We had the good fortune of connecting with Melanie Gibson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melanie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’ve taken risks in both my corporate career and my personal interest as a writer and podcaster. When I was young and dumb and didn’t know what to do with my life, I discovered library science and pursued a master’s degree in it. I fell in love with medical libraries, vowing one day to work at UT Southwestern. I gained an internship at UT Southwestern and, after a year-long stint in the ExxonMobil headquarters’ business library, I landed what was at the time my dream job as a hospital librarian with Texas Health Resources.
After a number of years and for a number of reasons, I needed a change, so I took a job in Texas Health’s training and development department. I knew NOTHING about training, leadership development, instructional design, or organizational development. Over the years with good mentors and lots of trial and error, I’ve become successful and well-respected in my department.
As for my writing side-gig, that started as a personal journey when I started taekwondo lessons and felt the need to write about it. I was having a lot of insights but felt vulnerable and afraid to put my thoughts online. Eventually I started a blog (littleblackbelt.com) and later published a memoir called “Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts.” Publicizing my book and talking about my mental health struggles felt like huge risks to me personally and professionally because of societal and personal stigmas about mental health, but it ended up feeling like a burden had been lifted. I’ve also learned that my blog and book have helped several people going through similar struggles I did. I’ve since written several articles about mental health, appeared on podcasts, and regularly write for the online magazine Martial Journal. I liked speaking on podcasts so much that I even started a comedy podcast with my partner about films called “Movie Pain or Pleasure.” Comedy comes with its own risks!
In my professional and personal endeavors, I’ve learned that risks are opportunities to learn, grow, and gain experiences that would otherwise be closed to me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Writing and publishing my first book “Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts” felt as rigorous as getting a college degree or learning a new job. I’d written as a hobby, and taking it to a professional level challenged me in a number of ways. I learned to question and push myself (in a healthy way) about my writing style, my use of the craft, my creativity, and my editing skills. I came away from the experience a better writer and much more knowledgeable about the publishing process than I did going into it. I also learned how to do publicity and took those skills with me long after my official publicity campaign ended. I feel confident that I can pursue other writing interests in the future.
This book was just the beginning of what I think will be a life-long pursuit of passion and creation.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in the cultural district of Fort Worth. Here are some of my favorite spots: -The Modern Art Museum, especially the cafe! Looking out at the reflecting pool and sipping a glass of wine is a great way to start lunch! Have a good meal and then check out the art exhibits.
-Sundance Square is beautiful and has many shops and restaurants to visit. Have a Fort Worth-themed cocktail at the Reata rooftop bar before they move to their new location! I like to go to ballet performances at Bass Hall. Can’t beat free garage parking on the weekends.
-Don’t buy overpriced boots in the Stockyards. The Justin Boots outlet near the downtown medical district can get you outfitted with some great cowboy boots.
-The Amon Carter art museum has an excellent Western art collection.
-Texas Golden Gloves is headquartered near downtown Fort Worth. Look for their regional and state competitions in mid-March, usually held at the historic Will Rogers arena, and cheer on the local athletes. Parking and seats are cheap and convenient. As a martial artist, that is the most efficient fighting tournament I’ve ever witnessed! I want to make it an annual outing.
-Milano’s on west 7th street has the best garlic knots in town. Hands down.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to recognize my childhood friend and fellow author, Christopher Stanfield (https://christopher-stanfield.com/author/stanfieldchristopher1/). In the course of a year he has published a three-book series (A Season of Angels), novellas, and multiple short stories. His gift for storytelling and craftsmanship in writing are inspiring. We were going through our publishing journeys at about the same time and were able to help each other with tips along the way.
Other: Movie Pain or Pleasure? Podcast: https://anchor.fm/melanie014
Photo by Wesley Kirk