Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life Isn't All About the Waiting

My first career was as a Registered Veterinary Technician. A good chunk of my time was spent removing bits and pieces from animals. I neutered and declawed cats, cropped ears, and extracted teeth -- all the minor surgery stuff the law allows a tech to do. The biggest chunk of time was spent in the lab, running blood work and looking at bits and pieces of animals under a microscope. A smaller chunk of time was spent killing animals. Ever leave an animal at the vet to be euthanized? Sometimes it's not the vet who does it.

I left that profession after 7 years.

In one form or another I've made a living off the written word since 1987:
  • I worked a short time at a Hollywood talent agency reading scripts and setting up contracts.
  • I wrote catalog copy for a distributor of grades K-12 educational products.
  • I wrote advertising copy for Radio Shack computer products.
  • I wrote advertising and marketing copy for Color Tile flooring products.
  • I wrote and edited training manuals and guidebooks for banking personnel.
  • I wrote marketing copy for banking products.
  • I freelanced writing marketing copy for Fortune 500 IT companies.
  • I wrote and edited marketing and proposal copy for EDS and HP.
I've made decent money writing and editing. Not a phenomenal amount, but enough to get by -- and then some. I scrimped and saved and made sure I had no kids to raise. All with an eye on getting out of the corporate game by the time I was 55.

Last year at this time I was 50 and on track and 6 months into a 5-year plan toward retirement. Last May, my dad, a widower, passed away, leaving a small inheritence for me and my brother. My part was just enough to accelerate my plan by 3.5 years. I double-checked my figures with my financial advisor and took the plunge.

I paid off the mortgage on my little farm in September. My vehicles are paid off. I am debt-free.

This past week I gave notice at work. What with vacation and holiday time, yesterday was my last true working day. Officially, I'm not out till Jan 5. That day I'll drive into the office for the first time in 9 months (I generally work from home), turn in my laptop and security badges, and have lunch with my team. After that, I'm work-free.

Well, corporate-work-free.* I have a to-do list of chores I've been putting off that's as long as Santa's naughty list. And I have an anthology to get out. But going forward, if I'm not happy with my life it'll be because of my own doing or not doing.

I've been waiting a long time to get here. Now that the waiting is over, it's time for me to make it worth the wait. Am I up for the challenge of being retired? Well, duh! :o)

*I'm not excluding the possibility of consulting work or the paid writing gig in the future; I'm just not on the hunt right now. And, of course, I'll continue writing fiction; maybe one day I'll earn more than just the couple of thousand dollars I've gotten off those efforts so far. When it comes to money -- having more? Always the better choice. 


kyle said...

Congratulations. The folks I know who retired early almost without exception went on to more satisfying careers, because they were finally able to do what they wanted to do without worrying if it didn't "pay the bills" in any given month. May the same be true for you.

Lauren K said...

Congratulations! I'm sure you will have a fun and rewarding retirement.

suja said...

congrats. You've worked hard towards it, that's for sure. Here's to true happiness and peace of mind.

fairyhedgehog said...

That's amazingly cool. You've worked hard to get where you are and now you can enjoy it.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

When you march to a different drummer you are out of step. That is perfectly fine - what that drummer beats to, if it is your rhythm, you go with it.
I am very happy and exceedingly pleased for you Divine Miss Phoenix. You sound satisfied and seem to be able to do what you love. You carved it out, your life.
If this is going to be a tough Christmas for you, you got to know so many of are thinking of you and hope you aren't going to eat your turkey tofu alone.
Merry Christmas Phoenix, hope that the New Year exceeds your expectations,
Best as always,

Wilkins MacQueen said...

PS: You didn't forgo having kids, your kids just have a couple more legs than the rest of the world's off spring.

Matt said...

Congratulations, Phoenix!

There's a lifetime of adventure and learning ahead of you. Your very own Age of Exploration.

Sylvia said...

How exciting! The adventure has begun!

I'm so happy for you / proud to be your friend / excited for your future.


stacy said...

That must be really exciting, Phoenix. Congratulations!!

AA said...

Congratulations. Enjoy your new life.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I assume this doesn't mean you're retiring from writing?!?!

Mother (Re)produces. said...

Well done! I know you'll kick "retirement" in the butt and make it your own :)

Have fun. My dad took some financial cuts to have early retirement, and never regretted it. Time, you can never buy.

Phoenix said...

Thank you all for the encouragement! I'm sure I'll fritter away the first couple of months just to see what it feels like, then get back down to having dedicated time to the business of writing.

My, I do like the sound of that: dedicated time. And maybe it won't be from 4:30-7:30 in the morning any longer ;o)

Kyle and Mother: I love hearing positive stories that validate the decision ;o)

Mac: I so appreciate your thoughts for the season. Yes, some very important people and dear animal friends are no longer here this year, but I plan to celebrate those things I do have (such as ALL the wonderful people I've met on this blog and others!!) and to embrace a new future. I'm in a good place again, I think.

Best wishes to everyone for a fabulous holiday!

McKoala said...

Good times! Enjoy every minute.

Robin B. said...

You rock, youngh lady!

Jeb said...

Great that you can still make the leap after the economic meltdown and all. I look forward to your brilliant works being published to great acclaim.

writtenwyrdd said...

Yay you! I get to retire in 7 years at 57, but I am not yet debt free. I keep spending it on things like vacations or new roofs for the house.

Phoenix said...

Thanks again, everyone!

WW, 57 is still early. As for roofs and vacations, guess it depends where your priorities are, eh? ;o) You certainly don't want to regret not doing something you could have. And It WAS a 30-year roof, wasn't it?