Maria Brophy

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Motivation / Personal / Philosophy

Disregard Obstacles and Break on Through to the Other Side Part II

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“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”  Audre Lorde

Drew and I were driving up to San Francisco when I received a blog comment from a reader that hit me like a punch in the stomach.

I admit, I have a very soft spot that needs to toughen up.  Criticism eats me alive.

It put a damper on my day because the reader, Anthony, totally misunderstood my message.  And that’s my fault, as a writer.  Now I worry that others might misunderstand as well.

After my nine year old put in his two cents (keep reading for that), I was compelled to write this follow-up post to clear things up.

Anthony mentioned how he appreciates my blog but was critical of my BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE post.  He wrote:

“…as an artist who is working on becoming one of these self existing entities, your post came across as privileged, out of touch, and even a little condescending.

Obviously many other people are really excited about your story and what it means for them. Unfortunately, the  parts of this post that spoke to me were “six figure income” and “Drew had been a professional artist his entire life…

He was referring to my personal story on how I went from working a corporate job I didn’t like; to creating a job doing what I love in the art world.

I went out on a limb when I wrote that post.  It was difficult because I bared a lot of personal information.

And what was most disappointing was that someone would see me as privileged!  It means I’m not doing my job as a writer.  I’ve not made myself clear.  So here goes:

Far from privileged, my first job was at 14, cleaning houses.  I had to pay my way for everything, including my cap and gown rental so that I could graduate from high school.

It took years for me to stop thinking that Happiness is a Four Leaf Clover

I dreamed of living at the beach in California and eventually made my way there, across the country, a few years after high school.  After 15 years working a good-paying job that I did not care for I finally created an existence that is off-the-charts joyful.

Now  I work with my husband and do what I love:  travel, write, manage Drew’s art career and spend as much time as possible with my son.

Everything I have I created for myself.

If I can do it, without a good upbringing, money or college degree, anyone else can, too.

My message was one of hope, not bragging.  And I’m so sorry if it came across otherwise.

On the other end of the spectrum, I received a slew of mail from people telling me that my post gave them hope and some said it inspired them to do what they’ve been putting off for many years.

Anthony questioned why I felt the need to mention that I earned over six figures in my old job and that it was probably easy for me to quit because I most likely had money saved up.  Wrong – it’s just the opposite.

The more money you make, the harder it is to leave a job you don’t like.

The money is an anchor, the benefits are chains.

I felt the need to mention money because I wanted to inspire others who were in similar situations.

I wanted them to know that it’s possible to make that big of a leap; to go from making a lot of money to making nothing, and then build it back up again.

When I opened the email containing Anthony’s comment, we were driving North on the 5 freeway.  I said out loud in the car, to Drew, defending myself:

I wrote those details about the money and our lives because I want people to know that we are just normal people, with normal problems.  That we had to make things happen for ourselves because no-one else was going to.

“I want people to know that it wasn’t easy, but it was great.  And it’s still not easy.  Every day I question what I’m doing, and if it’s the right thing.  But I’m doing what I love now…”

Emphatically, I added, “I just want people to know that they can do it, too.”

From the back seat my nine year old son, Dylan, piped into the conversation.

“Mom, then why didn’t you just write THAT?”

Sometimes kids are so brilliant.  Why don’t we just say what we want to say, without writing more than we need to?

So, here’s my message, short and simple:

I want everyone to know that they can design a lifestyle that they love, no matter what obstacles there are.

Here’s the most important part (please take note of this):

There’s nothing extraordinary about me or Drew.  We had no help from anyone.  We had very little money in the bank when I jumped out of the corporate world and into the art world.  Neither one of us finished college.  We are not Stephen Hawking smart.  There is absolutely nothing for us to fall back on.  (And that’s the really scary part, if you let it scare you.)  But we did it anyway, because we decided to live life on our own terms.

I’m telling you this (again) because I want you to know that if you want to, you can create your own possibilities, too. You can create the life that you dream of.  No matter what that is.

The first thing to do is to decide what a great life FOR YOU looks like.  (It’s different for everyone.)

You don’t have to follow my path, but please, follow yours.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Maria xxoo

PS:  The start of a New Year is the perfect time to spend a few hours thinking about what you want from your life.  Not goal setting, but life-setting.  Dream up the dream for yourself.  And then see what happens.

Need a kick-start to help you design the lifestyle of your dreams?  Get my LIVING THE DREAM 32 page e-book at the Store.  Or, get it free just by signing up for my awesome newsletters!

“Anybody who writes doesn’t like to be misunderstood.”  Norman MacCaig
.

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31 Comments Disregard Obstacles and Break on Through to the Other Side Part II

  1. Drew

    Maria
    I totally agree with “The more money you make, the harder it is to leave a job you don’t like. The money is an anchor, the benefits are chains.” Very well said and interesting post.

    Reply
  2. Drew

    Maria
    I totally agree with “The more money you make, the harder it is to leave a job you don’t like. The money is an anchor, the benefits are chains.” Very well said and interesting post.

