When I left my last corporate job almost six years ago, I thought I had the trajectory of my writing career all figured out. I had dreamed of making films since college, so that was first on the list (to date, I’ve been fortunate to have written and produced two: Anniversary and Waiting For Goodbye). But beyond that, I figured I was destined to be a full-time freelancer. After all, what other option was there for a cube farm refugee with a knack for words?

I got a decent amount of work straight out of the gate. And that was partly due to the fact that I was so elated to no longer be starring in my own personal revival of Office Space, I would write about anyone or anything.  From executive officer profiles and Facebook campaigns to video scripts for spray tan gadgets and robotic surgery, I took everything that came my way.

But after some time, I started to feel that something wasn’t right.

Not cataclysmically so. Just enough to get my attention.  Repeatedly.

But instead of taking this sense of disquiet as a sign something was intrinsically wrong with me, I decided to treat it as a signal to dig deeper into what was really going on inside. Look back on my creative path and see where – or how – I’d gone off the rails.

I had successfully escaped the 9-to-5 rat race.  But I realized that once my initial sense of liberation began to flag, I started approaching my work from a place of  fear and self-criticism.

You’d better not screw up with these clients or it’s back to File Cabinet Hell.

You can’t keep this up forever. Every well runs dry eventually.

You just wrote a piece about anti-fungal cream. Sexy.

The more I worked from that dark and cramped space, the worse the internal nagging became.  I couldn’t understand how I’d managed to ruin the writing life that I’d always wished for.

I didn’t know what was missing. But I was determined to find out before CareerBuilder.com started calling my name.

That’s when I was gifted with a little book by Melody Beattie simply titled Gratitude.

And because the Creator has a wicked sense of humor, this quote was on the first page I opened to:

God, teach me how to enjoy and savor the pleasures, gifts and talents that are spread out before me.

Alrighty then.

From that moment on, I made it a point to be deeply grateful for every single idea or project that came to me…no matter how seemingly illustrious or insignificant.

To see them as blessed opportunities to grow instead of just paying assignments.

To enjoy the learning curve instead of letting it terrify me.

As I collected more and more of these experiences, my sense of inspiration and joy – and consequently, my entire world – expanded. I connected with other writers instead of staying isolated. And that led to opportunities that I had never allowed myself to consider before: blogging, guest posting and eBook writing and publishing, to name just a few.

But there was still something more.

I never really thought of myself as a teacher or a coach. Or more accurately, in true Mary fashion, I simply didn’t allow myself to be cast in that role. Who needs your motivational genius? Pretty sure Tony Robbins and Oprah have that arena covered for at least 90% of humanity.

But I have always felt a need to serve people. To give back, pay it forward…whatever you want to call it. The need to give was always there, but I didn’t know exactly what to do with it.

But the more I worked with gratefulness and saw how it transformed my life, I couldn’t shake the idea that I wanted to share what I’d learned. To let people know that peace, satisfaction and unlimited joy can be the norm…even when Life tap dances all over their perfectly laid plans.

And the best way to do this is to step into a role that enhances rather than replaces my life as a writer:

Gratitude Coach

I am still figuring out how this is going to take shape. How it will evolve as a mission, a business, or both. But I’ve decided today that I am dedicated to helping people live their best and most fulfilled lives by using the most powerful tool on the planet: Thankfulness.

Here’s to the start of yet another new adventure. I look forward to having you along with me.