By the time I graduated high school in 1997, I knew I wanted to write. And I set out to make a living doing this thing I loved. My dear friend Katie, who has known me since I was 11 years old, included the above newspaper clipping in a card she sent me. Much has changed since 1997, but I still love to use words to create stories.
The dream that started in the high school “The Clarion Colonel” newsroom came with me to Murray, Ky., where I spend four years earning a print journalism degree, apparently qualifying me for the next step into the real world. I interned in Lexington, Ky. I worked a year-long temporary job in Louisville, Ky. Then I spent a year as an education reporter in Richmond, Ky.
And then I moved back to Murray. I spent four years writing about the city council, the university administration, police business, court cases, the public-owned hospital, and whatever other small-town news came by way. I had thought I’d work at a big-city newspaper.
But I fell in love along the way.
Initially, I fell in love with my college boyfriend who is now my husband. Then I fell in love with small-town journalism after telling myself time and time again it wasn’t for me. It’s challenging and rewarding to cover the community in which you live, go to church, intend to raise your family, and have deep roots in which you married into.
But then I fell in love with my daughter. So I thought I’d do both. Go to work. Come home and be momma. But something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be Cate. So it was my career as a small-town journalist.
It’s been 3 years and 10 months exactly since I traded my career for an even greater purpose. And I haven’t regretted it once, even though this stay-at-home mom role came with no real training. Yes, I still read the local newspaper and even sometimes converse with other reporters who’ve come through the same newsroom. We have a bond that not everyone understands.
I’m grateful for the storytelling training I’ve had along the way, in high school, in college, formally, through other professionals, and in somewhat nerdy conversations with friends.
And I’m thankful for the stories I have to tell these days. Robert’s Rules of Order rarely enter my mind, although some moments are more chaotic than I expect. There aren’t any agendas to follow, even though sometimes I crave a plan for everybody to follow. Nobody requires I file an open records request, yet my 19-month-old can’t always give me the information I’m trying to get. I certainly need God’s grace because being a momma has since become the most challenging thing I’ve done, or, rather, am doing and will be doing.
Really, I should remember what I told my peers 14 years ago: “My canvas will never be blank as long as I continue to act on my senses; I am an artist, with words as my form of expression. … I realized I am an artist with a satisfying power to share — who knows where taking chances can lead you.”
My life is nothing like I planned. But I wouldn’t change where I am or how I got here.
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