Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Living Out Her Purpose - Cynthia Stevenson

writer, artist, life purpose, etsy, Christian
She started out pursuing a career in journalism.  But now, she runs a fulfilling business as a work-from-home artist.  And somewhere in between, she served  as an educator for more than 20 years.

Join me in learning more about Cynthia Stevenson's adventurous journey to discovering her life purpose.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm originally from Oklahoma City, OK.  I lived a country life.  I grew up hunting. Gardening, auctions, rodeos-- you name it, I was there.    My grandparents had cattle, so I was always around cattle.   We lived in the city, and we drove to the country everyday.  Growing up, I attended Catholic School.  I got my bachelor's degree in journalism, a masters degree in journalism and mass communication, and eventually, a teaching certificate.  At this point, I'm a retired teacher.  I taught for 20 years, and I was an assistant principal for the last 2 of those years.  Today, I have my own business. It's called Prayer Notes by Cynthia.

What would you describe as your God-given life purpose, and how did you uncover it?
I believe my purpose is to write.  I've always written.  At first, I didn't know exactly what to write.  But I was always good at writing and weaving stories, so I just continued to do it.  

After you realized that writing was your calling, what did you do to bring it to fruition?
For a while, I sponsored my own publication, titled "Career Designs," for high school students interested in attending college. I began to gather clients to advertise in my publication, lifting some of the financial strain. It was great! I was living my dream, but I still wasn't making a living (and I was newly married then), so I eventually decided to fold the business and pursue a permanent career in another field.

When it came to writing, I thought, "I'm really good at this, so I'm going to teach others to write".  I saw an ad in the newspaper for a teaching position in my old elementary school- a private Catholic school, and applied.  I didn't think that I'd have a chance, since I didn't have my teaching certification then. Wrong! They hired me, immediately! They remembered me and thought that I would make a great addition to their staff because of my roots in the community.  I was so amazed and scared.  I didn't know how to handle junior high students!  But my best subject matter was writing.  I could teach any kid that hated writing to write.  I felt really good about that.  Kids really enjoyed it.  They couldn't wait until writing.  And I'm talking about the hard core, "Oh, I hate picking up a pencil!" type of students.  They'd love it!  I guess my gift was instilling in others that love for writing expressing oneself.  I would tell my students, "Don't worry about any of the grammar-- we're going to take care of that, because we have to do that-- but right now, what I want you to do is write".

What has the experience of living out your purpose been like?
It's been a great experience, although I didn't actually grasp it as my purpose initially.  I just knew that I was really great at it.  And initially, I did it through others.  I mean, I still wrote my short stories and my poetry, but I mostly kept them to myself.  

I ended-up teaching junior high and elementary students for the next 22 years, spending the last few years as an assistant principal. 

All the while, I missed writing, terribly. I journaled and I taught my students to write well.  But eventually, I was worn out.  My friends and family encouraged me to stick it out and stay put. They saw the hard work that it took for me to get to the principalship. They loved me and just wanted to see me succeed. But, I was dying, literally--stress, high blood pressure, sadness and trips to the ER. I just didn't like what I was doing enough anymore.  I knew that I was blessing people in my job, but that job just wasn't where I needed to be anymore.  I began to hate everything about education and I was becoming as cut-throat and cynical as some of the administrators around me. The person that I peered at in the mirror was a shadow of the person I knew I could be.
writer, artist, life purpose, etsy, christian

So, 3 years ago, I decided to retire early and open my own business, Prayer Notes by Cynthia. People thought I was a lunatic!  They say, "I can't believe that you left that wonderful job with all that security and money!   Do you know how long most people work to get where you are?  Why are you giving it all up to do this silly dream?  I don't know why you would quit, and try to get some little business off the ground.  You know it's a bad economy".

Every negative thing that I could have heard, I heard it.  

But, I was driven.   I just knew that I had to do this business.  I didn't even know what the name was going to be at first.  I just knew that I was going to have it.   I was scared to death.  And I'm not used to experiencing much of that-- where I'm scared, but still go on to do something anyway.  Usually, I'm fairly rational.  I'm the one who says, "Let's think this out before we do it".  But this?  Even though it wasn't all thought out yet, I still knew I had to go.  That's how I knew it had to be from God.   

