As I begin this, I realize that I haven’t written a blog post since our cat died in August. September has come and gone, chock full of birthdays and travel to foreign cities. It’s October already. I’m noticing the sun hits my face at a different angle now. Fall is here, despite the Indian summer we’re enjoying in Seattle. You know it when you see the pumpkins for sale. The afternoon light is golden. The leaves are changing. Transformation is happening before our very eyes. Nature is receding back, withdrawing in preparation for the winter hibernation. But it is time for me to return to the world.
Two years ago this month, I decided to leave the job where I worked for twenty-five years. Best decision I ever made. I got to ride my metaphorical wild horses. I wrote and published two novels. I experienced what it feels like to be a writer, to live the life of a writer. I accomplished something I had previously only dreamed of, and it feels like a massive achievement to reach the top of that mountain. I know what I have in me; I know now what I am made of. But here is what I really learned: being courageous is more important than succeeding. I put it out there, and I’m a much more integrated person for having done so. Getting those stories out into the world freed up a lot of bandwidth in my head and heart and soul. I am deeply grateful for the experience. For two whole years, I was able to truly be who I am, and I intend to keep on being who I am as I move forward into this new phase of the journey.
One of the most delightful surprises from this experience was the support I received from unexpected sources, like my husband’s autocross buddies. I write romance novels. These guys race cars. When they aren’t racing cars, they are talking about cars. Some of them I have never even met, but they send me notes telling me that they love my blog. They put likes on my Facebook postings. They shock me when they tell me they’ve read my book. This past weekend, I was delighted to meet one of them for the first time at a wedding. He introduced me as an author to his wife (this still thrills me), and when I confessed that I would be shortly looking for work to supplement my income, he insisted that I keep on writing. You quit your job to follow your dream. You are my role model. That’s what he said. I’m still speechless.
I’m happy to say I will keep writing. I have at least four more novels in me, so there is no lack of material waiting to be birthed. But the bills need to be paid; an income is needed, so my next creative project will be to find a job. My mission is not only to find a job, but to find a job that supports my mission of being a writer. I’ve been here before; this is actually my third go-around of this pattern: working, quitting and writing, then working again. This time out, I’ve achieved so much more than I ever expected, but I need to be cautious not to repeat old patterns as I dip in again. In the past, I’ve lost myself in my job, and the last time I lost my way, it took me a really long time to swim back to shore.
So, as I prepare to embark back into the working world, I’m building myself a life raft, and I’m packing that raft with the resources to keep me and my dream afloat, because I already know the seas will sometimes be stormy and threaten to send me off course.
The foundation of this raft is my awareness. I need to stay focused and on target about what is important. My writing needs to be the centerpiece, and all the other pieces of my life must fit in accordingly. This is the recipe for my happiness. For inspirational buoyancy, I’m turning to role models like Jonathan Field’s Good Life Project and Brene Brown’s work Daring Greatly. As any wise traveler does, I’m letting a few friends know where I am headed, so they can provide encouragement and recommendations as needed. I’m setting my intentions. I’m aligning with my values. My internal GPS is acquiring the right attitude. I’m writing a personal mission statement. I’m listing my strengths. In the immortal words of The Who, I won’t get fooled again.
I’m just back from two weeks in Amsterdam and Berlin where my mind was stretched, my agility was tested. I lived out of my comfort zone. When I see how people in other cultures live, my personal horizons expand every time. It makes me more aware of what’s possible for me. Looking back, I see that the past two years have been part of a bigger plan, and I played the lead role but I wasn’t the director. So I’m training up for the next leg of the journey. This next phase, where I venture back into the world to contribute my energy and talents, is also part of the bigger plan. I surrender to it. Being a writer for the past two years was dream-fulfilling, but it was also largely a solo effort. I miss the connection with others, face to face, day to day. I’m ready to try something new. I’m eager to embrace this next chapter in my life.
How will this turn out?
Let’s see what happens and who shows up at the party.