Note to self: professional satisfaction does not always look the way you think it will.
At some point last year, I looked down at my dirty gloves and thought, “This is drudgery.” Reality had set in. I enjoyed professional gardening, but as with ANY job, there were parts I really disliked. The difference here was the reckoning of that dislike — this is my passion we’re talking about. This is my life’s work. This is plants.
At the same time, I found myself writing more about plants. Like, for pay. Well, that was a surprise. I figured my life in plants would be as a dirt worker. The idea I’d be competent and knowledgeable enough that someone would pay me to write about plants was a brand new thing. And hey, I have a journalism degree. Why not put that to good use?
At the SAME time, I missed web design, and web production, and all the web work I used to do. I was (and am) still freelancing, and sitting down for a few hours every day and write code was such a satisfying mental shift.
At some point around, say, July, a light bulb went off, and I thought, Hm. Why can’t I do all these things? And why shouldn’t I? Was I so proud I’d deny what was right for me because I was afraid people would think I’d failed, since it didn’t look exactly what I’d set out to do originally? What if that specific path wasn’t my life’s work? Maybe the secret was in the mix?
I opened my laptop and did two things: I started looking for jobs, and I started a book proposal. Six months later, I’d done it. Late last month, I started work as THE web producer for the (amazing, outstanding, I-can’t-believe-it’s-the) Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum–where for 20 hours a week I’ll be doing something completely different, yet wholly professionally satisfying–while in the rest of my time I’ll be working on the book I sold to Timber Press last week. Yes, THE Timber Press, maker of all my favorite gardening books. (What I can tell you is the book will be out in 2012, and it’s about plants.)
I’ll continue to do landscape design, podcast for Horticulture, some web stuff and, of course, blogging too. And I’ve never felt so energized, so professionally ambitious, in my life.
Watch this space. Twenty-eleven is here, and it’s taking no prisoners.