I Love Skippack: The Story of this Website

The Skippack Blogger and his wife, February 2010 shortly after lay off

Debby and I in Skippack, February 2010, shortly after I lost my job. We faced an uncertain future, but held onto each other.

The first snow of winter has fallen in Skippack, Pennsylvania, taking me back to a time, not too long ago: February, 2010. Another snowstorm in Skippack. I just lost a job I had held for 10 years. A quick Google search indicates that I was one of about 8 million people in the United States who lost jobs between 2008 and 2010.

My former company sent me to an outplacement service for help with job seeking skills such as resume writing and networking. I remember sitting across from a white-haired, middle aged man at the very corporate-looking conference table they provided for us to meet and discuss our progress and challenges in finding a new job. This gentleman was coming to the end of his severance pay and the end of the time period for which he was eligible for outplacement services. He had no immediate prospects for work, no innovative idea about what to do next, no way to pay his bills, health issues, brewing tension at home with his wife, and, likely enough, more problems of which I was not aware.

We all live close to a thin line that divides us from that dark, engulfing sustenance; despair. Sitting in the outplacement center, listening to this gentleman, I thought, “Will I cross that line in the upcoming months?”

Do What You Love and Listen

A simple phrase that my father, Bernie Shaw, said to me still sticks out in my mind. He said, “Michael, you have to work.” With the instinctive communication that takes place between people who love each other, even if they don’t always agree, I knew exactly what he meant. Not only did I have the challenge of paying the bills, I could not, recession or no recession, stop being what I am — a writer and editor. It was my identity, not just a paycheck, which I had to go out and rebuild.

I loved creative writing as a kid; when Debby and I started looking for a house, I sensed that Skippack, with its unusual shops, social gathering places, and restored nineteenth century buildings, was a place that might inspire me to write. The idea of the I Love Skippack blog was starting to take shape in my mind. But how would this solve my immediate problem, finding employment?

Developing ideas for the I Love Skippack blog

Developing ideas for the I Love Skippack blog.

A professional employment recruiter told me that my blog would be of value to potential employers as long as, rather than advocating a personal agenda, my writing helped support business. If my writing helped promote Skippack’s economy, culture and community events, I could use it to strengthen my resume and provide potential employers with up-to-date samples of my work.

My conversation with this recruiter crystallized the idea for I Love Skippack in my mind. I had already built friendships with local shop owners in Skippack. I dedicated my blog to supporting locally-owned businesses, community life, events, and non-profit associations in Skippack, such as the Skippack Historical Society and Playcrafters of Skippack, our community theater. Even if no one had asked me to do it and no one would pay me for it, I would make Skippack, its people, places and events, my job as well as my place of residence.

Not long afterward, I found paid employment with a company. I had a new job as well as a blog to maintain. I had my identity back. I was Michael Shaw again and now, the Skippack Blogger as well.

Only in fairy tales do we get a “happily-ever-after” ending. In real life, the best ending we hope for is the prizefighter’s reward, the chance to do battle another day.

The Days Become Months, the Months Become Years

Morning light in Skippack Village: Never has this magical town failed to provide inspiration.

Morning light in Skippack Village: Never has this magical town failed to provide inspiration.

From February 2010 until now: Up from a time of darkness. No coincidence, perhaps, that the Skippack Blogger’s birthday is in February. This time though I took the first step out of darkness with my wife by my side. This time, for the first time since I left my parent’s home, I did not face it alone.

The great thing about life on this spinning planet is not that the night is temporary, but that the night contains blessings that we don’t see until the light of day.

What is the point? In the words of Bernie Shaw: You can’t give up the battle.

Your Support Is Needed

Please support community blogging in Skippack by clicking Like on the I Love Skippack Facebook page.

Please take a moment to visit my new professional website about writing and new media.

Also please click Like on the Facebook page of my creative partner in this venture social media and digital-age publishing go-to guy Brad DeForest.