Tag Archives: career

Almost a Published Author: A Reflection of My Journey Writing My First Book

Today my book title is being registered with the Library of Congress. As I edited the final 254-page draft this week with a sprained wrist, it was (painfully) evident just how damn hard I worked to make this dream come true.

Last month, my editor asked me to write a preface for the book. This was an opportunity to fit into 500 words what writing these pages meant to me. It was a chance for me to tell my story in first person.

I sent the intro to one hand-picked person to look over, someone who knows me about as well as I know myself, someone who I knew would give me honest feedback. He read it between his busy schedule and told me it was nearly perfect. But that was the problem. He couldn’t hear my voice.

He said one of his favorite things about me is how I am open about my vulnerabilities and imperfections. He knew how much I struggled to turn this dream into a reality. I erased and re-wrote nearly three-quarters of my original words, this time sharing snippets of my heart and my hardships. Before I even sent it to him, I knew what he would say.

Because he was exactly right. It needed to be imperfect to be perfect.

I wrote this book during two of the most challenging years of my life. Many of my struggles many of you know; a few of my struggles only a few of you will ever fully know. Right now, I am dealing with a past that cuts very deep, facing things that no one should ever have to experience. But this is my imperfectly perfect life, and these are things that happened to me. It’s not my past that shapes who I am; it’s how I choose to handle it. Part of that is therapy, self compassion, and maintaining strong and meaningful friendships. Another part is choosing to keep putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward to follow my dreams even when I feel my feet being pulled in the opposite direction.

Sometimes I stumble, sometimes I scrape my knees or reach for a helping hand. Somehow I get back up again.

In a few weeks, you’ll be able to hold in your hands the dreams of my 7-year-old and nearly-29-year-old selves. My biggest hope isn’t that you learn everything there is to know about turtles. What I really hope is that this book, one of my many dreams, inspires you to always, always follow your heart—even when the odds are stacked against you.

With deepest gratitude, respect and sincerity,



I Don’t Want to Live Forever, But I Want to Leave Behind Something That Does

An ex-boyfriend once asked me what I want to get out of life. My reply came so quickly you’d think I’d been mulling over the perfect response for a week.

But in truth, I think I’ve just always lived my life this way. I’m pretty sure the response was actually hard-wired into my developing brain before I even came out of the womb.

I told him:

“I want to be happy… I want to have beautiful, true relationships with people… And I don’t want to live forever, but I want to leave behind something that does.”

Some people will mention success, but I believe happiness precedes success, and that success is subjective.

Many people will rattle off a long list of milestones and accomplishments.

I could have said I want to see the world, to have grand adventures, to tell my story and learn the stories of others. I could have said I want to write and act and save animals and get married and raise children. But those are all just forks on a path leading to the same destination.

I could have said I want to change the world.

Because I did, I do. And in my own way, I believe I am.

At the heart of it all, I want to be remembered when I leave this earth. Not by name, not by face, but by what I do with my passions.

I want to be significant.

I want my life to have significance.

I want to create significance.

As both an artist and a scientist, I am making my mark on the world.

Humans are often depicted as either left-brained or right-brained, but I constantly find myself smack dab in the middle. I am equally as analytical as I am creative. I used to think it was such a strange combination, opposing forces rolling around my synapses.

But I can’t think of any two fields of study that are more actively engaged, that are more actively leaving something behind on this planet.

Scientists are working so that future generations can exist. Centuries ago, they made discoveries that we are still appreciating today.

Artists are writing stories, shooting films, choreographing dances, playing music, painting pictures, taking photos. Millenia after it was created, we are still appreciating art.

I want my great-great-great-great grandchildren to spot sea turtles in the ocean because I helped save them from extinction. I want my children’s children’s children to know empathy because they felt it in the movies I made.

I want the future generations to chase their dreams because I wrote about chasing mine.


Just a Receptionist: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

Last week, I picked up the phone at the vet clinic where I work. The woman on the other end was a potential new client, asking a myriad of questions in a rude and demeaning tone. I held my ground, opting to bat away her belittlement with kindness.

But then she followed up one of her questions with, “Oh well, you wouldn’t know. You’re just the receptionist.”

Time paused for the next half a second. I was, of course, incredulous that a human being would talk down to another human being, a stranger no less, through a speaker. But we are in the midst of a politically and emotionally charged atmosphere. True colors are flying, and they’re not always the rainbow we want to look at.

I had three options for how to respond here:

  1. Go off on a rant
  2. Correct the woman by listing off my credentials and actual job title
  3. Laugh in her face

I opted for #3. Here’s why:

1. Going off on a rant doesn’t solve anything, especially over the phone, and especially when the listener is not invested in the cause. Emotions are often irrational, and they bring a charge to a conversation that quickly crosses the line from discussion into argument.

2. I stoop down to her level if I play the high and mighty card. And, for the record, no one is ever “just a receptionist.” I have known many receptionists in my life—most of them women. Off the clock by night, they are mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, chefs, caretakers, volunteers, dreamers, travelers. On the clock by day, while listening to an earful from people on the other end of the line, they are therapists, organizers, greeters and problem-solvers. And they do this all while often being harassed, overworked and grossly underpaid.

