Category Archives: Career

We Took the Road Less Traveled

Hello, World!

The changes in our lives the last year and nine months have been huge, and as I reflect upon them today, in some ways it seems like it has been a much longer time. The 5th Wheel is so much home now that it is hard to believe we haven’t been living in it longer than we actually have been.

Three years ago this month, my husband and I listed our house for sale; it sold to the second family to view it. Within a few weeks, and much faster than expected, we downsized from an almost 2,700 sq. ft. home with a two-car garage to a 1,150 sq. ft. two-bedroom apartment in Metro – Nashville. We enjoyed our time in the Nashville area, but we kept looking for “what’s next.” My husband unexpectedly getting laid-off from the company for which he had worked 10 years was the push we needed.  Jim had been thinking for years about going out on his own in the consulting field, and this was the push he needed for that. While he was working a contract (thankfully) in Nashville and looking for the next “gig,” we hit upon an idea: We could buy and RV and travel together from job site to job site. (You see, that one contract was the only one in 14 years as a traveling consultant that he’d had a job in the state of Tennessee, and it was well-timed for him to have a job locally, so we could shop and plan for our next adventure.)

outside house kitchen front room den

 

The last day of September 2014, we signed the papers to purchase our 5th Wheel Trailer, and about two weeks later, we had our tow vehicle.  The time between the end of September and the middle of November, we continued to downsize, putting items with which we were not yet ready to part into a 10 x 10 climate-controlled storage unit. The temperatures dropped rapidly, and early for Middle Tennessee, so to keep from having to winterize the camper for three days, we began moving into the RV on the 13th of November; Jim would finish his contract the next day. The next five days, we wrapped up our move out from the apartment and got situated as best we could in the camper, which was parked at an RV park near the dealership from which we purchased the RV. We were then living in a camper with 321 sq. ft. when slides were out.

Our 5th Wheel Trailer and Tow Truck

Our 5th Wheel Trailer and Tow Truck

Then, we headed out to try our hand and RVing by going to Lake Guntersville, Alabama, for a three-day stay. Then, we moved to a campground just off I-65 near some of my family; we stayed there five weeks, really just shy of five weeks since we left for five days to take the camper to Paducah the week of Christmas 2014 to visit Jim’s side of the family.

Our view from the site at Lake Guntersville at sunset

Our view from the site at Lake Guntersville at sunset

It was so cold the winter of 2014, and Jim had no contract yet, so he suggested we go toward the Gulf Coast; we did, and I was so glad. We stayed in southern, Alabama slightly over two months. Then we moved to the Mississippi coast for another month. While in these two locations, Jim worked a 5-week contract – mostly remotely – for a hospital in Colorado; he then worked a 3-week contract with a hospital in Massachusetts while I hung out in Mississippi. Jim flew back and forth, so we got to get play in the warmth of the Mississippi coast together over the weekend.

Entrance to campground where we stayed in MS; the Gulf Coast is across the road.

Entrance to campground where we stayed in MS; the Gulf Coast is across the road.

His next contract, and the one he is still working, was in Corinth, Mississippi, which is in the most northern part of the state where it borders Tennessee. The nicest RV park within a 50-mile radius of Corinth is located in Tennessee between the city of Savannah and Pickwick Dam, so this is where we’ve stayed for a year.  He will wrap up this job this summer, so we are excited to know that we will be traveling again in July as we’re going to make our way to Vermont to attend the Escapade at Essex Junction where we’ll get to visit with other RVers, many of whom will be full time and working on the road like us.

Our current site south of Savannah, TN

Our current site south of Savannah, TN

This is not the road of traditional Americans; it is the road less traveled, but I’m so glad we took this path.  Jim and I look forward to many years and adventures living in our camper and traveling to wherever the jobs take us. We are living and loving life after 50 and feel like kids again living the traveling lifestyle.

Be true to yourself and have a blessed day!

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Not My Muse or Opposites DO Attract

In the last few weeks, I’ve not written much at all; a few blog posts – a very few – has been it. Why? To be brutally honest, it is because my husband has been working at home rather than on the road.  Granted, just before our vacation, I had my first ever computer virus on a personal computer that was of enough seriousness to cause issues in using my computer.  It took about two weeks to rid my computer of the nasty critter, and then it was time to travel.

