April 1 brought about huge changes in my life. If you missed it you can read about it in this post. Among the biggest of things that happened on April 1, I retired from my day job.
When you say those words to most people, they say, "Oh, congratulations." But when you say it to someone in the writing community, it means so much more. I attended a writer's conference this week, and several times I mentioned to fellow writers, whom I had never met, that I retired from my day job. And they exploded! Their faces transformed into exuberant happiness and they hugged me. Pounded me on the back. Because in my community of writers, we all know what this news means:
MORE TIME FOR WRITING!
I've had a job from the day after my sixteenth birthday. There has never been a time in the last 40 years that I haven't been someone's employee. I was a waitress, a guitar instructor, a snack bar worker, then a snack bar manager, a Public Relations office worker, an assistant editor, a health insurance claim rep, a computer instructor, a billing supervisor, a business analyst, a HR (Human Resources) manager, an IT (Information Technology) manager, and finally an IT Project Manager. Some of these jobs have been part-time hours while going to school. But for the last 34 years ... month in, month out, day in, day out -- EXCEPT the two times I had children .and took a couple months off .. I worked the job.
And a lot of times I enjoyed it! Sometimes I even loved it! Many days, I hated it. But I still went in, day after day after day to do the job, sometimes with my stomach in knots knowing what conflicts and problems I was going to face once I got in there. It's what you do.
I'm proud of my career. As you can tell, I've had a diverse one with many opportunities and chances to succeed. I feel I did all my jobs well (not every day, but overall) but I hit my stride when I went into the profession of leading others. In those assignments, I could help others develop their skills, help them succeed, reward them, encourage them and together, we'd all get good results for the company. I've been told many times from my wonderful people that I was the best manager they ever had. Probably because I cared so much about them, and put them and their needs as a higher priority than the deadline.
I have always been very proud of my ability to be trusted with important work, to drive results ... and to make a good income! Let's face it, even if we love our jobs, we do it for the money, don't we? And my hard work over the years (combined with my husband's) has provided my family with a beautiful house to grow up in, a wonderful neighborhood to play in, opportunities to try all kinds of activities to see what my kids excelled in, annual vacations so we could see the world, and debt-free college educations so that my sons could prepare themselves for their own adult, self-sufficient lives.
For the last eighteen years, I've also had my second career ... published author. Was it ever easy juggling a high-demand day job with a time-consuming hobby? No! Never! But I kept at it because I loved it. Writing was always my passion. My thing that I did for myself, that didn't involve my kids, my job, or my position at my company. I did it because I had a talent for writing and storytelling and it was mine and mine alone. Although I had five books published by small presses in the beginning of my writing career, it was when I became an independent author, in charge of every aspect of the publishing process, that things really took off for me. That, and focusing my brand on the type of stories I should be writing ... inspirational romance. Love stories with a Christian theme that take place at the beach, featuring less than perfect people who make mistakes but learn that God cares about them and will help if they just call on Him.
If you had asked me when I was eight years old what I wanted to do when I grew up, I
would've said, "Live at the beach and write novels." And now ... that's exactly what I'm going to do. Two years ago my husband and I found and bought our dream house, a cute little home in coastal South Carolina. Three weeks ago, I retired from the big demanding dayjob, and he's looking at retiring sometime in the next 12 months. And I've got tons of stories in my mind to write.
It's amazing how easily I've adjusted to my new retired life. I don't think much about the work of my big important company anymore, the problems and priorities and deadlines that used to fill my mind. The IT business is notorious for sleepless nights during system implementations, and I missed 52 nights sleep over the last two years for work. I don't miss that at all! Technical decisions, test environments, coding glitches, deadlines, legislative requirements, resource conflicts. I just don't care about any of that anymore. As long as the people left in the company do care about it, is all that matters!
I'm living my dream. I'm living my very best life. I'm soaking in the beauty and inspiration of the beach (always my favorite place in the world to be) while writing inspiring, life-changing fiction. Stories that make you laugh and make you cry and provide a message long after the story is done. I'm so happy to be here. And I thank you all for being along for the ride!!