Courage to Fly Blog Hop

Photo by me

A few weeks ago, the fabulous Stephey Baker invited me to take part in the Courage to Fly Blog Hop. Every participant will be answering one series of questions, and this is mine:

Have you ever taken a risk on yourself? Pushed off the branch and flew into uncharted territory with nothing but inspiration fueling you?

This topic sang to me when I read about the Courage to Fly Blog Hop because it summed up pretty much my career, my life, up to now.

Take One

It started back in high school. I didn’t have the nerve to apply as an art major, much less apply to a specialized art college. I didn’t think my work in high school was good enough, and people around me, while they loved me, didn’t understand how badly I needed to hear “go for it”. I didn’t have enough faith in myself to do it anyway; I needed a push, a little support. They convinced me to be a film major instead, and I convinced myself they were right. So, I applied as a film major, was accepted as a film major, and started as a film major.

Halfway through my first semester, I was miserable.

I could barely stand to be on campus, and went home every weekend. I hated my film classes, I didn’t care about lighting or editing or post production or scripts or cameras. If anything, having to analyze a movie to death killed any enjoyment for me. I found myself critiquing every movie I saw, whether I wanted to or not, and I hated that I couldn’t turn off that part of my brain to just, for the love of everything holy, watch a single freaking movie.


So, I switched majors from film to art. Without ever having taken a single college-level art class, without knowing if I could do it, I switched. And I didn’t tell anyone for months because I didn’t want to hear how wrong they thought I was. Deep down, whether I could admit it to anyone or not, I knew this was what I needed to do for me.

And I was happier than ever.


Skip ahead several years. I had graduated college, and was firmly installed in a corporate office. It wasn’t a bad job, but it definitely wasn’t for me. The more I worked, the more I wondered if this cubicle was all I could expect out of life from now on. My creative spark dimmed and died, and I was feeling stifled and smothered. I couldn’t breathe, and every day that I went to work and stared at my gray fabric-covered walls, my standard-issue desk, and the multi-line phone, it got worse.

When I tried to explain how miserable I was, I had people tell me to be grateful I had a job. Then the guilt started; I did have a good job, and not everyone else could say that. But I was restless, too. This good job that made me miserable wasn’t enough, and I knew it.

Then one day, I had the worst job review ever. The supervisor was nasty and hateful, and instead of approaching me as an adult with things I needed to work on, she attacked me personally. I was furious that she crossed the line, till I realized… she’s doing me a favor, whether she knew it or not. I put in my two weeks notice the next day, and I felt the weight lift off of me.

I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have another job lined up. I just knew I needed out. And I got out before it was too late and I stopped caring about anything.

Third time’s a charm

I spent the next several months healing a bit. I was beat up emotionally, and questioning everything. I traveled, worked part-time, saw my niece being born, spent time with her and my sister right after, took care of myself.

Then, in May of 2007, I was on a family vacation to Hawaii and I tripped walking into a bead store. I’ve told that story before, but that was the start of a new chapter for me. It was there that I rediscovered my love of making art, and beads were the vehicle to get me there. I felt inspired again, and started Catie’s Blue a few days after I returned home. People (and loved ones) thought I was crazy, but something inside of me was on fire. I couldn’t ignore it, and I didn’t want to. I hadn’t felt that alive in months.

This time, I was going to do things my way. I had to. It was my life, and I wasn’t living it at all.

My Lesson

My entire artistic journey has been a lesson in learning to trust myself in order to fly.

When I started my business, lots of people were quick to point out all of the things I didn’t know (like I wasn’t aware of those things – I am my worst critic). But what they didn’t know was that I knew that creating was what I was meant to do. It took a while, but I realized that if I just listened to myself, I could be happy. The one person who knew what I wanted and what I needed the best was me.

In some ways, starting my own business was exactly what I had been preparing myself for. I learned the techniques I needed in college, and I opened the door to a new life when I quit my office job. Starting a business wasn’t a risk anymore; I had already taken the risks. Now, it was simply a choice to walk through the door I had opened or stay as I was.

I’m not afraid of risks and I’m not afraid of failing. I’ve gone out on a limb before, and I’ll probably be there again. The trick for me is not to go out on a limb when my back is against a wall, but to listen to myself to start with. It’s never quite as scary or desperate to be out on a limb when it’s my choice. That’s what my goal is now; listening, acknowledging, accepting.

And hey, it only took me three tries to get it right. If I can do it and learn this, I’m pretty convinced anyone can.

How about you? Ever been on the limb before?

This post is part of the Courage to Fly Blog Hop. Also posting today is Amanda from Prim and Propah.

28 Responses to Courage to Fly Blog Hop

  1. hey Brandi … those gray cubie walls must hold some sort of toxic chemical that repeals creatives like mold on drywall … your more than on point description of the office cubie made my tummy sink again for a moment … thanks for the sweet reminder of where I no longer care to be! I had almost forgot the sheer pain of the square with a chair.

