shepherds, shopkeepers, and personal legends


Recently, I have been re-reading The Alchemist with Mr. Lively. He has never read it before and though I read it a handful of years ago, I wanted to revisit the story.

So far, I have enjoyed the wise tale again. But I now find that I’m strangely connecting the boy’s journey to my own career.

For those who haven’t read the book and plan to, you may want to skip this post and re-read this after you’ve finished. I won’t give away any insanely revealing details about the end of the book, but I will tell about a third of the storyline.

(Storyline spoiler alert – stop reading if you don’t want to learn any plot details.)

The book tells a story of a boy in Spain who wanted to travel more than he wanted to become a priest (his expected occupation). So he decides to become a shepherd and go anywhere he pleases.

Eventually, the boy has several recurring dreams of treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. With the help of some key characters, the boy decides to pursue this “Personal Legend,” and travel to the pyramids to find his treasure.

As he makes this decision, he ends up losing all of his money. In order to regain the funds to become a shepherd once more, or to continue on to Egypt, he somewhat randomly becomes a crystal shop assistant.

He spends one full year working in the crystal shop, making it more successful than ever before.

By the end of his year of work he ends up with twice the savings that he once had. Though the money was nice, he was somewhat discouraged by the fact that in one year he got only two hours closer to Egypt than when he started.

With the new cash in hand, he has a decision to make: go back to being a shepherd, which was safe and familiar, or continue on his way to Egypt and live out his Personal Legend.

And the rest… you about in the book.

As Mr. Lively and I have been reading this part of the story, I’ve been fascinated by the parallels I’m finding even to this day, in my own life.

Up until college I was expected to become a corporate climber. Perhaps a marketing executive, like others from my business school class.

But once I accidentally discovered that my purpose was to help people live with intention, I couldn’t pursue the corporate world.

So I pursued my accessory business full-time in order to maintain the flexibility and control that I wanted to go after my dream, of one day writing a book and perhaps having a TV show.

Mind you, this was before I met the blog world. This was when women helping women on a grand scale was limited to authors, Oprah, and Martha Stewart. Rachel Ray hadn’t even hit the scene yet.

For me, this leg of my journey was about avoiding the socially expected priesthood (corporate exec) and becoming a shepherd (business owner).

And my personal legend? That, I suppose, was the idea of having a book and a TV show that would help people live with intention.

For the next five years, I shepherded my business, Jess LC, to success. I got into many stores, I dove headfirst into online selling, and I expanded the line to include many products beyond jewelry.

I also stuck to my mission of helping people. After a year and a half of business, I started this blog (then called Makeunder My Life), and I eventually started to help people through consulting.

After five years of shepherding, I got an undeniable message that it was time to close my business, leave my shepherding career behind, and move forward towards my Personal Legend.

So I started to do more consulting, workshops, and design projects in the past seven months full-time.

But I’m starting to realize that this phase of my career hasn’t been my Personal Legend, it is actually my crystal store assistant gig.

Yes, it has gotten me two hours closer to my Personal Legend. But it is not the Legend itself.

I am quite frankly shocked by this realization, as I can imagine many of you may imagine.

But one fateful moment a few weeks ago, when I was looking for direction and asking my gut the question, “What should I do now?”

I quite heard the crystal clear phrase, “Write a book.” 

At once the old, somewhat dusty dream that I had pushed out of my mind as I busied myself with other projects and service came back to the forefront.

As you can imagine there was a lot of trepidation as well. My ego wanted to know more.

How am I supposed to write a book? What am I supposed to write about? Is it an ebook? Is it published? When is this going to happen? What is going to happen after that? Tell me more details!

But I’m sad to say, that all I’ve heard since that moment was the same phrase, calmly repeated.

Though I have dozens of questions and one single answer, I am learning to trust. 

I have made intuitive decisions to avoid priesthood, become a shepherd, transition into a crystal shop keeper, and now I’m a few hours closer to the journey I’ve been drawn to all along.

And of course, I’ll be sure to share the progress as it happens.

For now, I’m continuing to complete the exciting projects that are still in the works, and I’m staying open to this new direction my gut seems to want me to take.

Want to know the most wonderful part? This story of priesthood, shepherding, crystal shopkeeping, and Personal Legends applies to us all.

We must simply ask ourselves: What should I do now?

The rest is up to fate.


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  1. Kimberly Anne

    Great post, Jess. I have not read The Alchemist, but I may do so now! It’s crazy how you can have visions of what you want to do, but then you achieve the vision and something else is already brewing on the horizon. It can be discouraging if you feel discontented or unaccomplished, but you always have such a positive outlook. I am really trying to get to that place. I recently launched a new blog, after blogging for 3 years at another site, and I am getting the itch, but I’m not exactly sure for what yet. Hoping I hear a whisper soon too. 🙂

    1. I really recommend the book! It’s a quick, simple read with a lot of wisdom.

      For me, I know that each step is leading me to the Personal Legend. I thought I was a bit closer than I now realize I was, but I’m still so grateful that I asked myself what to do next, rather than decide from my ego to barrel forward in a different direction.

      Re: your blogs, I can’t recommend taking some time in a quiet place to ask you gut, literally, what you should do now. I’m often surprised, like this time, with what I hear back!

  2. Sarah van Loon

    My eyes just kept getting bigger and bigger reading this. I need to go pick up a copy of that book stat! Jess- THANK YOU for sharing this. It is so, so encouraging to read. I’m so grateful that you continue, day in and day out, to share your insights, wisdom, journey and trials with us. I can’t tell you enough how much I get out of this. Thank you, Jess!!

    1. Aw, thank you so much for your awesome support!!! I am happy to hear you are enjoying what I’m sharing and yes, you should pick up the book – it’s awesome!

  3. Moira

    The Alchemist is a really special book! I love that no matter where you are in your personal journey, you find yourself in the story. And each time you re-read it, it changes in your eyes and gives you new clarity. My career/life progression is in flux and I think I could do with a re-read too! Perfect timing on this post for me 🙂 And I think I’ll do as you suggest and take some time to listen to my gut too…it’s so easy to ignore that voice inside of you when you aren’t listening. Thanks Jess!

  4. JennieClaire

    Since the workshop, I feel similarly to this post– my ego is asking tons of questions about how I will fulfill my newfound purpose. It is a bit unsettling but I’m working on keeping faith and listening to my gut for direction.

    I have no doubt that you will find your next path. Thanks for always being an inspiration on how to be supple and change direction when it’s time!

    1. Yes! Just ask yourself what to do now and do that. I’m personally still working towards this myself, but it’s been fascinating to see things fall into place for me as I just keep myself open to the one thing that it says to do next. Even other things around me are falling into place – probably because I’m not chasing them. I’m slowly – sometimes painstakingly – trying to let them unfold on their own.

      Easy to say, hard to do. But it can be done and we both can do it!

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