How I Found My Passion Through Dinosaurs

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This article was originally posted on Medium.

In 2012, I got to interview Hugh Howey, a hugely successful indie author, who worked harder than pretty much anyone else I’d met at that point to please his fans. He filmed himself doing silly dances in Times Square. He drove 3 hours out of his way in North Carolina when visiting family to meet a reader in person.

At the time I couldn’t fathom putting that much effort into my writing or the side projects I was working on.

“Yes, I love what I do,” I told myself, “but that sounds like too much.”

Then, in January 2015, my husband Garret and I launched our dinosaur podcast, I Know Dino.

We both had full time jobs, but we also both have a huge passion for dinosaurs (we even had a dinosaur themed wedding). We grew up watching Jurassic Park and Land Before Time, and couldn’t get enough. So we thought, how could we turn this into something productive?

Flash forward 1 year and 10 months, and we have 200+k downloads, awesome supporters on Patreon, incredibly engaged fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and a few people on Reddit even recommended us — which was amazing to see and, as we like to say, made us feel very warm and fuzzy inside.

I still work full time but I have found that I Know Dino consumes all my free time. And I love it. Now I understand what Hugh Howey was talking about in 2012.

I get to meet the coolest people all the time — paleontologists who are making new dinosaur discoveries pretty much weekly, paleoartists who shape how we all view these fantastic animals, writers who go in-depth to explain everything we know so far about dinosaurs. Not to mention the fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, friends, cousins, and more, who all enjoy learning about dinosaurs together.

Dinosaurs bring people together — whether it’s as a community, through Make a Wish, or via a fundraising event to help out the local “dinosaur guy.”

And we can learn so much from dinosaurs. According to Dr. Anthony J. Martin, sauropods shaped some of our modern landscapes. Dr. Brian Noble has pointed out that Henry Fairfield Osborn’s racism greatly influenced how we thought of T-rex for decades. And Dr. David Trexler has said that paleontology is not a dead science.

“Understanding the past is key to understanding what this Earth is capable of and what we’re going to face at the present and in the future,” he said.

I love all of it. I spend my mornings before work and my evenings after work researching the latest news and reaching out to our dinosaur fans and fellow dinosaur enthusiasts. I spend my lunch hours prepping for our next episode. Garret and I also record episodes after work. I interview people on the weekends.

One of the best parts is getting to know our listeners on social media and via email, and seeing the awesome links and photos they send us.

Garret loves it all too. He recently spent 18 hours straight editing a recent nearly 2-hour long episode.

And we aren’t just confined to our home office. The week of July 4, my company had a mandatory vacation week so Garret and I asked ourselves, how can we make the most of this?

Garret planned an amazing road trip for us and we spent 10 days on the road, traveling 67 hours and 4,000 miles from California to Alberta, Canada, to Montana, and back. We even made videos of our trip.

We met some amazing people at the museums and research centers we visited and really got the royal treatment. They let us tour the museums and even showed us some behind-the scenes research.

This month we’re taking another trip, to Utah for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) Annual Meeting.

Paleontologist John Scannella, an all around cool guy who we interviewed on our first dinosaur road trip in episode 90, recommended we go, and we are excited to meet Victoria Arbour, Emanuel Tschopp, everyone we’ve only interviewed via the phone, and pretty much everyone else who will be there.

We’re not the only ones crazy enough to follow our passions on the road.

Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, and his wife drove 150k miles around the U.S. chasing butterflies and piecing his story together on notecards.

Passion is real, even if it means giving up some sleep, and staying in some Friday nights to work. When you find your thing, it’s surprisingly easy to hold on to.

And despite having a full time job and family and friends and a life outside of what you do, you make the time for it because it’s important to you.

You figure out what to let go and you get the important things done. And for me, that means dinosaurs, and spreading scientific knowledge and engaging in a wonderfully creative, positive community.

Plus, it gives me an excuse to bake dinosaur-shaped cookies.

What does it mean for you?

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