  2. I love stories like these so much. They inspire me to keep plugging away at what I know is my own dream come true. <3 Thanks for this!

  3. You are one beautiful and inspiring soul, Miss Brandi. I have heard this tale before from you. This is so eloquently put together with the beginning, middle and happy ending. It makes me cry tears of happiness for you, and also tears of recognition that I am you where you were then. Stuck. Creatively zapped. Yet knowing that this is what I was meant to do. I am glad that you could find that path and trust in the direction it has taken you. I think it is a bit more complicated for me, but I am not that far off.

    "It was my life, and I wasn't living it at all." These words are so big, resonating and reverberating with me. I have a lot to think about.
    Thank you for putting this out there and for sharing so freely of your journey.

    Enjoy the day!

  4. Wow, I so understand you. I have been where you have been and it is now that I am starting on that fantastic journey that is my own business, exactly where I have been dying to be for a long time.
    I love how you managed to put it in such beautiful words. Very inspiring, very encouraging. Good for you!

  5. Brandi, you and I are almost the same person! I admire you for going through art school… I had people tell me that I needed to go into a "more stable" field than fashion design and while for the most part I totally see where they came from (and yes, I now hold a stable, well paying corporate job)I always wish I had taken real classes and gone through that experience… but life sometimes has different plans for us.

    I am not just embarking on my creative journey and it's so refreshing to hear that there are other like me! Rock on partner!

  6. and we are all so happy that you made that decision to leave the branch and fly! thanks for sharing friend.

  7. This is an awesome post! I especially resonate with the following:

    "My entire artistic journey has been a lesson in learning to trust myself in order to fly."

    When I read this, I thought HOLY CRAP! She is so writing my story and I couldn't agree more that a, "The one person who knew what I wanted and what I needed the best was me." it's so crucial to listen and act from within. god knows this is a life lesson for me. i seem to go in and out and whenever i find myself irritable i remember, time to listen from within, again!
    Thank you for adding this important reminder to our hop!
    your rock!

  8. I'm living this story right now… except I'm still stuck in the chapter with the icky, gray cubicle. Is there anything more depressing? I loved hearing your story, it gives me courage to take that leap!

  9. Thanks so much for the inspiring story. I love reading these kind of stories. They remind me that my dreams are possible, and to keep plugging along. Thanks again!

  10. Brandi, I enjoyed this post so much. It does take courage to follow your heart even when you don't know where it's leading. My hat's off to you for that!

  11. Your story makes me believe even stronger now how important it is to listen to that inner voice. Its those nudgings that show us the way…and they don't seem to quiet themselves until we listen! It is so inspiring how you didn't give up and was willing to fail in order to live from your heart!!

  12. third times a charm, right? it may have taken you three tries, but you learned and you are there, doing what is important to you, that is what's important. your jewelry is just stunning. good for you for pursuing your dream!

  13. Hey Brandi,

    Trusting yourself. I reckon without that self-trust we really don't have much.

    And life's full of lessons that will always lead us back to that place – trust yourself.

    Thank you for sharing so honestly.

    Tricia x

  14. Girl. I was there! Wow. Good for you!!!! Good for you for not letting other people turn you away from what you knew was the right thing for you! Seriously, our loved ones can sometimes be the worst people to support us because they care so much, they don't want us to get hurt. But how can we gain anything if we don't risk something? You were right to do what your heart was telling you to do.

    Yay for you!! I'm so with you. Did so many of the same things, but took me wayyyy longer! Good for you, Brandi!!!!


  15. Wonderful post!!! I found myself going "yayyyy!" the whole time I was reading it 🙂


  16. really loved the part about going out on a limb when it's your choice, not when your back's against the wall. great, great point! thanks…..

  17. Wow Brandi, what an amazing story! It's always fascinating to learn how others got to this point… x

  18. Great courage to fly share, Brandi. I think that every experience: good, bad and yes, even partially complete shapes who we become. Thanks for sharing the story of your creative journey. ~Laura

  19. Brandi
    I loved hearing your story. I've wondered about your background and what brought you to the successful place that you are in today. You are an inspiration! I know for myself that I need to go out on a limb more! I'm definitely the hesitant, over-thinker type. Your words are so encouraging to hear.

  20. Love this! And I can completely relate to the dying in a corporate office feeling. If it weren't for grad school and knowing that I'm working toward my dream, I'd go nuts! Congrats to you for taking those leaps!

  21. I loved reading this. I can relate to so much of your story. What I have trouble doing, is taking the risks and stepping out on the limb. But reading your story was inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Awesome post! I relate in several ways to your journey though mine is different in circumstances.. It's so easy to let other peoples good intentions guide us when at a soul level we know what we want, or at least what we really don't want..
    Good for you for the courage you have shown and continue to show..

  23. Fantastic post friend! That description of the office cubicle just sent me back in time.
    It's wonderful that you were able to make that leap for you and to do what you needed for you.

  24. This story sounds similar to mine! 🙂 Small steps and listening to ourselves and we will be ready to fly, eh?