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."

14 Comments

  1. I’m sitting at my desk, reading your blog with tears in my eyes. Congratulations, Joy! I wish the best for you. I have to admit, I feel a little sad. I can’t email you with frantic requests for headlines anymore. ( :

  2. Congratulations and bests wishes on your leap! It will be exciting to follow your story that unfolds.

  3. Betsy Bonnema |

    What a journey it has been! I am so grateful for the last 21 years of friendship, hard work and creative inspiration. Your gifts and insight have taught me so much. Thanks for sharing our story on your blog. I look forward to many more posts as your adventure continues. Love always… Betsy

  4. Sarah Lockwood |

    Joy, you are an inspiration and I am very grateful to you for sharing your journey with us. I humbly say, thank you. Remind me to sing the froggy song to you. Keep jumping!

  5. OMG!! I’m incredibly excited for you! I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of life brings your way! And to think I’ll be able to say “I knew you when…”.

  6. Dear Joy! I have a Brian Andreas picture and it’s called Good Jumper! This is what it says: “I am a good jumper, he said, but I’m not so good at landing.” “Maybe you should stay closer to the ground then”, I said and he shook his head and said “the ground was the whole problem in the first place.”

    Joy, you are a good jumper! You should come and see my picture some day soon…….
    Love,
    Mary

  7. Joy Lynne you are, super. You just go out and catch your dreams. Rev Evans had the same, type of story this past Sunday, I think it is time for me to work on my dream too! Thanks for sharing. Good luck on you new road. I love you!!!

  8. It seems that when I have been the most scared of something has been when I have felt the most alive. Maybe that sounds familiar? Your talent is real. Leap Joy!

  9. You have been “leaping” since you were a tot….always landing safely, but not necessarily in the designated “landing zone”. Of course you can make it…. you always could. xoxo

  10. poor, sullen, and depressed? not likely. Best wishes on your journey! Looking forward to the next installment!

  11. Thank you all for your love and encouragement!

  12. Joy,

    You are such an inspiration. I hope the best for you and your future writing!

    I would also like an autograph when your first book is published. 😉

  13. Congratulations Joy! I look forward to hearing about what comes next.

  14. …many thanks for your letter and appreciated seeing all the replies! You Minnesota girls warm my heart!

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