So, I had my art studio built while I was still an Assistant Principal.

It's a small, one-woman studio, built in to what used to be a storage area in my home.
writer, artist, life purpose, etsy, christian, art studio


I retired in June of 2009, and started Prayer Notes by Cynthia in August 2009.

I've always been spiritual, and I've always written letters to God.  I've always written my poetry, and tried to dedicated it to Him, and tried to find some purpose in it.  Now that I'm retired, I can actually do that without thinking about all of the other things in my work life that I have to do. 

I ask the Lord for His direction as I write, so that I will bless others through my writing.  I probably have more purpose today than I ever have.
writer, artist, life purpose, etsy, christian

I place my writings, as well as scriptures, on items like bookmarks, journals, magnets, posters, coasters, etc...  I then sell these items through my shop-- Prayer Notes by Cynthia-- on Etsy, a website for artists.

At first, I thought the environment at Etsy was too "big".  I couldn't figure what my niche was-- how to get my work out there amongst all these artists.  So, I withdrew from there for a while, and just worked locally, getting a lot of business by word of mouth.   

But then one day, I thought to myself, "If I'm going to spread His Word, how am I going to do it only working with people right here in Denver?  I've got to figure out a way to get this on Etsy, and feel good about it".  So, I started studying all of the successful shops on Etsy.  And that's how I came to re-open my shop there.  I've been back on Etsy for a little over a year now.

I am so happy!  Of course, the money is not what I wished for, but I am steadily growing. I thank the Lord for giving me the confidence and financial means to quit my "satisfying" job and pursue my "dream" job. Every day, I give Thanks to the Lord. 

What's the next level to which you'd like to take this role?
Perhaps writing a novel and getting it published.  Now that I have the time, and I'm retired, that could possibly be my next level.

What words of encouragement do you have for others who are still seeking out their purpose?
Seeking it may not be a great idea.  Be still, and think about what you're good at.  What do others say you're good at?  Everyone has a gift.  It could be anything.   It's all in there.  You just need to use it.  You may even already be doing it in some way.

artist, writer, etsy, life purpose, christian
Cynthia Stevenson has been married to a wonderful man for over 22 years, and has two handsome sons.  She loves to create and craft beautiful paper-arts products, filled with prayers, thanks and uplifting verses/sentiments.  Every day, she asks her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to bless the work of her hands, "as I can do nothing fruitful without HIM".  To learn more about Prayer Notes by Cynthia, please visit Cynthia's store at http://www.prayernotesbycynthia.com.   You may also visit her blog at http://prayernotesbycynthia.blogspot.com.

Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing your story here at Unstuck and Unstoppable!  We pray for your continued inspiration in creating pieces that will lift up others.  We also pray that your story will inspire others to uncover their own God-given purpose, and walk boldly in it.

And to the readers--  thanks for stopping through!

Hugz,






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5 comments:

Prayer Notes by Cynthia said...

Karen,
Thank you, so much, for choosing to post my interview. I am inspired to work harder than ever! Many blessings to you and yours!~Cynthia

Karen said...

It was my pleasure, Cynthia! Thanks for being willing to share. I pray that the Lord continues to bless your ministry through your prayer notes. By the way-- it was your book mark with St. Francis' prayer that inspired me to write my post about my experience in Catholic School. I was looking through your items on Etsy, and saw it. It brought back tons of great memories :-)

Anonymous said...

Cynthia, Wild its been years!!! Like 30 something. I so happy for you Cynthia. May God continue to bless you and your family. My favorite quote "Life is but a dream" Keep Dreaming and praying Cynthia. Cause God CAN!! Take care. Long but Found FRIEND. Joan

Wanda said...

Hi Karen,

It was nice to get to know more about Cynthia. We our paths crossed in blogland several months ago. A very inspiring story.

Karen said...

Makes you want to uncover your hidden talents, doesn't it? :-) So glad you were inspired by her story.

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