In these tough economic times, many are looking for a silver lining. NBCSanDiego will be profiling San Diegans who have changed their professions and are starting over. In some cases, their journeys may provide a road map for others to follow. Our series "New Beginnings" will be featured throughout the month of August. -- Ed.
Light bulb moments, you know when your brain suddenly twitters with excitement with some life changing revelation. They can happen at the most unusual times and under the most , well, bizarre circumstances.
Rachelle Clauson, 36, can relate to that one. She was on a roll after college. Bright, full of energy, fresh smile, she was earning good money at $25 /hour, working as a legal temp holding multiple positions in various law firms in Los Angeles.
"I didn't have to fight traffic because I worked off-hours. I was able to travel between one and three months a year," from Great Britain, to Thailand to Malaysia to the tropical rain forests where everything was so "vibrant and full of life. It was such a contrast to the grind of my day-to-day job. I think a seed was planted then," for what was to come.
Clauson hung in there though, working for legal firms till one day she said an older co-worker stopped her in the hallway with tears in her eyes and said : "Promise me you won't get stuck like I did. Find your passion. Pursue your dreams."
Shortly after, Clauson followed friends who moved to San Diego. She took classes at Grossmont and Mesa Colleges including a ceramics course to satisfy her love of art. In this class they were learning to make a plaster of paris death mask. The teacher was pouring the gooey material over a male model who was using straws to breath through. Clauson recalls one of the straws wriggled loose and the man became uneasy.
"One of the women in the class, came over to his side and put her hand on him. There was this exchange of energy supporting him through this process, that immediately grounded him." Clauson asked the woman what she did. "I'm a retired nurse and massage therapist," she replied.
Massage therapist? Really? That death mask experience gave Clauson the light bulb moment that would turn into a new career. She no longer found any satisfaction or the good pay in San Diego that legal temping provided back in L.A. So not only did she enroll in massage school , she was hired as the admissions coordinator. Clauson breezed through the program in a little over two years and after a few tries in different locations she now has her own successful business, Flourish Bodywork in Little Italy.
"It thoroughly challenges me. I help people understand mental stress and physical stress and how to live in a more peaceful place in the day to day world. I've pulled in my ballet background, psychology, my own love for flowers and aromatherapy and music. I have independence and I travel and I bring joy to people's life."
So what practical advice does she have for small start-up businesses? Social media. Clauson says at first she took the advice of peers and doled out her business cards in the neighborhood where she first started. She got --one client. She advertised her business at a local street fair. Only one client and sore fingers. None of the traditional methods of advertising worked for her, but when a client reviewed her business on Yelp.com , she said she got 100 new customers from people who connected with that website. "It's amazing."
Also, Clauson says:"Never underestimate the value of keeping your hobbies alive. It keeps you in contact with people of similar interests and talents. One of whom, may actually open your awareness to doors you never even knew were there. Doors that might just lead you to a career that suits you perfectly!"
Remember the ceramics class she took with the plaster of paris death mask? Aha.
Clauson says, her life as a holistic health practitioner involves deeper study beyond just giving people a good massage and she hopes to become an influential voice in the field. But her bottom line is don't get stuck, explore your interests and let the energy flow.