Everything I’ve ever done has brought me here to this place
This week I struggled in my decision in what should be the topic for this week’s column. I could write about a million and one things – cooler temperatures moving in; my experiences as a soccer coach thus far; or how it seems my three year old needs glasses. All of these things are notable but I decided it would be better to write with my heart instead of a my head.
I got a letter from a reader this week. It was sitting next to my computer when I walked in the door Monday morning.
I immediately picked up and read it. I have to tell you the words practically brought tears to my eyes. My reader wrote me a letter in response to last week’s column, and while I often get mails and phone calls about my column, the letter touched my heart differently. I think it meant more because it takes time to sit down and write someone a letter. It takes effort to find a stamp and take it to the mailbox. Letter writing is a lost art because we can usually just send an email or a text message, but when I get a letter from a reader, it shows me that person had something to say to me so she took time out of her busy life to hand write me a note.
To that reader and all of my readers, I’d like to say thank you. In my line of work, nothing I write matters until someone picks up the newspaper and reads it. There is a famous anonymous quote that goes something like this, “An author starts a book, but it takes a reader to finish it.”
I think the same thing goes for the newspaper. If no one reads our paper, then all the work we did to get the paper out was for nothing. I’m happy there are so many people enjoying my columns and the stories that I write.
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a journalist. As I’ve told you before, I wanted to work for the “New York Times.” In my dreams, I’d live in New York and write important stories about political corruption or the latest city hall scandal.
All of that changed when I met a blue eyed, blonde haired boy from Alabama. Yes, I say boy because he was just a boy when we met as I was just a girl.
While I had all these dreams and ambitions, those dreams changed to include a family with him. Some people say I settled, but I would beg to differ. I simply changed my priorities, which turned out to be a good thing.
I would not be happy living in New York. I’d be afraid to leave my apartment if I lived there, and I’d probably be out of a job.
The world of print journalism has changed so much over the last decade that if I had been employed by the “Times” I would’ve probably been let go like many others were when the company had all those lay offs a few years ago.
I can say I really like working for a weekly paper. It allows me to be a mother to my three children, and do something I love at the same time.
Getting paid to do something you love is a huge blessing. I’ve had jobs I hated, and it wasn’t very much fun. When you can earn a paycheck and have fun at the same time, then you are blessed. I’ve been blessed for seven years now.
A few weeks ago marked the seventh anniversary of the day I began getting paid to report the news. I remember being afraid. I was scared I couldn’t do it. After all, I’d been out of the world of journalism for several years at that point. I’d spent two years in the credit and collections department for a large Alabama-based manufacturer.
I liked the getting paid part, but I hated the job. Looking back it did have its advantages. I learned how to operate in the business world. I learned about accounts payables, receivables, quality control and customer service.
I also learned how to read a credit report and how to check credit references, and how to place accounts for collection. No it wasn’t very much fun, but it paid the bills. I also found myself using my writing skills to write memos, emails, letters to customers, and notes onto the customer accounts. I remember thinking I wasn’t putting that education to work very well.
Before working there, I’d spent four years being a stay at home mom with my two boys. Jordan was four and Cameron was one when I went to work. At home, I had my good days and I had my bad days. I resented anyone who had access to the outside world. My mom said I just wasn’t meant to be a recluse. She said I needed to work outside the home in order to be fulfilled. She was right.
While I loved my babies, nothing made me love them more than going home to them every day at 4:30 p.m.
The two years prior to the four I spent at home with my children, I’d worked at a medical supply company known in the medical world as Durable Medical Equipment supplier.
There I answered phones, filed paperwork, and completed insurance claims. It was a good job and I was grateful to have it at the time. I married Jimmy while employed at this job. I had left simply because I had gotten irritated at my boss, which was probably pregnancy hormones, and decided I wanted to stay at home with my baby when he came.
I learned a lot at the medical supply company as well. I learned how to read an explanation of medical benefits (EOMB), which has been invaluable to me over the years. I also learned how to order products, and mark them up for retail.
I can honestly say my employment history has been very interesting. But the experience in the business world made me understand how things operated when I got my chance to go to work as a reporter.
I thought I was simply wasting my time, but truthfully, I was getting an education they didn’t teach in the classroom.
So when I walked into the office on September 25, 2006, I was scared I couldn’t do it anymore. After all, learning to do something in a classroom is far different from actually doing it every day. But, I managed to do it. No I didn’t know everything I needed to know. I had to learn some things. I still don’t know everything seven years later....not even close to it.
I can tell you nothing has made me happier than writing. I really don’t know what the future holds for me. I know I have a diverse set of skills, but I’m happy right here simply writing and reporting the news.
The reader said in her letter that she hopes that I’ll be here as long as she could read the paper.
Well, to her and all the other readers out there, I’m planning to stay right here in Drew County so I can raise my kids and enjoy the life Jimmy and I are building here. I am in no rush to find the next big offer because I am content to stay right here and just be happy. Everyone should be so blessed.
(Melissa Cason for the Advance-Monticellonian. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)