I'd covered seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases, ridden in Air Force One and helped build a magazine's online community in the early days of Internet journalism -- all before I turned 30. Then I spent nearly three years covering the aftermath of 9/11. I taught the coolest kids in New York how to write personal essays and learned how to write those essays myself. (Those kids taught me how to edit kindly and efficiently.)
While I was willing to leave journalism to return to work and support myself and my child, it turns out I didn't have to do it. One of the biggest gifts of my relaunch is that everything I went through to get here -- teaching, becoming a parent, going through a divorce and making my way back into the work force -- all feed my work at CNN.com. Besides the paycheck and health insurance, that's the biggest gift of my return-to-work journey.