I had a great career, great money and was very respected, but I knew there was more. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life knowing I never had the courage to find out.
Ellen Atkins, Founder & CEO, The Suburban Monk
Recently, Ellen was interviewed by Nancy Merant, the leader of RISE, a network of New Jersey woman entrepreneurs in the wellness field, about her transition from working in the corporate world to creating a business built around positivity. In the interview, Ellen describes how she made the journey from being a corporate refugee who has happily found herself in the wellness space and has created a life where there is no need to retire.
NANCY: Who is Ellen? The parts of you that no one else can see?
ELLEN: I am a person who knows you can reinvent yourself and do things you never imagined that you could. I am proof that you can create a life that makes sense, feels good and is so fun to live. I totally believe in magic, miracles and manifesting the life you want.
I went from being a CPA (typical Type A, Virgo) for 30 years in the corporate world to diving into all things spiritual, and from there creating a thumbs-up, Buddha-like statue named Syd. Seriously? I still am amazed.
I love the fact that I’ve created a life that doesn’t need retirement. There are many things that bring great joy, including an astrology class where I learned to concentrate on fewer, but more powerful, creative ideas as opposed to saying yes to so many smaller things that zap my energy.
I need lots of alone time because I absorb people’s energy like a sponge. My clairvoyant teacher used to say, “Ellen, you walk down the street and everyone’s energy sticks to you.” Of course I have my energetic tools, but still need that alone time to recharge. For much of my life I thought I had low-level depression, but once I learned that I am an empath, I learned the tools to keep me healthy and balanced.
NANCY: Can you please describe your business?
ELLEN: I built a business called The Suburban Monk. I loved that name. It came to me in meditation, and I knew that would be the name of my business even though at the time I had no idea past that point. Our tagline is, “Create a life that makes sense, feels good and is so much fun.” Our cornerstone product is Syd, our two-thumbs-up little Buddha statue that comes in 14 colors, each with a color meaning card. I also created Big Syd, a larger statue who radiates joy and acceptance. He is so cool and magical. People message me all the time with their “Syd Stories”.
The Suburban Monk is a place that makes you feel better, whether you own a Syd or go to our website and follow “Where in the World is Syd”–where he travels all over the world creating joy. I love elevating people. I love humor and amusement. The word “spirituality” can seem so serious and it doesn’t have to be.
ELLEN: I had a great career, great money and was very respected, but I knew there was more. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life knowing I never had the courage to find out. So I quit, and during that time I felt so so lost, but never sorry I made that choice. In that void where the past was gone (not my husband, 3 sons or dog, but still, this was big for me), I focused on anything that made me feel better, and from that place, Syd and The Suburban Monk were born.
NANCY: Please share a practice that keeps you centered.
ELLEN: Without a doubt, getting up really early, having hot lemon water and tea, then heading to my window seat where I spend a few hours meditating and being still. This is my happy place and grounds me for the whole day.
What changes do you feel like you need to make in your life? Are they big? Are they small?
Please share. I could discuss these things all day.