After deciding that my one-way relationship with camera gear and motel carts had to go, I was faced with an even bigger challenge.
What To Do?
What was I going to do for a living once I made the official leap out of TV Production? I had a college degree, a love of dogs and a hundred questions running through my mind.
So, I did what anyone on a mission would do, I googled for hours about businesses involving dogs.
The search produced options such as dog trainer, dog photographer, dog boutique owner and dog walker. While all of these are fine professions and I admire the people that do them, nothing set my heart on fire.
Life Is What Happens While Making Plans
Then suddenly, in the middle of this exploratory search for my new dog-related business, my personal life fell apart. Literally.
Unfortunate circumstances forced me to break off my engagement to a man that I had loved and shared my life with for four years.
In between meetings and phone calls, I escaped to the dank office bathroom to cry about this huge loss.
Like a robot, I carried on with my work and was once again headed out on the road with the expensive gear and reservations in various small motels.
However, my life kept unraveling. Less than a week after I broke my engagement, I blew my knee out while traveling for work.
I was completely engulfed in physical and emotional pain.
Are You Threatening Me?
I couldn’t hide my angst at the office anymore.
Even though, I never missed a day of work and kept up my writing and producing responsibilities, I was called into the boss’s office and read the riot act.
The secret had gotten out about my personal life crumbling and I was in obvious physical pain barely hobbling around the office with at least two torn ligaments and a nasty bone bruise.
None of it mattered to this boss. She threatened my livelihood and trivialized all that I was going through by saying, “We all have struggles in our life.”
Thanks! I’ll take that ice-cold sentiment and stitch it onto a gorgeous throw pillow.
At that moment, around 4PM on a Tuesday, I left the office hours before my usual quitting time.
As soon as I got out onto the Manhattan Street, I could feel my lunch rising up I clutched a public trashcan for dear life (by the way I recommend NEVER doing this in New York City).
Thankfully, four days later I headed into the hospital for knee surgery. Yes, I said thankfully. Having major knee surgery was a relief from the utter disaster my life had become over the past 2 weeks.
Before the anesthetic, I remembering telling my mom that this was the happiest day I had in a long time. I will never forget the sadness on her face and tears in her eyes after I uttered those words.
Paws to Talk Is Born
So there I was, in a knee brace from hip to toe, on crutches for the next six weeks and on an unplanned hiatus from work while being forced to heal.
Crying and daytime TV got old after a week. So I started reading through some idea journals that I had kept over time.
Then I saw it!
“Paws to Talk,” my idea for an advice blog written through the voices of our family’s beloved standard poodles Bella and DiDi.
I envisioned the blog being in a “Dear Abby” format but instead of Abby’s answers, Bella and DiDi would dispense their wisdom one bark at a time.
So I started writing. I felt alive for the first time in a long while.
Little By Little
I made a goal for myself to write one article a day. Because I didn’t have anyone (yet) asking the dogs or me for advice, I picked a topic, made up a submission and then had the dogs answer it in their wise voices.
After 30 articles were completed, I got a logo designed and built the blog’s webpage.
On a cold Sunday in late February 2012, I launched Paws to Talk with no clue that it would change my life.
The blog gained a small and loyal following at first and then began to grow.
Soon, I was released from the purgatory of the knee brace and crutches.
Also, with the help of incredible family and friends, I moved to a new apartment that wasn’t full of broken dreams and heartache.
I happily took a step down the TV Production corporate ladder to work as a Series Researcher/Interview Booker so that I would never have to experience 21-hour workdays and babysit the expensive equipment again.
My career in TV became just a job. One that I did exceptionally well but Paws to Talk was the reason why I got out of bed in the morning.
Nine months later, my blog growth hit a plateau. Plus, earning an income from advertisements on my website had not panned out.
I was stuck again. I believed with every bone in my body that Paws to Talk was something special.
But there are a lot of good ideas out there that never work as businesses. I didn’t want that to happen with Paws to Talk.
How would I keep the original Paws to Talk concept of helping people through the simple and smart dog point of view?
I sought help.
What the Hell is a Life Coach?
I was sitting in the plush office of a career counselor on a rainy Friday night when after a careful evaluation of my skills and resume, the words “life coach” floated from his mouth to my ears.
Life coach! What? Isn’t that for Hollywood actresses?
Nope, it is about problem solving with clients so they can feel better in their lives.
If I could run highly successful and expensive TV shoots on 2 hours rest where virtually every minute a solution needs to be found then I could do this work.
Plus, in a way I was already doing this work through my blog.
I finished 80 plus hours of life coaching school (and counting) and hammered out a business plan with multiple revenue streams, while still working 50 hours a week at my day job.
My Dream Come True
Then the day came this past spring.
I strolled into my boss’s office (not the one who was acted like such a you know what during my worst hour) and took a long look out at the Empire State Building and New York City glistening in the sun while she finished up a phone call.
With more confidence then I have ever had in my life, I gave my notice.
A month later, on a cloudy Friday evening I would leave the epicenter of TV Production.
The next Monday I entered my dream come true, my first full day of work as the creator, owner, CEO of Paws to Talk, “Life Coaching For Dog Lovers.”
And I haven’t turned back since.
By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. She has helped hundreds of people live happier and simpler lives by solving problems using a dog's point of view. Margot has a forthcoming book and podcast.