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My last deadline approaches

It's been nearly 23 years ago since I was hired as a part-time sportswriter at the La Crosse Tribune. Who would have thought at the time that my professional journey would take me to eight cities, working for 11 publications.

That is the journey of many visual journalists. It can be a tough road, but a gratifying experience if you enjoy the ride. Sometimes along the way, you run out of gas. But when you fill the tank up, you just want to go and not stop. However, there does come a point where you have to either stay on course, or take the exit ramp toward a new adventure.

That is where I am. I have decided to veer off the visual journalism highway and start on a new path. As of April 10, I will not be employed at a newspaper or magazine for the first time since the summer of 1996. I will start at Arctic Wolf Networks on April 15 as the Senior Manager of Creative.

As I look back, I start to remember all the people who I looked up to and helped me get to where I am. If I didn't embrace these people, I don't know where I would be. All these mentors, friends and leaders gave me a little bit of themselves. And even though I self-taught myself many of the skills. They were the ones that helped fine-tune them and steer me in the right direction if I got a little off course.

Thanks to everyone I met along the way, including that Wisconsin Dells Legion baseball coach who threw F-Bombs at me after a game, because I didn't have time to cover his first three games. Despite being paid below the poverty line and not able to be everywhere at once, I learned at age 25 to keep a thick skin and be the professional one.

I will never forget that moment in my life — a moment I stood at career crossroad. If I talked back, I would have probably been fired even if I was getting paid pennies. What else was I going to do if I that happened? Believe it our not, that thought ran through my mind as the coach was barking at me and then proceeding to follow me out of town.

Now 21 years later. I can hold my head high and know I made the right decision. It was never easy, and it's not suppose to be. It was a lot of hard work, and I grew up a lot along the way. I really appreciate the people who tolerated and forgave my mistakes. I sometimes wonder how I got this far and at the position I am now.

I'm actually getting emotional. Writing this post is actually therapy. I am so damn lucky I had people who were in my corner who told me to get back out there.

Now, a new journey is about to begin. I am nervously excited! I can't wait to start and use what I've learned, and take it to another level. It's new beginning, and I'm confident that this is the right time to take a new road my career is suppose to take.

That being said, you can take the person out of journalism, but you will never take the journalist out of the person.

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