Not All Who Wander Are Lost: How a Road Trip Inspired My Jewelry Design Career

When I hit the open road, I had very little plans. My only goal was to find happiness, and for me that meant freedom and flexibility. By being free of my daily routine I was able to say "yes" (and learned to say "no") using my heart as a compass.

As I drove west for the first time, surrounded by the endless fields of windmills that line US Route 70, I had the Alchemist audiobook playing. It's an amazingly written story about finding your purpose and receiving answers from our inner wisdom. It's a book that has the potential to change your life if you're open to it, and I was listening intensely. If you've never read it, please do yourself the favor. If you have, you know how inspired I felt as I drove through the sunshine, windows down, curiosity high, and free of responsibilities for a brief moment in time.

Check out my previous post about how I quit my job to travel and seek happiness.

A Heart Connection

So I'm listening to the book and feeling an open heart and mind like never before. I knew I was on the right path, but I still had no idea that a jewelry business was in my future.

I wandered into a bead store while I was out discovering the town of Wheat Ridge, CO. I was so inspired recently by the Alchemist that I decided I was going to make a bracelet with charms that are symbols from the book: a pyramid, a scarab beetle, a treasure chest. At the time, I wasn't making jewelry at all. I had made some things as a kid but I never made myself any legit jewelry before. But, I started going into bead stores looking for the right charms.

I never completed that bracelet (future design idea perhaps?) but going into bead shops became a new kind of treasure hunt for me. I became obsessed with finding the most interesting colored stones and learning about crystals. Beads were a great souvenir because they're small and travel well. So every new place I visited, I would seek out the bead or gem shops and collect my treasures. From Flagstaff to the Florida Keys, I hit bead shops all over the country and eventually had a collection of stones, each matched with a special memory.

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

With my gypsy-like collection of stones, I started to create bracelets, keychains, and all types of hippie adornments. It was so much fun to get lost in the colors and construction. I had always been crafty and even did beadwork as a child, so I think my brain craves that type of activity.

I felt intense peace when designing and making jewelry.  For the first time, I was completely released from anyone else's expectations and able to let my heart guide me. And where did it lead? Back to where I felt happiest as a kid: behind the craft table.

Just as The Alchemist says, we know our heart's true desire as children and we tend to distance from it as we get older as a response to societal pressure and fear. Is it any surprise that I abandoned my passion to pursue a high GPA in high school and then a degree in the sciences? I bet it also wouldn't surprise you to know that I never felt that path was right for me, and felt I had to choose something "responsible".

So when I finally freed myself of the binds of other people's expectations, I quickly returned to my home, my heart.

So in the end, this book about returning to your roots and following your heart inspired me to begin creating jewelry, which became my life's passion and future career.

It's kinda cool, right?!

    This road trip became foundation of my jewelry making journey. I got a set of jewelry tools and I set up workstations wherever I was resting my head for the night. I created jewelry at campgrounds, in hotel rooms, and spare bedrooms. I gave all of my creations away, except the few things I kept for myself. I sent bracelets back home, to my friends, and gave them to people who hosted me. Jewelry became my love language.

When my time on the road came to an end, it was a year later that I opened an Etsy shop and started selling jewelry. From then it was a gradual, deeper dive into the jewelry world and eventually taking the plunge of being a full time creative entrepreneur.

I never thought my life would include the blessing of working for myself and pursuing my passion (especially because for a long time, I had no passion). Now that I'm here I can't imagine it any other way. My hope is that by reading my story, maybe you'll get inspired to return to your roots and listen to your heart. It doesn't take a big, life changing road trip to discover your passion so just do whatever helps you connect. Get outdoors, meditate, listen to your favorite music, and don't underestimate your intuition. If there's a part of you that needs freeing, get curious about it and let it out, you never know where your curiosity will lead when you let your heart guide you.

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