(Photo Courtesy Jenna Briand)
They say if the universe shows you a door, walk through it.
Well, the universe showed me a shed.
Specifically, a 10’x12′ “modern shed,” like one you might see in Dwell magazine. One I discovered online and bookmarked during an absent-minded Google search, on a particularly rough day at the office. I then wistfully stared at it on my computer for about six months, during conference calls, morning edit meetings and lunch breaks. It was the image of this small, fantastical oasis that calmed my racing pulse when my inbox topped 100, cut through the din of office drama and temporarily un-furrowed the brow that had, over time, become so… scrunched.
I’d spent more than 15 years in digital media, climbing the ladder, watching my physical surroundings improve and grow with each new gig — from well-appointed cubicle to panoramically viewed Midtown Manhattan office to the most immaculate, modern space in all of Beverly Hills. Each upgrade seemed to be a sign that, clearly, I was making it. Each Herman Miller chair was evidence that I was on a fruitful path. This Iowa girl has Big City cred, I would think to myself — the proof is in the espresso (that flowed freely from the well-stocked kitchen down the hall).
But suddenly, as a result of finding this image on the Internet, I wished to work elsewhere. Namely: alone. Quietly. And from a modern shed. A shed that currently was mine only in Firefox bookmarks, while I worked a job that had not truly lived up to my dream.
In retrospect, I may have been having a “crisis” of sorts. I’d turned 40 not long before all this began and there were other signs I was on edge. I started getting facial peels to unearth my inner 35-year-old. I threw out my neck and could not look left for weeks. I avoided friends and developed a shorter temper and laughed a whole lot less. Whatever the reason (or reasons), something was amiss.
I looked around at the life I had built — by all accounts a pretty decent one, complete with husband, daughter, house, and so on. To put a finger on what it was that no longer worked was impossible. It wasn’t just one thing. The noise of to-do lists and mortgage payments and job frustrations and overall life maintenance was getting too loud, and I couldn’t find the mute button. They were drowning out my ability be “present” with my family. It was draining the creative juice I needed to balance out my at-times perilous left-brain pragmatism.
And worse still, it was making it next to impossible to hear others; friends who seemed concerned and wished for the return of the “real me.”
Well, the real me wanted a shed. My epiphany was simply that. The shed was my “Field of Dreams” – If we build it, things will come. Eventually, I printed the picture from my Firefox bookmark and showed it to my husband. I explained that this very shed would most likely save my sanity and my future, and as a direct result, it would save his, as well.
Given that context, he got to work on it right away. (Handy, I should mention, that he does this sort of thing for a living.) He finished it a couple months later, which was now about a year ago. I took a leap of faith and chose, for maybe the first time ever, to just let things happen. I left my full-time job. Behind me were many sprawling offices I’d blazed into, head high and high-heeled — but in front of me I saw all I needed.
A gorgeous modern shed, all 120 square feet of it, wired for my computer, ready for me to walk in, sit down and get it together. A perfect space to find quiet and to re-dream who I wanted to be.
So, with flip-flops on and a make-up-free face, I picked up my laptop and walked through the door. And I haven’t looked back since.
Thank you, Universe.