How Not To Be A Business But Still Make Money

A year ago today I had officially quit my job. I handed over a letter of resignation and walked away from a steady paycheck, full benefits including dental and retirement, and paid vacation up the kazoo.  I left children I had joyfully witnessed grow for the past few years--and colleagues who I had become very fond of.  I left my comfort zone--a position in which I was really, really good at.  Where I won awards and the hearts of kindergartners.  I left a job that when I told people what I did their eyes would light up and they always gushed about how lucky I was.  I left my own classroom, an art supply budget, a desk, and file folders stuffed full of lesson plans I worked very hard on for years.

And yes, I left things that were much easier to leave behind.  That helped fuel my decision to walk away.  That were the catalyst many times for my unhappiness.

I left one life to embrace another, all over an exchange that lasted an hour.

And now it's been one full year.

My main reason for going out on my own was to follow my heart--to listen to my innate wisdom--instead of caving in to fear.

I had to.  I'm the leader of the FEARLESS™ Painting Revolution.
How could I truly teach and inspire others--if I wasn't living what I was preaching.

And I'll tell you the truth, this last year I learned more about myself than any year past.

The most interesting thing to me has been the transformation.

When I started this journey a year ago today I thought of Dirty Footprints Studio as my business.  I instantly started reading every business book I could grab--following business blogs--and researching and observing very closely business owners that I deeply admired.  I was so very intrigued.

And then I was blessed.  In October I was invited to speak at the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree in Austin, Texas where I met other inspiring, passionate, and very creative self employed individuals.  And the best thing about this conference was how fun it was--how the talks were interesting and uplifting.  It wasn't about was about creating a life.

And the real truth is--that's what all of this is about for me anyways.  Deep down.

I have no real interest in business.  My first-born, very driven, Capricorn-in-the-first-house mind ate up all that business jargon like candy--because it loves a challenge--and even more--it loves to succeed.  But honestly, my heart didn't buy it.  My innate wisdom kept screaming at me something so very different.  And most of this year I spent in conflict with myself because of this.

When I think of Dirty Footprints Studio as a business--things spiritually start to crumble for me.  I start to act on ideas purely out of momentum and I feel that I always need some kind of plan or destination.  I push.  I force.  I move quickly--and mindlessly.  And I lack trust.

When I let go of the idea of Dirty Footprints Studio as a business, and think of it more as a platform for me to share the gifts I know whole heartedly I was granted and as a way to be self sustainable--things simply flow.  They happen on their own and they come from this place of such truth--that when I do release them, I don't just feel confidant and all high on accomplishment--I actually feel whole.  I feel connected to Creative Source.

You see, the thing with me is I get an idea and I do one of two things with it.

1.) I act on it quickly and full of such verve that momentum takes over and I just go along for the ride.
2.) I let it sit with me and unfold naturally. I support the idea by working on it mindfully--by exploring it as I create it.

But here's the thing--there's a huge difference between working from momentum and staying in the flow.

Most online businesses I see work from momentum.  They're spitting out content, e-books, workshops, and art like a well oiled machine.  Boom! Boom! Boom! BoomBoomBoomBoom!

Most (not all) business books, blogs, and what have you champion momentum over flow as well.  It generates money, it's energy pulls in others quickly, and it can even be addicting--the whole accomplishment high.  I get it. I so get it.

But it's not me.  It's not what I was put here to do and that has been the greatest lesson I learned this year.

Three fourths through this year I stopped reading business books, blogs, and jargon--and started reading books about leaders.  About people who lead revolutions, who ignite change--who are activists and voices for those that lack power to speak.  I started acutely observing the way change happens--instead of how money manifest or how marketing works.  I started looking at organizations that are focused on finding answers, shifting perspectives, and promoting wellness--individually, in communities, as well as world wide.

These leaders and organizations--there's nothing glittery and sparkly about them.  They don't work like well oiled machines.  They don't make things happen BoomBoomBoom.

They can't be fucking around with momentum--they have to be mindful.  They have to trust something so deep that drives them--rather than rely completely on strategy or other people's successes or following an idea just for the sake of seeing it happen.

I spent today being very reflective on the fact that it was my anniversary.  I didn't sit and write a business plan or go over my financial goals.  Instead I prayed.

I'll be really honest with you...sometimes I get down.  I feel even a little lost.  I don't see others online that I can relate to--that are doing what I know I need to do.  It was easier last year this time.  It was easier when I thought all I needed to do was rock out Dirty Footprints Studio as an online business.

