New Adventures

Once upon a time I graduated from Drake University and began working for a wonderful little publishing company in Des Moines. I worked there for a number of years. I learned all sorts of terrific things about being an editor and had the opportunity to work on some really stellar projects. I also did some freelance writing and editing on the side, just because I like being busy.

Then a certain Conservative Boy graduated law school and we took off for the wild world of L-Town, so he could become a small-town lawyer.

For a while, I kept working for that wonderful (no longer quite so little) publishing company. At the same time, I had the opportunity to teach a few first-year writing classes down the road at a small, private 2-year college here in L-Town. So I juggled the teaching and the editing and the freelancing.

And then I decided to pursue my master's degree (in environmental studies and journalism), so I started taking classes down the road about 45 minutes away at the University of Illinois campus in Springfield.

And then I was really busy.

Then I realized that the publishing company in Des Moines needed a managing editor who was actually in the office, and I needed to set out down a new path and try things out. So I became self-employed and worked as a freelance writer and editor, took a graduate assistantship at UIS, and worked on finishing my master's degree.

Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all that Conservative Boy and I got hitched.

Then, when all I had left to do was my thesis, I started job hunting. I applied for a full-time teaching position at a fabulous private university down the road a different direction, in Decatur. I was one of two finalists for the position and, I thought, nailed my teaching and research demonstrations. However, I had a big strike against me: I didn't even officially have my master's degree yet. And the other candidate already had a PhD. Bet you'll never guess who got the job.

But that's OK, because shortly thereafter I landed a swell position, overseeing campus and community sustainability initiatives and education at a community college back down the road in Springfield.

It was a terrific position in which I got to do a crazy variety of sustainbility-related work: working to increase environmental awareness on campus and in the community through special events, workshops, speaking engagements, etc.; helping college operations become more sustainable; developing renewable energy and green construction certificate programs; running all sorts of grant-funded projects related to raising awareness of local food, training people to grow local food, starting school gardens at local elementary schools, and more; collaborating with other sustainability professionals across the state. I probably forgot at least 30 other things I had the pleasure of doing in that position but, alas, you get the idea.

And then I got pregnant.

And then a certain little fellow you may have heard of once or twice came along.

After my maternity leave, I went back to work full time. But after a few months, I realized things had changed. Not only were my job duties shifting as a result of changes in grant funding and priorities at the college, but I also was starting to wonder what it really was I wanted to do. I loved much of my work in sustainability, but I was also missing the freedom and creativity of the freelance life and the opportunity to teach and closely interact with students on a regular basis. (Surprisingly, considering I was working at a college, my interaction with students was incredibly limited.) Plus, my personal priorities were shifting.

I struggled with being gone for long hours all day, driving 40 to 45 minutes each way, and hardly seeing the little guy. (Look at this face. Can you blame me?)

After he'd go to bed at night, I'd be crazed trying to keep up with things around the house. There was absolutely no balance in my life, and it started to stress me out.

It was time, once again, for a change.

Fortuitously, this realization struck me right about the time a couple of local colleges and universities were looking for English instructors. So I applied for a few positions, just to see what would happen, and ended up getting asked to teach a few classes here and there. So after a lot of thinking and figuring, we decided I'd leave my sustainability position to jump back into freelancing and teaching as of Aug. 2.

It has been a whirlwind of a month planning for four different classes (writing fundamentals; critical writing, reading, and research; web publishing; and an environmental service-learning class) at three different campuses, ramping up freelance writing and editing again, and figuring out a new schedule.
But so far I am loving every minute of it. Three work days a week, I immerse myself in teaching and planning and freelancing. Two work days a week, I'm home full-time with the little man. We have lots of time to play and read books and explore and cuddle (not that he really sits still for cuddling, but I keep trying). And when he naps, I have time to get work done on those days, too.

(Oh, and lest you think I have abandoned my interests in sustainability, never fear. Obviously we focus on the environment in my service-learning class; but it's also the focus of my critical writing, reading, and research class. Fun.)

Sure, things will get incredibly hectic at some points, when freelance projects come in at the same time that I'm trying to grade multiple classes' worth of papers. But that's OK. I don't mind. It's a new adventure, one that's allowing me to get back to some of my passions and spend more time with my family.

Plus, you know I thrive on being busy anyway.

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