Since starting Lotus Life Designs three years ago, I’ve been asked several times what inspired me to start my inspirational t-shirt line. I remember feeling surprised when someone asked me that question the first time. It was hard to digest that people wanted to know my story and honestly it felt a little scary and slightly uncomfortable sharing this part of myself with others but that, too, was part of the new ‘story’ I was writing. So here it is… the inspiration behind Lotus Life Designs. Enjoy and thanks for reading.
In July of 2010, I landed a job as an Administrative Assistant with a great company. I was so excited about it and at the time thought, ‘This is it! This is finally the right place for me.’
For the most part, the new job itself wasn’t anything new. I had already been doing Administrative work for years, but here, the money and perks were the best I had ever been offered in all my years of office work. I thought these things would make me happy so I settled in and started the same old routine.
As the first few months passed, boredom quickly set in and I felt unfulfilled. I knew this feeling well but the job was in my comfort zone; it was easy and comfortable and I needed a job so why not at least work for a company that pays well? All the while, I was secretly praying to be fired so I could go out into the world and find what really made me happy. I didn’t share my thoughts with anyone as I never really believed it would happen anyway and I wasn’t really sure what my ‘dream’ looked like or how to go about finding it but for years I had such an insatiable urge to find something that felt meaningful; that feeling of purpose, a way of giving back and sharing positive and impactful energy with others.
In October of 2011, my boss called me into her office for a ‘meeting.’ My stomach turned with anticipation. I knew in my heart that this wasn’t going to be a ‘good job’ conversation.
She sat me down and began the conversation with “Shannon, I know you’re not happy here and haven’t been for a long time.” My heart began to pound because I knew what was next. She continued, “so for that reason, we would like to do a mutual separation with you.” With a heated response, I yelled, “You can’t fire me because I’m not happy!” She said, “You haven’t done anything wrong, we love having you here, but at the end of the day, if you’re not happy, it affects your job performance, which in turn affects the entire team”. She went on to tell me that she believed I belonged out in the world doing something more meaningful, something that helped and inspired others. I was fuming. Disbelief raged through my veins that I was being fired for this reason. Then, out of the depths of my subconscious came a statement that totally changed the direction of my life. My boss said, “Yes, we’re letting you go but this is an opportunity for you to find what it is you love to do, what will make you happy.” I replied, “I’m not qualified to do anything else, what am I going to do?” She just looked at me with such disbelief and what also felt like disappointment.
Within seconds, the anger I was feeling towards my boss turned into total sadness and anger towards myself. It was a monumental ‘light bulb’ moment, I realized that for years, I had been telling myself that I wasn’t capable or qualified to do anything else. I kept telling myself, ‘I don’t have a college degree so I can’t. I don’t have the experience so they won’t let me,’ and so on. It was my story and I hated it. The realization that I allowed this to be my truth for so long hurt deeply. At that moment, when I made that statement to myself, I truly felt like the universe kicked open a door, shoved me through to other side and said, “Now, go figure it out…it’s time to rewrite your story.” What the hell am I going to do now and where do I begin to rebuild?
I had always struggled with finding my passion, not just professionally but in many areas of my life. The only time I truly felt alive and fulfilled was when I was using my creativity to help others.
Connecting with people from all walks of life, feeling empathy and compassion for others has always felt natural and organic for me, while at the same time personally rewarding. My grandmother, one of my greatest role models, embodied these gifts…loving, compassionate and generous with her time and beautiful spirit of giving and helping others. Throughout my childhood, I had worked with her at many of events that were all about “paying it forward”. More than anything I wanted to emulate her, and feel that same sense of purpose that my own contributions would someday be meaningful and helpful to others. The first hurdle though was figuring out what that looked like for me.
Finally, the last day of work came. I went home, I made it through New Year’s Eve and then spent the next few months in a little town I like to call Pity Ville. I cried almost daily, asked my friends and family what they thought I should be doing to fulfill my dream of inspiring others. I asked, begged and prayed for guidance, a lot! My family and friends were my rock(s). My husband Rob supported and comforted me every step of the way. My mom, also one of my greatest mentors, talked me down off ledges when I felt my worst. She listened and reminded me often of all the things I had learned in life, of all the innate gifts I had inherited from my grandmother, of all the people I had already helped, and that my path was somewhere in the combination of all those things. She was also quick to remind me that tenacity ran in our family and not to worry because the answer would come from within.
After several months into my pity party, another life changing moment came along. I opened my Facebook page and right there on the news feed, in black and white, was the quote “She Believed She Could So She Did”. I remember thinking, ‘Ah, that’s what is missing. I’m the one choosing not to believe in myself. I’m the one telling myself that ‘I can’t.’ It was literally in that moment that I realized it was me standing in my way. I decided right then and there to change what I believed to be my truth. It was time to leave Pity Ville. It was time to start a new chapter in my story and leave the old story behind.
After much soul searching, and guidance from my family and friends, I realized that I was always looking outside of myself for answers that were within me all this time. Over time, I began to accept and honor that my own life experiences were of value. A shift in my beliefs began with this thought. I was the one in charge of my destiny, my future and how to use my time and energy to impact others. I tapped into my natural gifts, my life experiences and the things in life that made me feel alive. From there, the idea for Lotus Life was born. At that point, pure creativity and intuition took over.
In October of 2012, I created Lotus Life Designs. Lotus Life was inspired by my personal belief that we all have the power to create the life we want for ourselves, beginning with what we choose to focus on, and the words we choose to use, not only with ourselves, but with others, as well.
I then took Lotus Life to the streets by renting booth space at shows and conventions. The shows became a way to share stories; a journey through words. It seemed like the most natural and powerful way to express myself and share with others face-to-face, who have also had the same struggles, insecurities, goals, dreams and accomplishments. I had hoped that sharing my story would provide a comfortable place for other women to land and share their stories, too.
When starting Lotus Life, my hope was to inspire women to explore all the positives attributes in their own lives, as well as all the possibilities that lie within them and to help them feel empowered to live and create their most authentic life. Because you have the power to do just that…create what YOU want!
We’re all on a personal journey with twists and turns, and forks in the road, which requires thoughtful decision-making, which ultimately shapes who we are and creates our belief system. In the long run, you are the one with the power to choose which path to take, or create a new one altogether, in order to live your life to the fullest. You have the power to change anything in your life whether it’s the start of something new or letting go of something (s) that no longer serves you in a healthy loving way.
Lotus Life has been a dream come true; a place where I feel like I’m contributing something to others that is meaningful, impactful and positive. It has provided me with the honor and privilege of being a small part of the life stories of hundreds of men and women, who love sharing their stories, and how they’ve inspired, or have been inspired, by those on the paths they’ve created.
Gratitude is what I feel now; for all my experiences, the painful and joyful ones because without both, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But, what I’m most thankful for is the love, support and strength of my family and friends. They have all contributed to the love and strength that has gone into creating Lotus Life. They have taught me that nothing in life is accomplished alone. I’m here now because they have stood by me and continue to do so every day. Thank you, all, for always showing up so powerfully.