The Next Chapter

Somehow, even when things are messy and chaotic and stressful, you’re there because that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.

There’s something you’re supposed to do, something you’re supposed to learn, someone you’re supposed to meet.

It’s not always easy sticking with it. It’s not always easy toughing it out, finding a way to manage it. But you do, and eventually you realize that storm clouds are beginning to break apart and rays of sunshine are starting to shine through and you’re still there, still standing, still smiling.

When I found myself back in an office working full-time after staying home, freelancing, and serving as the primary caregiver for my daughter for the first three years of her life, I won’t lie…I was anxious. I worried that maybe I’d gotten rusty, that maybe I wasn’t as sharp or talented or capable as I was before I stepped into the world of work-at-home-motherhood. But it didn’t take long before I was back in the groove–making new friends, connecting with clients, writing stories, taking photos, and publishing things that I was proud of.

It felt good to get back in a groove again.

If there is one thing that I am really proud of when it comes to my work, it’s my unquenchable thirst to always do better, to be better. I’ve never been the type who can do just enough to get by. I can’t just meet a standard; I have to exceed it. I can’t take a shortcut if it means compromising quality. I can’t sell myself or anyone else short. I set lofty goals. I have high expectations. I believe that if you can’t look back at the end of the day and truthfully say that you’ve done your absolute best, you’re not doing it right.

Those are values I hold near and dear to my heart, and they are values that I will never compromise…not for anyone.

Tomorrow, I will be wrapping things up at News Link, writing the final words in that short chapter in my life and I will tell you, I am thankful for every moment spent there.

I am thankful for the fact that I got to spend this past year earning a paycheck doing the three things I love the most–writing, taking photos, and connecting with people.

I am thankful that I got to meet and connect with some of the most hardworking, down-to-earth folks on this earth. To all the men and women I met in the shops, yards, and stretches of railroad tracks across the country, thank you for welcoming me into your lives, teaching me, sharing your stories, and keeping me safe. The folks in the Lincoln Diesel Shop, the UP Track Programs crews, the G&W Pacific Region employees, and all the folks at the Terminal Companies in California, Washington, Oregon, and Kansas now hold a very special place in my life, and I certainly hope our paths will continue to cross in the future.

I am thankful for the adversity I faced, for the people I didn’t see eye to eye with, for the frustrations I dealt with both in the office and on the road. It has made me stronger, wiser, and more confident in myself, my beliefs, and my vision of the future.

And, most of all, I am thankful for the beautiful souls I encountered on this crazy journey. The friendships forged in the past year are friendships that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, will last far into the future. We’ve laughed together, shared meals together, played sports (badly) together. We’ve shared frustrations, celebrated each other’s successes, and helped pick each other up. We’ve kept each other sane, driven each other a little crazy, and made each other laugh. We’ve pulled pranks, shared secrets, and exchanged quizzical glances when the morning meetings suddenly took bizarre turns. I love them, and I think I must have needed them, and maybe, just maybe, they needed me too (whether they really care to admit it or not).

I’m ridiculously excited for this new job and the new opportunities stretching out before me. I can’t wait to see where this fork in the road will lead.

All is as it should be. Life is good, and it’s time for the next chapter to begin…


Elf on the Shelf 2013 – Day 13

Other than a brief stint during elementary school when I got it in my head that I wanted to be a marine biologist and dolphin trainer (don’t ask…I read a book written by a dolphin trainer and it sounded like a lot of fun), I have always wanted to be a writer. I knew it the first time I picked up a pencil and started forming shapes on a piece of paper that vaguely resembled letters. I knew it when I wrote my first “book” in 2nd grade–some mystery adventure story staring my group of friends from school. I knew it even when every step I took on my career path seemed to lead me farther and farther away from my dream.

Somehow, though, you will always end up doing what you’re meant to do.

Funny how that happens, isn’t it? And it’s even funnier how I’ve ended up back here, writing and writing and writing.

It was about a year ago I’d decided to start down a different path. I was stagnating, feeling uninspired. I’d been listening to that maddeningly persistent voice of self-doubt in my head that kept telling me that I was a hack, that my writing was never going to go anywhere, that I should just give it up and get on with my life. For years I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to school for a counseling degree, and I figured it was probably time to explore that option since there didn’t seem to be any better options.

But the universe had different plans. And perhaps if I’d waited just a little longer, if I’d been just a little more patient, I would have seen it coming.

I fell back into my writing career with a job offer that required a hard hat.

The company I work for now produces newsletters, marketing and pr materials, and even online and media copy for companies–everything from small neighborhood associations and businesses to huge Fortune 500 corporations. The biggest clients are the railroads (since the founder was a railroader when he first got the idea for the company), and my job as a corporate journalist is to go out and visit the men and women on job sites, in shops, railroad yards, etc., to gather and write their stories.

I never imagined I’d be donning a hard hat, orange vest and steel toe boots in my writing career, but I tell you, it has certainly made life more interesting.

It’s a challenging, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately amazing job. I’ve met some truly incredible people, written stories I’m proud of, made some really, really great friends.

But, most importantly, I’ve breathed life back into my own writing. And that, my friends, is what’s really exciting.

I guess Cosette thought my hard hat looked like the perfect place to kick back and relax after her trip to the North Pole last night. Silly elf.




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