My life has been a series of leaps of faith. I started leaping at just 20 when I transferred to a school in Hawaii I’d never even visited. The school wasn’t quite what I expected, and I left after a semester. Still, I continued to live and work in Hawaii for another year. I didn’t stick the landing, but I did land. It was a fun adventure, and many lessons were learned about a new culture and what it was like to be a minority.
Leaping to Yellowstone
I leaped back home, with a soft landing because of friends and family. I had a solid job in Sioux Falls, but I was miserable. I wasn’t pursuing my dreams. I was living a life of quiet desperation. So I quit my permanent job for a seasonal job in Yellowstone with no promise of work after a few months. Foolish, but I leaped anyway and nailed the landing. I had the summer of my life, meeting a lifelong friend in my roommate and realizing this leaping thing could keep going.
Heading to the Grand Canyon
Together with my roommate, we leaped to the Grand Canyon. Yet another seasonal job with no promise of work after a few months. This one would leave me a long way from home, unemployed. Oh well, there I went. The culture at the Grand Canyon was so different than the adventurous one at Yellowstone, so there was no interest in sticking around. While my roommate leaped back to Yellowstone, I kept skipping west to California.
The Giant Leap to California
Until that point in my life, whenever I’d leaped somewhere, I’d had a dorm or friends to get me started in a new location. My first genuinely huge leap of faith was when I moved to California. I had no one. If I was going to succeed there, it would be 100% on me. I remember being absolutely terrified the night before I moved into my tiny, cockroach-infested studio apartment in Hollywood. No job. No experience. I grew up in a town of 420 people. How was I supposed to function in the 2nd largest city in the country? I held the massive Thomas Guide, with hundreds of pages of city streets, and knew I was in over my head. But then I decided I knew how to get to the apartment I’d rented. I would learn the blocks around it and the blocks around those blocks until I knew the city. And that’s how it worked, except for the first day when I went in search of a store to buy a telephone and, once there, realized I had no idea how to get home. This was 1990, before smartphones. I eventually figured it out and went on to stick the landing in California, with a 25-year career in film and television, which included winning an Emmy with some really great people.
Backflip to Missouri
But you know, once you start leaping, I guess it’s hard to quit because then I did a backflip to Missouri. That was also pretty terrifying. It was a new culture and a very red culture. (If I’d had any idea what was coming in 2016, I wonder if I would have moved here.) Thankfully, doors opened, and I feel like I pretty much stuck that landing with a wobble here or there. It feels like home.
New Doors Open
The pandemic was hard, but it also opened a door. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork made the world of freelance remote work available to anyone with the Internet and a bit of skill with words. Finally, what I wanted to do most seemed within reach, just in a different form. Surprisingly, the editing and writing work I have been getting has been less on those sites and more through word of mouth here in town. Those jobs have allowed me to leave my library job behind. But I’ve still felt crunched for time with a full-time job and freelance work, leaving little time to line up new work. So it’s time to leap again.
Just a Hop
This time it’s a little leap. I’ve reduced my hours to part-time at my day job. I have some income, but not enough on its own. Eek! Freelancing is a never-ending hustle. There’s a reason I jumped at a chance at a network show back in LA when it was offered. Had I known it was a dead end, I might have reconsidered. Still, all I knew was that it was a break from constantly wondering if you’d work the next week or from working so much that you weren’t sure if you’d get a night of sleep that week, so I grabbed it. I used to say I gave up my dreams for security, and ended up with neither. This time I’m risking my security for my dreams. We’ll see how that turns out.
Embracing the Hustle
Thankfully this time I have a fantastic mentor, which I’ve never had before. More free time will allow me to get my online sites firing on all cylinders. It will allow me to have the time to do whimsical things that feed creativity – go to a movie, walk over to the art museum, or meet a friend for a meal. And that will allow me to start working on my own writing again.
So, here I go… see you on the other side.by