Under the Covers

Posted on March 17, 2011

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One the challenges I struggle with is being vulnerable to my reading audience. I think it’s because I want to offer valuable lessons and be viewed as credible to help others. I don’t want vulnerability to injure that. After reading certain other blogs, though, I think it’s important that you know the person behind the words.

When I view blogs that combine authoritative with a sprinkling of personal writing, I feel a greater connection with the writer. It gives credibility, I think, when you get a peek or two behind the curtain of the life of the author hosting the blog.

Having said that, I’ll give you a glimpse of who I am “under the covers.”

Early Years

I am a struggling 54-year-young freelance writer. Sometimes I make a LOT of money — other times, not so much. In my early to mid-20s I wrote music, had my own band and sang professionally. I also traveled in a Christian group that ministered in prisons and churches. The church gigs paid for trips to do prison gigs. During that time, a publisher contacted me and asked to publish my music. I turned him down — dumb decision, I found out later. Apparently, those opportunities don’t come around too often.

Married With Children

Right before I met my husband in 1983, I was feeling the need to get off the road and settle down. I met Willie, we dated four weeks, were married and wasted no time in starting a family. It was a whirlwind relationship. We lived the Shania Twain song Looks Like We Made It. Here we are, 28 years later and still very much in love.

We have two grown girls. One lives not far from us and the other lives in sunny California. They and their father are the loves of my life. My husband is hands-down my best friend. The first few years we were married, we couldn’t take our eyes off each other. All we did was stare and smile at each other wherever we were, whether at a social event or relaxing at home with the girls. We were just silly about each other. We still are, but in a different way.

Willie’s Illness

Willie became very ill in 2000 while I was still working full-time at Sprint. After five late-night visits to the emergency room over a period of five months, numerous visits to different specialists and months of taking narcotics that knocked him out for most of a 24-hour day, he was finally diagnosed with two disabling conditions — interstitial cystitis and ulcerative colitis. Before becoming ill, he owned and operated a construction company that required very heavy lifting, 60-hour work weeks and a lot of physical labor. He was the strongest man I knew. After becoming ill, he couldn’t work at all. It was a huge transition for him and our family — financially and emotionally.

Layoff and New Career

When Willie first became ill, I worked for Sprint as an IT project manager. I loved my job and enjoyed what I did there for 8 years before being laid off in 2002 with about 30,000 other Sprint employees.

The timing was perfect, however, because my husband could not work his business, so I took over the company. Talk about learning on your feet. I’ve always been a fast learner and enjoyed new challenges, but never dreamed I would be running an asphalt company. I didn’t like anything about the business at all, except meeting and working with our customers. The job was dirty, days were long and the work was physically demanding. I honestly sometimes enjoyed that last part, because it helped me sleep solid at night.

My hair, which is typically a dark brown with well-earned sprinkles of gray, became bleached with blonde streaks. Being in the sun so much of the time gave me a farmer’s tan that made everyone jealous. Most people thought I’d been on vacation to get that glowing skin. Little did they know it was garnered by sweat and arduous effort and after hours working on top of hot, black asphalt. You see, not only did I build our customer base, estimate most jobs and manage the financial aspect of the company, but I often led the 11-man crew in completing jobs.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I wasn’t Superwoman. I was simply a woman who did what it took to survive. I, like so many others out there in this troubling economy, found a way to keep my family afloat in tough times.

Transition to Freelance Writing

I was able to significantly grow the business for the next 3 years, then put it up for sale in 2005. After the season ended later that year, I went back to work at (now) Sprint Nextel as a contract project manager and stayed for several months. The business sold in 2006. At the end of the last project at Sprint Nextel, I decided to try my hand at freelance writing.

It was the hardest learning experience of my life. Even though I’ve done this since 2006, I’m still learning how to promote myself and my work. With all the new tools that continue to emerge, I think we all will continue to learn new ways to market our wares. A regular job is easier than being a writer, I think; however, it is not as rewarding. I love being a writer and writing.

That’s my story in a relative nutshell.

I’d love to know YOUR story. Please feel free to share it with us here. I look forward to reading it!

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