A Good Question

November 14, 2009

Cheryl?

It’s stated with the upsweep intonation of a question.

“What are you doing back at the GT?

I’m sitting in Francesco’s gelato cafe in downtown Corvallis. I sometimes sit in a comfy chair by the window in the evenings and write my blog entry, taking advantage of their free wi-fi and the lively atmosphere.

I look up and toward the direction of the voice.

Karl  Maasdam. With his wife and two lovely daughters.

Good question. He’s the first to ask it directly since I returned to the Gazette-Times on October 28, 2009.

I have answers. None are easy. Or short. None that can quickly respond to a man with his family waiting by the door to exit.

“My non-profit,” I say.

Karl worked at the Gazette-Times as a staff photographer after I left a position vacant when I went to graduate school. He eventually left the newspaper to start his own successful photography business in town.

I had asked myself the same question before I accepted the job. Why return? There were many reasons not to return.

Yet, I wanted to write again and I wanted a steady income stream–to help nourish and support the growth of Isis Initiative, Inc. For two years, Isis Initiative has been my passion and my focus–on my time. I made those volunteer hours work by working independently–and sporadically.

I wrote freelance articles. I received a Writer-in-Residence appointment from Fishtrap. Inc. last spring. I taught high school journalism and photography in Condon and Fossil, Oregon. I did public relations and media consulting.

I had freedom–time to focus on my health and my nonprofit. I loved those years of liberty–and I struggled in them.

I chose a time of solitude and healing.

Now I’ve chosen to use my time and talent in service to my local community while I build a nonprofit that serves women worldwide.

I get paid to write. I have the privilege and sacred trust of listening to people’s stories and sharing them with others.

And, I have a stable income that grounds me as I grow the nonprofit. (It would be great if President and First Lady Obama would respond to my letters and donate some of the Nobel Peace Prize award money to Isis Initiative.)

I’m working locally and making a difference globally.

I put my cameras down. I didn’t want to carry them anymore–nor carry the burden of the events and images I’ve photographed over the past two decades covering breaking news and war.

I photograph now when I write. I see details and capture them–write them down. I arrange vignettes of a story as if I were moving slides on a light table to prepare a slide show.

I am still a visual storyteller. And I dig it.

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