2013 was my 40th year on this planet. My birthday is in early January so I age with history. This was a special year for me because I did something terrifying. While I always painted and wrote stories, I also worked a job I usually disliked to pay the bills. This was the year I quit doing that and made the leap to do what I always wanted: paint, write, and teach college.
I’m married, I have 2 daughters living in a house with a decent mortgage, and there are many other bills to pay, comforts I believed we couldn’t live without, but when I turned 40 I decided that I’d leave my salaried middle-management position at the international security company and do what I love.This was horrifying, especially because when my job heard I was leaving they let me go early, and the day after they let me go my wife lost her job. To make it worse I was denied unemployment and the annual bonus my job promised disappeared. So, it was about July of this year that we were left with no income and both us money makers were unemployed all of a sudden. My transition couldn’t have gone worse.
I say this because, as scary as it was, it was still worth it. We did have a small savings we burned through and soon after, I mean right when we were coming back down and our safety net was gone my wife found her dream job and I started teaching out at Pacific University. I just mentioned all of our problems to let people know it’s possible to get through them. We managed to stay on top of our bills and catch up with the mortgage, but we did lose some of those things we thought we couldn’t live without, and as it turned out, we can live without them. Now that we’re making money again we’ve found we still don’t need them.
My book is coming out in April and I have been making money doing readings around Portland. Unless something comes up between now and then my next big reading will be at the Classroom to Community Lecture Series at PSU on February 24th. The keynote speaker will be Jackie Spinner and she will be moderating the panel I’ll be on. This will be all about veterans and their transition back into society. As you can imagine I have a few things to say about this. I also was accepted into an art co-op and gallery in the Alberta Arts District, which is the best.
I’ll be starting 2014 out right. My brother and I will have our art in both the front windows for all of January and we’ll be having a reading and reception at Six Days Gallery on January 17th. I’m also helping to produce an Opera that will be performed at the Newmark Center for the Performing Arts in September. It’s about a veteran and his family struggling with PTSD. It’s called The Canticle of the Black Madonna. It’s very beautiful and I hope many, many people enjoy it. In April I will be driving to Wisconsin to read at the college in Appleton, and then out to Michigan where I’ll be reading and on the panel for a veteran arts group. I also write a monthly column for Nailed Magazine.
Thoreau said, “If a plant cannot live by its nature, it dies; and so a man.” That quote has always stuck with me. I lived by my nature in the army infantry. I had a violent nature back then. After leaving I did what I had to do in order to provide for my family, but I felt my leaves wilting, man. I needed to make the change and I don’t think enough people really go for it and do it. I did. It works.
So, happy new year. I wish the best for everyone and here’s to change.
One last thing, I would really love it if you pre-ordered my book. Thank you so much! Here are the links!