There are a lot of things that I would like to write about. My life has been anything but ordinary or dull. My childhood, for one, is an area I struggle opening up about because it’s not anything most people want to hear nor believe. In my heart I know that when I finally do make words it will help others, however it will take some time to build up the courage to share with the world as it hits so close to home. For now, let me start out with a question that a lot of people ask me: What do I actually “do”? I never know what to say and my response changes depending on who I am talking to. What do I love to do? I am an event producer and performer. I enjoy DJing, I am studying in Aerial Silks and most recently started taking electronic music production lessons. My passion lies in orchestrating grand scale events. My most notable and memorable event was a 4 day music and arts “festival” in a 3 story mansion on the edge of Lookout mountain. Although the concept was my brain child, this was a highly collaborative event that I could not have done without the support of my community.
I specialize in boutique events, however I originally started hosting small potlucks and volunteering for music festivals & events about 7 years ago. I was 28 when I finally realized my passion and since then have done everything I can to learn about the entertainment industry. Most recently I took my vision of offering luxurious spaces for artists and staff of Envision to Costa Rica for my first international “Staycation”.
Costa Rica Promo Video – Videographer Credit Justin Michael – Global Travel Video
I don’t make money as an artist and often times give my time and talent away for free, or rather for the love ❤ However I recently landed a side job working for Menage Life as the Production Manager for a monthly Lifestyle party in a local 6 acre Manor.
Still, that is only a side job and I need a “grown up job” to actually pay the bills. During the week days I take care of a wonderful couple and their beautiful home. I do the shopping, make sure the house is adequately stocked, care for the puppies, meet with contractors and ultimately insure the property is a well oiled machine. My “office” is an incredible 8k square foot home with retractable windows, a pool, hot tub and various gadgets and appliances that are much smarter than me. I also host their annual Pride Pool party alongside holiday parties and occasional benefits. It often doesn’t feel like a job but rather that I am taking care of my family. In addition I take on large projects and lead teams of people in such things as estate sales, moving, packing and sorting peoples’ lives.
How did I land such an amazing job, you ask? The answer is #craigslist. I didn’t know someone, nor did I get “lucky” however I did take a leap of faith and uprooted my career in the financial industry.
Before I found this line of work, I worked at a bank for 8 years. It was a stable job that taught me a lot about customer service, how to talk to people, how to sell and how to run a multimillion dollar business. It provided me and my family benefits and gave me an opportunity to grow as a young adult. I am a high school drop out, you see and before I got a job at the bank I didn’t even have my GED. I had a young son and knew that I needed to get a real job if I was to make something of myself. The bank was fun for a few years because I was really good at it and moved up the ladder quickly. However once I became a store manager things began to shift. I started seeing the truth about the financial industry and how one sided it was. Working for a money hungry, life sucking and fiscally selfish company began to drain my soul. But they kept giving me little increases in pay & benefits, keeping me just comfortable enough to be complacent. I spent my last 2 years in mental agony. I remember waking up every morning being so physically exhausted and looking in the mirror thinking “what if I just don’t go in?”. Then I would drive to work, spend an hour in rush hour traffic (not to mention the hour drive home, also in rush hour traffic), pay $18 to park my car downtown and then spend the first hour of work in a fluorescent lit room talking about how many credit cards we sold the day before and what we were going to do to sell more today. When the bank doors opened I would watch the clock slowly tick and daydream about what I would be doing if I wasn’t there.. “Yoga, music, art, play outside in the sun, spend time with my kids… SO many things in life to enjoy that I have no time for…” But then another hour would pass and I would think, “Welp, there is another $26 in my pocket so I guess I’ll stay.”
