And as I tried to fashion my dream career, I was blessed with some breaks along the way. As a young newbie in the publishing world, an editor gave me a break. After a battery of 17 different tests (standard for them), I was given an editorship for a trade magazine. His belief in me renewed my confidence and propelled me to learn as much as I could in my 10 years with them—until I was ready for more.
Of course, as what often happens in life, things don’t always follow a straight path. Mine surely didn’t. Like most folks, I got sidetracked with well, life itself, and the challenges that go hand in hand with what I had designed for myself. There were detours, pit stops, long stretches of roads that led to nowhere, pricey tolls, forks in the road, wrong turns and missed exits.
Perhaps you’ve focused on a career sans progeny or spouse, or let go of one to embark on the adventures of parenthood. Or perhaps, you’re juggling a traditional career while raising kids, or doing the same—but via the freelancing route. Whatever choices we’ve made, sometimes pursuing that dream is relegated to the backseat.
Then one day, we remember that we once had a dream. We locate its whereabouts (or try to), dust it off and take baby steps towards obtaining it again. In my case, this was truly what happened.
In 2003, when my youngest was still a babe, I launched my freelancing career, and accepted a select number of assignments. Baby steps. I didn’t want to sacrifice the joys of parenting knowing that kids grow up way too fast. I was ecstatic—thoroughly enjoying being a mom—taking strolls in the parks, reading them picture books half-asleep (hoping they’d nap) and taking mommy-and-me classes as my husband and I watched them reach their milestones. I wrote and edited in between their naps (and mine) or late at night—quite exhausting, but pure bliss.
Fast forward to 2012—my kids are all in school. After many years of devoting my time volunteering, chaperoning and co-chairing fundraising events at their schools, I’ve re-focused and am engrossed in my freelancing full force. I believe in paying it forward, so I still volunteer my time and skills—education is a worthwhile cause. But I’m learning to do so in manageable doses that don’t leave me at my wits end, which happens when trying to balance everything.
Chasing the dream meant (among many other steps):
- Learning to build a website (thank goodness for WP templates).
- Understanding what a platform means for a writer.
- Scouring the web for supportive online writing communities—it’s not fun sending your carefully chosen prose into an abyss.
- And since every 21st century writer also needs to engage in social media, Facebook and Twitter became part of my arsenal.
And every so often when pursuing your dream, your life touches upon those who have embraced and made the spirit and concept of paying it forward a part of their personal and professional lives.
April 26, 2012, the last Thursday of the month, is designated for a special global movement called, Pay it Forward Day.
In the spirit of Pay it Forward Day 2012, below are fabulous folks (among so many more) whose work and commitment inspire various people:
- Melissa Foster – Award-winning and international best-selling author of “Chasing Amanda” and “Come Back to Me”, plus “Megan’s Way” (optioned for film). Melissa is also a mom of six, who somehow finds time to start and remain active in communities, such as the Women’s Nest and the World Literary Café. She recently co-founded Fostering Success to offer additional help to authors.
Through the World Literary Café, I’ve gained a following of supportive writers who help build each other’s platforms by following one another on Twitter and Facebook. Within the community, you’ll find lots of information on how to market and price your book, gain access to forums for readers and writers, and even pitch manuscripts to agents (up to May 15, 2012).
Read more about Melissa’s projects via her website.
- Bret Love & Mary Gabbett – Co-founders of Green Global Travel whose Twitter profile reads, “Saving the planet one story at a time, we’re adventurers with a passion for ecotourism, conservation & culture.”
While searching for travel-related pages on Facebook, I chanced upon the group, Travel Bloggers Give Back (TBGB) for which I enjoy contributing blog posts centered on some of my favorite nonprofits and charity organizations. These posts have been some of the most rewarding and meaningful write-ups I’ve penned.
As Bret noted via this post, he has had many breaks during some difficult moments in his life. In return, he has been paying it forward by mentoring other writers. Recently he and Mary started a mentorship program wherein they’re guiding four bloggers, helping them navigate their way in what can often be a confusing and hard road towards becoming established writers. For six months, those in the program will write blog posts and receive feedback from Bret, and will have at least one article published in “INsite” magazine.
For some eco-friendly tips, and virtual trips to exotic locations through vibrant photos and prose, read more about their adventures via their website, Green Global Travel.
- Emily Suess – Fellow freelance editor and writer, Emily offers many valuable tips to aspiring and current writers via her website and blog. She also showcases guest blog posts, including mine. We met through She Writes—an online community of female writers where I’ve connected with some awesome ladies like Emily.
She realized that while she has provided sage advice to her readers, what beginning freelancers really need are actual paid writing assignments to get their feet wet, so to speak. Emily has opened up such opportunities via her blog—Suess’s Pieces, and also embarks on a mentorship program for the summer, which is now open to applicants.
For more information, visit her site.
- Meena Prego – Twenty-five years ago, thankfully my path crossed with Meena’s and over the years we became close friends. During some of the roughest points of my life, she and her family were my saving grace. Paying it forward is quite normal for them, as they’ve helped and continue to offer their assistance to many other folks fortunate enough to run across them.
Meena differs from the people noted above, as she’s not a professional writer, but an artist of the culinary kind. With a mission of introducing Philippine cuisine to newbies, she’s a restaurateur who works 10 hours per day, six days a week, creating delicious Filipino fare to delight all who enter her dining venue—Mama Meena’s Family Restaurant.
And speaking of the Philippines, it’s heartwarming to know that my homeland is the 49th country to sign up for the global Pay it Forward Day movement. Check out the Pay it Forward Day-Philippines website, launched on April 20, 2012.
I found this cheery song by Brian Asselin posted on the Pay it Forward Day media page. You can’t help but feel good listening to it.
Thank you to the many generous folks who continue to pay it forward, including the Pay it Forward Day organization who mentioned my article on their media page. What a great way to start the day.
Editorial Creatives wishes all of you a beautiful and happy Pay it Forward Day.