But what about if you know you're here to make change happen.  That your path is purely spiritual--and that just throwing the word sacred around doesn't kick it for you.  What if your desire is not world domination or thousands of followers or even millions of dollars.  What if your heart is telling you that your true path is of a leader--that your actions need to unfold--that your plan has to be to trust?  Who's writing those e-books?  Who's making those workshops? Who's got the market on that brand?

So I'm starting a new year and I'm letting go of a lot of things.  I'm willing to risk the comfort of keep doing what's been working so well for me this past year--to at least keep asking these questions.  To keep searching.  Most especially--surrendering to the flow--and not letting myself be swept away by momentum.

I know deep down that FEARLESS™ Painting--and all of this Dirty Footprints Studio stuff is a big blessing in my life--but it's not the end all.

It's only been the force that made me finally wake up.

And I wonder what it will mean to me at my next anniversary.  I guess I just have to trust.


Rabbit Hole Report said...

As a fellow Capricorn who also left formal classrooms and a benefits package, I can identify with so much of this. Congratulations on your anniversary of creative risk and trust. If you're looking for leadership role models in the evolutionary creativity department, Jan Phillips is one I highly recommend:

See you on the playground!

Tara @ Aquamarine Art said...

Connie you are more amazing than you realise, I think. x

yogiknitgirl said...

Wow . . . your post was the first thing I read this morning and it was heartfelt and truly powerful. You have done amazing things this past year and I am loving being a part of 21 secrets. My first thought was that I can't wait to read what you have to say another anniversary from now and I am sure it will say it has been another rewarding and self growing year. Here is to you . . . for your strength, wisdom and courage to make a difference . . . to teach and guide those of us on our own art journeys . . . still working the ful ltime job and wishing we could do what you have done! Love to you!

mel said...

oh, Sistah! you rocked my world with this post...

yes, yes, YES!

i HEAR this and truly BELIEVE it. i get discouraged and blue with the Business, Business, Business message and wonder if i'm completely off my head to think it needs to be different....

since i took BIG, i've watched you move from your heart to your head and now back to your heart's been wonderful to witness...but i'm SO glad you're back in your heart...

*deep, soul-full sigh*

ps. happiest of anniversaries to you!!!

Carolyn said...

Wow, your words reached to my soul! I am sorting through a career change. Thanks for sharing such heartfelt words!

Kristin Dudish said...

Happy Anniversary Connie!

Wishing you many, MANY more years of joyfully following your life's passion!

This was such a wonderful post - it is so easy to get swept up in the momentum that we forget why we're doing it in the first place... Thank you for sharing your wisdom (and all of your goodness) with us!


p.s. I can especially relate to this because after art school I went back to school for art education... There were many things I loved about student teaching (the kids!!!) and I was even asked to interview for positions, but it was at that point that I realized my passion was somewhere else...

Art as a "career" has been a roller coaster - really fun and intense thrills, but also a lot of coasting and drifting (and heart searching)... Thank you for reminding me what it's all about :)

Big, big hugs!

Marit said...

You give me prove that there are others like me in this world and after reading this blogpost, I have the confidence of going on the path I choose to walk. Thanks dear one, and have a happy anniversary!

Deanna said...

Dear Connie, you have been a force of change in my creative life. I understand where you are coming from, I am floundering in a 9-5 job myself right now, knowing it doesn't fit right anymore but not know where else to go. You are a big inspiration.

I don't think we ever reach the place where we think "ah this is exactly where I need to be" I think the journey never ends but we need to be sure we stay as close to our path as possible.

Stephanie said...

happy HAPPY anniversary. What you have accomplished this year is magical. Think of all the creative juice that you have served..its amazing! When I think of what BIG means to me and what you have opened up to me I cry. Yes, I am sitting here crying. You have a spirit and an energy that cannot be contained to a 9-5 job. You are touching so many more people's hearts by doing what you are doing. Wrap your arms around yourself and hug the hell out of you. You are fantastic!

I too gave up a HUGE $$ job to go back to school and become an art teacher. People thought I was crazy, but I knew that it was right for me..and really that's all that counts!

For me, I know that my classroom is my bliss. It is who I really am. Is there crap to deal with...of course. But I was the opposite...I was crying to get back in. Now that I am on summer break I am seriously having a hard time without that. I know that my path will be about inspiration thru some sort of classroom...and my HUGE HUGE JUICY goal is to have my own studio where I offer classes...but that's not for a long time...I know that's not right away.

Until that time I am enjoying connecting back to my spirit...and getting to know myself again as a painter, a part of my being that I had put away.

