How a Health Crisis Gave Design Consultant Linda Holt Courage to Reimagine Her Life
The first time she met with her oncologist after being diagnosed with cancer, design consultant and professional photographer Linda Holt listened through tears as her doctor told her something difficult to absorb. After recovery, the doctor said most of her patients tell her that cancer was the best “gift” they ever received.
But now that the ordeal of cancer surgery and arduous treatments is behind her, Linda agrees with the assessment of her fellow cancer survivors.
“After my initial disbelief, I began to think of everything on my ‘bucket list,’ wondering, ‘What is holding me back?,’” she says. “Facing the worst and my own mortality brought me to a turning point that helped me overcome my fear of failure. I was emboldened to start living the life I really wanted.”
Today, 6 years later, Linda is thriving in an innovative career niche she carved out for herself, has moved from a large country home to a city condo minutes from Boston and has gained self-confidence, joy and courage. “I love getting up every day,” she says.
Here’s a look at how Linda reimagined her career, reimagined her outlook and reimagined her home:
- Reimagining her career. For most of her career until 2010, Linda was a professional photographer, but always had a passion for design. She followed that passion in 2008, studying interior decorating for two years. After graduating, she opened a full-service interior design firm that she was running at the time of her diagnosis in 2015.
During hours of sitting in the chemo chair or laying face down on the radiation table, Linda had time to think about her priorities and removing negativity from her life.
“I began to realize that the full-service design business was not a good fit for me because of my personality type,” she says. “There was a lot of stress when things went wrong or clients got upset, and projects took months to complete.
What I really enjoyed was when a client hired me for a 2-hour design or color consultation. They were delighted with the ideas and direction I gave them, and I went home uplifted with no worries about follow up or mired down in all the details. It was a win-win.”
With newfound clarity from her cancer struggle, Linda knew that becoming a design and color consultant full-time was the right career path, but it meant taking a big risk in walking away from the bread-and-butter income of her full-service interior design business. Cancer helped her find that courage.
“Once I had faced something so life-threatening, it put everything in perspective, and I realized that, as scary as starting something new was, it was not cancer.” Linda pivoted to her “sweet-spot,” providing design and color consultation for clients.
Then, her sweet spot got even sweeter when she worked with a business coach who suggested she also embrace her photography experience and combine both design consulting and photography in her brand. During the COVID shut-down, Linda created evergreen video teaching modules on how to photograph interior design projects.
Now, Linda enjoys a specialized niche as a certified color and interior decorating consultant who guides homeowners to decorate their own homes and as a former professional photographer who helps designers save money by teaching them to take better photos of their own projects or who edits their photos for them if they don’t have the skills or time.
This is a dining nook Linda designed in a small condo for one of her clients. The starting point was the turquoise and green window valance and the client’s love of turquoise. The dining set is the client’s grandmother’s, and they painted the chairs a spring green.
- Reimagining her outlook. “There’s no longer negativity and drama in my life,” Linda says. Shortly after her recovery as she was regaining the strength to get up and around, one incident looms seminal in her mind that illustrated her transformed outlook.
“I went to Starbucks and had to wait in a very long line. Everyone around me was complaining. But I actually felt joy because I took in my surroundings and the people in line with renewed interest. I studied the colors on the walls and took note of the smells and sounds and watched baristas work. I became 100% present in my daily life more than ever before.”
She also gained a new confidence. “When I was finished with all my treatments and declared cancer free, I felt like Superwoman for what I had gone through. My tolerance for self-doubt and perceived shortcomings such as my appearance, my age, my design schooling (or lack of) is close to zero. Things that used to frighten me like public speaking or truly putting myself out there now seem like a piece of cake.”
- Reimagining her home. When she recovered from cancer, Linda and her husband still lived in the large country home where they’d raised their family in Boxford, Mass. They had always wanted to live near the city of Boston, allowing them to spend lots of time walking in the city, but had put off such a drastic change and downsizing. No more…they sold their home and moved to a condo 15 minutes from downtown Boston.
Linda loves her new home, which she says helps them to live their best life because of the inspiring surroundings.
A home is the foundation of a happy life, Linda says. “I like to wrap rooms in an envelope of neutrals and layer in the color. If you surround yourself with colors you love, they support you, they energize you, calm you and inspire you.”
Her favorite room is a small seating area just off the kitchen and dining room that features walls of windows and lots of plants and includes a large moss wall hanging as a tribute to Linda’s love of nature.
“I enjoy sitting there in the mornings in the swivel chair with a cup of coffee. It is a meditative space, my quiet sanctuary before I go off to work.”
Linda’s previous studio space in her larger home showcases the love of color she brought with her into her new home. Of everything in this room, she kept the fern filled planter to bring with her into their smaller condo.
It’s important to not let go of those things you genuinely love, even when downsizing.
Linda, thank you for being willing to open up and share such a very personal story with the readers of #designhappyliving. I hope your story will encourage others who are currently facing a life crisis to have the courage you did to re-imagine their best life, and then to take action to make it happen.
Get to know Linda on Instagram at https://instagram.com/lholtcreative.
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