I am no longer an employee of Fifth Third Bank. I am no longer employed anywhere.
I have been earning money since I was 13, full-time since 24. The only break in being an employee was when I moved to Michigan to be with Trent and became a full-time freelancer with part-time subcontractors. It was the only way I could figure out how to earn a decent income while living on 20 acres in the woods.
Others are using “the R word” (“Retirement”) but I am not. That word doesn’t fit what I am doing. I am taking a break from full-time employment so I can spend full-time writing a novel. I will do that for three months and then decide if that’s what I want to keep doing or if I want to do something else.
This is the sequence of events:
April-June: I read two books that give me a roadmap for how to write a novel (Story Genius by Lisa Cron and Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody). For the first time I have hope that I can do this, that I can make a path through the wilderness of words on a page.
July: My financial advisor informs me that I don’t need to work anymore if I don’t want to.
September: I start to feel like my current job is not the best match for who I am.
October: I walk into a glass wall at a grocery store and give myself a concussion and break my nose. This is my wake up call that my mind is disconnected from my body.
November: I tell my boss that I don’t think I’m the best person for my job. She is supportive and says we’ll figure it out.
December: My boss encourages me to take time over the holidays to look back on my career and identify three to five times where I loved what I was doing. I am to write what I did, who I did it with, everything about it. I do my assignment.
New Year’s: I send my boss the results of my reflection. I realize that what I love to do is not very present in my current role. I work on the outline of my novel.
January 3rd: My 62ndbirthday. I am aware that a lifetime is finite.
January: I tell my boss that I would like to resign and not seek another role within the bank. She and I determine my exit process and timing.
March 1st: The end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. More than a chapter. It is an Act.
Most of my major life decisions have come from my head but this one felt like it came from the depths of me, someplace more at my core than my soul, some primordial muck. As I took each muddy step forward there was a response from around me, supporting me. For example, a college friend that I have interacted with probably less than five times in the last 40 years sent this email out of the blue:
“When you say goodbye to the corporate life, what do you want to make? Fabric pieces? Clay? Jewelry? Chicken coops and bunny hutches? Habitat for Humanity houses?
I can see you doing all of these because I think you can do anything you want. Look at what you’ve done so far.”
Act I, birth to age 30: Learning
Act II, age 31-61: Building (a career, a home)
Act III, age 62+: Leaving a legacy
My plan for this coming Monday was to walk to the beautiful Mercantile Library and begin writing, something I have done previously only on Saturdays. Instead I will be taking Leda back to the vet because she and I have a similar tendency that is not helpful.