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Out with the gig, In with the new passion

Back in February, a conference call was arranged very suddenly, at the same time rumors started flowing that a significant number of layoffs were occurring at AOL, where I worked for two-and-a-half years and freelanced for years after that. The Huffington Post acquisition was becoming more of a murderous coup d'etat. I was -- of all things -- at the Apple store with my kids, buying a new Macbook Air with my tax return. The pleasure of the brand new writing tool was immediately wiped away when I got on the phone -- it wasn't just layoffs. Every single person I worked with -- but one -- had lost their jobs in one fell swoop.

For the next month or so, the freelancers ran the sites, more or less -- and then the freelance terminations came, always sudden, in the very early morning or even the middle of the night. Hundreds of people lost their "jobs" with no notice, not even enough time to copy and paste the post they'd been working on with the notice came. I went for weeks logging in every morning as soon as I woke up, just to see if I could. The not-knowing was terrible. And then, the last termination seemed to have occurred and there were four or five of us left (a few I wasn't sure -- were they employees or freelancers?). We posted two or three or four things a day. I made way more money than usual, what I consider to be our bottom line income (enough to pay the mortgage and the utilities and buy groceries), which was good; my husband had just come home from a year in Kuwait and was, for the time, unemployed.

Tuesday morning, another last-minute conference call yanked my safety out from under me. Well, not yanked exactly -- I have a "job" until August 1, when I'll start a new career as a freelancer without a regular gig. I'd like to devote more time to urbanMamas, so if you have ideas about things we can do with my time, please share them. I'm telling myself, this time, I'm only going to follow my passion -- no jobs writing about things I only care about a little. I'm pitching every morning; essays about family and journalist-type pieces about food. I'm going to try harder this time to get the regular mealtime established (this is my chief failing as a parent -- the food's great, the schedule messy). I'm going to work on my novel. I'm going to get the food book finished, and published!

Naturally, I'm in simultaneous mourning (it sounds weird, but I'll miss the software I've logged into nearly every day for the past six years -- it was built by a group of people I now consider my dearest friends, even though I like and respect almost no one in my department any more) and excitement. New things! A new practice! If I can just figure out how to make it pay... (On the new Google+, my 'what should I do' query was answered with universal agreement, 'make jam.')

What would you do if you got to follow your passion?


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I would garden with more focus and follow through, and seriously consider starting a blog about our 'urban farm'. I would also increase the amount of foods I make from scratch, specifically working on learning how to make more snack foods like granola bars and crackers.
And each season or so I feel myself being pulled to some new interest or another; right now it's seed saving.

I would be horse woman, running a stable, out in the country =)

I would unschool my own kids rather than educate other people's kids-- what I used to perceive to be a dream job has changed with the birth of my first child as well as outside forces on the field of education.

If you need a "gig" to make money between assignments, what about teaching writing? Lots of people want to blog or blog better. Writing concise, interesting pieces takes skill, and you can do that & write novels. Help people out, charge a fee per person for some weeks of writing, feedback, discussion. Plenty of people pay for parenting & canning classes.

Me too Shannon. I've long harbored the horse barn dream but as I continue to grow up it seems less and less realistic. Still, a fun dream. I just quite my more realistic 'dream job,' where I'd been for almost 11 years, to stay home with the kids after the birth of my second son. So, I am embarking on the following of my passion as well.

I would *LOVE* to attend a food/canning class specifically geared toward families...

I would be a midwfe.

I would spend these 40-hours-per-week currently logged at my office desk taking care of my family, instead -- with some freelance newsletter writing and copyediting on the side.

I would just LEARN for a living--you know? Travel, take a few classes, meet new people, read, see plays & stay for the discussions afterward, take a cooking class, learn a language and then go live in that country with my family for a month...just LEARN new things, without the pressures of writing papers or taking tests on the subject. I would learn how to surf...learn how to read Shakespeare sonnets beautifully out loud...figure out Twitter...and how to braise meat....oh the list goes on.

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