Shannon Master

Mom, Writer, TV/Event Producer and Failed Astrophysicist – because it's never too late to punch mid-life in the gut

About

Remember that time when I said I was going to be an astrophysicist? LOL.

I’m like a stunt woman jumping up from a speeding semi to catch the skids of a strategically placed helicopter in flight in order to climb into the cockpit mid-air and pilot that bad boy into the sunset of success – except one hand slipped. Now I’m dangling by my lone vain-strained grip looking down at where I came from, then up at where I need to go. The force of the atmosphere against my body is like a windsock in a hurricane that shreds one shoe clean off. Uh oh. I picked a bad day to opt out of wearing a belt. Wait. Did I tell my husband he needs to take our daughter to violin today? Shit, I left the wet clothes in the washer again. OMG! I forgot to tell the producers on my job that they can’t do an interview outside at that location because it’s at the end of an international airport runway and I have three finals this week!

I muster the strength to swing my flailing arm up to grab the skid for dear life with both hands. As my slowly slipping grip taunts my chances of sunsets, I wonder, is success even a real word?

Welcome to mid-life.

I’m a mom and a wife, driven by wild ambitions backed by enough stubbornness and fueled with just the right amount angry optimism to achieve them. Over a year ago, I put my 20+ year professional career as a writer/producer in television, marketing and communications on hold to pursue another wild idea – getting a degree in Astrophysics. I know. WTF? My aim was to become qualified in the science and then bridge that knowledge with my expertise in communications, but after endless semesters of working to the bone for mediocre-to-low grades in math and physics, with at least half a decade more to go of all the math and physics that ever was, all requiring less family income and more than full-time time away from my loves, I was forced to reassess and redirect. Sometimes shit just gets real.

My life circumstances had me on my own supporting myself at 17-years-old before I graduated high school. While I did briefly attempt college, my options then were limited. What I lacked in support and finances, I made up for with an abundance of passion, vision and drive to gain a foothold in the career I was aiming for at the time, the entertainment industry in Hollywood. I excelled in the fast paced, unrelenting environment that had no room for failure. It was a harsh do or die line of work that gave me opportunities I never would have imagined for myself – traveling throughout 17 countries, working side-by-side with celebrities, and learning from some of the best filmmakers and crews in the business. I won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for a third for documentaries and television series I produced, wrote and directed. I did what I set out to do with nothing but sheer grit, determination and natural talent, so naturally, I figured I could do it again by finally having the opportunity to get my degree in the field I always loved, but never considered it something I could do – science baby! It turns out, I couldn’t do it, at least not all the way. I did get my Associates of Science degree in Mathematics and Natural Science and Computer Science, so there’s that. Now I have no choice but to face and accept my life’s biggest curse – I am a writer.

I have the most amazingly supportive cheerleaders, each of whom will deserve all the credit when I reach the top of these mountains of exploration and indecision: my daughter, who I can now help with her math homework; and my husband, who is the only kind of real man who can handle with love and understanding all that this wild lady has going on.

My message is one of perseverance, overcoming the obstacles that hold you back, and not letting your mistakes in the past define who you are or who you want to be. We are all capable of being true to ourselves and our life’s path, whatever, and whenever, that may be.

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This picture was taken in the 4am cloak of a Wiesbaden, Germany hotel room the night I realized I had unwittingly crossed over – to middle-age.

 

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