    Reply
  3. Bryan

    I’ve haven’t spent so much time away from the beach since I was 16. Yesterday I took my 15 week old daughter to the beach and put her feet in the wet sand. She smiled really big. I don’t know much about kids. I’m a new father. But, my daughter has already helped me put a lot of things back into perspective.

    I used to draw and paint waves when I lived in HB. It was a natural expression of what I enjoyed in life. When I went to school, painting and drawing the ocean was considered taboo. Ever since, I’ve really struggled with my artwork. Everything I’ve done since has been so contrived. The critics have claimed a few victories over me. They’ll beat you down and change you.

    I’ve always been a bodyboarder. I just have always preferred it. My friends have gone off to do other things in the sports of surfing. One of my friends is really involved in SUP and another is a household name in the sport of kiteboarding. Even they rag me. I consider myself a soul bodyboarder. I don’t really care about the whole scene. I just always did it for myself.

    My critics have almost talked me out of everything I enjoyed in life.

    One thing I enjoy about paddling out, is getting away from all of the noise, the traffic, and the nonsense, and the critics. When I was 16 it was my parents.

    Keep writing. I think your writing is great.

    Reply
  4. Jeff Dolan

    The guts to walk away from your job inspires people. Those who have the “golden handcuffs” find it hard to leave. They chase security instead of their dreams.

    But, for those who never had the opportunity to experience a well-paid job, I could easily see how they could take the mention of it as bragging, since money may be so hard to come by for them while you gave it up.

    How many “haters” have you really had though on this blog? A hand-full? One? That’s the first sign you are on to something!

    Great work. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  5. kara rane

    hi Maria-
    dang. I know what that feels like. I received an art review that was Love & Hate. at first it stung,,,who hates my work!?
    later, I was contacted by one of the “haters” who said they hated my art so much it made them think how great it must be.

    Reply
  6. Purple Hatting

    Hi Maria,

    I connected to this post instantly. This gives me so much more confidence in myself to do what I love.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Archan Mehta

    Maria,

    Your critic did you some good in that you had to clarify your ideas. We were not aware of this aspect of your life, but intuitively I always felt you had attended the school of hard knocks. Well, good for you.

    You have sailed in troubled waters and emerged a winner. Look at that winning photo you have posted for this article, for example. You look great and on top of the world. Again, good for you.

    I hope you will not be offended by your critics from now on. Sometimes, critics can be our best teachers. They compel us to look within and help us communicate more effectively with our target audience. Which is why your latest post resonates with us, me thinks.

    Irrespective, you are loved and supported by your readers. We hold you and your family dear: you are close to our hearts. You have a wonderful life and a great blog. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

    And I feel happy for you that you have carved out a life you wanted and on your own terms you are living your dream life. You deserve it too.

    Cheers, Spunky!

    Reply
  8. Kenneth c Young

    You know I have to feel for the guy Anthony as when you have very little money and at 59 years of age (me I am referring ) with a disability that keeps me from working and trying to live off very little funds from month to month. In a situation like this a person is caught between a rock and a hard place. Believe me I know were the guy is coming from.

    Kenneth

    Reply
  9. Allyn Howard

    I just started reading your blog and I love learning about people, especially artists who are making it work. It gives most of us great hope that we need to keep going! I’m also sensitive to criticism, so I know how that must have felt to read. Agree w-another commenter that criticism can be very useful bc it forces you to step outside yourself and look at something from a different perspective.

    I paint sets in the film/tv business and could be making more money than I currently do, not as much as corporate, but more than I make painting custom murals & creating my own art & products. I would very much like to license my work, esp in the kids’ market, but right now I seem to be doing endless amounts of work for free. It takes a lot of time putting together promos, finding contact names & putting yourself out there for exposure. I guess, each of us has to make those tough decisions and determine what will make for the most satisfying life.

    Fear I’m starting to ramble, but wanted to express that bc I’m going through a lot of rethinking of past decisions. I just don’t want to give up until I’ve exhausted all avenues. Money allows people such freedom so it’s easy to resent those that have it, whether they struggled for it or not. I thought you explained yourself well and I also don’t think anyone needs to apologize for their success, it’s what we all want!!

    Reply
  10. aileen

    After I left my last corporate job I wish I could have melted down those golden handcuffs and put it in the bank. But I had many expenses to deal with the stress of my last job. I got into a habit of spending to feel better!

    Still, I’ve never been in debt (thank goodness). I have had a meager start being an indie artist. It’s been a struggle, for sure! However, I’m no longer a replaceable cog in the machine. I am banking on my personal style. It’s a high risk but (hopefully) there will be a high reward to come.

    Reply
  11. Debbie

    Thanks so much for sharing Maria! I found your post both inspirational and honest. It takes courage and belief to actively go after your dreams. Cheers to you! May living the life of your dreams bring much happiness!

