Rebuilding my Life after Finding Everything I Thought I Wanted

I’m not the type of person who wakes up in the morning eager to make drastic changes. But when night after night I was unenthusiastically home watching TV, I started wondering whether this was how I wanted to live the rest of my life. This is my story of how I ended up there and why rebuilding my life became necessary.

A little bit about me

I live in Ottawa, Canada within a 3 minute drive of where I grew up. I like it that way. I know where to go for most things in life and this allows me to live efficiently. I run into people I know at the grocery store on regular basis. To me, that’s home.

As someone with a lot of anxiety, this way of living my life allows me to focus on important things rather than spending my energy worrying about mundane things.

As a thinker and constant analyzer I easily spend more time than most analyzing the details of anything, even our plans to have coffee.

“Will there be parking when I get there?

Do I go to the counter or will they serve me?

What’s the etiquette in this place?

Shit, I don’t have time to put everything back in my wallet before it’s the next person’s turn at the cash. Ahhhhh!!!”

Logic is my best friend. I’m loyal and consistent. That’s my boring side.

I’m also very creative.  I love art. I need it and I crave it. I paint and I draw. It’s therapeutic and I’m not bad at it. I’ve always been “gifted” in that area. Being an artist also gives me an excuse for being eccentric.

Sophie Lemieux painting

Random stats about me

Studies

·         Bachelor of Arts Degree (Major: Art History, Minor: Psychology)

·         Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Instructional Design

·         Associate’s certificate in Business Analysis 

Current job

·         Business Owner/Artist – Sophie Lemieux Art

·         Government – Consumer Education Officer 

Weird fact about me:  I eat 2-3 breakfasts on a daily basis.

Astrological sign:Pisces – Astrology is entertaining, much like fortune cookies. That’s as far as it goes for me.  

Favourite ice cream flavor:Cookie dough – more specifically Häagen-Dazs’ version of cookie dough ice cream 

Favorite country I’ve traveled to: Spain – the food, the art ♥ 

Things I’m scared of: Driving in unfamiliar places 

Favorite hobbies:  Painting/drawing, home renovation projects, yoga, naps – I’m an excellent napper.

The original plan

I have always been driven. Growing up, I had goals: I wanted to fall in love, buy a beautiful house, get an education, get a great job, have a nice car, be financially stable… All things that look great on paper. 

I was about 20 years old when I had to travel to Montreal for work. I was downtown, in my cheap skirt, blazer and pumps with a Starbucks caramel Macchiato in one hand and my purse in the other. I remember thinking to myself: “Wow, this is it. I’m all grown up. Look at me go.”

It makes me squirm just thinking about it.

I was lucky enough to be able to achieve the goals I had set by the time I was thirty. I met a wonderful man, fell in love and got married. I graduated from university, landed a government job, bought my dream house and was financially stable. Check, check and check!!

A typical day in my hamster wheel

My typical day was 8-4 as a Business Analyst. I was juggling multiple projects, optimizing processes and was constantly interrupted by people who needed help with their work.

Getting home, I picked up around the house, while my (now ex) partner of 12 years finished his workday in the home office. I made dinner and we sat in front of the TV watching shows I wasn’t particularly interested in and answering questions he had about random things

I was running on autopilot. I was running so quickly within the hamster wheel that I couldn’t stop it.

My bills were paid. I was successful and I had a life many would dream of. Well, on paper I did, and more importantly, on Facebook.

The truth is, I was exhausted. I spent my days catering to other people’s needs. I gave all my energy to those around me and I was left with very little for myself. At this point, never would I have thought of rebuilding my life, but I was starting to wonder how I would sustain this.

I was craving “me time”.

Rebuilding my life wasn’t the plan, but this wasn’t working for me anymore. I wanted different things from what I was living.

I wanted

  • to paint whenever the urge struck me without feeling guilty.
  • to do home renovation projects.
  • to travel.
  • to work in a job where I wasn’t constantly interrupted.
  • to have time to decompress after a long day.

The moment I became ready for change

I was sitting in my living room by the fireplace in my dream house and I was mindlessly watching a TV show with my partner. That’s when it hit me: “Do I really want to go through this routine for the next 20-30 year? Do I even have that long? Is this the life I really want?”

In that moment, I knew the answer was no. I was not a hamster and I couldn’t keep living this way.

