A rich life is filled with enriching experiences. Things that push me out of my comfort zone and challenge are the most enriching.
Getting my Master's Degree in Communications at 43 was challenging. While it was my second, advanced degree, it was difficult after years of being a teacher to adjust to not being in charge, and to the expectations that were so much higher than the state colleges I'd previously attended. Getting back into an academic way of thinking was the most painful. The easiest way to explain academic writing is to say that in journalism, we use one word instead of two; in academic papers, the authors use four words when two would do. Four multi-syllabic words.
In my second semester, I was enrolled in an online journalism course. Public Relations was my reason for choosing the Communications Program, so I wasn't too chuffed at being required to take a journalist course.
The first assignment was to attend a Highway Department meeting and write an article about it. The meeting was canceled. I was thrilled to be righteously indignant, and I felt justified in not doing an assignment I didn't want to do anyway.
I got into my car ready to do the hour and a half return commute. Before jumping onto the Thruway, I stopped to fortify my angst with coffee and chocolate. Perhaps it was the boost from sugar and caffeine, or maybe it was my inner big girl; whatever it was, I turned my car around and went back to the highway department offices. I asked for more details about the meeting. Upon learning it was about repairs to an old bridge constructed in the Whipple Truss style. I drove out to see it and take photos. Then I called my brother, who specialized in bridge building and asked him. Finally, I googled it.
Five hundred words and a few photos later, I emailed the story to my publisher/professor within my word count and on deadline.
Even before I arrived home, I got a reply email with these two words in it.
The rush I got from those two words caused me to change my focus from PR to journalism. I started an online magazine upon graduating. Hudson Valley Outside is a resource for outdoor recreation in New York's Hudson Valley. In addition to freelancing for local papers, I'm here writing about Having a Rich Life.
The simple act of choosing to push myself into an area I didn't want to go was enriching. I felt like my own superhero. Even if it hadn't lead to a life trajectory change, it would have been an enriching experience, but it did.
My work as a writer exposes me to experiences I would not have found without it. Writing and journalism both continue to enrich my life.
My First Story