    Reply
  12. Becky

    Maria — I am new to your blog…don’t really remember how I found it, but let me just send you a word of encouragement! I think you are very clear every time you write…I feel like your message is valuable, encouraging and insightful. I have signed up to be on your conference call on the 19th even though I will be in a car driving down to Florida from North Carolina at the time the call happens. I think you have so many wonderful ideas to share.. I thank you for figuring out how to put your ideas and experience together and put it out there for the rest of us creative souls to gather and learn from. I know I don’t have to tell you this because you already know it, but you were brave to admit that your heart felt a little twinge at hearing another person being critical of you. To me, you wouldn’t even bother with this whole idea unless you and your husband Drew had your hearts in the right place! So let’s just all go from there and be grateful, right? Keep on writing…it makes a difference to a lot of us who are reading. NAMASTE!

    Reply
  13. Dianne Poinski

    I am always inspired and encouraged after reading your posts. I for one, need to hear success stories of people living their dreams. It gives me hope that I too can make things happen and I think you did a great job of sharing that that was your intention all along. Thank you Maria!

    Reply
  14. Sammy A.

    My Parents were the ones with money, and we were far from spoiled. I built a resentment for the “privileged” kids, but after hearing some of their stories they had things much worse by having to live up to family expectations and not be allowed to simply be a kid and make kid mistakes.

    I have watched Drew’s career via trade shows take off and I saw him build his business after his success with Lost and that’s what you are trying to teach us is how you got successful and with success comes privileges

    That’s how it works…

    You seem to have a happy family and share it with your kids. Enjoy every day you have. You earned it.

    Reply
  15. Maria Brophy

    Thank you all so much for taking the time to write a comment to me. You’ve truly uplifted me!

    It’s hard being criticized, and sometimes I just wonder if I should stop being so transparent. But then important messages would be lost…

    And just when I’m feeling less than enthusiastic, I receive positive comments like these and it pumps me back up again!
    You all tell me that what I’m writing is worth sharing. And maybe even helpful.

    I believe that my purpose in life is to help people in this one area that I can. And I really love doing it.

    So thanks everyone, for giving me a reason to write!

    Reply
  16. Jack

    Maria
    Most of people answering posts do not read them and they are talking about own problems , eventually they have some already made canned messages ready to dispense them at unsuspecting people who are trying to say something mining full.
    The most disappointing aspect of any blog I see is that there is so many of them.
    The guy with nasty comments is not talking about you but rather about his own problems.

    Reply
  17. Allison

    Maria – you have no idea how inspirational you are to me. I found your Break on Through to the Other Side post beyond amazing – it was in no way ‘privileged, out of touch, or even a little condescending’. My boyfriend and I are on a similar path to the one you and Drew took and are still on – some parts of our journey are so intertwined it freaks me out a little bit – and I can’t express enough how much your blog posts help me stay strong through it all. My take on Anthony’s post was that he is frustrated and I can completely understand that. My boyfriend and I are struggling to get his art to take off – at least to a point where we can redefine our day jobs – but we read blogs like this and books and then IMPLEMENT what we learn. I am happy to say that he just sold his first original and we got our first licensing deal. So I will continue to persevere on our art adventure, keep it positive, and keep reading this blog! Thank you for being inspirational and honest about your journey.

    Namaste~

    Reply
  18. Lori Woodward

    Hi Maria, Anthony is a “Troll” the first rule of thumb is: Don’t feed the troll!

    Seth Godin says that 2% of your readers will hate you for what you’re accomplishing. He also advises to ignore them. Feed the people who love your contributions instead.

    I know how it feels, it’s this empty feeling in your gut that you can’t dismiss, but after you get a few each year, you’ll get used to it and just pay attention to those who want to hear what you share.

    Keep up the great work!
    Lori

    Reply
  19. Miss h

    You always are working hard and still finding time to help others. Don’t worry, you get your message across just fine and so many people, including myself look up to you.

    Reply
  20. violette

    Thank you Maria for yet another inspiring post. I appreciate your transparency and honesty…….you really inspire me to keep reaching and stretching as an artist.

    I listened to the podcast with Tara the other nite and i can tell that both you and Drew are genuinely good people – with big hearts!

    I’m am so enjoying reading all of your posts!

    Keep it up!

    Love,
    Violette

    Reply
  21. Marty Qatani

    Maria.. you are a rock. It’s people like you, Drew, Tara Reed and numerous others that I draw courage, confidence and inspiration from. My career vision is clearer than it’s ever been thanks to you guys.
    We can’t control how other people absorb our writing, painting, music, photography or whatever else. We do it because it fills a need within us, and hopefully others as well. If others. If others benefit from it too, all the better, if not.. they have other paths they can walk.

    Thanks so much for all you do.
    Marty

    Reply
  22. Lynne

    Maria, I’ve been on the Internet since 1994. Before that, ran my own bulletin board. Back in the BBS days, moderators kept people from bashing others. Now, people think they can say whatever they like on the Internet and get away with it. I have been called fat, ugly, stupid, old and whatever they feel like. Once, the comments hurt me so bad I got off the Internet for weeks and stopped speaking at all for that period of time. Drastic? Maybe? Life-changing? Definitely. I no longer give anyone that kind of power. Criticism is good, but I would venture to say you will probably get beat up a little more along the way. Not looking in someone’s eyes often makes for misunderstanding. And some people have a bad day and attack the first person they see (or read).
    You handled it well, but you did nothing wrong.
    Chin up!!! 🙂 Lynne

    Reply
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