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Leaving the World of Fashion

I knew that leaving would be a "point of no return" that would ruin the career I had put so much energy into.

Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it. ~ Unknown

As I left the San Francisco head office of the company I worked for, I felt anxious and scared. I knew, in the depth of my heart and soul, that I did not belong there and that I needed to do something about it.

Up until a year before I had thought I did. But then I met this new friend, who was a very spiritual person. He talked to me about things like universal mind, energy, a new era and the importance of finding your dharma, your true vocation, which starts to be revealed once you begin listening to, and following, your deepest inspiration.

It all touched a deep chord in me and from that day on I started following my inspiration. I read everything I could find about the psyche, how we are affected by colors and shapes, about symbols and the development of consciousness. I felt like I was just reminded of things I had always known and that I had finally found my way home.

My friends and colleagues didn’t understand the depth of the transformation I was going through. I felt misunderstood and very lonely.

But at the same time I was happier than I had been in a very long time. I felt connected to my true Self. I was truly inspired and felt like I had a special job to do in the world of clothes; I was to find new ways of designing and using clothes, built on feminine principles and a different set of values than those of our present day culture.

As the head designer for the Scandinavian branch of a multinational clothing company I earned quite a lot of money. I also had what many would consider a very glamorous lifestyle, with lots of traveling and meetings with interesting people.

But did it make me happy? Was there room for me to grow and develop new ways?

No. Absolutely not. As a professional designer it was my job to focus on contemporary clothes, on what our costumers would want the next season. Looking further into the future was not an option.

Every day that went by made it more impossible to stay. I remember telling a friend that I felt like an eagle with my wings clipped at work.

I knew that leaving would be a point of no return that would ruin the career I had put so much energy into. But what else could I do?

My biggest problem was how to support myself. I knew that it would even be difficult for me to take on free lance design jobs on the side, since my heart was no longer in it.

The only thing that inspired me about designing clothes were the deeper aspects: Who was the person behind them? Could garments styles and fabric patterns play a role in the development of consciousness? Was it possible to use clothing design for inner growth… to strengthen soul qualities?

I had so many questions. And I was absolutely convinced that there was another way to work with clothes, that truly honored the body and spirit of the person wearing them. I was determined to find it and just needed to trust what my heart told me.

Or was I delusional? It was obvious that many others thought so…

I finally realized that either way, there was only one way to go. So one day I just knocked on my boss’ door and told him I had decided to quit. He looked shocked and asked me what my plans were. When I told him I didn’t really know yet, he bluntly told me that he didn’t believe me. He believed I hid something from him. Which company bought you over? he asked. Just leaving the whole fashion business, at the top of my career, was unimaginable to him.

To tell you that everything was sunshine and roses from that day on would be a huge exaggeration. Actually, it was often quite the opposite.

As we challenge our personal patterns and step out of our comfort zone, we are often faced with our deepest fears.

I had to face many and lived through some very dark periods when I felt convinced that the job I had ”signed up for” was just too big for me. And at times I really questioned my career decision.

Could I have made a different choice? Maybe compromised a little? But in my heart I knew that it wouldn’t have worked. I had needed a clean break in order to totally change my perspective.

Even if I missed the big check every month and the whole support system of a clothing company, I never regretted my decision.

The years went by and I took one baby step at the time. As I reached one level of understanding, I grounded it through speaking and writing about it. I experimented with smaller clothing lines in colors and fabric patterns in the five elements—tools to help people find inner balance. One step led to another in ways I could not have foreseen.

When we take a step into the unknown things start to come together in ways we could never have predicted.

Looking back, I realize that the most important thing was that I truly followed my heart. I was relentless. As soon as I felt like I had strayed from my vision, I made amends. When I didn’t, circumstances forced me to. Once, when I started selling a clothing line, all my sewing machines and computer were stolen, which made it impossible to continue. Which later turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

My farewell to the fashion world took place more than three decades ago, and my quest is still the most inspiring thing in my life. It keeps evolving. If I had played it safe, I would have missed out on so much. I feel proud of myself when I compare who I have become with the person I would have been if I had stayed.

Looking back, it’s surprising how everything took care of itself, even money. At times, when I needed to just study, I was sometimes deeply indebted. But there were also times when I made a lot of money so I could pay them off. I got teaching jobs on the side when I needed to just experiment for a while. Had I known that things would work out just fine I wouldn’t have worried so much.

Worry and doubt were probably the most painful (and completely unnecessary) parts of my journey.

So, if you find yourself in the wrong place, uncertain about whether or not you can find your way to the right one:

  • Figure out what makes your heart sing and take one step in that direction.

  • Trust your gut feeling. It’s usually right.

  • Focus on possibilities instead of the problems you might face.

  • Believe in your dreams and visions. You have to believe in them to create them.

  • Take inspired action!

And remember: You, and your perspective of the world, are unique and it’s important that you share it! The world needs you to follow your deepest inspiration.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

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