I miss this work

I’m a wannabe retread. In the late 80’s and early 90’s I co-owned a
family business making custom jewelry and working trade shows.
During our busiest year we worked over 40 shows. We had a booth in
Tuscon. I loved the work and the people. In the early 90’s the
economy went into recession and I left the industry and ended up in
a successful technology field. Now I have come full circle and the
technology field is suffering. My company is in the middle of a
fourth round of layoffs. I have been longing to leave the corporate
environment and return to a small family business. The experience
has taught me that faced with choosing, that ‘less is more’ and I
would rather be happy and live simply while being creative in a
field that I love - than to sit in my cube with a false sense of
financial security waiting for my job to be exported overseas. I
have a business plan and a supportive partner who is eager to help.
I have been following this forum while I muster the courage to leave
my job.

I would sincerely appreciate your inspiration, advice or
suggestions. I really want to come back to this work.

With high regards,

Dear Catherine,

Just to say I wish you every success and congratulate you on your
focus and dedication. The sense of longing for change and fulfilment
expressed in your posting was quite palpable and something I can
readily identify with. You’re at a great advantage already too, both
in really knowing what it is that you want to do, and that you have
the skills, experience and support network in order to make it

I’ve only recently come to jewellery-making but already it’s
established quite a grip over me; I love the combination of
creativity with skill-requiring practical, tool-based, manual
activities. As a librarian whose own working life has already seen a
fair amount of the type of “restructuring” & “stream-lining” you
describe, I am thinking along the same lines, although I doubt I have
enough jewellery-making skills as yet to cut it in the market-place
even if I do downsize my lifestyle (would be very happy to), although
maybe combining it with another self-employed occupation such as
indexing might be an option.

As a novice, I must also say this list has been a complete
revelation and a joy over the 9 months or so since I joined it. Just
looking forward to the day when I have learned enough to contribute
something useful myself. In the meantime, Catherine - go for it!

You have nothing to lose but your chains…

Very best wishes,
(Glasgow, Scotland)

“We only have today, and tomorrow is promised to no one”

“Heard that in a film”, cant remember what one, but it made a big
impression on me. You have to follow your heart, life is too dammed
short ignore it! My best friend died suddenly a few years back, and
it made me think long and hard about what I should do with what time
I have left on this earth. Making jewellery fills me with joy, and I
have no doubt that this road is the one I “must” travel. When I go off
track everything goes wrong, but when I’m guided by my heart and
spirit and follow, everything strangely just falls into place.

Welcome back!!
Dublin, Ireland

Catherine, It sounds to me like you already have a fair
understanding of the business. If you think that you understand all
the financial consequences of such a choice, as well as any and all
other possible consequences (family effects, time constraints…),
and you still feel ok with it, I’d say GO FOR IT!! The less is more
approach to life can be somewhat limiting in some regards but the
rewards are great. Simplicity can be a magnificent beast and it’s
really much better on the nerves than waiting for the job to
disappear from underneath you. You tend to learn a lot about self
reliance and self confidence. I’d advise anyone and everyone to
simplify their lives as much as absolutely possible. I’ve been
kinda playing with it for years but, since my military injuries and
conditions “deteriorated” sufficiently, I was finally kinda forced
into rethinking my entire life view. Now, what the rest of the
world considers “totally disabled” has become a world filled with
new possibilities and also a world with much fewer complications. I
find myself much better able to devote my thoughts to creative
pursuits and endeavors and the lack of stress has actually made the
chronic pain issues much more bearable. I’m still adjusting to what
I call my “medical retirement” and all of its variables but
simplicity really is the way to go. Take a hint from the
philosopher Joseph Campbell and, “Follow your bliss.” You may not
get financially rich from it (then again you might too) but you
will gain many other forms of wealth that balance out the equation.

Be brave!

Dear Catherine,

I don’t feel that I can give you advice on the financial feasability
of going back into the jewelry business, but I will repeat some
advice that an artist friend gave to me: Only you can do your
artwork, and your time on this earth is limited. If you want to do
your work, better get busy and do it.

If you are like many of us, you will find that you have many more
ideas than hours in the day. Make your art! It is up to you to do it.
No one else can make your art but you, you, you.

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler

 I'd say GO FOR IT!! The less is more approach to life can be 
somewhat limiting in some regards but the rewards are great.
Simplicity  can be a magnificent beast and it's really much better
on the nerves  than waiting for the job to disappear from
underneath you. 

Bravo! Yes! If you don’t have too many responsibilities to kids or
family, then I think that it is not possible, it’s imperative if you
have the desire. Life is short, don’t die with regrets.

I just took the leap – I quit a $60k/year job with bennies and
vacation time, and went back to working for myself. I had done it for
15 years as a writer, and that’s what I’m doing again: writing, and
now add metalsmith work. My first art show is at the end of this

Michael had it right: simplicity in life is wonderful and I am so
glad to be back LIVING a more simple life – the corporate speed race
was just sapping to my spirit. I had forgotten the joys of reading
the news, having coffee with my husband, taking an hour walk with the
dog in the gorgeous Sonoran Desert, working for hours uninterrupted
at my bench or on my computer, cooking great meals…all things
impossible before because of the 12-plus hour days and exhaustion.

The “secret” to doing so is not secret. We live simply. We have 20
acres in the Sonoran Desert off the grid – way out in the middle of
nowhere – and generate power with solar panels; have our own well;
propane; and in no regards are we Bohemian – I have a full Mac
computer and communications system with satellite, WI-FI throughout
our compound for wireless access for notebook computers and printers,
and boosters for cellular reception. Bit by bit we are paying cash
building our house but in the meantime live in a 400 square foot
cottage and 2 large workshops…and having a half a million acre back
yard/“living room” really helps.

We have an old Land Cruiser and a Toyota Truck (no Lexuses here!),
have a major medical insurance plan with a health savings account,
don’t over-consume at Costco, but do spend all we want on books and
music (8 bookcases are crammed into my workshop waiting for our
future home!!). Is it scary? Yes! But the joys outweigh the fright,
believe me. I can always take a sales job or pick up more writing
work if things get tight.

We recently had a party and so many of our acquaintances and friends
were “charmed” by our “wonderful simple lifestyle” and several said
they wished they could do what we do…i look at their lives with
3000-square-foot houses, Lexus SUVs, massive buying habits to
“decorate” their fancy homes – one just spent $10K on WHITE carpet
– blah blah blah. The truth is, they CAN’T do it! That’s the sad

So go for it…if you want to, you can do it. Sorry for the rambles
here…too much caffeine this a.m.!