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I Turned My Back On My Dream Career & I've Never Been Happier. Here's Why

Jamie Graber
February 2, 2018
Jamie Graber
Written by
Photo by Organically Jamie
February 2, 2018

In January of last year, I took a huge leap of faith: I let go of what I thought was my dream job—opening up my own raw food in restaurant in the heart of Manhattan—to take better care of myself and pursue a career in energy work and healing.

A year later, I'm happy to report that my new career fills me with joy, and I'm proud of myself for taking such a leap of faith. But coming to that decision wasn't easy, and there’s something about the quiet space after the holidays and the darkness of New York City winters that makes me reflect on what has been—which is why I find it more important than ever to tell my story. Here's how I went from being a

My history with change.

I’d reached for change on my own before. In fact, taking steps toward change by myself had been a pattern in my life. It started when I switched my major from business to philosophy (plus a minor in psychology) at 19 years old. My dad wasn’t happy about it, but I knew I needed answers to all my questions about human nature, the mind, and relationships with myself and others.

But even as I dug into the inner workings of the human mind, I started to lose control over my own emotions and reactions. I got so trapped in my head, and I felt like there was no place for me. In classes, I was learning about philosophy and wellness. But outside of school, I was battling my own mind, grasping for control in my relationship with food, and spending hours at the gym to fill this hole inside of me. I had lost my authentic self and tumbled deep into the darkness of depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. I'm still not sure how I made it through those years.

After graduating, I moved back to New York to live with my high school best friend. I know this sounds like every girl’s dream, but it was the exact opposite of what I needed. I yearned for new people, and a new (and true) identity, but I couldn’t escape the story of my adolescence. I was still struggling to find balance in my relationship with food, and the people around me were constant triggers for my anxiety, insecurities, and identity issues.

A second leap toward change.

In 2000, I took a leap of faith, quit my job, and moved out to Santa Monica—a place that felt like home even though I didn’t know a soul, except of course my own, for the first time. I quickly made friends, and met my soul sister Heather, who would have me meet her on the beach at 5 a.m. to practice this kooky thing called Kundalini yoga. But even in this place of beauty and connection, I didn’t feel satisfied. I was still searching for something else to help me put together the pieces of my life. This led me toward my next period of self-discovery and exploration, and I began to pursue yoga and spirituality on a deeper level.

In searching for a place to understand myself, I started my first yoga teacher training with Saul David Raye in 2004, and then went on to finish my 200-hour and 300-hour training with Annie Carpenter at YogaWorks in 2006 and 2007. It was in that work that I was able to dive deeper into my body, connecting with my breath and my energy. I began to understand the power of choice, acceptance, and perspective.

And then New York started calling my name again, as it does. I decided to move back, and within a few months I fell in love with a meat-and-gluten-loving chef—which was quite the surprise for this raw vegan. Being back in New York with my food-loving husband inspired me to create a raw restaurant: I loved the idea of creating healing foods and helping people live nourishing lifestyles. So I charged ahead, ignoring that nagging voice in my head telling me to slow down.

In the back of my mind, I knew I was building something I didn’t want to run. From my years working in plant-based restaurants in Los Angeles, I knew that managing staff and working in a kitchen were not my spaces of joy. But I was wrapped up in the process of creation, and I refused to pump the brakes.

So I found myself running a restaurant, Gingersnap's Organics, that I never wanted to run, and I was filled with anxiety and stress. The only bright spots were my interactions with my incredible customers—I’d work with them to make food and lifestyle choices that fit their needs, and in these moments I felt alive. Unfortunately, I spent most of my hours solving sourcing problems, managing staff, and dealing with the hectic energy of running a cafe in Manhattan.

Photo: Organically Jamie

The moment that sparked real change.

While attending an event with Lacy Phillips, I started to learn about manifestation and life creation in a way that felt strangely familiar and completely new all at the same time. Lacey explained that manifestation was real and powerful, but it wasn't about fancy vision boards or positive visualization. There was a realness to her that I connected with, and I knew I needed to work with her.

