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Freewheeling and freelancing

So, our first harbinger of winter will arrive in the Black Hills this Friday when we see our first snowfall.

I’m always a little nervous about early snows after Storm Atlas (2013). That storm left 8 foot drifts at my house, barricading me and the pups inside, and no power for two and a half days.

13 inches of snow and 8 feet drifts on October 3, 2013 - the next day was warm and sunny and the snow melted fast but we had no power for 2.5 days.

13 inches of snow and 8 feet drifts on October 3, 2013 - the next day was warm and sunny and the snow melted fast but we had no power for 2.5 days.

Needless to say, as a freelancer who happens to work out of her home, being without power for several days would have a very direct impact upon my business and potentially, my relationship with my clients.

Putting aside my fears of blizzards, I have to say that spring, summer and now fall 2018 have been three of the most amazing seasons of my life. I’ve been productive and yes, profitable. At least enough that some of my immediate worries from the past few years have dwindled considerably.

I will be frank with you that I’m not a saver. Money tends to burn a hole in my pocket the moment any extra winds up there. But I’ve been able to replenish a few much-needed accounts and even able to look toward the future and clarify some of my plans.

I’ve written in my blog about my desire to go to Phoenix this coming winter. That does look promising, although it will probably not be for the 3 months I had originally hoped. I’m shooting for one month instead, probably in February. Just about when the snow and the cold and the wind of South Dakota is starting to get the better of me.

It’s hard to say why winter is so difficult for me. Some of it is the general Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and lack of Vitamin D which can be severe in my case. Partly it is the auto accident I sustained when I was 21, hit by a semi truck in blizzard conditions near Chicago. The dogs tramping through the snow and slush on their sojourns in and out of the house. The inability to walk consistently, as most of my neighbors don’t bother to shovel their walkways and the ice piles up in precarious peaks.

Part of my winter phobia stems, of all things, from reading Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ and that foreboding feeling as the Torrance Family watches the winter close around them. I suppose if I were staying in a mountain retreat somewhere, with a fully stocked kitchen and no need to venture onto the roads, and (of course) if it weren’t also a haunted retreat, I’d probably love that feeling of isolation. Like Jack Torrance, I’d view it as a perfect opportunity to focus on my personal writing.

Me, trying to escape the winter blues…

Me, trying to escape the winter blues…

But the biggest challenge that winter presents to me is the lack of freedom. It’s harder to drive anywhere and nobody is going to come visit me in the middle of January in South freaking Dakota. This past year, with the death of my stepdad and the opportunities for my family to be together in both grief and celebration, has really solidified my belief that freedom is the most valuable currency. Freedom means choice, and chance and connection. Yes, it was my decision to move to a place where I had no family and (at the time) no close friends. But the distance between me and my loved ones is particularly harsh this season and I relish the small freedoms that I can take, when fortunes allow, to go and visit family and friends.

I’ll be going to Detroit next month around Halloween, as well. Hosting a book signing party for The Gatherers at my friend’s cafe in Ferndale, and enjoying all that the season has to offer. It does mean that the little kiddo’s in my own neighborhood won’t be able to enjoy my Halloween decor this year, but for the chance to visit Michigan cider mills and go to the Detroit Institute of the Arts to visit MY painting and have a Coney dog and drive through the streets where my memories reside, I’ll happily sacrifice that honor.

Me and my sis Laura, on our last visit to Detroit (September 2015)

Me and my sis Laura, on our last visit to Detroit (September 2015)

What does freedom mean to you and what the ways - small or large - that you get to celebrate them?