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I thought this weekend’s very spontaneous trip to New Mexico was just that — a spur-of-the-moment getaway. But, it was more than spontaneous. It was serendipitous.

After Winter Storm Q left a thick blanket of snow, sleet and icy slush across much of the Midwest, my friend, Pamela Foster and I decided it best to cancel our trip to visit the Saturday Writers on Friday to listen to Deb Marshall speak about the Warrior Arts Alliance anthologies.

I was disappointed for two reasons:

  • I’d been looking forward to visiting with Deb and other contributors to Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors as well as meeting new authors of the Saturday Writers.
  • I’d been greatly looking forward to getting out of town with Pam.

So, upon Pam and I agreeing we should cancel heading east, I twiddled my thumbs for a few minutes, wondering, “What now?”

I remembered my sister, Cyndie, would be heading to Oklahoma City that day to drop off some of my books at Sabi, a store which “brings a unique perspective of many of the world’s spiritual traditions to the region.” What a perfect opportunity to go with her to meet the proprietors of the store and thank them for carrying my book.

To my surprise, she told me that she was not only going to Oklahoma City, but would also be driving westward to New Mexico. I had about two hours to pack and fulfill my obligations of the day before I’d need to leave. Could I do it?

I did! In less than two hours, I crossed off what had been on my list for the day, got packed and headed out the door.

This could become a very long blog post if I’m not careful. I could go on and on about how I loved Sabi, the conversations Cyndie and I had on our 9-hour drive, how good it felt to get away on the spur of the moment.

jan and cyn

But my purpose in writing this post is to talk about serendipity.

In the transition I’ve experienced in the last month, one of the questions that arises is what to do to support myself. Before Stephen and I married, I was an 8-5 girl. All of my adult life, I’ve worked in an office performing traditional, SAFE jobs. By safe, I mean, a regular paycheck, benefits, 401k. Every day, every week, every month, every year, I knew what to expect. No surprises. But no real joy of following my passions either.

While I was married, I was lucky that Stephen supported my writing and painting. I’ll always be grateful for that.

But now, as I face a wide and open field of possibilities, what am I doing? I’m thinking about finding a “real” job. A regular, safe, 8-5 job. But there’s a little voice inside me saying, “Jan, now is the perfect time for you to take a chance. Focus on your writing, painting, speaking. Take . . . a . . . risk.”

But, it’s scary, and the SAFE voice is so much louder than the small, squeaky voice of my passions.

But on this trip, I met many interesting people who have cast aside the traditional 8-5 and followed their passions. And each had a glow that touched me.


I first felt it as I sat in the back seat of Deborah’s car on the way to Yellow Hills Ranch, listening to Deborah’s story of how she arrived at this place, in the role of the leader of eco-tours at the ranch. Admittedly, my mind drifted in and out of the conversation as I watched the passing landscape, recalling memories of New Mexico, thinking of all the stories that have happened in those places. But, I heard enough to know she has made the same journey I am now on. From being an HR-Director at a hospital, to traveling around the world, to leaving her home in Seattle, to arriving in Santa Fe to be on the ground level of the development of Yellow Hills Ranch.


At the ranch, I met Jeff, a man who has lived on the ranch for five years, pulling together everything necessary to bring the dream to life. I learned that he, too, has written a few books, and is involved in screenwriting and filmography. I saw the joy of a dream coming to life in his blue eyes.

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And Melody and Cip, a couple who though celebrating thirty years together are still aglow with companionship and passion. They, too, live on the ranch. Cip assists with the care of mustangs on the ranch, as well as accompanies on the eco-tours. Melody is an incredible artist whose paintings of the mustangs drew me into a world of horses with which I am unfamiliar, yet loved immediately. Click HERE to see some of Melody’s art work.

cip and melody

All of these people have followed their dreams, risking everything. I know they’ve had difficult roads on this journey, but their faces do not show this difficulty. Instead, I saw joy and satisfaction. No regrets.

jan snowshoe

Though I still have that SAFE voice hounding me, it is no longer so much louder than the voice of my passion.

I hear a voice that asks me, “What’s more important, a regular paycheck or the satisfaction of knowing you gave your dreams a try?”

