Your entire life can change in a moment and I embrace these changes as part of my journey. For me, change brings excitement and I thrive on being placed in new situations. My most recent life-changing moment took place as I accepted my job as a reporter for The Mount Airy News.
Born and raised in Surry County, I have a soft spot in my heart for the people, places, culture and history of this area. I moved away briefly for college, but I yearned to move back to the area as soon as I graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in English.
I taught high school journalism and English for three years, but my passion for journalism began as a young child. One of my earliest memories involves The Mount Airy News and the colorful Sunday comics section. I remember trying to teach kids in my neighborhood how to read with the comics section of our newspaper. During high school, I worked for the North Surry newspaper and served as reporter for my Future Homemakers of America club. Later, while attending Surry Community College, I was briefly employed as the secretary for The Stokes News, until a major car accident left me in a wheelchair for almost a year. I am lucky to be able to walk after two major surgeries on my ankle and foot.
In addition to my new job, I am trying to live a healthier life by incorporating more exercise and better food choices. This is quite difficult, as anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that food is a major part of my life. I am known to plan vacations around dining at certain restaurants, and I often know what I am eating days before the meal actually takes place. Changes such as a healthier lifestyle will benefit myself and my family, and I am already starting to see the positive results. If any of you see me in McDonald’s, you can help me by telling me to skip the Big Mac and eat a salad instead! I won’t always make the right choices, but at least I am trying to look at this change as less of a diet and more of a lifestyle change.
My lifestyle change also will help my boyfriend of 12 years. You read that correctly — 12 years. It may seem like a terribly long time, but we are not concerned about the traditional rules of dating and marriage, so it works well for us. We were best friends in high school and by age 21, I realized that my soul mate was already my best friend. He is diabetic and by educating myself about eating healthy, I can help him stay on track. Stay tuned for possible news about that next big step — marriage!
My preferred daily activity is sitting down with a good book and a cup of tea. I truly believe you can travel the world, and beyond, through literature. I read all types of books, from classics and local authors to historical fiction, and I am currently completing the 14th and final book in Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” fantasy series.
You may already recognize me, as I am an active part of this community. I love the theater, music and nature. You may see me watching a play at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, walking along the greenway trails, or listening to bluegrass music at a local concert. Swimming is also an important part of my life, which began with swimming lessons taught by my mom at Reeves Community Center. In fact, a picture of me swimming with my grandma in that pool was published in this newspaper in the early 1980s. Since I could swim before I could walk, I feel most at home in the water, free to swim and move as I please. You may see me in the pool at Pro Health Center, floating in the water or doing my own version of water aerobics, as I try to incorporate more exercise into my life.
The memories I have of growing up in this town are vast and sometimes bittersweet, yet I know of no other place I would rather be. Every morning when I wake up, I am thankful to live in such a beautiful and inspiring area. As I begin this new journey as a reporter, I truly look forward to serving this community that has served me so well throughout my life.
Jessica Johnson is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at 719-1933 or email@example.com.