Once home, I wrote a bit, but the atmosphere was not right for me to do more than take a stab at writing because the HH is “on the bench” working at home. I love my husband dearly.  In most things, we are in agreement, but we usually get to that point of agreement from very different angles because we are in so many ways opposites of each other, who, despite our differences, are drawn together. Those differences that draw us together can also become hurdles to overcome when together all of the time.

I am an early bird; the dear hubby is a night owl. I am proactive in avoiding problems if foreseeable; the HH does not want to worry about problems until they arise. I have a filter that is in place almost all of the time; the hubby has one that is not used enough.  I am a planner; he is spontaneous. I usually get what I need to do done each day whether or not I follow a routine; my husband will forget most anything if his routine is not followed. I like silence; he likes noise. The list could go on and on, but I think you get the picture about being opposites.

I love being with my husband; we have such a good time together, but there is a reason why our marriage has worked so well with him usually on the road 4 out of 7 days:  We don’t get in each other’s way or distract each other when working. While teaching, I spent way too much time grading papers.  In the evenings during the week while he was working on client site, I could grade without disruption in quiet, and he could work at his computer in the hotel at night with the TV blaring.  I could go to bed before the 10 0’clock news and wake before the sun rose each morning, and he could take a nap before supper and then work until 1 or 2 a.m. then sleep a few more hours before time to dress to go into the client’s office. The same principles applied last year while I did sub work but mainly labored getting the house ready to sell. This year, I’m tutoring and still attempting to get us settled in this much smaller living space while developing the craft of writing.  Writing takes time, and for me it also takes quiet and keeping distractions to a minimum.

My HH is a big distraction because when he is home, I want to be with him.  Being with him when he is home often means being in the living room watching TV or a movie because he needs to have noise from the minute he wakes until he is ready to sleep (or even after he is asleep). I have a hard time doing the work in the apartment that I need to be doing if I am sitting still. When it comes to writing, it is almost impossible for me to focus with the TV on. In addition, I am distracted by the need to cook or by my desire to talk with him or do things with him.  In this regard, my sweet hubby is the antithesis of my writing muse, though it is often our conversations that give me ideas – ideas that often flitter away because I do not write the ideas down quickly enough to preserve them.

If I am to hope to learn to be a good writer, one that might eventually find intellectual, emotional, and, perhaps, a small amount of financial reward in practicing the craft of writing and also enjoy my husband’s presence at home during retirement, the past six weeks of almost constant time together have taught me that he and I must learn how to enjoy being with each other in our differences and yet find a way to cohabitate productively at the same time.

Since he and I have mutual love and respect, I am sure that a solution will be found.  In the meantime, after encouraging him to get out and about on a road trip today to battle his “cabin fever,” I have also been able to find my “happy writing place”  and my muse in the silence left behind. Today’s choices are a win/win for both of us.

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Ode to a Traveling Consultant

The HH completed an almost two-year project on the same day that we left for vacation in Europe in the evening.  He and I had a lovely 10 days. Though he knew that he’d be “on the bench” the week after our return, he did not mind. After all, he’d spent two years commuting back and forth between Tennessee and Texas as he worked on a challenging project. A week at home between vacation and his next client site was fine.

Toward the end of the first week, he was given some work to do remotely for another of his company’s clients; that kept him happily busy.  We also had appointments with doctors scattered in these weeks. By week three, he was getting antsy, emailing folks to find out if anything was “coming down the pipe.”  By week four, I could tell he was getting frustrated – understandable since this amount of off-client time had erased his utilization bonus for the second half of the year.  By week five (this week) resignation came that with the holiday season upon us it could be the first of the year before he would be on contract at a client site. The HH was home sick and travel sick, but not in the way most of us understand these terms.

Looking through our DVD stash, he wanted to watch Up In The Air, a movie about traveling consultantsHe could not find it (I’m not sure we ever owned it). My poor hubby was so desperately travel sick that he contemplated going to Nashville International, just to sit in the airport and watch as other busy travelers scurried to their flights.  Craving a night in his true home, Holiday Inn Express, he pondered traveling out of state to visit family and friends where a hotel would be in order.  Finally, common sense helped him find a different way to beat his desire to travel, his need to rid himself of the “cabin fever” engulfing him. He’d take a day trip by car to Illinois to visit his mom and children there.

