Hi, Dan. This is the first post of yours that I have read, and I’m really glad I did!
I often feel a mix of glee and guilt, comfort and concern that I make my living doing things I enjoy: I am a self-employed private music instructor and visual designer.
This may sound bizarre to you, but my work situation is a result of a deal I made with my husband (fiancé at the time) Ron. Here’s the long story:
A professional musician who did construction work, Ron returned to college later in life, earned his degree in Music Therapy, and was offered a job at the end of his internship. The location was three hours from our home in Northridge, California. At the time, I was bookkeeping for a small retail development company (loved the people, hated doing office work), and I had just ended what was probably the last decent paying unsigned artist gig in L.A. (The gig was at a small café where I played original music and cover songs every Friday and Saturday for $100 each night. On the couple of weekends when my fiancé visited from his internship, I would hire him to sit in with me! By the second month, I was filling the place to standing room only and, needless to say, the owners were very happy. Then, around the three-month mark, a new barista convinced the manager to let her boyfriend’s hipster band play instead of me for two weekends in a row and, aside from a few die-hards, the weekend crowd disappeared, never to return, even after the manager invited me back. The café closed a month later.)
Right around this time, I began producing and recording a new album of original songs called Midnight Butterfly. This kept me from going into a full-blown depression over my unsatisfying day job and 3.5-hour daily commute. Ron came home with his “I got hired” announcement, and I fell apart. Of course I was happy for him, but as we discussed moving and wedding plans, I just kept imagining living in a small, rural area with no music scene and having to take yet another soul-sucking office job while seeing him flourish in his new music career. Tears flew from my eyes like butterflies migrating from Michoacan. Sobbing uncontrollably, I told Ron that I would not marry him and move away from L.A. if I had to do office work in our new home town. He held me and then looked in my eyes and told me that he wanted me to pursue music-related work, too, and that he would wait as long as it took for me to get established.
Everything changed. In three months’ time, we moved, started new careers, and got married. It was slow-going for me at first, but in our third year, we bought a house and I was able to start working from home, teaching private music lessons, writing, and doing graphic design.
Thank you for your post. Not only is your writing inspirational on its own, your article inspired me to pen this response, and it has been cathartic to “see” my process and progress. Also, I’m thinking of writing another book.