back in the old days, when i started out in the newsroom, that nurse who’d wandered in off the street, in search of a great story to tell, we pounded out stories on typewriters, on triple-thick pages.
at the bottom of any news story, to let the desk know you were ending your tale, you typed “-30-”
and so, today, -30- is the keystroke of the day.
my phone rang just minutes ago. i’d been jumpy all day. had put off typing here, because i wanted to see if finally i could tell you, could let the ol’ cat out of the bag.
here’s the cat, squirmed from the sack:
my days of newspapering at the chicago tribune are nearly through. they told me just now that my request for a buyout has been “allowed.”
what that means is that next friday will be my very last day to walk into the great gothic tower, the one with the flag waving up against the clouds. it will be my last day to tuck my badge in the little card-reader box and to see the light flicker green. it will be my last day to call out “hullo,” to ricky the guard who always starts my day with a big fat smile.
it will be my last day to shuffle over to my cubicle, to sit down among the cards and letters and books piled high.
it will be my last day, after nearly 30 years, to type, “barbara mahany, tribune reporter.”
but i have utterly no intention of hanging up my story-gathering cape, or retiring my deep and unending dream of telling stories that wend their way straight into the deepest corners of the human heart.
something was born here, where we pull up chairs.
i learned a way of writing here that i can’t muzzle.
it is a way of writing that every once in a while found a place on the news pages. and whenever it seeped out into the world of readers, i got plenty of notes. heartfelt, beautiful, make-me-cry notes. from readers.
oh, i will miss those readers.
i’m leaving because i want to be free to find and to tell stories that burn to be told.
i’m leaving because i’ve achingly missed being here in this little typing room, where the birds flit by, and the sun slants in, where the sacred dwells all around me and through me.
oh, sure, i’ve managed to find moments of joy on the el train. i love rumbling through the city. but i don’t so much like locking the door behind me each morn, and not coming back till the day is nearly done.
i love slow cooking while i type.
i love being here when my little one leaps through the door.
this is the thing that took so much courage: to finally, after so many years there on the edge of the high dive, take the final big bounce and jump through the air.
it’s not easy leaving behind a once-every-two-weeks paycheck.
it’s not so easy letting go of the knowing — till now, anyway — that my stories would always find a place to land, without me having to peddle too hard.
but i finally, finally dug down deep to where the answer was crouched. i finally reminded myself how brave i could be. and how deeply i want to see if my words and my stories and my heart can make a difference. can make this world just a little bit more compassionate. can shine the light on some lost soul in the shadows. or some phenomenal hilarious character whose life might make us all want to get up and dance.
i am taking a big fat chance on me and myself.
i am believing that somewhere deep down inside me, i can stand on a mountaintop and whisper long lines of poetry.
i am holding a candle in the dark, and believing a long line of wicks will flicker, one at a time.
i am being brave, and teaching my boys not to be afraid. not to be bound. to march, always, to the sound of the drum that they alone hear.
i am begging for grace to come raining down.
i will keep writing this story, one word at a time.
i can’t imagine that all this living i’ve done, all this collecting of hearts, has not been a serious chapter in the education of bam.
i’m not looking for fame. i’ve seen that pass by the best of the best too many times.
i am looking for simply one thing: to live my every last day with full heart, and full soul, and full courage.
and that’s the thing i’ve been wanting to tell you.
now, we all know.
thank you for giving me wings.
Congratulations! You brave heart, you! I’m so proud of all you’ve done so far,and I believe the very best and beyond is yet to come.I am so happy and excited for you. 🙂
Congratulations!! Go for it. You are ready…it’s time!! This is your chance…take it and run!! To echo Michael, the best is yet to come…love, hugs, jsm
okay, so i am slow to catch up here, today. when you called this morning, we were at a farm, E milking Mia the cow, shouting with glee. Sorry, but couldn’t talk then – hands full, you know – and then the day got into a higher gear, Ms Close coming to town and I needed to buy flowers and food and…well, anyway, back to the storyline…so I got your email, but wasn’t quite sure, and now I read your blog and…wow! writ large is your news today.full stop. ask of the universe and the universe shall respond. the dance of shiva: destruction begets creation. today you got word of an ending. a successful ending. and today you put out word to us, your community, of a beginning: “to live my every last day with full heart, and full soul, and full courage.”we got your back!
