Just in the last two weeks, I’ve spoken with four people in the process of changing careers; people who want to do something entirely different than what they have been doing for years. They are searching for their “encore career.” It is an exhilarating yet scary time for them. Because I’ve met so many in this pursuit, I’ve decided to write a collection of stories about men and women who have successfully made career changes.I had requested to write Kristen Lolatte’s story and she responded by sharing her own eloquently written story – Find Your Ingrid. I loved it and want to share it #with you:

About 8 months ago, after 11 years of long days and nights, I was invited to leave Corporate America. I wasn’t upset at all; and if anything, I felt a great sense of relief. Working in that realm had served it’s purpose and it was clearly time for that chapter to end. A job well done, lots of well wishes and kind words, hugs and smiles and I was out the door and on to the next adventure.

One of the first people who helped me navigate those new waters was Ingrid. Yes, I’m calling you out dear one. We met in a hotel lobby for our day of job coaching stuff and after a few pleasantries she blurted out “They always give me the weird ones…you know, the artists, the ones who don’t fit neatly into boxes…” That was the EXACT moment I knew that she was a new found guide in my life. She didn’t balk at my many tattoos, flip flops or crazy hair. She was amused and inspired by my many ramblings of being a single mom, my working life up until that point and my adventures out on the water. We talked about writing and how Fiona had been published. We talked about food and travel and what we both were passionate about in this crazy world. It was a moment in time that was so pivotal to me that I remember it like it was just yesterday.

Ingrid reminded me of what I’d long since forgotten. I wasn’t meant to be living in a cubicle farm…I daresay “existing” would have been a more appropriate term. I was an artist, and artists need to be free. Free to express themselves, free to experience and see the world as only they can; through their own unique and magical lens. She reminded me that I’m a barefooted, free spirited goddess, not meant to be tamed. The world was big and grand and just waiting for me to step back into it. She encouraged me to take the time to get back to me…to ME. To really dig deep and rediscover what I liked; find my passion. Above all else, don’t settle.

So here we are, 8 months later and where am I? Of ALL places, in a classroom working with kids with autism and behavioral challenges. I know…crazy, right? Then again, Corporate America…elementary school classroom…really, not all that different when it comes right down to it. Ingrid was right. I took the time and found my way back to me. These kids are incredible! Frustrating, annoying, sometimes scary, totally lovable and they consume my days. Not ONE day has passed where they haven’t said or done something that leaves me in sheer awe…and I DO mean awe. I learn and grow from them every day. I’m not sure why or how I am lucky enough to have 7 little beacons of light in my day, every day; but as tough as it is, it’s truly incredible. It’s a path that I wouldn’t have ever fathomed taking if I hadn’t given myself the gift of time and had the inner strength to take the hard road. I chose to completely turn away from potential work and surroundings that would have been easily familiar to me, and instead I jumped feet first, no life jacket or safety gear, into the great deep waters of the unknown.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say, I’ll stop. My main point here is, find that person who will help guide you back to your true north. Find that person who has the ability to see past all the garbage you’ve built up, around and in yourself. Find that person who can see right into your very center and pull you back to you. Find that person who will push you; perhaps kicking and screaming, but push you nonetheless…because they see what you’ve forgotten. They see that light in you that is just an ember. They will fan that flame until YOU remember you and you remember all that you’ve forgotten. Once the flame is steady they will go on their way and the rest will be up to you….but I’d be willing to bet, you won’t let your flame go out once you’ve found it again.

My wish for you is a simple one at best. I hope that you find your own Ingrid. If you’ve forgotten part of yourself, your Ingrid will help guide you back to you. If you’ve found yourself, wave a hearty, loveable wave to your Ingrid and may your adventures be every bit as grand and glorious as you wish them to be. Make sure to share your adventures with your Ingrid too, for as is the way of the circle, it will fuel her fire as well.

Travel well life explorers. When you see Ingrid, make sure you tell her hi…and consider it a good thing if she flashes you her infectious smile, sees into you and tells you that you’re weird…

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KRISTEN LOLATTE was born in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1969. She’s spent her years working in bookstores, teaching younglings and eventually ventured into corporate America. Ken discovered Kristen when he reached out to her on some work related issues and after some gentle nudges, a writing partnership was born. While she always thought of writing, it was Ken who fueled the flame of prose and the Fiona series came roaring into existence. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking barefoot everywhere, out on her paddle board, sword fighting or in the kitchen cooking up wonderful foods. Kristen lives in a 200 year old farm house in a small town in Maine with her son, and their two cats Luna and Althea.


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