Oh, to the traveling man when his bags sit idle in the corner and no boarding passes await the hum of the printer.  Tears for the traveling consultant who is denied the presence of “elves” who make his bed, clean his bathroom, and put out fresh towels daily.  With the wanderlust denied because contracts are not signed, the poor traveling consultant must endure the purgatory of his ordinary home while awaiting the next set of project orders that will once again give him wings to fly away to new day-time adventures and nights of sweet sleep in the heavenly hotel of choice.

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Beta Readers Wanted: Would You Turn the Page?

Hello World!

What I share below has been read by only two people other than myself: my husband and daughter.  Now that I have their feedback, I am looking for the feedback of others, so comments would be appreciated.  If you read what I have written below, would you want to turn the page?  If yes, why?  If not, why not? Thanks for your help in advance. Please do not re-print this posting or any part of it.

__________________________________________

Shifting one foot to the other and pulling her coat collar close to her chin, Jasmine scanned the terminal, her eyes darting here and there. The thump, thump of her heart was so loud in her ears that she almost missed hearing the phone. Trembling, she switched it off.

It was him.

The line moved forward. She walked through the gate and boarded the plane, taking the first vacant window seat.  Hands still shaking, she fumbled with the seat belt until it was fastened. Then, pulling the shade down over the window, she lowered her head and leaned against the inside wall of the aircraft.

From under the veil of her eyelashes, Jasmine watched as people boarded, careful not to make eye contact. She offered a silent prayer of thanks when it was two ladies, apparently traveling together and engrossed in their own conversation, who took the two seats beside her.

Only after the flight attendants had closed the doors and she could feel the plane backing away did Jasmine let out the breath she had unknowingly been holding, quickly followed by a huge sigh of relief.

She had done it! After months of careful planning, she had escaped!

It was the bump of the landing gear hitting the runway followed by the jerk backwards at the reverse thrust of the engines that woke Jasmine.  Briefly disoriented, for the first couple of seconds she could not remember where she was or why.  Slowly it all came back to her.

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“Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”

Hello World!

How many times have you heard, or even said, this quote: “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”?  I know that I’ve spouted these words many times.  Today, these words apply to me.  While I probably have a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting a positive response, I’ve taken the risk and put myself out there with hope of a trip to a writers’ retreat. I cannot be selected if I don’t apply in the same way I cannot win the lottery if I don’t buy a ticket.

Hedgebrook is a nonprofit organization serving women writers.”  One of the ways in which this organization serves women writers is by offering each year 30 – 40 women writers, published and unpublished alike, the opportunity to retreat and spend time alone writing and/or engaging in discussions and collaboration with other female writers free of charge.  The retreat is located on Whidbey Island near Seattle, Washington.  Selected applicants are awarded stays of two to six weeks between the months of February and October each year.

I have submitted an application for the 2014 residency program.  Now that it is submitted, I have done all that I can do, so after I make this post, my intent is to put it out of my mind until I hear whether or not I am one of the lucky few. If I am, I’ll be happy but amazed.  If not, I can re-apply at another time.  Regardless of the outcome, I have already done well because I have stepped out of my comfort zone and have “gone” for something I want.

Learning to put myself out there and take risks is one aspect of living that I want to implement into my life more.

Do you ever take risks?

Have a happy and blessed day!

Angela

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Last Day At Killer Nashville

Hello World!

Today was the last day of Killer Nashville, and it was a smashing way to end the weekend conference.The last two workshops attended were both spectacular.

As predicted, Jodie Renner’s session Writing Workshop 3 Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View was as good as I had hoped and more. It was my first workshop of the day.  Plans for attending the second workshop changed when I realized the presenter who bored me close to tears was on the panel for The Iceberg Theory: Using Subtext to Create Depth and Dimension. While this may seem mean, I did not want to be in the room with him, so I made a quick decision to switch rooms and attend another workshop.  This turned out to be a fantastic choice.  The panel of ladies leading Funny Business: Humorous Mysteries not only were informative and inspirational, they were entertaining, causing me to end the conference laughing.  Both sessions receive 3 out of 3 stars from me!

