Guest Post: ‘I Saw the Signs’

by Abby on June 15, 2011

As you know, I am on a super-relaxing family vacation right now. (And, yes, that was sarcasm — the toddler had about 5 tantrums today, down from 9 the previous day.) So I coerced my fellow writer/mom/blogger/friend Angie Mizzell of to do a guest post in all her spare time when she’s not working on her memoir or tending to her 2 young boys. Here’s the story of why she left her TV career to become a writer. I can sure relate; can you?

I Saw the Signs

Angie Mizzell

It’s been seven years since I left my career as a television journalist. It was a major defining moment in my life—changing course with so much time and energy invested. The decision was bittersweet. I felt free. I felt sad. I was scared out of my mind. A million different reasons led me to the crossroads. A gut feeling told me to trust myself and take a leap of faith.

I wish I could tell you I landed perfectly on my feet; that the transition from then to now was smooth. It wasn’t. So much of my identity had been wrapped up in what I did for a living, and it was hard to let that go. The experience stripped my ego down to the core and forced me to confront every negative voice in my head. Now, standing on the other side, I can see the wisdom I gained was worth it.

Today, I’m a freelance writer, working from home. My mom watches my two young sons when I have a speaking engagement or occassional freelance hosting job, and my husband gives me the time I need on the weekends. I’m passionate about my work, and I control my schedule. And I’m doing my best, although very imperfectly, to juggle and embrace my blessings.

When I walked out of the television station for the final time, I had a vision for how I wanted my life to be. I’m happy to say it looks similar to the way I thought it would. It just took longer to get here than I imagined. And it’s not without its share of challenges and sacrifices. I’m living my dream, laced with a healthy dose of reality.

In news, I worked long, unpredictable hours. I thought leaving that environment would give me more time. I was married but did not yet have children, and I was clueless that being a parent is also a round the clock job. Today, no matter how hard I try, I still can’t create 25 hours in a day. I’m guilty of being too busy to take a break or to exercise, and when the stress gets too much for me, I can still freak out with the best of them.

I used to climb the ladder of success, terrified to lose my grip. Back then, I was working for the next promotion, better hours and better pay. Now I understand that everything I was seeking, I already had. My sense of purpose and personal value comes from within. I have reconnected with my authentic voice, one that had gotten lost under the pressure of daily deadlines, the noise of the newsroom, hairspray and makeup.

I still want professional success. The difference is, I’ve redefined what that means. I used to think success was a destination, always just beyond my grasp. If I wasn’t struggling, I thought I wasn’t working hard enough. And I believed if I worked really, really hard, someone one would notice and reward me for my efforts.

I had good intentions; I didn’t realize I was giving away my power, expecting other people to determine my worth. Maya Angelou has said, “You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.” Today I know better–my personal happiness is my responsibility. I still have so much more to learn. But no matter where I stand, no matter my circumstances, I find peace in knowing I continue to have choices.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello June 15, 2011 at 6:57 am

Abby, I know you’re having a great time and at least your toddler isn’t drinking beer from a stranger’s cup. At least I hope not.

Angie, your story is so powerful and should be told to more young people just starting out in their professional lives. It’s really hard to know what makes you happy when you’re young and letting others define you. We have all been there and most of us have not known how to do anything other than try to climb the success ladder…more promotions, more money, etc. Unfortunately, unless you are doing what you love, it is just not going to be enough over time.

Personally, I regret leaving teaching and coaching for international shipping many years ago. What I have done in business is OK, sometimes interesting, but, in the end, all it amounts to is moving stuff from here to there.

I have only been happiest being married to the lovely Miss Teresa and being involved in helping others through Rotary. Friends, family and service is what gives meaning to life.

So, tell your story more and more to young people and let them see you as a role model for how to live a successful, happy life.


Angie Mizzell June 16, 2011 at 5:59 am

That was a painful process– realizing I had let other people define me… or rather, I was trying to live up to an expectation of how I thought my life was supposed to be. But in the midst of it, I realized it was a process I needed to embrace and complete. Allowing myself to get to the other side has been worth every step.


