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I've created a line of wooden peg looms to make potholders and projects of other sizes. Read the story behind the looms and check out my etsy shop.

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Note to Self: Trust that every experience in life has a purpose

For the last few years I’ve been very creative about stringing together a modest income while working from home for the sake of my kids.

I ended my career in daily print journalism before the wave of layoffs started to clear out newsrooms across the country, and by some miracle I’ve managed to continue on as a weekly art & craft columnist.

I launched a very small weaving loom business in 2009 and then a 8″-square magazine in 2010. Everything I do is small on purpose. At this point in my life I have no desire to do big corporate things.

Paperwork and bureaucracy drive me crazy and I can’t stand spinning my wheels writing reports and proposals when I know a decision can be made quickly and we can just cut to the chase and start doing the work – immediately. When one of my ideas bombs, I quickly move on to the next one.

In an unplanned turn of events, I let the wind blow me into an adjunct teaching job advising a local community college newspaper and teaching the classes that go along with it. I was not looking for a job at the time. I’ve taught college writing courses previously and I knew it would be challenging and it has been to the max.

At least a half dozen other people turned down the job before it was offered to me so there were numerous red flags including ridiculously low pay and the undeniable fact that the journalism field is in a sorry state. But I decided to do it anyway.

Why?

 Well, sometime back in August of 1994, I walked into the basement of Anspach Hall on the Central Michigan University campus with a three-ring binder full of my best clips. Those photocopied newspaper articles represented my collected work from my first 18 years on the planet and I was eager to show the editors and get my name up on the reporter board. I had finally made it to college and I couldn’t wait to get my byline in CM LIFE, the campus newspaper.

The next four years challenged me as I moved up the ranks from rookie reporter to editor-in-chief. The many late nights I spent in that newspaper office drinking too much Pepsi and eating Cheerios straight from the box while writing and editing shaped the course of professional and personal life. My adviser was excellent and I got to work with many talented young journalists. I went on to marry one of them. And now we have two children. It turned out be a pretty wonderful experience.

So, when I was asked to step in and help keep a local journalism program going, I knew I was in trouble. My college journalism experience was life changing. How could I say no?

Moments after my car spun out of control on an icy highway in 2004, I decided to make a few changes. I decided to start doing the things I feel compelled to do for as long as I feel compelled to do them no matter what the pay. If I think I can make a difference somewhere, that’s what I’ll do. And when I’ve given all I can offer, I will move on as quietly as a loud-talker can. :  )

I’m not about to suggest that I’m the best journalism educator out there, but –  in this case – I’m all they’ve got. My plan is to do my best to shift the program focus from print to new media and then kindly turn over the reins when it’s time for me to move on to my next challenge.

So, for the meantime, I will continue to stay up late drinking too much Pepsi and eating Cheerios out of the box while I read student writing and do my best to compose thoughtful notes to inspire them to take their stories to the next level. And I’ll do this while the wonderful man I met at my college newspaper and our beautiful daughters sleep upstairs. I’m really thankful that my life turned out the way it did and I guess this is my way of giving a little something back.

*** Please note that CraftSanity loom production has been slowed by my teaching schedule. And my CraftSanity Magazine work has been interrupted a bit, too. But I’m still plugging along with very tired eyes. Thanks for your patience, everyone. I just can’t seem to ever put my own projects first. ***

Comments

Comment from Mandy
Time: September 12, 2012, 11:30 pm

This made me smile. I love your attitude, the way you live your life true-to-self AND kind to others. Making a positive mark in the world, that is you!

Comment from Lona
Time: September 13, 2012, 7:51 am

From one too-much-on-the-plate mom to another, kudos for doing what’s important to you and important for others.

Comment from Diane
Time: September 13, 2012, 7:58 am

Congratulations, Jennifer, on another new venture! I admire your willingness to tackle new challenges and do good for others wherever you can. Your selflessness is something we should all aspire to as we try in our own little way to make things better in our own little worlds.

Good luck to you and your new students!!!

Comment from Juanita
Time: September 13, 2012, 3:04 pm

Congrats, Jennifer! What a great chance you have to do something new and right up your alley. :) I’m sure you will be an inspiration to your students because you are an inspiration to your Craftsanity readers.

Comment from Dana
Time: September 13, 2012, 11:19 pm

Way to go! Welcome to the exciting world of scholastic journalism. I have advised student publications at the high school level for eleven years and can truly say from the bottom of my heart that it is the most rewarding thing I do at work. Might I humbly suggest that you make sure to network with your colleagues through NSPA/ACP and/or JEA? It can be a lonely job–we’re usually the only one on our campus–and brings ethical conundrums other teachers don’t have. But it’s so worth it!

Comment from yvonne
Time: September 14, 2012, 8:21 pm

Congratulations on the next journey! Sounds like it will be a fabulous adventure for you! Those students are very fortunate to have you guiding them! Best wishes for much success!!!

Comment from Rachel
Time: September 16, 2012, 11:31 pm

Although we’ve never met, I feel like I met you 5 years ago on my iPod nano thru your podcasts. You are amazing! You keep re-inventing yourself on your own rules! I am very happy for you that you are still living life on your own terms! What an inspiration! As always, good luck on your new adventure!!!

Comment from Mirjam
Time: September 20, 2012, 5:08 pm

Well done! We all remember those teachers that inspired us, empowered us and made our talents blossom. (Even the ones we didn’t know we had). And I am sure you will be able to do all three for your students. Don’t forget to make some time for crafting!(ocassionally)

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