What Color Is Your Parachute? I Think I’m Going To Go With Red.

by jennifer

I look for answers to life’s big questions everywhere.

Billboards, headlines, vanity license plates, those inspirational signs in front of churches. (I LOVE those signs in front of churches.)

Today a review copy of a book by a man with some answers arrived up in my mailbox: “What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Jog-Hunters and Career Changers 2009” by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press, $18.95).  This book has been updated many times since it was first published in 1970, but I have never read it. I guess I never felt like I needed to. I’ve always had a job. I’ve been very, very lucky to be continuously employed since I took a job at a pizza joint at age 14.

I haven’t loved all the jobs I’ve had, but I’ve always stayed in them until I found something  better. After years of persistant badgering, I landed my first paid newspaper job as a summer intern at my hometown newspaper when I was 17 and I’ve been able to make a living writing for newspapers ever since. I’ve been very fortunate.

For 14 years I’ve entered peoples’ lives, asked them questions and rushed back to my keyboard to chronicle some of the most awful and wonderful events. I’ve heard a lot of stories in my career and appreciated the privilege it’s been to be able to write them.

Now, like everyone else in my business, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to do next. If you haven’t noticed, newspapers are struggling. Circulation is down, ad revenue is down and newspapers are downsizing. I’m not sure what this means for me and the craft column I love to write, but I know that I’ll be fine no matter what happens. I can always continue to write about artists and crafters here on CraftSanity and maybe I’ll start up a subscription service for readers who don’t have the Internet. I just know I won’t stop writing about makers because I love it.

My husband and I live a pretty frugal life and I’ve managed to stockpile enough craft supplies for a lifetime during my 10-plus years as a professional journalist, so I’m not worried about cutting my craft budget. If I run out of fabric, which I don’t think is possible, I’ll start cutting up old clothes.

It’s not me that I’m worried about. I much more concerned about the state of our democracy and what will happen if newspapers are forced to keep making drastic cuts. What will happen if there aren’t enough reporters to keep an eye on what’s going on at city hall or investigate stories on behalf of the Joe Citizen.

The world will continue to turn without my craft column. But what will happen if newspapers are no longer strong enough to hold a mirror up to society. What happens then?

I’ve been stitching my parachute for a while. Now, I’m just stitching a little faster and trusting that the best is yet to come.

If you’re out of work, or looking to switch careers, get some sleep then check out Richard’s book. (He says catching up on sleep is the first thing you should do when you lose your job.) I’ll keep reading and let you know how this book impacts my life. I will say this: Richard scored some major points when he included crafting, sewing and weaving on the skills list on page 330. How many career planning books do that? Yep, I think Richard and I are going to get along great.

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