Sometimes, as they say, a change is as good as a rest. Our best laid, most carefully thought out plans are not necessarily the best for us. Sometimes when life throws us a curve we show our mettle when we embrace the opportunities. Here are some stories of people who saw an opportunity and grabbed it, or whose life changed around them and found happiness in unexpected places.
Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado – Lawyer, Hollywood executive and sister to that other Bullock found her happiness in flour, butter and sugar. Bullock-Prado wearied of her life in shallow Hollywood and followed her passion and opened a baker in Montpelier, Vermont. She is blunt in her analysis of the celebrity machine and has no problem speaking her mind. Her love of baking soothed her when her career was unsatisfying. Lots of insider information about the world of professional baking, stories of her childhood, and, of course, recipes. Check out her blog for pictures of the most fantastic looking doughnuts.
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: an entrepreneur’s odyssey to educate the world’s children by John Wood – John Wood was a marketing director at Microsoft. A sense of a lack of fulfillment in his life led him to Nepal. Expecting only to trek his way to peace, he discovered a need which he proved himself more than capable of filling. Wood found that children in Nepal had very little to read in their schools. Spurred by this mission, he returned with a yak loaded with books. He went from there to building thousands of schools and libraries, and funding scholarships. He credited his former employer with giving him the tools he needed to accomplish this amazing task. This is not only a primer on how to successfully run a nonprofit, but also an entertaining and inspirational story of a man who in the course of changing his own life impacted the lives of many.
Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl by Susan McCorkindale – What’s the deal with marketing directors? Another MD, Susan McCorkindale, loved most things about her life. She loved all the perks that went along with her job with Family Circle – the big salary, the expense account, the designer clothes, a great staff. It was the JOB that was the problem. A high stress job that kept her away far too much from her husband and children. This time, change was thrust upon her. Her husband proposed the move to a farm in Virginia and McCorkindale went from Jersey Girl to country girl. Although she throws herself into this new life, she makes her way back to the city on occasion for Starbucks and a little shopping. Lighthearted and entertaining.
Heat: an amateurs adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta maker, and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany, by Bill Buford – If reality television has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that life in a professional kitchen is not for the faint of heart. Buford, a writer by trade, bound himself in service to renowned Italian chef Mario Batali. An outsider, he was accepted into the restaurant world moving from kitchen slave to a reasonable cook. In the process he successfully answered the life long question – do I have what it takes.
Unlikely Lavender Queen: a memoir of unexpected blossoming by Jeannie Ralston – Once again a city girl follows her husband to the county. Ralston, a New York journalist, abandons city life for rural Texas to grow lavender. This city girl renovates a barn into a livable home, raises children and becomes a farmer. While her National Geographic photographer husband is frequently away, she sometimes wonders if she has done the right thing. Not to be too punny, but Ralston “blossoms” in her new career and finds great satisfaction and success in her unexpected life.