5/21/2012

My Retirement

I’m planning to take an early retirement from the library on July 31. I’ve always loved my job, and still do to very much, however I admit that I am running short on new ideas, or more serious than that—motivation to plan and execute—for the 150 programs I put on each year, which make up half of my job.

But that's not why I'm retiring. Since 2009, I’ve been focusing more seriously on my writing, which I do during my free time, almost all of which occurs on weekends. Since 2009, I’ve been attempting to work a 45-hour week PLUS put in an additional 15-20 hours working on a book.

Not surprisingly, that kind of schedule is unsustainable for the long haul, and especially at my age. I’ve gained weight; I’ve developed blood pressure issues. I’ve sacrificed having a house that’s as clean as I would like. My quick dinners are less nutritious than I would like (true words from a former dietitian).

I’ve pretty much given up my hobbies of reading for pleasure and scrapbooking. The one thing I have not and will not sacrifice, though, is time with hubbie, friends and family. There’s always an abundance of that each and every week. With my large family, there is sometimes  too much. (I’m not seriously complaining about that. I am truly blessed.)

Last October I requested, and was granted, the opportunity to reduce my hours to 32/week. I wanted to see if the extra day would make a significant difference. It didn’t. It made my schedule a little more workable, but not enough to satisfy my growing desire to work full time at my writing.

Over the next five years, when I will reach official retirement age, I want to see if I can break through that “tough nut to crack” that is the world of traditional publishing and my preferred route. 

I made the decision to retire on March 1, my husband’s 60th birthday. It’s also when our income tax is due. Because farmers don’t get a monthly paycheck, no money is being withheld month-by-month. We pay it in a lump sum on March 1st. We don’t have a problem with it. We’d rather keep our money than have the government withhold more than it should and give it back later. We’re not into giving the government an interest-free loan. Enough on that.

My husband has always kept tight total control over our finances, and frankly, I haven't minded being spared the burden of paying bills.


When I signed the income tax forms, it became clear to me that we could probably manage without my income.

The decision was revolutionary for me, although its coming was agonizingly protracted and painful.

I would be giving up a good income, retirement, and health insurance benefits. I would also be giving up daily contact with the staff who run the library—my dozen or more lovely, lovely friends, as well as contact with my many storytime moms and kids. I would be giving up the security of an easy job and guaranteed paycheck for the insecurity of something whose ultimate result is unknown.

I don’t know if I have the talent to be published traditionally. I do know that spiritually, energetically, I am a tiger. I'll give it all I’ve got for at least five years.

That’s the bargain I made with myself, and my husband: I would leave one job and on the next day, begin my new, 40-hour/week job as a writer. I will continue to consider myself fully employed, at least until traditional retirement age. If I’m lucky, I’ll actually be employed again by then and finally fulfilling my life’s ultimate dream.

Since deciding on March 1, I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions. At work, Summer Reading is right around the corner. But when that enormous but fun project is done at the library, so am I. Whoot. Whoot.

So far, my decision has been unbelievably liberating for me.  

5/16/2012

Back to the Writing Life

Not only did my mother's passing take up most of my time last week, but the week before, my younger daughter moved to Honolulu. My husband and I took a whirlwind trip to Seattle to help her and her boyfriend clean out their apartment, to get my daughter's car to the shipyards, and to get them to the Sea-Tac airport for their flight out.

These things drain not only one's physical energy, but in a way that has more far-reaching impact--one's spiritual and emotional energy. And wouldn't you know it? Now that my daughter's been in Hawaii for two weeks, she's decided she doesn't like it. Bah! It's for her to figure out.

In the past two weeks, I've hardly looked at the Young Adult manuscript that I am revising (again). Typically, if I'm at home and not dealing with other life issues, I do have 60-90 minutes of spare time each day. In that time, it's always a choice between two priorities: To write? Or to exercise? I am currently 35 pounds overweight. You can guess what my choice had been for quite a while (writing!), and what my choice probably should be instead (exercising).

Until my routine got broken, I actually had been exercising in my spare time. I'd made my goal of jogging 12 miles/week for six weeks straight. Woo-hoo for me. I'm trying to get back to jogging a 12-minute mile. I'm currently at a 16-minute mile, and so I have a ways to go. Last winter, I'd feared I might not be able to get it back. Now, I'm confident that I can ... eventually.

Instead of jogging today, I decided to take a look at my MIP. My goal is to make it more solidly into a romance, which means I will need to do far more sculpting of scenes where the hero and heroine are together, and to make sure the hero is in every scene that is possible for him to be in.

I also need to be in love with him, and to have a really strong idea of what he looks like. I knew immediately who I wanted him to look like: Cesare Borgia on Showtime's The Borgias. Jeremy Irons, the Pope, is probably closer to my age, but whenever Cesare is on screen, my eyes devour him. Here's a couple of off-screen photos of him.

You think he'd be a great, smoldering, "goth-ish" YA hero? I do.

Jeremy Irons, left and Francois Arnaud



5/14/2012

Somewhere over the Rainbow ... Again

I wrote a post with this same title back on March 28, 2010. It was the
first, but not the last, time we expected my mother to pass away.

You may be aware that my mother was suffering from Alzheimer's. She passed away on Friday.

As my sister said on her Facebook page, it was "The Long Goodbye."

I'd like to say it was the "Very, very, very, very, very Long Goodbye."

Mom had the awful disease for at least 16 years. The last five or so, she was in a largely vegetative state. There were at least four times between March 28, 2010 and now where we thought she would pass away ... but then she got better enough to continue to live, albeit on a low level.

Even this week, when my sister, my father and I were with her at a Hospice house in Tacoma, Washington, it looked as though Mom's life might continue for a couple more weeks.

She was getting no nourishment or fluids except for a small amount of fluid delivering morphine.

A small amount of supplemental oxygen was enough to keep her body, that hadn't been demanding much for years, going. We made the decision to remove the oxygen on Friday, and she crashed within 30 minutes.



She had been getting superlative care at an adult family home for many years, but the home got shut down unexpectedly a week ago. Mom was moved to a new facility, and that marked the beginning of her truly final end. We believe it was God's intervention. Had the home not been shut down, how many more years would she have been in a vegetative state?

It'd been a while since she opened her eyes. But in her last breath, she opened them wide and looked for a moment at her husband of 66 years. In that time, he was able to tell her how much he loved her, and to say goodbye, before she closed her eyes again forever.

We had her memorial yesterday, on Mother's Day. About 50 were in attendance, mostly family. It was a gorgeous day in Western Washington. All the lilacs were in bloom. Anyone who wanted to was able to share a memory of Dorothy. If she was looking down from Heaven, I think she would've been very pleased with our loving send-off.

The memorial was at noon. We had a light lunch afterwards, and then after that, when we had cleared the church (Seventh-Day Baptist in Auburn), many family members headed for Lake Tapps for a picnic and boating.

Below is a happy picture of my great-niece and nephew in their grandpa's 'Zuke, loaded with flowers to be taken home.


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