3. Laughter is the best medicine. I laughed three times over her continued barrage of insults, and then calmly directed her elsewhere, saying our clinic would not be a good fit for her.

While I believe this was the appropriate response, I will say I am terrible at standing up for myself. I will be the first to have the back of a stranger, but the last to correct someone for walking all over me. I’m working on that. But as little pacifist me hones my confrontational skills, I’m remembering to stay true to my values, not the least of which is love. I will fight for dignity and equality for all—yes, even those who put me down—but I will not enter into cyber-bullying, name-calling and haughtiness. I will fight for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, religious freedom, racial freedom, and basic human dignity. I will fight for change.

In my film premiere last night, my character—the wisest psychiatrist there ever was—says, “Change isn’t always progress, but it is evolution.”

When we vote, we vote for change. People don’t always agree with the progress of that change, but I believe politics are a lot like religion. At the heart of it all, don’t we just want good to come of it? The votes have been cast. I’m not unfriending people. I’m engaging them face-to-face to unite for the greater good. We need to live our lives reflecting the change we wish to see in the world.

I’m stepping down from my soap box now. There is a good and right part of history in the making. I’m giving you the microphone. Which side are you on?

The Stage and Me: How Theatre Helps My Anxiety

Improv Troupe, Maggie Crandall

As a freelance writer, I pitch a lot of ideas. As an actor, I go to a lot of auditions. With both these careers, I get a lot of rejections. It seems unnatural, then, that a person with anxiety might choose such careers. But I understand with both of these professions that rejection doesn’t mean you’re not good. It doesn’t even mean you’re not good enough. It just means you’re not right; you don’t fit. In fact, this could be the one time in a break-up where the dumper can really mean it when he says to the dumpee, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

It might also seem strange that I, a sufferer of anxiety, choose to be an actress–willingly taking center stage and making a fool of myself–when America’s number one fear is public speaking. Year after year, time after time, Americans say they are most anxious about standing under the spotlight in front of a crowd.

Photo credit Larry Benvenuti:Marathon Community Theatre


But somehow, I, an anxious individual, seek out the stage. I bury my nights in rehearsals and my weekends in performances because theatre is my outlet. Acting is a mechanism that helps me cope with my anxiety. It is one of a few strategies, because really you can never have too many, but it is an important and strangely paradoxical one.

Just what exactly is theatre’s role in my anxiety management? Read here about how theatre helps me handle my anxiety in my article for HowlRound, “a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community.”


My Careers are Growing!

Dear faithful followers,

I’m excited to announce that my professional aspirations are expanding! While I’m forever an adventurous nomad at heart, and therefore use the terms “professional” and “career” lightly, I’m not without aspirations. (No one should be really. What’s life without goals?)

Right now, my focus is on challenging, expressing, and honing my creativity. That’s where acting and writing come in. However, with unpredictable opportunities for my hungry imagination, I maintain stability with my zoological skills. I like to say I moonlight as a vet tech, instead of the other way around.

Needless to say I’m busy busy busy!!!

If you’re interested in following along with what’s up-and-coming with my acting gigs, check out my addition to cyberspace, Stacey Venzel — Independent Acting. (Pardon the clutter; it’s a work in progress.) If stage and film aren’t your thing, no worries. I’ll still be posting my travels, animal wrangling, recipes, and musings here. Because we can never really have too many creative outlets.

As always, thanks for stopping by!


Support A Writer, Help Dreams Come True

Do you have a soft spot for turtles? Are you an advocate for marine conservation? Do conspiracy theories interest you? Are you a baseball fan? Do you have an interest in world politics and history? Do you like supporting people to achieve their dreams?

Well, then, here’s a shameless self-plug to help me achieve my dreams! The publication of the turtle book I’ve penned that is now in the editorial phase is dependent upon revenue from other sales. If you’d like to help me achieve my life-long goal of being a published author and merging my passions–a zoologist and writer with a book about turtles!–here’s how you can help:

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The Super Fins
  • Purchase a t-shirt that supports marine conservation and has cute animated sea creatures on it. Comes in all sizes for adults and youth.
  • Buy a copy of Weaponized Baseball, full of researched information on the role of America’s favorite pasttime in global politics–ending wars and starting others. 100% fact, 100% wow. Great for you trivia buffs and conspiracy theory intriguers!
  • Buy a copy of The Cubs Quotient to learn about how the Chicago Cubs changed history. 100% fact, 100% wow. Also great for trivia, especially if you have Chicago roots!
  • Spread the word about The Super Fins, a newly launched marine conservation education website with an animated series in the works, including my turtle book!

Thanks in advance to any and everyone who has supported my dreams, whether family, friend, stranger or blogger. It’s taking a lot of perseverance, but I’m on the way to making my dreams come true.

New Careers, New Look

No I didn’t dye my hair or get a tattoo. But my blog is undergoing some reconstruction.

As I embrace my many passions in life and seek the career path best for me, I’ve adapted my blog as well. Check out the new and updated Pages tabs for a behind-the-scenes look into the adventures of Stacey–all conveniently categorized into one place.

Whether centered around acting, animals, travel, writing or food, my career, my life and my blog will always be a work in progress. Change is important; so is how we learn to adapt.