Posts made in October, 2011

Leaping

I have some big news to report. As of November 1, I have sold my half of RedStar Creative to my business partner, Betsy Bonnema.

Phew. There. I’ve said it.

This has been a painstaking and agonizing decision for me, on so many levels. First, Betsy and I have been friends for over 25 years. We were roommates in college, maids-of-honor in each other’s wedding, and for the past 17 years, have been like second moms for each other’s children. This will never change.

The thing is though, I’ve been going through a “growth phase” for quite a while now. Several years ago, I bought a print by Brian Andreas called Angels of Mercy. Every day, I sit in my office and stare at this little drawing and I wonder, “What if…?”

ANGELS OF MERCY by Brian Andreas

"Angels of Mercy, by Brian Andreas"

Around the same time I bought that print, I read a book by Po Bronson called What Should I Do With My Life? It talked about people who had good, stable, well-paying careers who threw caution to the wind, quit their jobs, and bravely charted new paths, this time doing something they loved.

I admired those people so much for their honesty and their bravery, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how I could possibly quit my career and start over. For one thing, I was already doing what I loved. I owned my own ad agency. When I was a senior in high school, I gave a speech at my graduation commencement. The principal introduced me by saying, “Joy plans to go the University of Minnesota next spring and pursue a degree in journalism. One day, she hopes to own her own advertising agency.”

And by God, that’s exactly what I did (though it didn’t happen exactly the way I intended). After college, I wanted to be an advertising copywriter with a Minneapolis ad agency. I wanted it more than anything, and I worked relentlessly lining up informational interviews with busy, unpleasant creative directors. Unfortunately, there were no jobs to be found. In the spring of 1991, when things were looking pretty bleak, my friend Betsy called and invited me to Spicer for the summer. She enticed me with some freelance copywriting gigs, and the opportunity to spend my lunch breaks waterskiing on Green Lake. Enough said… I was in.

Betsy and Joy, Green Lake, 1991

Betsy and Joy, Green Lake, 1991

By June, Betsy and I realized we were a great creative team. She offered me an opportunity to buy into the company as a full partner, and I took it. For the next 20 years, we would run our business together, squeezing in marriages, babies, and “Life 101” classes along the way.

At some point though, I realized I wanted more. I wanted to be able to use my gifts of reading and writing to somehow make a difference. But for me, the thought of quitting my job was preposterous and self-indulgent. Who was I to want more when I already had so much?

I made myself miserable trying to figure out how to move on to “the next big thing” while still clinging to my “one sure thing.” When Betsy and I decided to take a creative sabbatical earlier this year, I started dabbling with the idea of doing something different. I had always wondered what it would feel like to wake up each morning and be a WRITER… a real one, who wrote for a living.

It felt good. I wrote and I read; I blogged and I journaled. However, as I wrote, it became more and more apparent to me that this is what I was meant to do. At the same time, that realization was extremely frightening. After all, everyone knows that writers are poor. Quitting my job and becoming a writer didn’t seem like an upwardly-mobile move for me, or my family.

I was really struggling, trying to cling to my safety net, but knowing I had to make a leap of faith. Then, I remembered something my friend Jane had told me a year earlier. She said, “Leap, and the net will appear.”

Leap, and the net will appear.

So, that’s what I’ve decided to do. I’m leaping into the great unknown… a scary, exhilarating place that offers no promises or guarantees. I have no Plan B at this time, but will leap with faith and courage, and hope that the net appears.

A few months ago, I wrote this song at a time I was really struggling for answers. I dedicate it to all the other women out there who are facing this same battle.

Leap!
By Joy Baker

She sat there
Waiting, wondering
Feeling scared
And all alone.
She was begging for some answers
To this life she’d now outgrown
Is it over? Am I finished?
Is this how the plan will end?
Can you hear me?
Are you listening?
Don’t you know how hard it’s been?

But I AM here, came the answer.
In the wind. And in the trees.
In the smiling laughing, crying
In the falling of the leaves.
In the then, and in the now.
The beginning and the end.
I am here. Always here.
And I’ve just one word to send.

CHORUS
You must leap (leap!)
Leap for all you’ve ever been
You are strongest
After weakness
You are ready to begin.
So just leap (leap!)
I’ll be with you
Always near.
Trust me, know me
Travel with me
Take the leap (leap!)
And the net will appear.

Every new beginning
Is the end of something done.
When you think you’ve lost it all
There’s still a battle to be won
So come with me
Live in peace
Hold my hand
And then we’ll soar
Higher up, to see new places
Where you haven’t gone before.

CHORUS
You must leap (leap!)
Leap for all you’ve ever been
You are strongest
After weakness
You are ready to begin.
So just leap (leap!)
I’ll be with you
Always near.
Trust me, know me
Travel with me
Take the leap (leap!)
And the net will appear.