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20 Responses to Serendipity

  1. Jan. Here’s the review I’m itching to put on Amazon the moment they release your novel.

    In a series of vignettes, Morrill gives us a glimpse into the lives of three young hyphenated Americans during WWII. Like looking through windows into the moving train of history, we follow Sachi and Nobu, two Japanese-Americans, into internment in California and then on to Arkansas. Terrence,a black-American, in an act that could only have occurred during the confusions and horror of a country torn by war, becomes linked with Sachi and Nobu forever. I found the novel to be sparse and elegant in style. Point of view, sense of place, and internalization are woven seamlessly and with such skill that the writer is invisible. The Red Kimono shines a light on one of the darkest periods in American history. But the novel is far more than an entertaining history lesson. The book takes us deep inside ourselves and examines the prejudices and biases with which we all struggle, looks honestly at the demonizing of the enemy that is required by war.
    Morrill’s debut novel reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird in the way it exposes the truth through the eyes of a child. I loved the book, my 83 year-old mother will enjoy it, and I will give a copy to both my 16 year-old grandson and my 12 year-old nephew.

    You are already ON the path to your dreams. Just keep following your heart.


  2. Ruthie says:

    Confucius say,” the catapiller dies the butterfly flys.” You learn fast, little grasshopper. Ok, Confusius didn’t say that I did, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? Didn’t the cards say your thinking will begin to turn toward the more spirtiual? This post and the fact that you recognize this as serendipity proves that point. I love your spontaneity. The catapiller would’ve stayed home and crawled unpassionately along the merigolds, go but the butterfly flew out the door. Alas, will we lose you to the ranches of New Mexico? I’m so very proud of you. While alot talk the talk, you have begun to walk the walk.
    Fly butterfly, fly. The sky’s the limit.
    (Oh, and next time you go to New Mexico on a weekend whim, call me! I love to fly.)


    • Jan Morrill says:

      Ruthie, I like it even better that you said it. Yes, I thought of you while I was running around trying to get packed, knowing you would have loved to go. Dang that we left on a Friday! But I’ll get you to NM, and SOON!!!


  3. I think New Mexico has this effect on people, that’s why they call it “Land of Enchantment.” When you’re on your own with no others to support, you can do anything! Yay, Jan! Let the wild horses take you away.


    • Jan Morrill says:

      Thank, Linda. I think you’re right about NM. It’s full of people who have followed their dreams. And yes, it would be very easy to let the wild horses take me away–once I grab onto one of them. 🙂


  4. Mary Horner says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey, it’s truly inspiring.


  5. Linda Joyce says:

    I as I read your post, I thought about the Kenny Loggins interview I had just read. He says, “The head and heart are almost always in disagreement. The head wants to play it safe; the heart wants to jump in. I’ve taught my head to serve my heart, so when I get a crazy intuitive idea, my brain’s job is To Figure Out How to Achieve the Goal, not scare me off with reasons why it’s imposssible.” I was so inspired by this. After all, he’s doing a Rock-n-Roll comeback at 64.

    Maybe it will inspire you, too.


    Linda Joyce


  6. keliwright says:

    This sounds so like a book I’m currently reading–The One-Week Job Project. Hope you find your place and your peace.


  7. I’m pulling for your dreams Jan! I love serendipity. And speaking of such, I was visiting Yellow Hills online (via pics posted online at FB) just yesterday and found it quite the coincidence you’d be talking about having visited it in real life recently.


  8. Denton Gay says:

    Maybe it’s time to watch OFF THE MAP again. Remember William Gibbs?

    New Mexico is a fascinating place.


  9. I’ve heard great things about the book, “48 days to the Work You Love,” by Dan Miller. A speaker at a conference I attended said her husband lost his job and reading this book changed his POV on how he could support his family. He now manages a summer camp on the shores of a lake and calls it his dream job. How sweet, getting paid to do something you enjoy and having time to write too.


  10. Hi Jan, commented yesterday, but Internet was spooky and wouldn’t post it. New Mexico has this effect on a lot of people. There’s something about the air and the scenery that calls us to our inner self for a good look. I hope you find your dream and live it. There’s nothing better then spending time doing what we love.


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