Saturday, September 15, 2007

Clearing the Decks

Thanks to all who have written words of encouragement. I am a firm believer in the "one door closes, another opens (or kick in a window!)" philosophy.

Today, I was in the car for hours... stuck in traffic everywhere I went. Lots of time for thinking. I found myself remembering other times in my life when I had my decks cleared for me, sending my life in other, often opposite, directions.

The most profound one would be when my father died. I was 11. I was Daddy's girl. Spoiled to the core. I think I was so in love with my dad, that I couldn't see how much my mother loved me. I feel horrible saying this but I don't think I would have ever been as close to her with him alive. I certainly wouldn't be as strong or outspoken.

His death changed my life in other ways. Before, I wanted to be a plumbing contractor...just like him. Mainly, I thought he worked too hard and could maybe take a day off if I worked with him. After, my thoughts turned to moving far, far away. I remember sitting behind my junior high school with Jimmy and Andrew . They wanted to be filmmakers; I decided then and there, I would be too. I would have never gone looking for that kind of job had my dad not died. Yet somehow, I know I would've been miserable as a contractor.

Before I took my job on Carol Duvall, I had been producing commercials. I had three directors that booked me regularly and kept me really busy. Within one year's time, all that work had dried up.

One had decided he was just spent and wanted out of the business. (Easy for him to say; He was making $20K per DAY!) He hung a map on the wall, closed his eyes and threw a dart. It landed in Ohio. He moved there and started building furniture for a living.

My second guy knocked up an 18-year-old while we were on location in New Orleans. His poor 36-year-old wife was back in L.A. seeking fertility treatments. He divorced the wife, moved to New Orleans to raise his son (The 18-year-old dumped the baby and ran after breast feeding him for six weeks!).

The third director started using another producer. This happens all the time. But I later found out she was sleeping with him. I wasn't.

So I found myself with nothing but time. I started teaching at a rubber stamp store. One of my students told me about Carol's show. I started watching it every time it was on and soon had encyclopedic knowledge about the guests. When I sent my resume in a year later, I was a shoo-in for the job.

After three years (seven seasons) of being a go-getter producer - I was always producing more segments than the other producers, seeking new guests, new products - I was informed they wanted to "shake up the team. Bring in some fresh blood." It was utter culture shock to be jobless after working my longest job ever!

I immediately found work writing, creating graphics and such for some of the very guests I had produced on Carol. I made enough to get by but it was a very quiet time and my health was headed downhill fast. I had trashed my feet on stage on Carol and I had gone from a cane to a walker and was headed to a wheelchair.

Through an odd series of events, I ended up writing for the local paper. The editor was a polio survivor. She credited her being able to walk to her amazing foot doctor, Richard Rupp. She begged me to see him. I thought all podiatrists were quacks... that had been my experience. But Dr. Rupp is the reason I can walk today. I really believe he saved my life.

After surgery and months in a wheelchair / walker / cane, I was floundering trying to find work. I wanted a job so bad but every opportunity seemed to vanish before it could come to fruition. There was a reason for that too. My sister, after being free of cancer for exactly 10 years and one month, had a re-occurrence of breast cancer. This time it was wrapping around her spine and slowly paralyzing her. Radiation was too dangerous that close to her spinal cord. She would need a special kind of radiation (proton) that could hit the cancer with pin head accuracy. There were only two places in the country with this technology ( in 2003). One of them was at Loma Linda... one hour and fifteen minutes from here.

My sister and mother moved in late March of that year. I spent many hours on the road with my sister that spring. I think it is the first time we really got to know each other as women and really understand one another. While it was so frightening - we were told she could fall down and become paralyzed - I treasure the time we had together. And after she and my mother returned to Louisiana... the jobs started coming.

So, once again, I don't know what's on the horizon. But my decks are clear and I stand, ready at the helm.


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Anonymous said...

That's inspiring! It tells you not to give up hope. I'm looking forward to hearing about your next step on the road of life.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Janet, Thanks so much! I appreciate that!

Anonymous said...

I've been so chained to the shop I haven't been keeping up with reading. My experience also has been that if one plan goes awry, something even better will come along to lead me in a new direction. My very best wishes to you on what that new direction will turn out to be! Carmon

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Carmon, Writing this post made me realize that the "even better" part is so true. Thanks for your good wishes and I hope the Delaware show is good for you!

Linda@VS said...

Holly, I loved this post. What a remarkable and inspiring series of events. I'm eager to see what's coming down the pike for you.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Thanks Velvet! I'm looking forward to it too.

Becky said...


I'm so proud at all you have accomplished in your life. Just wait and see what happens next!

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Thanks Becky!

Anonymous said...

What a touching blog. You made me 'feel' it all. From losing your father, your job, your sister's bout with cancer, your trauma to regain walking normally - oh my, you are one strong woman. I'm glad for you - for your attitude. Good things are coming.