand in front of a group of strangers and criticize them. Also, I love looking for the best in people, so my patrons were often disappointed when I didn’t give them harsher feedback.

I think this was the moment I realized I was done with BFI.

I think this was the moment I realized I was done with BFI.

I decided to pursue this idea anyway because everyone else was so excited by it, but deep down, I just wanted to keep writing. I started a website and got a few clients, and I did BFI in central park a few times, but it never took off and I think that’s because my heart was still in my writing. However, I did learn these valuable skills from it:

  • How to design and program a website.
  • How to market an idea
  • How to be ballsy

I am telling you all this because I love hearing about all the “failures” people go through before they discover what really works for them. The good news is that I finally figure it out. I found my HeSo project!!! … and I’ll tell you all about it in the next post 😛

8 comments

  1. Love reading the story of your search, and I love that your mom posted a comment already! (Mine’s like that too, and it’s wonderful.) But the links to the photos are broken, as is the Like button–please let me know when they’re working, since I want to see!

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  2. Thanks for being brutally honest, once again, about yourself! So often, all we hear are success stories, but we also need to know that people struggle, try and fail (and learn!) along the way. I thought of you on the 20th and hoped that the Writers’ Conference was a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone involved. 🙂

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