About Me

It was October 2008. I was taking my early evening walk around the neighborhood, listening to Martha Beck’s audio bookSteering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life, No Matter What!” And as I rounded the corner, my flashlight guiding the way through the darkening twilight, a voice in my head (sounding suspiciously like Martha) said, “Quit your job, go back to school and start anew. Be happy!”

A little background here.  For almost 30 years, I was an IT/IS professional. I was considered an “expert”, someone others looked to for answers and solutions. I was very good at my job. But I was searching for something that I couldn’t find in my cubicle or during my job commute.  As a lifelong crafter, I wanted to combine my computer expertise with my artistic abilities. I wanted an outlet for experimenting with digital design, honing my craft and bringing a small dose of beauty to the world. I wanted the student discount for the Adobe Creative Suite software package.

But this whole ”quit your job” notion was crazy, wasn’t it? How could I leave a high-paying IT job with great benefits that provided a good standard of living for my family? Give up my matching 401k contributions, my expert status and the self-esteem derived from my specialist position? Give up my free cable TV? And for something as uncertain as a graphic design career?  Would I even be any good? Didn’t I read the headlines – how could I leave a “sure thing” in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression?  How could I walk away into the unknown?

I can’t really explain why I listened this time to that small voice (although Martha can be pretty darn convincing). It certainly helped that my wonderful husband, children and family were all amazingly supportive and that the local community college had just started a graphic design certificate program that was a perfect fit for me.

And now, here it is – the opening days of 2011. I have completed my formal educational training, earning certificates in Graphic Design, Advanced Graphic Design and Digital Photography. I just completed a six-month internship with a local design firm. And I am in the process of launching my freelance graphic design company, Gott Graphics Design (“helping small businesses build better graphics”).

On May 1, I will reach another milestone as I will officially take early retirement and begin drawing my pension – a final good-bye to the corporate world and a big hello to whatever comes next.

It has been a wonderful, humbling, amazing, scary, extraordinary adventure. Building this website and launching my blog is simply the next step on this path that I have chosen for the second half of my life.  I expect this journey will take me in directions that I cannot anticipate and will bring unexpected changes to both my life and my design work.

I am working to fill my “empty nest”.

Some inspirational words from the poem “Crossroads” by Joyce Sutphen:

The second half of my life
will be ice breaking up
on the river,
rain soaking the fields,
a hand held out,
a fire and smoke
going upward, always up.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Creatively yours,

January 2011

  1. Brenda, your story is told in pictures. You have chosen to look at life from a different perspective. Embrace life’s next chapter and feather your nest. I wish you joy. Lynn

    • Lynn,
      You let me “practice” my design skills on you and your business – for that I am extremely grateful. You encouraged me and my efforts and supplied much-appreciated business advice. I greatly admire what you have done with your career.

  2. Brenda, what an awesome story. Good for you for listening to your inner voice. We’ll be rooting for you! (And welcome to the blogosphere. The water’s fine!)

    • Corinna,
      What a pleasant surprise to see your name appear on my fledging blog. I have been following your Project 365 for the past month and have been moved each day by the images that you share. Even though we are at differents places in our life stories, I hope that we can support each other’s efforts to make sense of the world from behind our cameras. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

  3. Brenda,

    Following your heart is an exciting adventure – and the “student version of adobe creative suite” is a nice bonus too!

    Beautiful pictures.

    See you in the blogosphere!

    • Deanna,
      It has certainly been an adventure and I appreciate that you joined me here on my leap into blogworld. We have to support one another as we search for our dreams.

  4. Mom,
    I am so happy that you listened to your heart and went with it. There’s nothing in this world that makes me happier than seeing my mother truly happy. You deserve it- you have worked so hard for us. I love you 🙂

  5. You did it, Brenda, and have blossomed even bigger and bighter than you were. I’ve always been in awe of you and am so proud of you.

    • Michelle,

      Of the things that I “am”, being an Inky Girl for the past decade is one that I treasure the most. Thanks for the support and creative inspiration that you have provided through the years.

  6. Brenda, I just stumbled on your blog through a series of other blogs, and just wanted to let you know that I’m cheering you on too! I’m a mother of three young children, putting my creative dreams and love of photography on a “temporary” back burner (I stop by and give it a stir every now and then) and your story will be an inspiration for me. Congrats on your new adventure.

    ~Betsy (a complete stranger)

    P.S. I LOVE what your daughter wrote in your comments!

    • Betsy (no longer a stranger!)

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving a comment. Now that I am on the other side of the blogging world, I realize how very precious comments are – it is such a thrill to make a new connection and know that my words have meant something to someone else.

      I hope that you will continue to “stir your photography pot” as often as your full life will allow. Know that being on the back burner just means it is still there simmering, waiting for you. And it will be there when you are ready to give it your full attention again.

      Please do stop back again.

  7. I admire your for following your heart. It is a scary leaving the known and the “norm” to do your own thing. Good luck on your journey.

    • Laurie,

      So far I can report that retirement has been a blast! I am so grateful for the opportunity to make this change and I look forward with great anticipation to what comes next. Thanks for stopping by – please come back again.

  8. I hope I am able to retire early in just over two years now. That is my goal anyhow.
    I will be back to visit. Have a great week!

  9. I have rather lost track of our group. I appreciate your still checking my blog and leaving a comment. I am participating in the next session and hope to do better…every day life is interesting…but not always as we would choose!! smile. You have updated your blog site and it is spectacular…very very classy, easy to read and showcases your beautiful photography. Great job. Also love your photo on the swing…that is very very cool! You always write articles of substance and I look forward to the class on the 15th. Smiles: Sharon

    • Sharon,
      No apologies necessary – life does sometimes intervene in our attempts to stay connected, even when we want to. I, too, am looking forward to the next class and the continuation of our journey. Thanks for your comments on my blog design. That was one of the goals that I set for myself – to teach myself how to use WordPress and create a well-designed blog. I’m not much for self-portraits – the swing image was the result of a digital photography class assignment so I had no choice. See you again soon for another round of FYE.

  10. Beautiful blog and inspiring story too.

    Thank you.

  11. What a awesome inspiring story! Finding your site came to me at just the right time. We have a mutual “on-Line” friend named Deb Tisch. I see you’ve had the privilege of meeting her. I host a blog titled http://www.imalatebloomer.com I share stories about creative Late Bloomers, just like you and me. Deb was one of my first Late Bloomers to be introduced. Your story is awesome and I’d love to share your story. Please come over and check out the site and I know you will immediately see how you and your story will fit in.


    • Teresa – I would be honored to be part of your “Late Bloomer” series. What a wonderful thing you are doing to inspire others who might think it is too late to begin their creative journey. Just let me know what you need me to do. I greatly appreciate the invitation.

  12. I give u credit for starting over and following ur passion. I started a blog 34 days ago with a summer daily challenge to do something new to find a new tool box of interest since empty nest and cracked relationship at the same time. Great to connect with others in the transition. Empty nest a whimsical way to survive and self actualize at cindymarie-emptynest- challenge.blogspot.com

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