When we finally spoke, she asked me this: What if my restaurant wasn't my purpose? The answers came pouring out of my soul, and I knew that my restaurant days were over. It was time to embrace a higher calling—to work with individuals to call in healing and transformation into their lives.

I gave notice to my landlord within a month.

The last week of January marks one year: One year since I closed the doors to what I once thought was my dream career and started living my real dream: bringing healing and transformation to my clients through coaching, holistic wellness, and energy work. This year has gone so fast, yet it seems like lifetimes have passed. Stepping into my purpose and power hasn’t been easy, but it couldn’t be more rewarding. Instead of mornings filled with staff calling in sick, I now jump out of bed, eager to work with my one-on-one coaching and reiki clients.

Navigating tough moments.

For the first few months of building my energy and coaching practice, I worried that I had lost my identity. At first, when people would ask me about my career, I would skirt their questions or give vague answers. I didn’t feel like I could step into the power of calling myself a coach.

There was nothing to hide behind this time. No staff, no cafe—just me, out there for the world to judge. It took a little while for me to fully embrace and accept my new calling. It started with a lot of journaling and inner work. And then small, brave actions followed—like changing my Instagram bio to read "mind-shifter and energy mover" and adding the word "coaching" to my website. And then, the results followed—clients pouring in, events aligning, opportunities opening.

I had a lot of fear, too: Fear that this wouldn’t work. Fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone. Fear that if I showed up as myself, people would run away. Fear that I wasn’t good enough. To keep the voices of fear and depression at bay, I created healthy rituals to anchor my days, like journaling and meditation. Those help.

Over time, I found an office space where I could see my local clients. I kept pursuing certification and growth: In reiki certification and Kundalini teacher training, as well as in hypnosis and cognitive behavioral reframing. These practices keep me on track and keep me moving forward and keep me serving my clients in new and powerful ways.

What I understand now.

So, what have I learned from all of this? That we do have power over our minds, as long as we build helpful practices and learn to get quiet. When we can get quiet, we can act from a place of choice rather than reaction. We can tap into the pain of our past and learn to release it in order to truly build the life of our dreams.

Despite feeling more energized than ever, sometimes I still wake up feeling guilty—like I'm not working hard enough. SO I take self-care seriously, like it’s my job—and, in a lot of ways, it really is. I do the hard work within myself so that I can show up in the best way possible for the people that come into my life, including my clients.

When I look back, I’m tempted to wonder why it took me so long to find my true self and my true calling. In those moments, I consciously sink into gratitude. I thank each part of my journey—from my eating disorder to my time in California—for being a teacher, a lesson, and a test.

My life has been an amazing collection of gifts and opportunities. Every experience brought me to this place where I was ready to bring in a guide and make this beautiful leap. And while Gingersnap's Organics brought stress and anxiety into my life for so many years, it also cracked me open to see my truest purpose. And I can’t help but be grateful for that—the greatest lesson of them all.

Thinking of making your own career change? Read up on how the worst year of one woman's life led to the career of her dreams.

Jamie Graber author page.
Jamie Graber

Jamie Graber is a health and well-being guru who has inspired countless others through her personal journey with food and depression. Jamie, known by the wellness community as "The Detox Guru," specializes in mindset shifting and reframing. She has helped many to detox their minds, bodies, and souls. Jamie has been featured in the New York Times, The Numinous, Fashion Week Daily, Living the Process, Refinery 29, New York Magazine, The Balanced Blonde, among others. In addition to coaching private clients and serving as a wellness expert to the media, Jamie also founded and operated Gingersnap's Organic, the beloved cleanse cafe in the West Village that became a hotspot for celebrities and fashionistas. She published her first book in 2016, Juice It, Blend It, Live It: Over 50 Easy Recipes to Energize, Detox, and Nourish Your Mind and Body with a foreword from New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein. Check out her website here.