What I have learned thru YOU is to have confidence in myself again...some days are better than others and I imagine as you say, that is the same for you. But this life is a JOURNEY and we all have our path...yours is beautiful and spirited and generous and loving. I'm so happy to be part of your tribe!

hali said...

♥♥♥ yessssssssss ♥♥♥

Tracy Carlton said...

Happy Anniversary Connie!!

You are for SURE rockin' the inspirational leader role. Check.

Changing the world.

A forerunner, that's why you don't see a lot of it out there. YOU ARE IT BABY!

And there's a whole hecka lot of us wanting to do it your way, not the business model way. Thanks for breaking the ground in such an AWESOME way.

Infinite hugs and love to you dear Sister.

Joanna Paterson said...

This makes so much sense to me - thank you for sharing it, and please know you are far from being alone.

Happy anniversary, and here's to many more :-)

Tracie said...

Yeah! What Tracy said! Check, check and check!

M said...

Hi Connie,
You hit it in a nutshell. When I read "it's a lifestyle, not a business," my heart felt it through and through. I won't be hanging up my school lanyard any time soon but I have been heading back into making art to vend and to exhibit. It's a huge step for me and it's not one I'm sure I want to commit to. But I'm a commitmentphobe in many ways, lol! Trying to make this leap has taught me that.
I hadn't realized that'd you'd only been on this journey for a year. what amazing progress you've made. In a sense, we mentor one another. I have a lot to learn from you.

Jamie Lynn said...

The universe does say Yes, but First we must say Yes - I'll do it and you have answered

Jen said...

Happy Anniversary! :D

And thank you so much for writing about your first year so honestly. I have been going through the same conflicting feelings lately, trying to balance business with listening to my heart. But you have helped me remember that it's not about business, it's about changing the world.

Thank you, reading this has lifted the weight I have been carrying the past week.

Jen :)

LadyLazarus said...

Thank you. Last night and even this morning, and for quite some time, I've been feeling down about getting a steady job somewhere, don't something "conventional." It's just not me, it's not something I think I can do and not explode 24/7 from the stress and unhappiness. I've never been one to stay conventional, I suppose.
Your entry here gives me hope. That I CAN do something I really want to, something that's important to me, an alternative to a "normal" job that may be easier for people to accept. You've helped me realize that it's okay to do what I feel is in my heart, not what I feel people are expecting me to do. Thank you, this means so much to me. I'm going to favorite this post whenever I'm feeling lost or doubtful so I can reread it to foster hope.


Lillian Keenan said...

I haven't been reading your blog for very long, but over the past couple of years and especially this past year, I've been going through a creative re-awakening. And, I, too, have been caught up in reading, "Create a business plan." Business plan? What? Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. What you wrote today resonates with me in ways I haven't even completely realized, but I know what you are saying and it's exactly what I've been feeling and being confused about. So, thank you for helping me stay on track; thank you for giving me the sense that I AM on the right track. Thank you for sharing your fears and worries in an honest way. Just thank you, your post was the most amazingly perfect gift to me at the most amazingly perfect moment.

Jeanie Anthony said...

Thank you for your heart of fire! An inspirational leader is certainly how I see you. You model self love and freedom for me. The power of being and living the Truth of who we are is an amazing journey. So much Love bubbling on the Planet. To flow with life is the greatest gift! Big love to you dear heart!


Jeniffer Hutchins said...

Chills & shivers galore. I'm there with you all the way. ALL the way.

Here's to a new year filled with TRUST and following those inner voices.

We've GOT to talk!!!
Love & Blessings,

Alisha said...

Thank you for writing this. This topic has been on my mind these last few days.

Natasha said...

Has it really been a year?? I have watched you grow, shrink, grow bigger, breathe, listen, cry, exhale, rejoice and love...all the time you were love and that force has changed so many lives ...more than you know because the love that begins here seeps out like ripples and affects the lives of those you have never even imagined. The reason there are no other blogs about what you are looking for is that you are meant to be the leader in it...sometimes that can be lonely but don't let it be..remember you are a light, a beacon with followers and at any time you can stop, sit and break bread with any of them...with all of us... you are a natural leader and your revolution is only just beginning. Here's to many more years following your heart, my inspiring friend.

spiritmovesdance said...

I can't begin to tell you how much I needed to read this. It was amazing. Thank you for putting into words something that has been bothering me for a while now (only I didn't quite know how to identify it).

I am heaving a much-needed sigh of relief. You are an inspiration. Thank you thank you thank you.


sersk said...