Jennifer Larson June 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I am so glad to know that I am not alone. I left a career in newspaper journalism about five years ago. I cried. Many times. I worried that I would regret leaving the newsroom behind, I worried that I would never find my way back into journalism, and I worried about the unknown that lay ahead of me.

Today, I’m a freelance journalist and mother of two children, too. I work from home. I try to schedule my interviews while my older son is in preschool/kindergarten and the baby sleeps. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m happy. That’s not to say that it’s not hard. It is. But it’s worth it.


Angie Mizzell June 16, 2011 at 6:03 am

You’re definitely not alone. For me, I had to admit I didn’t really love TV news. That was a hard pill to swallow, because there were aspects of it I did like…. like telling stories and communicating to an audience. I’ve had to learn how to use those skills, gifts and talents in new ways.


Topaz June 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Angie, while our story is different, the last paragraph really spoke to me with where I am in my life right now. Thanks for sharing your story, and I agree with Lou. More young people need to hear this.


Topaz June 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm

*while our stories are different

I should go back to bed today. lol


Angie Mizzell June 16, 2011 at 6:04 am

Me too. I didn’t even notice. 🙂 And thank you!


Abby June 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm

This part really speaks to me: “I used to think success was a destination, always just beyond my grasp. If I wasn’t struggling, I thought I wasn’t working hard enough. And I believed if I worked really, really hard, someone one would notice and reward me for my efforts.” And about not letting other people determine my worth. That’s huge. Lots of food for thought here, Angie.


Angie Mizzell June 16, 2011 at 6:05 am

Abby, thanks for letting me share the story here. Our friendship has encouraged and supported me in so many ways!


Becca June 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Angie, this is a great post, and really timely with graduation season upon us and young people all over going in search of “true success.” That really comes from being true to yourself and in giving of your best self to your family and to others.

I’ve never had the kind of career that defined me in any way. The job I just left was fine, but I never considered it “what I do.” The answer to that question is always – I care for my family (including the two furry members), I spend time with my friends, I participate in church activities, I write, I play music.” That’s kind of me in a nutshell, I guess. And I’m pretty happy with that 🙂


Angie Mizzell June 16, 2011 at 6:07 am

I wonder if it’s a generation thing– letting ourselves be defined by our level of success, without considering whether the achievements really make us happy.


Kim June 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

I’m so glad you wrote this post for us Angie, because it is something I’ve always thought about. A major change in our personal lives is never easy, and reading your experience with this helps give me a new insight! Thank you 🙂 Being a military wife (and a former teacher), it’s hard for me to get a job since we move every 2 years or less. But becoming a writer who stays home with my girls has been a challenging transition, because I used to think of writing as a hobby since I didn’t earn any money doing it. Now I see myself as a writer, one who isn’t pressuring myself to earn money, and it really helps me have that part of myself for me after getting so lost in being a mommy for a few years.


Angie Mizzell June 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm

It took me years after quitting TV news to take myself seriously as a writer. I did several other things, all the while “dreaming” about making the full-time commitment. Even now, with a regular column, a blog and writing credits, I still have to remind myself I’m a professional writer and it is my job– not just something I like to do at 4 in the morning. 🙂


Bella Rum June 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

Great post! Redefining success is key. Struggle is almost a mark of pride in our culture. We don’t quite believe we’re moving forward if we’re not struggling, but finding the flow is what really works. I’m so glad you’ve found what works for you.

Hi, Abby!


Angie Mizzell June 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I burned in TV for that reason. I pushed myself so hard, rather than just stepping into my power… figuring out how to do that took a while.


Giulietta Nardone June 18, 2011 at 7:41 am

Hi Angie,

Of course my favorite line was that you gave your power away. We learn to do that early in life – that way we have no choice but to follow the path others lay out for us. And we do dutifully, expecting the riches/happiness they promise. Yet, those only come when we decide our own fate and that takes courage. So congrats for finding your own route through life.



Angie Mizzell June 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I remember we connected initially because I resonated so deeply with one of your essays in Skirt! — about leaving a job and paving your own way. It’s encouraging to know how many women have navigated similar experiences.


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