I recently resigned from my senior position at a not for profit after five and a half years of running it in the hopes of leaving the race to instead following a dream.
When you leave grad school the main goal is to get a job as quickly as you can to help you to be able to afford to pay back the loans you had to take out in order to get the education you so desired. I was pretty fortunate when I moved to Calgary in 2006 that I found a job that I had a lot of experience in and was able to work with a population that I truly loved…children who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. In Alberta, there are programs for families who have a child with a disability where based on need they can have access to a multidisciplinary team of clinicians to work with on a year basis. I became a Behaviour Specialist and worked with families on behaviour plans and on building skills in the home and the community. Over the years I worked with a great number of families and clinical staff and was eventually running the program and managing the caseload and the staff. I loved what I was doing and how successful the program was with families who were interested in learning how to teach their child skills. It was amazing to see families becoming confident and stronger with their parenting skills…very rewarding for me personally.
Over the last year and a half though I began to realize that my job had really morphed into a management position where I was no longer working with kids and that I had somehow become an administrator of sorts, a skill set I didn’t even realize I had. I began to feel myself drifting away from who I had set out to be. I had a Masters in Art Therapy but had never had the chance or the time to be able use my skills. I would spend what felt like days at my computer working on reports, budgets and dealing with complaints or concerns. In March 2011, I resigned from my position but never ended up following through on the threat and stayed until I officially resigned in May 2012. Leaving this job was like getting a divorce and I honestly agonized over leaving, thinking of letting people down and walking away from a program that I had built over the last five years. It was very difficult but in the end necessary for my own health, sanity and for personal growth.
With quitting, everyone told me to take a few weeks off and relax…recharge they said. But I’ve learned that I don’t do well with nothing to do. It’s just not in me. So I immediately thought of starting an art centre with a focus on individuals with disabilities. This is something I have always wanted to do, but have never been brave enough to try. I have vision and I a partner who is an accountant…is there a better match for starting a business? I don’t think so. I know I could never do this without his help and financial guidance.
I see creating community with this art studio. I want people of all ages and abilities to be part of this. I want multiple studios with different art forms – fine arts, fiber arts, dance, yoga…I want to partner with neighbourhood agencies and businesses. I want to create a space that welcomes all and allows for artistic freedom and growth. I have a ton of ideas and am currently focusing on attaining a space and contacting all of the contacts I have made over the last five and a half years. It seems like a very daunting process and so I am going to try to document it over a blog. I have had a lot of really valuable information by chance from people I know or from people I have been referred to and if my journey can help others to navigate starting their own business then I am happy to help. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the people I am fortunate enough to know.
Jade and Lulu