See, the moderator asked Joanna to be thinking about the ways in which I've changed. And golly, don't you know I have? It's been nearly seven years since Paper, Scissors, Death was first written, the first book in my series. Back then, I was the stereotypical stay-at-home soccer mom, who lived in a McMansion in a fancy suburb of St. Louis. Today I'm a widow, working full-time, living in a converted garage, in a quirky suburb of St. Louis. Besides losing my husband, the biggest change has been that I'm gainfully employed, doing something I love.
Now my life revolves around my daughter, my friends, and the store.
What a difference it makes in life to have meaningful work! A reason to get up in the morning. A place to go with people who share your interests. A way to express yourself, to add value in this world, and to make money.
I love what I do. I help people preserve their memories, and mainly those are good memories. Sometimes I help them put sad memories to rest. Like when a mother has had a miscarriage or when someone has passed on. Heck, I've even done a divorce album or two. The act of committing your memories to paper can free you to move on. I've seen that happen countless times.
Our store is a gathering spot for people. Recently Joanna visited the Paper Niche, a scrapbook store in Davie, Florida. She was struck anew by the camaraderie, by the close friendships the customers had developed. This weekend she'll be at Everything Scrapbooks & Stamps in Lake Worth, Florida. It's her second visit there, and last time she and the women at the store had a blast laughing and learning together.
Someday maybe she'll visit Time in a Bottle. When Joanna does, she'll probably find me hunched over a work table, helping a customer save her memories. I think she'll recognize me, even though I've changed.
Yes, I've grown as a person. I'm more confident, more assertive, and happier. Some of that is because I'm older, and life has a way of forcing you to grow up. But mainly I think I've changed because I have a wonderful job, and it's brought out the best in me.