Have you ever said, “I wonder what I’m going to be when I grow up”? I think that at some point, we have all asked that question. I know I did and was still wondering at 45. I didn’t want to live my whole life and never find the one thing that made me tick. Sound familiar? I hope that as you read this blog post about God’s faithfulness to me in finding what I feel I was meant to do, you might find encouragement, be reminded that it’s never too late, and have a renewed hope in your personal pursuit.
In April of 2012, my mother was told that she had terminal leukemia and only had about a month to live, to which she answered the doctor, “Oh, I’m not doing that.”
She meant what she said and was determined to beat this disease. In her fight, she became weak and needed increasing care. I was working two jobs at the time, but I was local and the obvious choice to be her caregiver. After a courageous battle, cancer finally took her life, one year and one month later. Mom’s care was pleasurable, but it was a full-time job on top of two other jobs. It was a stressful time indeed, so when the opportunity presented itself, my husband and I took a long weekend for some rest and relaxation. It was on this mini vacation that I happened upon a little specialty soap shop. Always being one to indulge in this affordable luxury, I bought the special, five soaps for a given price. I could hardly wait to get a shower and smell like this aromatherapy treat! I loved the way it made my skin feel and I connected with one scent in particular. I knew that it was impractical to make a five hour trip every time that I ran out of that wonderful scent, so I began conjuring up ideas. What if I could make my own soap and duplicate that scent? After all, my grandmother made soap, and my mother made soap, so why couldn’t I do the same?
In the 1930s, my grandmother was a relatively new bride, with scant provisions and a growing family. For practical reasons, she began making soap because lard was plentiful. You remember the kind…pure white, not much moisture and smelled like saddle soap. It wasn’t much to look at and certainly no treat in the bath, but the kids were clean and she used up the lard she had. Good enough. Fast forwarding, to the next generation, I remember my mom making soap with me, but it was an easy melt and pour project that was intended to fill a dull summer afternoon, not so much a necessary task. Up until my mother’s illness, I never once entertained the thought of making soap. As I watched her decline, I found that coming home and immersing myself in something creative and challenging helped me to work through the process of losing her and it gave us something exciting to do together.
And so it began. The first bars I made were the worst shower experience ever. I came out of the shower itching long before I even got dried off. (This was quite possibly the moment in time when I thought I might like to learn to make lotion). I set to work reformulating. I had some expectations for the bar of soap that I was producing.
- I wanted to have the creamiest, most luxurious bar available in order to make showers an experience, and not just a duty.
- I wanted a nice scent that would linger just a bit. In choosing my own scents, I found that certain scents connected me to an experience or a place in time. I began listening to people to find out just what scents brought their own memories to mind and began creating bars that were designed to evoke good feelings.
- The colors are the crayola box in me. It’s a fun time to design, color, and create. It is important to me to design a bar that reflects the scent. Not always easy, but an exciting challenge!
When you see me set up at a festival or market, I might be sitting on a chair or visiting with a customer. It all looks pretty easy. Like any business, though, behind the scenes is where the real work is. Before Martha joined us last summer to help with production, it was not unusual for me to work a fourteen hour day, six to seven days a week.
Martha and I
At about the same time, we found a talented young artist who took over the labeling project, freeing up a bit more valuable time, along with several young ladies who have helped us all along with packaging.
So to bring this all around, I found my dream job, completely unaware. Not what I thought, but more than I dreamed. Isn’t that how God works? There was only one minor issue. My grandmother had passed away, my mother had never made cold process soap, and the one lady that I knew who once made soap, couldn’t remember how she did it. That left me with a dream and no real knowledge. So I began researching, watching videos, taking notes and learning by trial and error. I would rejoice over one loaf of soap and bury the next one in the field next to our house. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I said, “I quit!”, but I never did because I’m not a quitter. Snap!
So whatever day you read this, it’s your today. Today, I encourage you to never, never, never quit! Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Don’t give up! Your unrealized dream may be in your tomorrow. You’re never too old, busy, unqualified, young, overqualified, broke, or too tired to realize your dreams.