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Martha's big adventure hits the road - Martha Randolph Carr

One of the biggest potential fallouts from writing a regular column for a national audience is that the day may come when it's time to follow your own advice.

Some might even call that eating a few words. The odds really go up during a recession that's being compared to the Great Depression.

At last, my turn has arrived.

The apartment I reside in, in New York City, that has a view of Yankee Stadium from the roof, has been abruptly sold by the owner. The update was shared last week with the added news that the closing is in three short weeks. Time could be spent lamenting, but there's only enough time to find a new situation and nothing else to spare.

A quick check of CraigsList.com turned up pages of possibilities, and the first few days after the news were spent hopping on and off of buses and trains, checking out various apartments all over the city.

The descriptions of flat screened TV's and chandeliers and outdoor gardens made the narrowed list of apartments sound fabulous. Perhaps, this would all turn into some great move and on a fast timeline.

However, it became apparent quickly that online real estate has a lot in common with online dating. People tend to exaggerate and leave out important details, like rotting floors, sectioned-off living rooms and even general filth. I had to go back to the web sites to look for more listings and work on asking more questions.

It's an odd quirk of big urban areas, though, that having a plethora of choices can actually make it more difficult to spot the good ones. More days of looking at overpriced square footage even for New York, and the idea started to cross my mind that this could all end badly. There was a moment standing out on Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side where I had to wonder if I was about to endure something rather than thrive.

That was enough to snap me out of the short slide of self-pity and remember the adages I've been handing out all year in the column. They had something to do with putting a ban on whining, embracing change, asking for help and then allowing the help that comes your way.

Plenty of readers have written in to say how much it has helped them during their own recent financial crunches. It would be really bad form for me to not follow my own advice and flail around instead of thinking of a way to have a new adventure, and maybe even be of service to a community.

That's when the blessing became more apparent. Unlike so many other times in my life, I have no obligations to others, and there was an opportunity to put everything into storage and look for an amazing summer adventure. The timing is perfect. There are a few book and movie projects in the works, but they won't start until the fall.

If I can let go of the idea that grownups have to have a specific address at all times, some kind of magic that only happens every once in awhile and usually during upheavals just may happen.

The word has already gone out to see if there is anyone in need of a world class writer, editor, teacher to be an artist-in-residence, or for work on a boat or teaching a class all summer, anywhere in the world. There has to be a residential element to it, of course, and answers are already trickling back to me. Maybe, it'll be Italy, or Hawaii, or Iowa, or the middle of the ocean.

Wherever it is, it'll be a new experience and a reminder that if we can slow down for a just a moment and take a look around, there are reasons to be grateful. Like I've said before, if we all pitch in together and get to know each other a little better, we may look back at 2009 and say it was one of the best times of our lives. Many more adventures to follow.

If you'd like to get involved in the 2009 America Challenge to raise funds for community-based charities, e-mail me at Martha@CagleCartoons.com, for more information. Together, we're going to build stronger communities and empower ourselves.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.