Monday, December 12, 2011

When Endings lead to Beginnings

I just crossed a first off of life’s list this morning: I filed my initial claim for unemployment. Being jobless is a box I would rather not have checked, but at the same time I am confident this is a moment in time that is going to afford me new opportunities and it reminds me I have a lot to be thankful for.

First, I got to work closely with my family for ten out of the sixteen years we published. I got to watch my dad’s dream grow into a magazine that was enjoyed by a lot of people from various walks of life. I had a job in my chosen career field while I was in college. And I have been able to continue growing my skills in the years since.

As hard as it is to see something you’ve put so much effort into building fade into a memory, and as much as it stinks that we had to make this decision during a season that’s supposed to be merry and bright, it seems fitting that closing the doors at Model Railroad News comes at the end of the year.  A lot of people think 2012 will be the year the world ends. Personally, I’m looking at it as a year of beginnings.

It’s a universal truth: In order for new beginnings to take place, there has to be endings. A seed has to die for a flower to grow. The flower blooms and withers to create a new seed. A caterpillar has to enter the chrysalis and shed its former self in order to emerge a butterfly. I sometimes wonder: If the seed and the caterpillar could think and feel the way humans do, would there be fear or doubt as they enter their metamorphosis?

In nature, change is just a part of the life cycle. For humans, its something we tend to shun.  We may not necessarily like where we are in life, but it’s what we know  — and there is comfort in familiarity. But if our routine never changes we face stagnation. I’ve come to the conclusion that just as stagnation results in death in nature, it’s deadly for the human soul as well.

Like so many others without a steady job right now, I have absolutely no idea what’s next. Maybe I’m insane. Maybe I’m still in shock. But I’m excited. There is an entire realm of possibility available to me now. There are new challenges to face. New lessons to learn. And new adventures to be had.

In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins tells Gandalf that adventures are horribly uncomfortable things and he was happy to stay in his hobbit home for the rest of his life. Gandalf in his wisdom recognizes these to be the words of someone who isn’t as content about his life as he claims, but rather who is too afraid to step out his front door. Of all the companions who journeyed to the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo was the most bold and vigilant. While the others got discouraged and lost their way, he came to life. The only thing he’d needed was a good nudge in the right direction to get him moving.

I see myself the same way. I’ve always dreamed of visiting the unknown but have hesitated to step over the threshold, and I have often used my job and my family as my excuse. Like Bilbo, I now find myself running out the door without any clue of where I’m going. I may meet some trolls, goblins, elves, and dragons along the way, but they’ll give me some interesting stories to tell. And I can’t wait to share them. You never know who those tales will inspire!

Note to self: It’s pretty cold out there right now. Remember your hat!



  1. Jen, what a beautiful post. I grieve with you that your family's magazine will be no more, but I have the highest expectations that you will find other avenues to travel and lots of other ways to utilize and showcase your marvelous talent.


  2. Jen, this is just priceless! The flavor of excitement you've captured is uplifting and comforting to anyone who may read this who faces uncertainty. May God go before you as you seek your new endeavor. Blessings to you...


  3. Jen, you are just such an encouraging woman and writer. I'm sad for you and your family that the magazine has come to an end but what an opportunity! To have and hold the adventure of the unknown...

    I think, like Bilbo, we all secretly want to know what it's like outside our front door. It's frightening and we might need a little push but the desire is there, deep down inside.

  4. Thank you, ladies! The amount of love and support that has surrounded our family the past few months, and this past week particularly, has utterly astounded me. I truly am excited about what the days ahead hold for each of us.