Perhaps the greatest benefit of this new venture has been *meeting* such lovely people and hearing the inspiring stories of how they launched their own New Beginnings. Reader Cindie Wilding reached out to share how she created a life she loves, and I am pleased to present her story in the first Readers Respond edition of our Trailblazers interview series.
Inspired by previous Trailblazer feature Kimberly Wilson, Cindie charted a new course and never looked back. Read on for the tale of her New Beginning...
In your own words, tell us the story of your New Beginning.
I had a very long career as a paralegal, well over 30 years. I call those my 'kick ass' paralegal days because while it could be an exciting career and it served me well and brought me joy for a long while, it was also stressful and busy with long hours and sometimes little reward. Shortly after my divorce I started really looking at me, and what I needed and wanted from life, not what I thought I was supposed to have, do or be. I knew I no longer wanted to work with paper, but with people. This exploration brought me to working with a life coach which brought me to becoming a life coach and retreat leader.
I loved these experiences, but I was still working at "the law firm" feeling uninspired and unfulfilled. That's when I saw an ad for the Celebrant Institute, where you can train to become a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant, creating meaningful and personal ceremonies of all life passages, and boy did that resonate for me. Having been to plenty of funerals and weddings that had nothing to do with the people involved, I had long known how important this was to me and I believe, to our culture. With the encouragement of a friend, I signed up and began my training, and now having written and performed many unique and very personal ceremonies for people, I know I have found Home. This is exactly what I am supposed to be doing and I love it so much.
How did you know it was time to make a change?
I continued to work at my 'day job' where my boss understood that my strengths, skills and passion were elsewhere. While trying to maintain both jobs, I was so busy I couldn't think straight. I started to make stupid mistakes, and I knew I really didn't care about the legal work any longer, which made it hard to go to work. My loyalty to my boss was the only thing keeping me there and I couldn't wait to have the time and space to explore all the creative things I wanted to do.
What gave you the confidence you needed to move forward?
My boss' confidence in me, my building confidence and the growing number of ceremonies I was booking. She basically sat me down and said, "maybe it's time for you to go Cindie. I think you can do this." Knowing I had her blessing and that I had managed to book lots of weddings, and my practical boyfriend even agreeing it was time, I left last September. I had managed to save a good chunk of money. I felt confident this was going to keep growing, and it has.
Who/what inspires you today?
All of the people I get to work with. What is at the heart of a Life-Cycle Celebrant ceremony is the uniqueness of each couple or person. I get to tell their story and I find infinite fascination in the stories and people I get to meet and work with. It's also inspiring to me after a ceremony when family members will tearfully tell me how much what I said touched them and how much it meant to them. I know that what I am doing is making a difference in people's lives. I'm also inspired by anyone who has the guts to follow their heart and do what they want in life, not what they think they are supposed to do.
What are you dreaming about now?
Working with and touching more people around death and dying. I have done and continue to book lots of weddings, which is of course the happiest work I could do. But I have a personal desire to grow my memorial business as well as create venues for people to just be able to talk about feelings around death and dying because that has long been so hard and forbidden. My dream is to help people heal through just talking about feelings in a healthy way. I want to continue to expand the other end of the life cycle through more baby blessing and baby welcoming ceremonies. I'd also like to expand work with 'coming of age' ceremonies for kids becoming teens and croning ceremonies for wise women who have reached that point in their life. I feel forever inspired and love waking up each morning saying "what will I work on today?"
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I think what has been most helpful to a recovering perfectionist like me, is the work of Brene' Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection). From reading her book and taking her online class I realized how my perfectionism could keep me stuck, afraid to do something gutsy or put myself out there because I might not do it "right" or I might fail. I recognized the connection between my perfectionism and having the courage to be myself and has helped me grow my business and myself. "There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there and letting ourselves be seen."
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started?
Like Dorothy, I always had everything I needed inside me, I just didn't know it, and I needed to go out there and get validation from many others before fully recognizing that I am good at this! So in a nutshell, I lacked confidence but that's the kind of thing where I had to go to Oz and back in order to find that for myself.
What encouragement can you offer someone who wants to make a change but is apprehensive?
Keep looking within to who you are, what feeds your soul and what lights you up. Get a coach, talk to friends who know you well, take a class. I noticed that I just kept going through the doors that opened, not knowing where they were leading in that moment, but walking through. When you start exploring your own heart, doors will open. Trust the process.