With so much medical debt and despair, I was always hesitant to buy a car. Sure, I could make it work in the budget, but what if I was next on the chopping block, another statistic of the industry’s downsizing? And yeah, the sinus surgery took care of most of my issues in wintertime, but even walking to the bus twice (or more) each day lugging computers, groceries, etc., in the summertime hurt my already fatigued muscles. (Thanks, Fibromyalgia.) So, if I loved myself, would I take a financial risk and buy a car to ease the burden on my body? (Yes.)
I bought Ubetcha the Subaru Memorial Day Weekend of 2018. The man at the car dealership who I haggled with for a killer deal would later become my husband. I’d put my trust, my faith, in him and us so soon into our relationship that I would resign from my stable job that November. (It was a birthday present to myself.) And when his job wasn’t working out, we’d renew our faith in our future as we packed up our three pets in Ubetcha and moved to his home state of Colorado, to my dad’s cabin in the mountains sans Wi-Fi and a rental payment.
That first month was hard, no doubt. But, it was — and probably will be until retirement — the longest span of time my then-fiancé and I could share together. We moved on February 23 and he started his new job March 23. From there on out, things got easier. (Plus, I started on my memoir!)
In April, I joined the somewhat local group, Northern Colorado Writers, based in Fort Collins, Colo. The organization was hosting a writers’ conference in May as well as taking anthology submissions for fiction, poetry and nonfiction. (I would go on to submit four pieces of my writing and attend my first writers’ conference.) That same month, April, someone I’d worked with in Montana reached out to me for freelancing work. What I saw were business expenses and income, so my financially-sound fiancé suggested I start my own business. On April 22, Pen Expressive, LLC, was born.
On or about May 1, there was a call in the Northern Colorado Writers email blast for volunteers. I can do newsletter coordination, I thought. It’d be a way to network with fellow writers — a means to no end in Montana, where the existing creative culture felt elitist and unwelcoming. I reached out to the group’s director and suggested we meet during the conference. And despite my hesitation, What if I needed to be a longtime member?, What if there are multiple applicants?, What if they think I’m too new to the area?, I followed through on my pitch to be the organization’s newsletter coordinator and not only scored the position, but found out it was a paying gig!
This may not be a success story in everyone’s eyes: I don’t make enough money to support myself; my bylines no longer accompany weekly, monthly, quarterly, biannual and annual print publications; I have to start from scratch in many ways to reintroduce myself to my industry in a new location. But every business owner has to start somewhere… right?
What I do have is a business checking account with an accompanying debit card. What I do have is good business standing with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. What I do have is a belief in myself that I can move forward, whether that’s falling back on a 9-to-5 job when it’s practical to do so or never having a corporation tell me what or how to write again in my life. What I do have is a supportive husband who believes in me. (Thanks, honey!)
And I have a lot of patience because I could be going crazy not having a clear vision for my professional future, not having a home to call my own, not having (fill in the blank). But I’m choosing to take stock of the small, mostly intellectual, things that have meant and continue to mean a whole lot. Faith. Flexibility. And that cool filing stool I got on clearance.