It’s time for the obligatory year-end blog post.
I guess I’m writing it for two audiences. I know that people thinking about taking on a vegan diet in 2013 will stumble upon my blog (hello!) so I will direct you to some recipes and posts that you might find helpful (at the end). I know that those of you who read regularly (THANK YOU!) don’t need a wrap-up post; I want to share the surprises that unfolded throughout the year, with the hope that you might find some sense of inspiration from it all.
In a nutshell, I have come to realize that 2012 was the year that opportunity knocked (and kept knocking) and I answered (and kept answering).
- On January 25, 2012 I got an email from a woman I admire so much, Ginny Messina. The subject line: Write a book with me? When I started blogging I loudly proclaimed “I”m not doing this to write a book.” When I started taking cooking classes I asserted “I don’t want to write a cookbook.” Guess what? I’m now co-author of a book Vegan for Her: The Women’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet (Da Capo Press, July 2012) which will include over 50 of my very own recipes (look a cookbook!). I had zero book aspirations. I have always just wanted to blog my truth and to be a resource for new vegans. Opportunity knocked – in the form of Ginny – and I answered.
- With a new sense of confidence in my ability to create recipes and to write about my vegan experience, I responded to a call put out by my local paper, The Journal News serving Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, for guest bloggers for restaurant week. I wrote several blog posts about my experience as a vegan diner and at the conclusion of restaurant week the food editor of The Journal News invited me to launch an online vegan column on LoHud.com. The column was successful and ultimately the editor published several of my columns in the The Journal News. Wow! I went from online blogger to having a byline in a print paper!Opportunity knocked – in the form of an editor who liked my writing voice and style – and I answered.
- As these two things were happening I was feeling disempowered in my “real job” / career. Feeling under-valued and under-used – and with a keen understanding of what I know I am capable of doing – I knew it was time to look for a new job. I began interviewing and while intrigued by some of the opportunities, none of them wowed me. For the first time in my 20+ years post-graduate school, I began to consider working for myself. So, I stopped interviewing for jobs. I started reaching out to people / organizations I admired to see if they were interested in what I had to offer. They were. In March I launched JL Fields Consulting, where I serve as Owner and Lead Consultant. My clients – which include the second largest international higher education company and the largest international animal rights organization – inspire me and value my contributions. Opportunity knocked – in this case being dissatisfied with my work and choosing to do something about it – and I answered.
- I structured my education and nonprofit consulting business so that I work no more than 25 – 30 hours a week to provide me more time to create, write, and, well, to be open. One morning I was out for a run and listening to an Our Hen House podcast. Jasmin and Mariann were interviewing Victoria Moran about her new book Main Street Vegan. At the conclusion of the interview Victoria mentioned that she was launching an Academy to train vegan lifestyle coaches. I was a quarter of a mile from the house and I sprinted home, logged onto the computer, downloaded the application form and two days later my enrollment in the inaugural Main Street Vegan Academy was confirmed. In June 2012 I became a certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. After completing the Academy I launched Go Vegan with JL! where I provide vegan lifestyle coaching, cooking demonstrations, public education, career coaching and a monthly newsletter.Opportunity knocked – my new business structure afforded me the time for advanced training - and I answered.
- At the same time that I began to spread my professional wings, rethinking work and retirement (I wrote a syndicated piece: How I Retired Before I Retired for BlogHer on the topic), my husband began to consider the same opportunities. His passion is multisport coaching, which he had been doing “on the side” and was excelling. We saw this as one of the biggest opportunities ever. We both could work from anywhere. Why stay in metro New York, with an exorbitant cost of living, when we were shifting into an entrepreneurial approach to our careers? So we moved to Colorado; our personal cost of living has been reduced by 55% which allows us the freedom to be career-mavericks. Opportunity knocked and we both answered.
Not one single achievement above was a “resolution” on January 1, 2012. In fact, not one single thing was even a glimmer of an idea for me. I simply began 2012 with anintention to be kind to myself. To put aside unfair expectations on myself that others might want to impose. To live my life. I guess I was wide open for anything, as a result.
When opportunity knocks, I implore you to hear her out. And to open your heart and mind to possibilities that you may have never considered.
With that, let me conclude with two 2012 Top 5 Lists: [click to continue for the top 5 recipes and top 5 blog posts of 2012…]