Oh, Connie, this is the reason we all love you so much. You are a leader and a bright shining light. You are not afraid to let us know that you have changed your mind, and can take another direction. I know that my creativity has expanded and Im looking forward to seeing where all of this takes you. Big Hugs Sheila

Ophelia said...

Oh goodness Connie!
This is such an amazing post..First, congrats to you on your one year anniversary! I appreciate how open and honest you were here in this post...I am a teacher as well...and I am completely touched at your ability to take the leap! You did, and that is amazing. I am in awe..
Thanks so very much for opening your heart today to post this....I am so grateful you have shared this.

Suzana said...

Thank you for writing this post, Connie. So much here I can relate to. Here's to a year filled with peace, joy, art, living fearlessly - and an adequate amount of financial sustanance to support it all. ;)

lynna-g said...

Well I am a bit late with my comment.
But what ever you do you do it with commitment and that means that sometimes you might go fiercely into something with your heart on your sleeve-- feeling primed and pumped-- only to run out of steam part way. That is when you question your self and in the process deepen your understanding of the journey you are on-- and you bring those insights back to your tribe of followers and fans. Some of your meanderings off your path have led you to more truth which you share with us YOur rigorous self honesty keeps the journey safe for those of us that respond to your leadership.
I have found my own true north star by observing how you follow yours.

m & g ; g l said...

I love the changes you are going through, you can feel the energy in your writing. Amazing and like so, so many other people....I can relate with all my heart. Sometimes You just know in your heart what the best way is.......follow your heart!

Bob Wilson said...

Congratulations on making the change and on your one year anniversary! I just found your blog today and am glad I did.
I really enjoyed your message and applaud you for sharing it. Best regards,

Teena said...

thanks for writing this post ... it is the best thing I have read in ages and it is all so true ... thanks for reminding me why i do this and what my core value is ... you are an angel ... blessings to you

Ingrid said...

big congratulations for taking a leap of faith and starting a journey of the heart! i admire your passion and bravery and determination, and i admire all that you've accomplished.

i'd so love to do the same as you and countless other bloggers i know: take a passion and turn it into a career. and, like you, i am unsure about business books and advertising tactics - i don't want to be a millionaire, i only want to touch peoples' lives.

whatever my path will be, thanks for being such an inspiration, an encourager, an uplifter, and a role model. it means so much to me and every other women who knows you. you are such a blessing.

all my love,

Blue Dragon Arts said...

you are so speaking my thoughts! i've always felt that 'selling' wasn't my way (capricorn, 1st born too!)i'd love to hear more about the people you've been reading, they sound very inspiring. THANK YOU for sharing honestly, that is the BEST thing you can do as a leader!

Marianne Cantwell said...

Connie honey you're fucking amazing. On the money again (pun intended).

Marianne xx

Vintage Bookworm said...

Hey Connie

The lovely Marianne directed me to this post...WOW, what a story and what an inspiration! I was identifying with lots of what you said and when I got to the end I realised...I'm also a first born Capricorn...what does this mean?! Long may your amazing journey continue and I will be sure to follow it :)

Fran X

Jenny said...

Love this Connie. I'm creating a biz from the heart and I have to do it - if I can stop one person going through what I did that would be great. It's not about pots of money, it's about doing what I feel I'm supposed to in life.

PS Marianne brought me along as well :)

julie @ the peaceful peacock said...

capricorn rising over here.

this is so beautifully written ~ it's taken me almost four years to get to this point but it's worth every second of heartache and growth it takes to get here.

I applaud your life, your words, your style, and your work. blessings of peace, wealth, and abundance. <3

Heather Plett said...

I'm way behind in reading posts, but I just needed to say how much I love, love, LOVE this post. You're spot on with this - you ARE a leader. And so am I. And you've just helped me have some clarity about the work that I am doing in the world, trying to help people step into the leader role. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There are people out there for you. Really! See Chris Guillebeau ( and Martha Beck ( I think you'll get a lot out of their work.

Rev. Maggy Whitehouse said...

Brilliant stuff. Thank you. Loved reading it (and that you weren't afraid to say fuck!).

I'm a great fan of Barbara Winter's work - she helped me get back into writing after I lost the impetus years back. And I'm stepping up like you are. Haven't read anything this clear about the process for ages. Bless you.


Debra said...

Thanks so much for is exactly the point I've reached too, after years of trying to squeeze my creative self into the 'business' model and feeling increasingly deflated and disheartened, I threw my toys out of the pram, starting face painting, blogging and doing whatever comes along that sounds CREATIVE and FUN. That's what counts, and I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one!