Overall, Killer Nashville was better than expected, and I am sure it would have been exciting to actually stay at the hotel and be able to interact on a more personal level with the other writers who did stay at the hotel. Of course, it would go against my nature to spend money unnecessarily to stay at an expensive hotel when I live 11 miles from it.

Still, I do see myself attending the 9th Annual Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference next year.

Have a blessed and happy day!

Angela

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My Impressions of Killer Nashville So Far

Hello World!

I’ve not been home too much the last couple of days since I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the 8th Annual Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference.  How has it gone so far?  That’s what I’m writing to tell you.

Over all, I’m impressed, but not all things are equal.  The event has been well-organized, welcoming, and down-to-earth.  Yesterday morning’s presentation by D.P. Lyle, MD was educational and entertaining.  I’ve met some really nice people ranging from those who have not written anything yet, to people who have their first novel finished and can see light at the end of the tunnel, to individuals who have had multiple books published.

The first workshop session I attended, Craft of Writing Workshop 1 Outlining & Plot: The Events of Your Story, was led by Bob Mayer.  This workshop was truly awesome, and I give it 3 stars out of 3 stars. The second workshop of the day for me was Double Duty: Using Character Perceptions to Build Depth and Bring Settings to Life led by a panel consisting of Jamie Mason (Panel Leader), Parker Francis, Phyllis Gobbell, Eliot Parker, and Ken Vanderpool. While there was some beneficial material presented, personally I did not find it as helpful and insightful as hoped.  I give this session 1 1/2 stars out of 3 stars. The third and final session I attended yesterday was Be Your Own Editor: Make Your Book the Best it Can Be with a panel of editors (Jodie Renner, Christina Wilburn, and Carolyn Mulford) and moderated by Jaden Terrell.  This was another extremely helpful and information session, and I give this one 3 stars out of 3 stars also.

I started with the first session on the schedule today; it was Craft of Writing Workshop 2 Advanced Fiction Writing: Ten Techniques to Make Your Writing Shine presented by Philip Cioffari. Oh. My. Gosh!  I’m sure this gentleman is very capable, but I was bored out of my gourd!  What he may have shared that was beneficial was lost because he kept losing me by boring me.  He started late, did not get through all he was to have covered, and ran over.  I’m tempted to give this session 0 stars out of 3, but since he showed up, I’ll give him 1/2 of a star out of 3 stars.  The second, and last, of the small group sessions for today was Backstory: How Much Do You Need, How Best to Weave it In? The panelists were Annamaria Alfieri (Panel Leader), Jon Jefferson, M.E. May, Marie Moore, and Paul Parsons. In my opinion, this was another interesting and beneficial workshop, and I give it 2 1/2 stars out of 3 stars.

Since Jodie Renner is leading the first session I plan to attend in the morning, I have high expectations and am truly looking forward to it.  I’ll let you know how the rest of the conference goes from my perspective.

Have a blessed and happy day!

Angela

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Hello World!

At this time tomorrow morning, I will be at the Hutton Hotel in midtown Nashville to attend my first ever Writers’ Conference; it is

Killer Nashville.

After yesterday’s post, I’m sure some of you are hoping there are sessions on blogging technology, and that would be helpful, but I didn’t see that on the list of options.

I’ve decided to stick with the more basic classes of developing plot, character, killer openings (get the pun), etc.  that can be translated to most any genre, but there is one thing happening at the conference that is calling to my sleuth side for sure.  There will be a crime scene set up by the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation), and the conference attendees will have a competition to solve the murder mystery.  Heck, I can do it. Wasn’t my husband and I one of three teams who solved the dinner Murder Mystery last month?  LOL

I am beyond excited  and a bit nervous.  What do I wear?  What do I take with me?  Since I plan to take the commuter train to the city in the morning, can I get up and going early enough? Will the HH and Chewie make it all weekend without me being home during the day? Will my head explode from all of the information? As a newbie, will I stand out like a sore thumb?

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Wish me luck!

Have a blessed and happy day!

Angela

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August 22, 2013 · 8:05 AM

I Finally Did It!

