It hasn't been a normal career path.
No, indeed. I wanted to be a professional cake decorator, so I took three semesters' training for Food Service Management. I learned that I don't enjoy doing dishes in a kitchen without windows. Change gears.
I went to nursing school and became an RN. My first job was as a critical care nurse in an open heart surgery/heart transplant intensive care unit. Later I transferred to an emergency room where things were occasionally quieter. I went back to college to earn a degree in psychology so I could work with other nurses under stress on the job. In my last semester I learned that my goal would require an additional 10 years of education. Change gears.
I picked up a camera and went to a nearby nature reserve to take pictures. I joined a local camera club and entered the monthly competitions. Winning month after month, I took photography more seriously. Several semesters' more training at a local university allowed me to launch my photography business, A Slice of Light. Even though my photos were selected for stock photo agencies, posters, brochures and calendars, those commissions didn't pay the bills. Build on what I know and change gears.
Photoshop, Illustrator, and QuarkXPress entered my world and I dove in head first. I surfaced long enough to land a graphic design job, and later built a two-year Associate Degree program in graphic design at a local community college. I taught there for nine years.
Teaching was obviously my calling.
My job required a master's degree, so I studied graphics via distance learning while teaching full time. Master's degree earned. Then I realized I wanted my terminal degree in case a university called on me. I traveled 200 miles south once per week to take classes while continuing to teach full time. It took over two years, but I earned my MFA degree.
Then the book deal came along. A textbook salesman tried to get me to use their book for my photography and Photoshop classes. No way, I said. The book had misinformation. He asked if I wanted to write a book. Two and a half years later, the book (Photography for the 21st Century) was finished and published worldwide. It took pure tenacity to write that book while teaching full time.
One day I received a phone call from a nearby university. Would I come and teach in their Web and Digital Media Development major? Change gears.
I taught at the university for 11 years, moving from Assistant Professor up the ranks through Full Professor. I helped the department evolve its major from web development to human-technology interaction. During that time I wrote my second book, Photo 1: An Introduction to the Art of Photography. It's still alive and well on Amazon.com. Again, pure tenacity.
Retirement became within sight.
One week before retiring, I received a phone call from a national insurance company headquartered in the city where I live. Would I be interested in doing full-time instructional design for them? Change gears.
Two years later, I discovered surface pattern design via a Facebook ad for Rachelle Holowko's master class. That was it. I was ready to retire and devote my full time to developing and marketing fabric and surface pattern designs.
And here we are! Is that five career changes? Don't count. It'll make you dizzy. Just enjoy the designs and let me know if you have questions!