Annie Lindgren, Sunshine Ink

This year, 2020, started out hopeful. I was all set to be a Travel Writer. Trips were planned for Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, with many other pending ones in the mix. But then pandemic hit, and everything was canceled. 

March 9 I set out on a 17-week road trip, during which I tested out ‘life living on the road’. I wrote articles for a newspaper and had a few other writing jobs along the way. However, getting things to a place where I could have sustainable funding coming in was a challenge. I set aside an amount of money to live off of, as I got the business up and running, and I burned through that amount in one year. September was the month that I would have to dip into back-up savings if I did not have more income coming in. 

I returned home from the pandemic road trip on July 2, 2020. I had planned to hit the road by August 1, but things kept delaying my departure. Vehicle trouble, work projects in need of finishing, fires burning throughout the Western states, and a need to help my mom move from Missouri to Colorado (into the house, my brother and I share). Friends and a brief fling with a man I met while hiking above treeline reminded me of the benefits of being home and around people. Life on the road was lonelier than expected, especially amid pandemic when it is best to avoid people as if they have the plague. 

I started a new article series, Mental Health Matters, for the newspaper I write for. While working with professionals in the field, interviewing for article topics, I rekindled my love for the Mental Health field. It has been four years since I left Child Welfare. I yearned to be in a role again, where I could help people. It is a field in which my skills shine, and my life experiences make sense. I spent ten years of my career in the field following my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. 

Dealing with the stress of my financial situation, depression over a series of fails, anxiety over upcoming changes in my household, and uncertainties in what the future holds, I decided it was time for a change. I needed structure and purpose in my life again. I otherwise felt I was floating around in limbo. The world changed so much in a year. My path no longer made sense, and I felt drawn to be a more significant help in this new world we find ourselves in. So much struggle is happening everywhere. Mental Health feels more critical than ever. 

I looked for work. I found an opening at a nonprofit I used to work at, for a position that included the use of my Master’s Degree (Masters in Public Affairs with an emphasis in Nonprofit and Community Services Management), putting me more on the administrative side of things and out of the trenches. I already loved the organization, which serves at-risk youth, my favorite population to work with. This nonprofit was also the very reason I fell in love with nonprofits. It made me want to get my Masters Degree so that I could be on the administrative side of things. It felt perfect and happened to have just been posted that day. I applied, and the Executive Director saw my name, remembered me, and requested an interview. I learned that I got the job, two weeks after applying, as I headed out of town for some San Juan Range adventuring. 

I feel anxious about returning to full-time work after four years of part-time work and flexibility. I am sad to give up my lifestyle of traveling whenever I want, but I know I will have vacation time and holidays. The friends I enjoy adventuring with all have jobs, and we still fit in fun. I am grateful to live in a state where there is so much outdoor stuff to do right in my back yard. I did a lot of traveling over the past four years and had many great experiences. I still have stories to share and am continuing my blog. I am also continuing to write articles for North Forty News. I love writing and will keep building my career as a writer. I anticipate a return to a life of more travel someday.

My next chapter begins on September 28, 2020. I will be the Referral Coordinator for Turning Point Center for Youth and Family Development in Fort Collins, CO. I am excited and grateful for this opportunity. I may need to move soon, and the financial stability will help open doors there. The structure and busy will help ease things for me mentally. Being back in a position of serving my community will help give life some much-needed purpose. 

Where there is a struggle, there is an opportunity for growth. You don’t always know the path you are supposed to take, but there are signs along the way that tell you when you have found the right one. Or the wrong one. Choosing the path of least resistance has many benefits. It doesn’t mean taking the easy road; rather, it means paying attention to your life and deciding if the things you are ‘dealing with’ are in line with the life you want to live. Life is too short. I am grateful for all I have learned along the way and am excited to see what the future holds.