In 2013, I married my partner of eight years. Together, we were raising my three children. My youngest was two when we first met. The tradition of marriage is a celebration of the “'Til death do us part” commitment. While our relationship had lasted eight years, our marriage only lasted three months. Just like that, after eight years and three months she walked out the door. No conversation. No message. No goodbyes. There were so many questions, but the worst part was the fear. It was the sort of fear that paralyzes you completely. What will I do? I had been a stay-at-home mother, and my wife was the provider. How will my children cope with this abandonment? You see, I was deserted by my own father at age four. I knew firsthand this is not what I wanted for my kids. I knew exactly how much it hurt.
My name is Lisa Cullen. This is my Kintsugi story.
I was in my mid-50s. I hadn't worked in years. I was a collage artist. No one earns anything substantial from collages. This was not our only loss. We lost our home, our safe heaven. We lost our two dogs as well, within two years of her leaving. It was loss on top of loss. Before we recovered from one, we had another loss. Then, I heard an inner voice.
Awakening My Inner Voice
Deep inside and buried within all that fear, there was a voice telling me that I needed to learn to be self-reliant and I would succeed. It was almost like the entire universe was telling me to march ahead. I knew I had an entrepreneurial spirit. I also knew that I could not get a regular 9-5 job. I needed to find something that I could do to earn money and care for my children. It had to be something that would not kill my spirit and make me completely miserable. I needed work in a creative field. Many years prior, I had been a home health aide. I did not want nor could I go back to changing adult diapers. I needed to be in a field that would make me joyous again.
Despite how difficult my struggle was, I started learning. I began reading, listening to blogs, and asking questions. All the while, I tried to listen to my inner voice. I visited with a friend who works with resin. I wanted her to teach me how to work with the material, as I thought if I could create something useful people would buy it. Maybe it would be tabletops.
Saved by a Mistake
One day, some resin dropped on top of one my collage papers. I had not noticed. When I returned to the studio the following day, I saw the resin over the paper, and my inspiration just clicked. I could make unique jewelry using my collage paper and resin. I started designing the styles and my business was born.
I wish I could say that I am financially stable, but it is a process that takes time. I can’t lose focus that I only started 18 months ago and so much good has come out of it. There have been so many successes and triumphs along the way.
I began with an attitude that failure was not an option and was open to learning. I absorbed whatever I could and coupled with my talent, I have built something concrete. After I made a few initial pieces, I did a sidewalk sale. I sold some necklaces, but the best part was the incredible feedback I got. I currently have some of my pieces in a store in SoHo (Flying Solo). One piece is selling for $500! I attracted the local press and was invited to Paris Fashion Week. Yes! Within 18 months of starting my brand, my jewelry walked down the cat walk in Paris. The experience was certainly the best I have experienced in my career, and I see clearly that the sky is the limit.
I think that when you combine faith, talent, perseverance and awareness of what your gut has to say, amazing things can be happen. One success feeds the next one. One win feeds the next win.
The Journey is a Winding Road
You may be reading my story and think, "You have this talent, so it easy." But not so fast. I suffer from mental illness: depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. A complex brain creates a complex life.
So often, I want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. If I do that often or even not that often, my kids won’t have what sustains them. Therefore, I am fully focused on my mental health through self-care and self-love. I see a therapist; I take medications and more than anything I learned to be kind to myself. Sometimes, self-care means that I do need to curl up and hide from the world. That is okay, too. I learned to respect this needed time away from reality. Then, I get up and start again.
Now, you can understand why I had to be my own boss. It was not only a preference; I just didn’t have another option. I don’t always work normal hours. I may not be able to work during the day, but then I can pull an all-nighter and get the work done. I had to really understand my limitations and respect my needs to be able to move forward with an achievable plan of action.
Just say Yes
As I suffer from mental illness, saying yes is one of the hardest things from me to do. The fear to try something new is intense; the fear of risk is great. So, when I said yes to Paris, this was not only yes to Paris. This was a yes to ME, MY LIFE, MY FUTURE, MY CHILDREN. This single yes was the catalyst for many yeses.
When my ex-wife left, it was a trigger, and I was in a very bad place. When you are a mother, somehow you muster herculean strength because you have no choice. Those living beings totally depend on you. It took my desire, my concentration, my dedication and my persistence to bring me to where I am today.
My life currently is in a transitional state. My kids are getting older and slowly leaving the nest. I am taking one day at a time. I am allowing myself to adjust slowly to the new life that awaits me.
One thing that was vital in my transformation was to recognize that another person’s behavior has nothing to do with mine or with me. Sometimes, it’s hard to forget and certainly it is hard to forgive what someone has done to your children. I find that it is easier to let go of the hurt someone causes you personally. I am trying hard to put this completely behind me. For some reason, my children had to live through this loss. It will be part of what makes them who they are in the future. Seeing what I see of them now, I believe they will be just fine. As am I.
To see Lisa's gorgeous art visit: https://www.lcstudios.co
If you have a story you would like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Someone will be inspired and empowered by your journey!
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