Hello World!

What did I finally do?  I finally submitted my first application for a freelance writing assignment; this was my icebreaker. Starting something new is always a bit scary, at least for me, but isn’t part of living taking risks and getting out of our comfort zones?  After writing my post yesterday, I did some reading that I found inspiring.  I spent a bit of time tweaking my resume, locating a template to use for a cover letter, and then I went to an online job posting site for freelance writing assignments.  I read through them until I found one that seemed to fit my age, stage, and background. This morning, I submitted the application. That got me past my first hurdle.

The next hurdle is dealing with rejection.  Mentally, I know that when one is looking for a job, many attempts are made and rejected before one finds a job that fits.  I am even more certain that when writing for publication in any form, rejection is a part of the process, and it comes more often than not.  You see, the thing is that when it comes to locating jobs, I’ve not had much experience with rejection.  As mentioned in Live, Work, and Wait?, most of the jobs I have had in the past have come to me.  Learning to deal with rejection is going to be a character growth challenge that will come with the writing to make money challenge.

Anyway, the first step is the hardest, and now that step has been taken.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, good or bad.

Have a blessed and happy day!

Angela

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To Teach or Not to Teach?

Hello World!

That is the question – for me, at least.

I enjoy teaching; however, I am tired of many of the things that come with teaching. What are the pros and cons specific to me?

Cons for me:

  1. Grading, which is mountain high when a teacher of English in a college preparatory high school, is the main thing that is not missed.  Until I did not have it to do, I did not realize how little of a “life” I had.
  2. Hoops and politics? Nope, I do not enjoy jumping through all of the hoops of ever-changing teaching requirements and the unending paper work. Yes, there is “office politics” in schools, and I much prefer to stay out of the politics and in my room doing the job I am paid to do: teach.
  3. Being older, I do not want to have to work regular hours week after week. When teaching, I average 60 hours a week during the school year without counting the hours of summer school I seemed to get roped into teaching frequently.  Even when on a “long weekend getaway,” I still found myself grading papers as my husband drove. Why, you may ask, do I not want to “punch the time card” on a regular schedule now.  There are two main reasons beyond what has already been stated.  First, when I have an opportunity to travel, I want to be free to go, even  last minute.  Next, my get up and go is not as fast to come up to speed as it used to be.  I need a little more time to convince my body it actually wants to move. Standing in front of a class or sitting at a computer entering grades or at a desk grading does nothing to encourage my body to want to move better.
  4. Finally, the unknown of what I will find in the classroom is a deterrent. What do I mean? Over the years, I have seen the attitudes and behavior of our young people deteriorate significantly.  I taught first in public school, and then I taught for nine years in a private college preparatory school. My last teaching experiences were once again in public school.  I’ll not get on my soap box; I’ll just leave it with what I have already said.

Pros for me:

  1. First, I enjoy teaching, especially if I have a somewhat receptive audience.
  2. Next, I enjoy watching students grow.  Two students in particular come to mind. The first paper one young man wrote for me in 9th grade contained 42 run-on sentences, but he grew to be very good at writing.  He honored me once he went to college by asking to come see me when home on weekends or during breaks for me to review his work for English class with him, even though he was earning As on those I never saw.  He said he was seeking perfection.  The second student will admit to you herself that she constantly disrupted class with her chatter. She and a friend of hers were “stinkers,” but I loved them any way.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when she friended me on Facebook, and I learned that she had chosen journalism as a career.  You see, not only was I her English teacher, but I was also her Journalism teacher.
  3. Finally, I simply enjoy knowing my students and becoming a part of their lives and their journeys.

Perhaps in another time and another place, teaching in classrooms may once again be the job for me, but not for now.

What then?  Some of the ideas I have been contemplating, and even acting on, include such things as tutoring, ACT prep classes, blogging, editing and/or proofreading jobs, and freelance writing.  Anything that can be done online is preferred as that gives me more flexibility for travel. If anyone knows of a good way to join the working ranks of any of these career options, please share!

What would you do if you could “grow up” to be whatever you want to be for this time of your life?

Have a blessed and happy day!

Angela

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This work by Angela C. Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at livingandlovinglifeafter50.

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