I knew that I was in control of my life. If I spent the next 20-30 years in the same routine, it was nobody else’s fault but mine. No one was forcing me to do this. I was doing this because I was choosing to do this. So, no pity party for me.

I was choosing this life path. Me!

I could either keep going or change.

The social pressure was immense. To change my path there were a lot of things I needed to do and people I’d need to explain this to.

Rebuilding my life from there

Before getting on my new path, I found myself meditating a lot. I wanted to find the answers within myself.

I started listening to my body. Really listening.

I identified what was important to me and what wasn’t. I visualized my life as I wanted it to be. I kept going back to that place over and over again. I truly believe that this helped me attract my new life path.

My partner and I started on the same life path like a beautifully manicured trail in a forest. We were going in the same direction enjoying every step.

Then, gradually, the path turned into an unkempt forest with tall grass, large tree roots and mosquitos. I could see a clear path on one side and he could see one on the other but we stayed in the forest, each of us struggling with our surroundings.

Once we decided to part ways, I got on my path and I could breathe again. Not because I wasn’t with my partner anymore, but because I was out of the tall grass, away from the bugs and the dirt.

That walk to my path was the scariest part of my life.

It was also very rewarding. I found myself and I found happiness.

For the most part, people didn’t judge me, they welcomed me with open arms and offered comfort. The support I got was overwhelming. I failed and it was ok. I was ok.

I failed and it was ok. I was ok.

Who knew rebuilding my life would be so easy?

Once I was on my new path, everything fell into place easily… really easily. To me that’s the biggest sign that I was on the right path.

I got a promotion at work which gave me more financial freedom at a time when I needed it. I found a temporary place to stay in a spare room at my mom’s place. I sold my dream house in one day for the exact price I wanted. I found a new house with everything I wanted, including a beautiful space for an art studio.

Before I knew it, I was in my new modest house, which I fully renovated and was home again. 

I realized that my happiness was far more important that what people thought about me and the life I showed on Facebook.

The dreams I had growing up were not my dreams anymore, but those that had been created for me by other people’s expectations. If you would have asked me if I was happy in my “previous” life, I would have answered yes. I didn’t see the path getting harder and murkier until I stepped out of it. I have absolutely no regrets about my past. It’s part of my beautiful journey. 


I didn’t see the path getting harder and murkier until I stepped out of it.

The new path

On my new path, I’ve embraced that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m me. I try to be kind, thoughtful and caring as much as I can. But, I’m not going to please everyone and that’s ok. I’ve also learned to say no, politely.

I try my best to stay present and avoid going along with the crowd if their ways of doing things don’t speak to me. When faced with a decision, as minor as it may be, I ask myself why I’m doing it and what will the outcome be.

·         Will doing this make me feel good (now, later)?

·         Will I learn from this?

·         Is this fun for me?

·         Will it make someone else feel good?

·         Will I feel like I’m being taken advantage of?

·         Does this impact my “me” time? 

Do I want to go to a bar till 2 am on a Friday after a long work week? Nope.

Do I want to go skydiving? Yes!

My body’s reaction is the clearest indicator of my true wants and needs.

Life as it is now

I’m still on a relatively “safe” path. I kept my day job at the government, but it’s a job I love and that gives me a lot of flexibility.

I’m better at listening to my body and looking for signs that I’m veering off course.

When I’m on the right path, I feel it. Intuition is so powerful.

I practice gratitude on a daily basis. This helps me identify the positive things in my life.

I paint whenever I want. In fact, a large contract recently fell on my lap, which might eventually lead me on a different career path. This is another sign that when I’m on the right path, things come to me easily.

Do my decisions please everyone around me? No. I’m not following the expectations others have of me: find someone, have babies, get a bigger house, a higher paying job… That works for a lot of people, but it’s not me.  

I’m on my own path and I’m happy.

About the author

Sophie Lemieux is an artist best known for her photorealistic renditions and her use of vivid colours. This Ottawa native’s works are predominantly portraits, abstracts, and still life. While self-taught in her practice, Lemieux completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Carleton University in 2007, where she majored in Art History. She practices art in her home-based studio, where she experiments with new mediums and techniques to continue to evolve her craft.

Check out Sophie’s website, Instagram or Facebook page to have a look at her beautiful art.

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Rebuilding my life

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