While looking after her two small children, Lillian Bridges knew she wanted to finish writing her book.
“I took a class at UCLA on how to write a non-fiction book."
"The teacher said, make yourself an expert in the eyes of the publisher. I said, I don't feel like an expert.”
“He said, well how long have you done faces? I said, well since I was five. He just burst out laughing and said, okay Lillian, if you're not an expert nobody is - go teach a class. I said, what?”
“Then I went, I started teaching, I got paid - it was wonderful, it was fun. The students loved it
and the whole thing started mushrooming. I was teaching junior college within, I don't know, six months."
"When my book came out, I found I was taken much more seriously. The book was like a PhD thesis. It made a difference in terms of people acknowledging that I truly was an expert in the field."
And Lillian has thrived, working for herself. "I really like working. I like being self-directed. I think that when I worked for other people I often was very bored.”
“When you're in business for yourself there's drudgery involved because you do have to do pretty much everything. But you can decide what's most important.”
The flexibility works well for her. “I'm not a person who does well working many hours in a row. I work a while, stop for a bit, work a while.”
“I'll end up working probably more hours than the average corporate person, but over a longer period of time. So you'll very often find me late at night in my office answering emails. I like having that ability to do the work when the energy is fully present."
"But the confinement to me of a corporate job - and I've only had a couple - it took a really big toll on my creativity. It's just like a claustrophobic cubicle.”
“I have my own corporation and it kind of expands as I want it to - it's like bellows for the fire."
On the flipside, she’s conscious of keeping good boundaries though between work and not-work. "I just moved into a new house and I gave my son the huge master bedroom suite. He kept resisting like crazy.”
“But I said to him, look I need to take the two smaller bedrooms, I don't want to look at my desk when I'm going to sleep.”
Budget my income? What?
And she isn’t disturbed by the financial unpredictability of working for herself.
"My ex-husband was a very cautious man. He said to me when we first got married, Lillian you need to budget your income. I go, what? He said, oh my God, you mean you don't budget? And I go, no, why would I budget? I don't know what I'm going to make next month.”
“Anything could happen. An act of God like you can't fly in an airplane because of a volcano that blew up in Iceland. There is no security."
"Or when you get sick or maybe there is a death in the family - life just comes to a standstill, including work. People don't connect with you because you're just not putting the energy out."
“He couldn’t live like that, so of course that’s why he works for a corporation, gets a paycheck every two weeks, money taken out for his IRA and insurance, two weeks paid vacation."
"I have learned how to do a vacation where I go do a business trip and I stay one, maybe two, extra days and sight-see and go shopping and then I come home. That's my idea of a vacation, and somebody else has paid for the airfare."
"The more that you worry about money, the less it comes in. That's one of the truisms for everybody I know that has their own business. Really if you don't worry about it so much it comes much easier - I don't know why."
"I don't take physical risk at all - not for any reason. I refuse to go camping, there's always bears.”
“But the thing is, financial risk doesn't scare me. It's like the worst that's going to happen is I'm going to lose money or be broke or be late on a payment. I don't know why I don't have that fear."
Lililan Bridges is an author, teacher and expert in Chinese face reading, www.lotusinstitute.com
Image: Lillian Bridges