A dream job in paradise

I began in the newspaper business in what seems like a different world before the Internet during the 1970s and ’80s — first as a journalism major at Ohio University, the school’s paper and magazine, the community newspaper in Athens, Ohio, and then at The Cleveland Press. My first full-time newspaper job was for the Free Press Newspapers in Chicago.

All that matters now, though, is I am the newest reporter on the Anna Maria Island block.

Most recently I come by way a small community about 40 miles west of Chicago. There, for the last 20 years, the hats I wore were many, including parent, attorney and public official.

My adult life was pretty much all about that community, including school, village, township and county involvement.

Attending school board meetings led to meeting parents of my children’s friends and like-minded community-oriented neighbors. We banded together when wells for 21 private residents went dry for more than a week. Then, as cornfields became subdivisions at a rate recognized by the local paper as the “fastest growing county in Illinois,” we petitioned the public for support and the township passed two referenda that ultimately preserved more than 1,300 acres of natural areas and parks.

This led to more years of volunteering on planning boards and open space projects and eight years as an elected official.

My most important job was raising my two kids. They are all good kids. In fact, I’ve recently pulled the “MOM University of Illinois” sticker from my car windshield because both have graduated from UofI and are working in their fields.

Among the life changers in my book is a second marriage to a wonderful man with family in the Tampa Bay area; layoffs in 2009 and his transition to a new business venture.

But if life is about living your dreams and coming full circle, at present I may be rounding a bend on both accounts. In my past I’ve taken many a Florida vacation, but living and writing in or near a beach community is truly a dream of mine.

All it took was answering an advertisement in the local paper: FULL-TIME JOURNALIST WANTED: Seeking new journalism grad or experienced reporter. Work in paradise for the newspaper ranked No. 1 in the state by the Florida Press Association.

While my first couple days have been a whirlwind of information and introductions, I have noticed many smiling people, read lots of stories about community volunteerism and seen examples of what Islanders do for each other and the greater good.

I’m happy to report as I come full circle, that this new chapter in my life at The Islander is again set in a community that cares on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico shore of Anna Maria Island.

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