Oh, my wonderful bam! I have been on the edge of my seat all week waiting for that thing you needed to say. Well, my dear friend, I am here to tell you that you’re a writer deep down in your soul. Yes, that gothic tower has been the pool you’ve been swimming in all these years, but now it’s time to dip your toes in the vast ocean set before you. You are brave, but more importantly, you are gifted. Your heart leads the way. You HAVE made a difference, you HAVE touched lives. I pray those who’ve labored beside you all these years send you off with blessings and love. Swim, my sweet friend! xoxo
Dearest BAMNo need to beg, the grace is all around you…… Congratulations on the sweet though salty (I’m sure there will be tears this week) departure from the Tribune. What an amazing opportunity for new, exciting, limitless, (dare I say,’daring’) adventures! How wonderful! How courageous!A deep breath and a leap……Stay brave…… Love & Hugs & Admiration, (you go Girl!)”Courage is the price life exacts for granting peace.”Amelia Earhart
In the Gothic your heart shone in your words; at the table, your soul warms us all. We are breathless at what might be. Above all, we bless tables where our true selves can commune, and we thank you for setting this one with love. All week I’ve thought, how many sayings we have to encourage. Even the most cautious one, look before you leap, acknowledges the leap. So you know your heart is leading you true. But what we really want to know is, can we still pull up a chair?!
of course and of course, beautiful ‘nother barb. the chair will always be. though i did find out in the course of things this week, that iweb will be no longer, and we will all have to up and move our chairs and table elsewhere. but fear not, i will figure that out. and suddenly one day you will find yourself at the same table only maybe with new wallpaper or some such.to the honor roll of souls above. i nearly wept when i read dpm’s “we got your back.” those are deep and true words. they are rocks. and right now, it knocks me over to know you’re there and you mean it. bless you each and every one for pulling up again and again. and for believing. as i am typing i am glancing over at the banner of the great gothic letters. what a trip to say i wrote there all those years. but so many are gone now, have swum beyond its shores. and they still swim happily. i’m goin’ for merrily. merrily down the stream. that’s the muse…..anyway, it’s been a really long day at the end of a really long coupla weeks. bless you each and every every one. xoxoxo
Only the first comment on the journey, but that is what traveling is about. So Pilgrim…where to next? A Pilgrim’s journey is what we are all about and we travel in company. With you heart and soul.
Oh, YAY YAY YAY Hooray for you!! The only hollowness I hear is that empty space at the Tower that used to be yours, the hollowness that means newsreporting rarely has seen that your heartfelt storywriting would better everything than the constant patter reporting of mayhem and hate that rock our world. The Tower deserves the hollow emptiness. I echo the others above, we are here, we believe in you, we know you can do this in a way no one else can. We have been privileged and blessed to peek into your heart by gathering around this table, and no matter blogosphere, print, wherever, we will follow and encourage. We know we will read of beauty and courage, of sadness and struggle, of all the emotions a heart can contain. Your wings are out … the wind has come … fly, beautiful soul, fly, fly, fly!
Had to pull up a chair to hear the rest of the story after seeing your news elsewhere. Soooo excited for you, dearest bam! And excited for the rest of us too because we will no doubt continue to be blessed by your lyrical prose which I’m thinking might have a more spiritual dimension to it now that it will be unfettered by news editors. xo
When I left everything I knew to start something I only knew marginally, I prayed every day for abundance. Not financial – abundantly open heart, abundant patience, abundant wisdom, creativity, knowledge, stamina, courage, convictions, belief in myself – abundance in everything. And, here, one year later, abundance thrives. It will for you too. You’ve already got it in well, abundance. I’m proud of you and proud to know you.
Bravo!! For all that has been…..Thanks!For all that will be….Yes! e.e. cummings
I just wanted to be the 13th blogger! What a frameable blog this one is. A keeper. Blessings upon blessings. A lovely stained glass window, light streaming through, a benediction on YOU, sweetheart. 🙂 Heaven smiles at you.
Oh, WONDERFUL NEWS, bam! Where recently you were only permitted haikus, now you can pour out your sonnets–and more people than I bet you can imagine are ready to drink them in. A big hug AND a pat on the back!
Congratulations, BAM! You followed your heart and made a major decision! May you continue to do whatever it is your heart leads you toward. I know you will find much success! And, to everyone who said so many prayers for my tiny grand daughter a few years ago. I want to briefly mention that today this grandma is babysitting a very active 16 month old girl, still tiny, but trying so hard to catch up to others her age.Thank you all again for asking for grace for her.
You are amazing. Own it! I am proud of you for taking that leap. We can’t wait to read the next chapter of BAM…
Welcome home, Barbara! The warmth of the security guard and your cubicle will so quickly be replaced by that little one coming in the door from school every day with stories, suprises and wonder. Seeing how tall the tulips get every day, counting the babies in their nests, and baking batches of cookies will all find their way into your beautiful writing that we love so much. You are like those chicks just teetering on the edge of the nest for their first flight. And it will be grand! Remember we are there beneath them for you.
Oh, Jack! Such wonderful news! Thank you so much for telling us! Hooray!
ditto ditto to jack. oh my lord, how we prayed for that sweet sweet girl and the angels beside her. i am SO tickled to picture you chasing her about. and our prayers for her will not cease as climbs up the mountain, that little engine that could. and pjt and njk, bless you and thank you more than you will ever know, for being right here, for “getting it,” and for your beautiful words. each and every one of you. big boa constrictor hug. two more days, and then it really is -30-. i wrote what will likely be my last story today. about a woodland garden. i just let it rip. twas very much fun. now i am filling my hours with grace-filled goodbyes. and plenty of tears. the deep and sweet kind. love to you all. xoxo