Self-Employees of the Month: Andrea Enright & Michael Boudreaux

Andrea Enright and Michael Boudreaux

A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then … the glory … a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories.”

–John Steinbeck

In 2005, Andrea Enright was living a golden, idyllic freelancer’s lifestyle, her communications portfolio fattening ever with contracts from well-known clients that ranged from Boston Market to Planned Parenthood. She had already successfully escaped the proverbial grind … but something was still missing. Her husband, Michael Boudreaux, a tech maestro for DIRECTV, thought so too. After a bit of soul-searching, they blew out of Denver and joined the Peace Corps.

When their two years of service in Bulgaria came to a close, Andrea and Michael kept going. On a mission they call “Wanderlust or Bust” they continued across the globe, including Syria, Lebanon, and Kurdistan (yeah, that’s Northern Iraq), couchsurfing, blogging, videoing and volunteering as they went. Continue reading

Self-Employee of the Month: Jennifer Baljko

Jenn Baljko

“It’s just another gamble, right? I mean, you throw the dice, and if it doesn’t work … I’ll start over again somewhere else.

On New Year’s Eve 2003, I hosted a dinner party and served up slow-cooked collard greens and black-eyed peas—a soul food combo that, according to Southern superstition, brings wealth and happiness in the coming year. As technology trade reporter Jennifer Baljko joined the table, none of us gathered could have guessed the wealth and happiness that would soon come her way.

Jennifer’s name didn’t pop up on my radar again until 2007, when I noticed that she had beat out stiff literary competition to win the Traveler’s Tales Solas Contest. I was intrigued: Where has this woman been for the past four years?

Apparently, mere months after those collards and peas worked their magic, divorce and the dotcom bust sparked Jennifer’s search for a new life and livelihood. On the very day that the U.S. first declared war on Iraq, she declared war on life as she knew it, buying a ticket for an extended international journey and soon thereafter quitting her job. “I knew I needed to set my priorities straight,” she says.

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Self-Employee of the Month: Benares Angeley

Benares Finan Eshelman

With every passing day, musician Benares Angeley adds gigs to her growing calendar and spends more time on the road singing and playing old-time bluegrass. This may seem a predictable path for a girl born in a cabin built by her parents in rural Virginia, but Benares could only claim it with hard work and a willingness to let go of the alluring stability of both academia and the nine-to-five world.

From a home base of Asheville, N.C., she and her husband (fellow musician Jeff Angeley) travel far and wide to share their musical passion.

Tell us what makes you a great Escape Artist.

I just quit my job to take another job with less hours and more money …hence more hours to write and play music.

I think one of the hardest things about Escaping is realizing that you are completely replaceable. Wherever you work, from the biggest mega-corporation to the tiniest do-gooder non-profit, you are not necessary. They can find someone else to do your job and do it well, so don’t think that you can’t leave because they’d never get on without you. Continue reading

Self-Employee of the Month: Deborah Underwood

Deborah Underwood

Deborah Underwood is the author of the children’s book Pirate Mom, two forthcoming fiction picture books, and over a dozen nonfiction books for kids. She spent thirteen years typing memos for accountants before taking the plunge into freelance children’s writing.

Tell us what makes you a great Escape Artist.

Being flexible has served me well. Early on I decided that since I was forging a new path and it wasn’t going to be easy, I had to take any writing jobs that came along, period—no prima donna stuff. Continue reading

Self-Employee of the Month: Laurie Weed

Laurie Weed

In this new section of the blog, I’ll be introducing folks who’ve shown how to blaze a path out of the office and toward creative pursuits. As often as possible, I’ll add a new profile of someone who has done that with particular grace or gumption. And few possess as much of either of those qualities as one Miss Laurie Weed, freelance writer and vagabond.

When Laurie Weed leapt from the corporate ladder, she burned the rungs, running away to form a nomadic tribe of one. She first went to Southeast Asia as a tourist, returning one year later as a traveler—and a writer. Now she travels four to six months a year, feeding her passion for the road by copywriting and pimping out her inner grammar lady. When not getting lost in Laos, hitchhiking in Honduras, or bribing her way into Bali, she spins exotic tales from the kitchen table in El Cerrito, California.

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