A Crazy, Magazine Cover-Worthy Idea?

Tonight’s 10 p.m. wish: That jobs that are “compatible with life” will someday become the new normal. Here in the U.S of A.

Is that too pie-in-the-sky crazy? I really don’t think so. Not tonight.

I think it’s crazy that my kids and I showed up on the cover of a magazine today. (Thank you, Indy’s Child! How surreal is this?)

I think it’s crazy that said magazine is featuring an article about a newly-published book that documents a wild chapter in my life – a chapter in which I decided to leave a high-profile career that made it impossible to be the kind of parent, and person, I wanted to be.

I think it’s crazy that actual breathing, thinking people are buying and reading my book, and letting me know that it is helping them in all sorts of surprising and awesome ways.

But sometimes what seems “crazy” can become real. All it takes is some deep breaths, some stubborn determination, a gulp to clear the lump in your throat, and one big leap of faith.

Indy’s Child writer Karen Ring and I had a great conversation about my book,“Know When to Run: Lessons from the diary of a Gen X mom.”  Here is Karen’s Q & A article from page 16 of the August issue of Indy’s Child:

Indy’s Child: Your new book is actually an excerpt from a journal you kept during your final year in broadcasting. What initially inspired the journal?

Shepherd: I had hit a real rock-bottom moment in my career. My youngest daughter was a newborn, and I hated the thought of leaving her and my two other children every day for a job that had become so consuming and unfulfilling. My husband encouraged me to start writing every day, because that is my therapy; that is how I process things. I wrote almost every night after I got off the air. It became a ritual. I would sit down and come up with something that happened that day – a good moment, a funny moment, a scary moment.

What I ended up documenting, almost accidentally, was the death of this career and my discovery that it wasn’t fitting my life anymore.

Indy’s Child: How much do you credit your journal with helping you find the courage to leave the anchor desk to pursue a career in the non-profit sector?

Shepherd: I think writing made me conscious of what was going on. Seeing my thoughts on paper made me realize how extreme my situation really was. I am proud when I look back at the things I did right. I did reach out to good people and ask for their guidance and their help, and I was looking in some of the right places for a new opportunity. The writing certainly helped clarify what was wrong with the situation and what I need to do to make changes.

Indy’s Child: Know When to Run gives readers a very personal look into both your personal and professional life. What made you decide to go public with your story?

Shepherd: I thought maybe if people see how painful my experience was they can ask themselves, “Am I at that point, too? Am I one of those people who needs to, at all cost, find a new situation?”

I then had to go back and decide what I was really comfortable sharing and what was appropriate to put out there, because some of it isn’t pretty. But I am a big fan of writers who are real, who share what is really going on and don’t sugar coat things. That is the kind of book I want to read.

Indy’s Child: Do you ever miss life in TV?

Shepherd: No, I don’t miss it at all. I am so thankful I left when I did – I was so ready. It is amazing the change that has taken place in my life and how much better things are with my kids, with my mental health. I don’t need to be on TV and in front of people, I just like getting my hands on exciting stories and sharing them with others. Now I get to do that for the most amazing cause there is.

I do miss the people, though. I worked with some amazing people. It’s been fun to stay in touch and watch the good work they’re still doing on the air.

Indy’s Child: You mentioned that things are better with your kids, how so?

Shepherd: Almost every day I have a gratitude moment thinking things like, “Here I am sitting at my son’s baseball game at 6 pm… on a Tuesday!” Just being at the park with my kids or taking my daughter to ballet on Wednesday nights and watching her dance, even sitting around the table doing homework – it is all those little things I felt like I was missing when I was racing home for “dinner breaks” doing everything I could to feel a tiny bit like an adequate mom.

Indy’s Child: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Shepherd: I just hope people who feel they are in an impossible situation with their job can look at this and see that there is a way out, and maybe learn some of the steps they can take to get to a better place.

It is easy for people to talk themselves out of wanting more. People tend to think they need to hold on to what they have, but I want them to really examine their situation.

We can all ask for more flexibility. If more of us step up and try to negotiate schedules that work better for families that will become the new normal.

Know When to Run: Lessons from the diary of a Gen X mom, is available now on Amazon.com in print and Kindle format. A portion of the proceeds benefits Riley Children’s Foundation – the fundraising arm of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

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