BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.”—Joseph Campbell, Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College, regarding the human experience.
Jubilant writer Sara Bliss is riding Campbell’s track and wants you to hop aboard. In her recently published Take the Leap, with an eye-popping yellow cover capturing her optimism, Sara advises those who feel that their current job isn’t going anywhere to change their career and change their life.
On recent book tour stops in Chicago and Lake Forest, Sara caught up with old friends including designer Shelley Johnstone, Samantha and Matthew Schwalm, and college roommate Elissa Kovas. Sara and her husband, Brooks Hamblett, a Lake Forest College graduate, live in New York but keep their Chicago connections going strong.
Ghostwriter for books by Bobbi Brown, Aerin Lauder, and others, Sara is a journalist specializing in lifestyle, wellness, health, and beauty. Her book, Take a Leap features the stories of 65 people who described their careers often as false starts and failures before they decided to make their career fantasy a reality by becoming “game changers and rule breakers.”
She chose to focus on “doers not dreamers,” people who changed their trajectory:
“They dived in, went back to school, found mentors, ignored naysayers, and sometimes took steps backward in the hope of leaping forward toward the life they really wanted. People who have changed their lives provide serious inspiration for all of us.
“I chose people who can help those who want to change gears but worry that they are too old, too young, too broke, too much of a novice, and even too successful at something else to do it. Taking a class, finding a mentor, it is all a part of the change. These people have the motivation to never give up.”
Samantha Schwalm, professional chef and longtime friend of the author’s, said, “Sara gave me the courage to move forward with writing, even though it was/is out of my comfort zone. She is a positive force. She makes you feel you can take the leap and land on your feet.”
At the Book Cellar in Chicago, Sara interviewed one of the book’s most interesting profiles, Chicago designer Ge Wang, a former lawyer who decided to found the high-end clothing firm ESQ Clothing, a destination favored by several Chicago Bears, among others.
He shared, “My dad was a lawyer, but he would go to work in an ill-fitting suit. He never really dressed the part. So when I started law school, I kind of made it my mission to dress up.”
Sara writes that he splurged on a custom suit from a top local tailor but wasn’t pleased. On a visit to Beijing to see relatives, he had a suit made that everyone admired upon his return home. Sara adds:
“Knowing he could offer his friends a better-fitting suit at a lower price, a side business was born. Business grew by word of mouth, and he made the decision to launch ESQ Clothing in 2012, and now Chance the Rapper is one of his clients.”
Others interviewed for her book include a shoe salesman who became a social media and branding expert, a trust administrator who pursued a dream of being a safari ranger, a teacher who is now a venture philanthropist, an IT professional who started her healthy baby food company, and a commercial fisherman who is now a restorative ocean farmer.
Sara told us about her own career and how she followed her bliss:
“The main constant in my life has been writing profiles. I’ve found that no matter who I am covering—be it an entrepreneur, hotelier, designer, or athlete—I’m interested in people who didn’t follow a linear path. The most aspiring stories are those of people who decided one day to set an entirely different course for their lives, whether it was because they were facing an obstacle or they were driven to something bigger.
“When 2008 happened, many magazines folded, and I had to get creative with my writing. I learned about branding, I became a ghostwriter, and found other creative venues such as working with hotel clients to stay financially afloat. It isn’t easy, there has been hassle and struggle, but I have learned to think outside the box.
“Now I have this great opportunity to tell the stories of people who took leaps. Speaking engagements can sometimes take extra courage, but I have taken the leap.”
It turns out that changing your job is more about changing your life, often with blissful results.