Toward the end of my tenure at The Denver Post, I was not in a very good space.
We were all working 60-hour weeks, and nothing seemed to be getting better – we were losing subscribers at an alarming rate, advertising revenues were down, and the promise of digital revenues had yet to be realized.
My travel section budget had been cut in half, and cut in half again (and again!), so that it was about an eighth of what it had once been. Which is to say, not very much. And yet, I was still expected to come up with stories written well enough to appear in a major daily newspaper, with top-quality photos, too.
Each day, the jokes about whether it was time to start drinking came earlier and earlier, until we realized we were starting to talk about it at around 9 a.m.
Finally, I decided I’d had enough – that I needed to make the big change, because I was starting to feel stuck in a negative loop.
Easier said than done, though! Leaving a 28-year career – one with health benefits and a good salary, no less – was a tough concept to embrace.
But I knew that for my own peace of mind and general well-being that it just had to be done.
And so, I started to imagine what my life could be like if I quit and became a freelance writer. My dream was to continue writing and editing, but on a freelance basis, in a way that would allow me to spend time with my overactive dogs and continue training for mountain bike races.
I also wanted to start working on a non-fiction book, increase my garden space to be more self-sustaining food-wise, and longed to help local restaurants get the kind of coverage they wanted and deserved.
I do believe that if you dream it, you can do it, and I think I am proof. Every day now, I wake up feeling enthusiastic about the projects I’m working on. I go for a hike with my dogs. Then I get a cup of coffee and read the newspaper and work emails. Next, it’s time to work on stories and other writing and editing commitments for a few hours, and then I go for a bike ride or a hike again, sometimes with the pups, sometimes not.
I still travel a few times a month, but I’ve also gained the luxury of being able to spend more time with my family – for instance, my grandparents both passed away within the last six months, but I was able to fly to Florida several times beforehand to visit with them and help them around the house. I am so grateful for that flexibility.
And I don’t think I ever would have been in that position had I not made up my mind to change the way I think about things, and then followed through on making those changes.