She stood slowly. Can I do it?
I don’t know. I’m happy here..
Am I really? Is it worth it?
Living every day in fear?
I’ve come through it
Bruised and broken.
I’ve been down
And almost out.
But I’m back
And I can make it.
Take my hand!
He heard her shout.

CHORUS
Let’s go leap (leap!)
Leap for all you’ve ever been
You are strongest
After weakness
You are ready to begin.
So just leap (leap!)
I’ll be with you
Always near.
Trust me, know me
Travel with me
Take the leap (leap!)
And the net will appear.

Time and love

"She knew the answers would come with time and love."

Read comments

The old and the new

For 15 years, we’ve owned an amazing Golden Retriever named Riley. He’s been such a good dog… so gentle, happy, loyal, and loving. We bought him from a family in Willmar (the Dols) when our oldest son was just a year and a half old. I think we figured since life was already so crazy, why not add a puppy to the mix?

Jordan and Riley

Jordan, 16 months; Riley 10 weeks

Jordan and Riley went through potty training at the same time, and all I can really remember from this time of my life is a never ending barrage of urine and feces. (Honestly, what were we thinking?) I’m surprised I managed to fall into bed each night with the child in his crib and the puppy in his kennel, and not vice versa. Thank you, God, for that.

Oh… and one other thing… I was also pregnant with son #2 at the time.

Joy, Jordan, and Riley

Halloween 1996 - Joy, Jordan, Riley, and Cole (in utero)

Cole was born in November, 22 months after Jordan, and took an immediate liking to the big orange fuzzy thing we called Riley. On any given evening, we’d find him snuggled up next to the dog, blanket in one hand and a fistful of fur in the other. Riley, bless his heart, just took it all in stride.

Cole and Riley

Nap time for Cole and Riley

Two weeks ago today, Jordan (now 16) said to me, “Mom! Have you seen Riley’s foot?” He had a nasty looking bump between two toes that he kept licking and chewing. It didn’t look good. I brought Riley to the vet, and he confirmed what I suspected. A tumor. The doctor didn’t know if it was benign or malignant, but stated that the only way to remove it and make sure they got all of it would be to remove the entire toe. And at Riley’s age, the anesthesia is always a concern. Dr. Dan was very kind; he knew what I was thinking, and he knew where the conversation was heading. He handed me a box of kleenex when my eyes started to well-up. Somehow, I asked the hard questions – how much longer, and what’s the process? He talked me through it, explained what would happen when Riley was put to sleep, and handed me more kleenex.

I left the vet’s office a complete wreck. Of course, I knew this day was coming. Riley’s hips have been bad for a long time. We need to lift him in and out of the car now days, and when things are really bad, he even falls down the stairs. His hearing and eyesight are failing, and his faculties certainly aren’t all there. But, he’s family… and I love him.

After the appointment, I took him to the public access on Green Lake and let him fetch the stick a few times while I tried to collect myself. He’s not much of a swimmer for a Golden Retriever. He loves the water, but something never quite clicked when he was younger. Instead of paddling when the water starts to get over his head, he just stands on his hind legs and walks. Then, when the water gets over his head again, well, he sinks. Of course, he can swim just fine if he has a stick or a duck in his mouth, but without it, he’s sunk. Literally.

Riley and Joy at Green Lake

Riley and Joy at Green Lake

Suffice it to say, last week was not a good week. I was really down, feeling bad for Riley. Then, last Thursday the boys asked if they could borrow the car and go to the varsity volleyball game in Albany. I said sure.

They came home with a puppy.

And I wanted to kill them.

For about thirty seconds.

Since then, this little black lab puppy they named Zoe has wormed her way into my heart. Once again, it’s a constant barrage of urine and feces, but I’d forgotten how much joy a new little life can bring into a household. She’s bouncy and curious, and sweet as can be. She’s a snuggler and curls right into my lap every chance she can get. She’s also a chow hound and eats everything in sight, including Riley’s food, the cat’s food, my laptop cord, and the living room rug.

Damn, but I love her.

Zoe

Zoe, the new addition

As for Riley? Not so much. But, in his good old boy way, he tolerates her. And when he has enough energy, he even pounces a bit and tosses her around with his nose. But, I know what he’s really feeling, and that makes me sad. He’s being replaced, by a younger, cuter model, and life will soon go on without him.

Don’t be sad, Riley. No one could ever replace you. And when it’s your time, we’ll be there for you. Just let us know when you get too tired, old buddy. We love you, and we’ll be there.

Jordan, Cole, Riley, and Zoe

Jordan, Cole, Riley, and Zoe

Read comments