I tried to walk out once. I was so aggravated with something so trivial that I can’t even remember anymore, and I just walked right out without telling anyone, went to the bar next door and ordered a beer. Then I calmed down and came to my senses. I was a mother and head of the household, I couldn’t just quit my job. So I went back and continued to suffer. It wasn’t until I began studying for my Series 7 to become a Licensed Banker that the Universe stepped in. Well, the Universe and my total lack of giving a F***. It was a 5 week program and they allowed me to study from a dark basement in the cash register building, outside of my branch. After a week of driving downtown I realized nobody was checking up on me and I could access the study site from home so I decided to start staying at home each day. I would study, as was expected of me but by the end of the day I would get the chapter 12 which was the State Law section and I would pass over it with glazed eyes and a short attention span. When I went to take the test, I passed!! The first 11 chapters anyway but what they didn’t tell me was that the State Law exam was it’s own separate test consisting of only 20 questions, 40% of which I got wrong. So ultimately, I failed. I called my District Manager to inform him and he said that I would have to return to the branch the next day and continue my normal tasks as I waited a few months for the next testing opportunity. My heart sank and I went silent. After a long pause I said “I am not coming in tomorrow”.. He agreed that I could take the weekend off to think and come back on Monday. Over the weekend I thought long and hard about what would happen if I didn’t go back, how would I survive? What would I do? I don’t have an education and maybe only a few hundred dollars in savings. I mean, I have a 401k but I don’t want to dig into that…. But the dread I felt just thinking of going back was too much to bare. On Monday I called Human Resources and asked them what the longest leave of absence was, which was 3 months. I took it and figured that in 3 months if I was broke and lost, I would be able to go back. After 3 months of “fun-employment”, I still couldn’t bring myself to go back so I officially resigned.
I spent the summer working on projects with my Sound Crew and helping their events and at festivals. I somehow knew that it would all be ok and that I had to believe in myself and the Universe. I felt that in order to attract the job that I wanted I would need to present myself to the world in a way that was aligning. So I dyed my hair bright colors, which was never allowed a the bank, and I moved all of my bank attire out of my closet and only left costumes and clothes that made me feel like me in my room. I ordered business cards with my event background and altered my resume so the front page included my event experience, community service and artistic accomplishments and the next pages were my corporate banking and service industry experience. My mission statement was (and still is): To invest in work that I am both passionate about and is worthy of my time and talent. One that bridges the gap between my artistic goals and unique skill set.
I didn’t work for 9 months and went $22k in debt. I drained my savings and maxed out all my credit cards. I had to get a roommate to help pay rent and applied for Medicaid and food stamps. It was the first time since childhood that I fell to that level of poverty. I worked a few side gigs and even got a bartending job temporarily.. But there was very little I could find that was worth my time. I didn’t want another corporate job and I was not interested in falling back into the service industry. I knew that if I was going to uproot my well paying job in the financial industry that it better be worth it. So I was patient and picky. I logged onto Craigslist every day and hit refresh, refresh, refresh…. Until one day I logged on and saw “Seeking gay friendly personal assistant to do A. B. and C… (Basic household tasks that I was more than capable of)… and at the very bottom it said D. Organize and host 4-5 grand parties per year.
BINGO. That was the sentence that got me.
When I met my clients I had blue hair. We sat and talked casually for about an hour. They asked me if I was comfortable with their lifestyle and I said “Are you comfortable with my hair?”. It was a match made in heaven! Five years have passed and I am proud to say that I have almost paid off my debt, I make more money than I did at the bank, I work half as long (and choose my own hours, avoiding rush hour like the plague) and as an independent contractor I am able to deduct a lot of income, thus paying less in taxes. The BEST part is that with this extra time not spent in traffic and the energy I have saved not working 50 hours a week, I am able to have a real life.
I still discipline myself to wake up early so I can make it to the gym before work but I enjoy what I do now and have the energy to do other things after work and on the weekends. I have the freedom and mental capacity to listen to podcasts, audiobooks or music while I work and continue expanding my knowledge and business. I make enough money to pay my bills and pursue my passions. I get off work in time to pick up my kids from school and cook them nice dinners.
I am not saying all of this to brag but rather to give you hope and tell you that it IS possible to live a life that you love and make money to thrive. I tell you this because I know so many people who work at a dead end job living paycheck to paycheck, chasing the “American Dream” and getting nowhere. Working for people you don’t like doing things that don’t interest you. And I call bullshit. I will tell you getting to where I am was not easy. I had very little growing up and got my first job picking weeds and cleaning houses when I was 12. I have been working for nearly 2/3rds of my life and have never been ok with settling or being average. I always wanted to be the best at what I did so I worked harder and longer than most of my peers. I don’t expect everyone to be as much of a workaholic as me but I *do* believe that we all deserve to create a lifestyle that nourishes our soul. It’s not easy and I still struggle. I am not totally free from debt and sometimes wonder if I am actually getting anywhere. I have sacrificed a lot and taken many chances in my life & career. It is not easy, but it *is* worth it. I am a true believer in the Universe and that if you believe in it, and in yourself, and you take the steps to show that you are serious, the Universe will respond. The pathway will clear.
“Faith is taking the first step without seeing the stairwell.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.