Wishing your every success and much happiness.

Hugs, Debra x

staci b said...

You got in one year what it took me more than ten to learn. I walked away from a successful advertising career in 1998, and being the first born, having a Capricorn rising sign, and entrepreneurial parents, it was a fait accompli. Thank you for sharing so eloquently the realization that it doesn't have to be about "business." Share on!

Lisa Firke said...

Just want to thank you for this post! Huge moments of recognition as I read...

Lora Lea said...

Yup, you are amazing! My eyes are tearing up because this journey you have been on & are sharing is one I too have been struggling with. It took me almost 35 years to be fearless enough just to pick up a paint brush. I feel like I've had my hands stapled to my back with no chance of release. These last 10 years have been quite the soul search and I finally feel like I'm happy. To all your other peeps...Thank you for your posts as well, it's so AMAZING to know I'm not alone. HUGS

Debbie said...

Hi Connie,

You have to read the book 'Poke the Box' by Seth Godin. It's about not waiting for a road map and drawing one instead.

It's about trying scary things knowing that some will be successful and some will not.

I bet you could have written that book.

One Love,

Willis said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is an inspiration as I work on reinventing myself doing some of what I love and some of what I need to become credentialed in a new state where I see the possibilities as endless, though many only see the tough times of recession. I am blessed to be where I am and blessed to have the time to get to know wonderful creative people like you. Keep the energy moving because this is a great wave by which to be touched. My your heart and life be filled with peaceful abundance.

Anonymous said...

You are an angel and a blessing. I am so happy something led me to your website and blog. I really need to hear what you have to say and to feel your positive energy. I have learned much from you already!!! Keep it comming...thank you.<3

Emmanuelle said...

Connie thank you so much for this post. I am quitting my job as an admin manager in an events company in less than 2 months, to become a full time yoga teacher and coach (!). Being a Capricorn myself, I get the learner/overachiever thing, and as I have worked on my Soul Work on the side for 6 months now, I have surrounded myself with courses and classes on business and read every blog from every coach under the sun, I think. Which has led to me wanting to say "fuck you" to all of these wonderful people - they truly are! - because what I read doesn't make sense anymore to me. So be it, when I take the leap I will do as I feel like doing. Fun and joy are key!

Square-Peg Karen said...

Bullseye - straight to my heart! Thank you and happy anniversary!

I think this is the first time I've been here and I am wowed - I am going to wander around awhile now and will be back for SURE!

faerian said...

happy anniversary baby! so glad you are taking the time to listen because you make such beauty in the world - glad you know that is your job, that is your business x

latisha said...

ah! i see miss jane. perhaps this is how we've connected. this is such a timely post for me to read. on the fools ledge stepping into my own dreamwork. happy anniversary to you! and thank you for sharing your light.

Debra Mennins said...

Even if you don't have your corporate benefits, as long as you're happy, then you know that you can make anything happen. Benefits can be made and paid for out of your own hard work, it just up to you what you consider a real benefit.

dentist sydney

Victor Deloach said...

I have been part of a team as marketing mentor for almost five years now(online & offline). Although some may consider this as a business, I don't think it that way because of the manner I live with it everyday.

Wade Wilson said...

I like that idea. I guess sometimes being impulsive, creative, and having a little luck on your side can be just as good as any comprehensive franchise plan.

rlm studios said...

WOW! these thoughts and revelations are just what I needed to continue and grow myself and my art! Thank you for being brave to share Truth


James Olney said...

Genius. It's a good idea not to force yourself but still try on something you love and make money out of it.

Molly said...

This post was such a wonderful message for me. I too am pondering a big change toward what my soul and spirit are telling me really matters. You are a leader my friend! Congrats and onward to the New Year!

Theresa said...

So I'm two years from retiring with 30 years of teaching. I've taught 2nd through 8th grade and am currently teaching Art at a middle school. I love teaching new projects and pushing the students to do what they thought they could not accomplish. But the lack of enthusiasm from students, staff and administration is taking its toll. And then there is me. Struggling with my own creativity. Creating pieces that I love and yet stuck in a rut. Teaching at a public school with demands on time and expectations, the routine and the demands keep me from expanding what I want to do. Two more years seems like an eternity. I want my health to stay intact in that time. I want to be able to get in contact with me and find out what I really want and need. People ask me what are you going to do when you retire, you are so young? I tell them I want to pursue my art, my creativity. They look at me like I'm crazy. I feel I'm rambling but I need to get this out. I sit here crying for selfish reasons or because I feel what??? This may not be the place to express what is going on but it may be a start.

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