That was almost 30 years ago when I had pie in the sky ideas of exposing truth through telling stories. I wanted to make a difference. This was back in the day when there was no Internet or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. People got their news from broadcast television, radio, and newspapers. That was it.
I studied journalism in college, where we used electric typewriters to write our stories. Without the simplicity of editing on computers, I learned to choose words wisely the first time around. Upon graduation, I went right to work at the Ventura County Star-Free Press, a large daily newspaper in Southern California. I wrote about crimes and court cases. I covered political events. I reviewed movies and concerts. I interviewed all sorts of people with all sorts of stories. I drank lots of coffee. I never smoked a cigarette. I worked hard and slept erratically.
Occasionally, I wrote a story that made a difference, but usually not. One of my rare articles that did just that still sits in a weathered box in storage somewhere. It was a story I picked up off the police radio while I was working in the newsroom one late night. A man working for the gas company was putting a pipeline down near a riverbank and stumbled upon a homeless man who resembled someone he saw on a recent broadcast of “America’s Most Wanted.” The police were hot on the trail and so was I. I told my editor I was going down to the riverbank. He didn’t think there was anything to the story but said I could certainly go check it out.
When I got there, the police had taken the homeless man away to question him. As it turned out, he was formerly a teacher who had been accused of molesting several children. He fled and had been hiding among the bushes for years – unnoticed, under the radar. He lived among other homeless people, many of whom I interviewed for my article. They loved him and thought of him as a close friend. I talked to these people after they learned about the true identity of the man they thought was their friend. They trusted him. They cared about him. Their children spent time with him. It rocked their world. I was about 22 years old and it rocked my world too.
The next day, my breaking story appeared on the front page. It cracked wide open a case that police and the judicial system had all but dismissed.
I never wrote anything like this again. I soon changed jobs. I wrote for trade magazines, business newspapers and eventually became a freelance journalist. I wrote about everything from travel to hotels to business to entertainment. I interviewed celebrities like Gregory Peck and chefs like Wolfgang Puck. Every day was different. For about 10 years, I traveled all over the world filing stories. It seemed way more glamorous than it was. I missed my children, my home, the monotony of daily life.
My stories became vapid and meaningless. Writing became a chore – something I no longer loved to do. At around the same time, I got sick with an autoimmune disorder (another blog post for another day). I quit writing.
Not sure what was to come next, I fell into yoga. I never thought I’d teach or run a studio, but that’s what I ended up doing. I started teaching for the same reason I began writing: to make a difference. But then the cycle started all over again. I started to burn out on running my business. So, before waiting until I was completely fried and had no desire left to teach, I pulled back. No need to risk my sanity and health. Wise decision.
I started blogging when I stopped running my studio full-time – about 18 months ago. And two fortuitous things happened: Not only do I love teaching again but I love writing again. Imagine that? I began writing from the heart, writing about things that mattered to me, writing about topics many can relate to, writing for the sheer love of it. Eventually people started reading my words. My yoga students enjoyed the stories and my readers enjoyed learning about this thing called yoga. Imagine that?
I was lost and now found. Twice already.
But, it’s a new world out there when it comes to publishing stories. The internet and social media make it easy to share information but these mediums also create a lot of clutter for people to wade through. Back in the day, hundreds of thousands of people read my stories daily over a cup of coffee in the morning. But now, where do I begin to find readers in an information ocean? How do I entice people to open my story instead of the thousands of others crowding their Facebook stream? How do my simple stories compete in feeds clogged with sensationalistic videos?
I decided to try something new. On Friday, one of my articles ran on website with thousands of readers. A few hours later, a couple hundred people had read my story. By the next day, 10,000 people had read my story. By the next day, that number had ticked up to 20,000. It is now at about 27,000 and still rising.
So, thank you for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for helping me get my groove back.