Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Free At Last

Free at last! Free at last! Thank the Lord, I’m free at last!

I had planned to make these words from the old spiritual my mantra for 2013. Before I left my job (see the About Me page for complete details), I expected to shout them from the rooftops. The truth of my response to leaving the world of “regular” employment after thirty-seven years is somewhat more complicated.

Mine was not the triumphant retirement I’d planned as recently as six months ago. Instead, it arrived a few years ahead of schedule and brought along a niggling degree of economic, as well as emotional, insecurity. My head knows my husband and I have tucked away a comfortable sum, but my heart still quakes at the thought of January 15th, the first payday in decades when no check will arrive.

Although I was able to leave on my own terms rather than being laid off or terminated, my departure wasn't the warm experience I’d envisioned. I gave my notice and was requested to leave the following day—not surprising, but not gratifying either after more than sixteen years.  After a brief, pleasant announcement, a few co-workers stopped by to wish me well, and I slipped away unnoticed during the employee holiday party. As I turned out the lights in my office for the last time, carried my remaining belongings to my car, and drove off all I could think was what an anti-climactic end to one of the most important chapters of my life.

But in truth, I didn’t expect more. During my career, I’ve watched enough people come and go to know that in business no one is ever missed for long. And I don’t intend to waste time dwelling in the past; it isn’t worth the energy. I have a new life to plan. And that’s what this blog is about—planning for and making the most of The Second Half.

I’ve devoted much of the past six months to self-discovery, not an altruistic pursuit but critical at this point. When I graduated from college, I didn’t spend five minutes considering what I wanted (or needed) to do with my life. Like so many, I was simply looking for a job. And that first job led to more than three decades in the insurance business. I enjoyed many aspects of my job, but it probably wasn’t the best match for an Art History major. Now I get a do-over.

I’m at the beginning of an exciting journey, one you may be preparing to make as well. Or perhaps you’re father down the road and willing to share your experiences with those of us who follow. I hope that together we’ll find the good humor, inspiration, and determination to construct a satisfying, uplifting Second Half. Thanks for coming along for the ride.


  1. It was four years ago last September that I was laid-off from my last real job. I've found out since then that 50+ women are considered unemployable in a college town. Now I work as a home healthcare provider and pray every day that my patient doesn't die before I find another job or get my writing career off the ground. We ladies with experience need to stick together and show the world we have value. I published my first book last year. I've got another coming out in May and one in process along with a series of short stories. I refuse to give up!

  2. Good luck to you, Alison, on this new adventure. I'm feeling in the opposite position. I haven't worked outside my home steadily in years, but if I can't find a way to make writing pay, that will have to change. Here's to all of us finding success in what we love in the new year!

  3. Sandy, I couldn't agree more--if we don't have each other's backs, who will? It sounds like your writing is going very well, but I know as well as anyone how hard it is to get it to the point where it actually pays. In the coming weeks and months, I'm going to be writing about the choices I make to supplement my tiny writing income. I refuse to give up, too!

  4. Jannine, we all have the same problem, making writing pay. At this point, I feel it's a bit like being touched with a fairy wand. So much is out of our control.

  5. Good luck to you as you step into this next phase of your life. Change can be scary or exhilerating, depending on our outlook. I was 55 when Calvin and I married. He was already retired and wanted me to do the same. Believe me, staying home everyday involved more adjustment than I suspected. Goodness, how I missed my co-workers. Heck, I even missed deadlines! It took Calvin 5 years to convince me it was okay to stop cleaning and putzing around the house to devote time to writing. I felt I was laying aside my work ethic, which was a very important part to who I was. You see, I was looking at writing as playtime, as being self-indulgent. Little did I know the whole entity of writing--plotting, creating, editing, submitting, promoting--would require that same strong work ethic. My writing's not paying off financially, but it paying great riches to my creative spirit. I'm a romance writer and I love my job!

  6. Hi Alison,

    I wish you the very best for your "second half." I'm looking forward to the day I don't have to work outside the home and devote myself fully to writing. Hopefully, it will be only a couple of more years.

    On a separate note, I'm also an Art History major, with minors in chemistry and early 19th century English literature and I worked in the insurance industry for approx. 23 years before being laid off. I've been working in the accounting dept of a small company for a little over a year, my first job outside of the insurance industry, and am liking it so much more.

  7. Vonnie, today's my first "official" day of retirement. One thing I know I won't miss is getting up at 5:40 on Tuesday mornings for marketing meetings. Actually, I don't think I'm going to miss anything, but it might be too soon to tell. I'm so with you on the work ethic thing--I feel like I'm wasting time if I slow down at all.

  8. Hi, Katherine! I never knew we had so much in common (although I probably should have guessed). I'm glad you found a job you like better for your last couple of years of outside employment.