McCallum: Love your work

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(HOST) Even though the job market is tight these days, commentator Mary McCallum thinks there’s still room to dream about the importance of finding work that you love.

(MCCALLUM) There’s a popular saying that tells us to do what we love, and the rest will follow. It’s such an appealing idea that there are scores of books whose authors promise to reveal how to discover our passion and use it to create right livelihood, and thus a happier life. Those who marry a long held passion with the ability to make a living from it are fortunate, but it can be unpredictable, and the pay isn’t always regular.

From scientists to organic farmers, anthropologists to free lance writers, most of us labor in relative obscurity but follow our bliss while eking out a living. What counts first is the work, and getting paid to to show up and do it makes it sweet. Vermont has an unusually large population of enterprising folks who have found a place to do what they love while turning it into a livelihood, and in some of the most unlikely places.

We’ve got backroad artists, sugarmakers, bakers, circus acts and theater troupes. I’m told there are more writers per capita in Vermont than in any other state, scribbling away in solitary rooms and cabins just because it’s their heart’s desire. And scattered around our rural landscape are some things we usually associate with urban areas – like recording studios – scores of ’em.

One sits on 250 acres in the hills of Andover. It’s a state of the art studio built by Dexter Brown and Carol Scafuro that allows them to combine their two passions: music and animal rescue. Their nonprofit Animal Media Foundation partners well known recording artists with animal welfare groups to raise funds for animals in need throughout the country.

Their latest venture used their connections to famous recording artists to produce a double CD called "Giving Animals a Voice Through Music." Half the proceeds will go to Best Friends, the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the U.S.- a 30,000 acre haven in Utah. Their homegrown business in Vermont’s green mountains will help save the lives of abandoned and battered animals thousands of miles away in canyon country.

Late in life this couple decided to follow a simple but risky vision of combining two things that mattered most to them, so they could somehow make a difference while paying the bills. Their CD project is ambitious and carries no guarantee of being a big financial or artistic success. Yet their excitement about this venture, this great leap of faith that it will work, is at a full rolling boil.

Being around folks who are doing what they love can be contagious enough to make a person wonder about their own livelihood and dreams. The world is full of dreamers, schemers and bliss seekers – it’s part of being human to try to make concrete the things we yearn for. And we’ve got talent and passion – enough to keep the planet humming.

Using our passion to do good work – without losing our shirts. Now that’s a dream worth chasing.

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