Weeks Don’t Get Any Better Than This
Well, for the most part.
Our beloved Kansas City Royals lost the World Series on Wednesday night. After a 29 year wait to see them in another Series, it came down to a very heartbreaking Game 7, bottom of the 9th, two out, man-stranded-on-3rd base-90 feet-away-from- the- tying-run-loss. I’m not a sports nut (and Dale doesn’t like sports at all, but even he didn’t resist the hometown enthusiasm for the Royals), my history with baseball goes back to my grandparents who were die-hard Cubby fans in Chicago (this should tell you something about how resilient my family is when it comes to losing).
My mom was even at a Kansas City A’s game (before the A’s were moved to Oakland) on opening day when she realized she was pregnant with me. I have a lot of great memories of Royals baseball with my family at Kauffman Stadium. This team reignited my love for it. A lot of good things happened in the city because of this team and for that, we are grateful.
On a better note, Living Large the book is a few more steps closer to reality. I hope to have an announcement about that very soon.
Finally, the week is ending with Halloween, which means two things at Our Little House. It is our traditional first pot of chili night, which goes back to when my mom would warm our bellies before we headed out trick or treating.
October 31 is also what I call my Free Day. It is the day in 1998 when I was released from the confines of the corporate cube and given a new life that eventually lead me to my dream of writing from a cabin in the woods.
We may not have the security of a cushy 401K and I certainly could have been earning more had I stayed in that environment (and finances get more worrisome as we get older). But if I had stayed, I’m afraid the cost to me would have been more than money could buy: My health, happiness and peace of mind.
In honor of my Free Day, here is what it means to me:
For the past 16 years, overall, my writing life has been no trick, but a treat.
Being a writer is truly an adventure. In my research for stories, I’ve had the opportunity to put on a lab coat, booties and hair net to watch fertility specialists begin the process of creating human life in a petri-dish; Dale and I spent the night in Jesse James’ boyhood home in hopes of catching his ghost; we stayed in a reportedly haunted hotel and I found my heart racing when we caught orbs on our camera.
Almost every day, I get to talk to interesting people such as the investigator who caught the BTK serial killer in Wichita, and the soldier who fought to bring home Ratchet, the dog she rescued while serving in Iraq.
I rode along with a rescue group (through their story as told to me) when they took more than a dozen of Michael Vick’s dogs from the horror of that dog fighting operation to a new life full of love. I’ve been very lucky to follow the new lives of some of those dogs and other rescues I’ve written about.
As an animal writer, I’ve seen some of the stories that ignite my passion go viral, sometimes initiating campaigns to help the victims in my story or create new laws in their honor, so we can avoid more victims of neglect and abuse.
On assignment, I’ve traveled from the wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains where I was able to visualize where my paternal ancestors once lived, to the city streets of south side Chicago. There, I got to envision my grandfather fighting for worker’s rights as an early union organizer and imagined my mother, wearing a beret, playing in the school yard in her German Lutheran neighborhood.
My office is a cabin that overlooks the Ozark Mountains. Sixteen years ago, this office was just a dream; with its bookshelves to hold all of my precious books (as well as some my mom held dear) and brightly painted walls — no drab gray pods!
My dogs accompany me to work every day. I take breaks when I need them, not when someone else says I can. If I feel like leaving in the middle of the day to take the dogs for a long walk on the road and come back to work in the middle of the night, I do.
I drink coffee at my desk in non-corporate approved mugs that have saying such as “My journey begins today,” my dog mug that states, “My love is unconditional,” my “Life is good” mug, and the Fleetwood Mac mug I picked up after attending their concert in a VIP suite on another assignment.
I was born to be a writer, as soon as I could form words on paper, I was writing stories. It is, as a late childhood playmate wrote to me in an email, the thing I was meant to do.
The fact that it was what I was meant to do is a treat in itself, but I also seized the opportunity when my department was eliminated at my old job and that has been the real reward. How many people languish in jobs they hate just because they never really found what they were meant to do?
Hanging on my walls all around me are photos of some of the places we’ve traveled, definitely the good memories that came from having a disposable income.
Also among those photos, hanging directly across from my desk as a reminder, is a framed copy of my first paid published piece with the copy of the $25 check I received.
I cashed the check and paid about 4 times that to have the copy framed with the essay.
We may not be making our financial goals. Retirement may be a far off dream we may never achieve. But that essay and the copy of the check that is with it continues to serve as a reminder that money doesn’t always buy happiness. I would much rather wake up thinking of my life as a treat rather than dreading a commute and 40+ hours a week to a job I hate.
That is truly scary.
What Living Large dreams do you have?