I’d never considered becoming self-employed. If I’m honest, the idea always scared me. People would ask if I’d ever go into independent practice as a Speech and Language Therapist and I’d give an emphatic ‘no.’ But then, I never imagined I’d become disabled and that my life would take a wholly different route from the one I’d expected.
When I was forced to retire in 2012, I was very unwell. I knew even then though, that I’d have to find some kind of work I could do – I’m someone who HAS to work and I couldn’t contemplate a life without employment of some sort. In one of my previous posts, I talked about voluntary work and how much it has helped me to rehabilitate and to look to the future. But I also find myself running a Social Media Management business and in the early stages of (hopefully) setting up in independent practice as a Speech and Language Therapist.
So what happened? Well, first I contacted a friend for whom I used to work in an entirely different capacity. Was there anything I could do for her at home that was low-stress? I emphasisied that I didn’t want charity, but to be useful and productive. She answered immediately: I don’t know how to keep up with Facebook. I know my business needs it but I have neither the time nor the skills. And so I started managing her business’ Facebook account. And I loved it.
Not long after, I took my daughter to the library to choose some books. We arrived early (that’s kind of a pathology with me) and had to wait for it to open. There I was, hopping about from one foot to the other to keep the blood pumping (a complication of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome can be Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) when a friendly voice said, “I love your dress!” I looked up and saw a woman about my age with two beautiful daughters about the same age as my little girl. My initial impression was of butterflies, feathers, a trilby and a big smile. I liked her at once. We got chatting and found we had chronic illness in common. We swapped numbers (I don’t usually do that with people I’ve only just met – it almost felt a bit dirty; like I was picking her up ;)) and for ages she was in my ‘phone as “Jo Library.” It was when we met at the park so our girls could play together that I discovered that life, with its sometimes poetic synchronicity, had found me a friend, just when I was starting to get interested in Social Media, in none other than the Dexterous Diva, Jo Gifford herself.
I checked out her website and signed up to her mailing list. I enrolled on her courses “Creating Brilliant Blog Posts” and “Idea Generation for Badass Bloggers and Content Creators” and found myself completely inspired. I started to feel like I could build a business in Social Media Management; like I had a career opportunity here. Here was someone so like me in so many ways, making it work. I started to feel that I could make it work too. I decided to look for another client and was fortunate enough to strike it lucky straight away. I’d registered as a business for tax purposes when I first started working for my friend’s business but now I felt I had a real, proper, actual business that could really go somewhere. Victory Online Social Media Management.
My business is still young (and small) and I’m learning all the time. But thanks to the Dexterous Diva I’m making working for me work for me. Working from home means I can manage my symptoms and listen to and respond to my body in a way I just couldn’t working elsewhere. I’m here for my daughter and husband and I enjoy a rich social life. And now I’m looking to the future and a return to Speech and Language Therapy as a career – on my own terms.
Meeting Jo was an enormous boon professionally, but she has also given me the gifts of self-belief and hope. What could be more precious than that?