It's Fearless Friday and my guest Alison Henderson has quite a tale for you. Please elaborate, Alison!
Ten months ago I stepped off the edge of a cliff. Or more to put it more accurately, I jumped. In the space of a few short months I changed nearly every aspect of my life…on purpose.
In July of 2012, the day job I had loved for sixteen years began to devolve. My beloved boss and mentor died in March of that year, and his son and daughter took over the day-to-day operation of the business. They immediately began to make changes, as was their right as the new majority owners. However, the first major change involved dismantling my position, removing the aspects I’d found rewarding, and leaving only tasks that sucked every ounce of pleasure out of coming to work.
I won’t go into the gory details because, thank God, they are no longer important, but within weeks I knew I had to leave. I rarely slept, my hair was falling out in handfuls, and a particularly unpleasant encounter gave me a prolonged episode of cardiac arrhythmia. I hadn’t planned to retire for a few years, but with the support of my husband we moved the timetable ahead, and I took (very) early retirement December 31st.
I had spent most of those last six months on the job trying to decide what I wanted the rest of my life to look like. I knew I wanted to continue writing, but I also wanted to stretch my creative wings and learn some new skills. I majored in Art History in college and have always been a very visual person, so I decided to try my hand at cover design. I taught myself Photoshop and began by designing several covers for a friend who was getting ready to self-publish a series of romantic suspense novellas. Working with her was a wonderful experience, and we were both thrilled with the results.
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Although I adored the cover of my first book, the next two were a bit disappointment, so I decided my next project would be to design my own cover and self-publish my fourth book. Unwritten Rules, released in September, was a first for me in many ways: my first contemporary, my first romantic suspense, my first self-designed cover, and my first foray into self-publishing. I got editing help (a must) but did everything else myself. What a learning experience!
For a normal person that would be enough novelty for one year, but not for me. After twenty-three years in Minnesota, my husband and I decided to move to Carmel, California. Did we do the easy thing and move into the vacation condo we’ve owned for a couple of years? Yes and no. We moved into the condo, but only while the new house we bought is being remodeled from the studs out. It is scheduled to be finished by the middle of December, and I can’t wait to move in, unpack everything we brought from Minnesota, and finally settle into some semblance of a normal life.
So much change in such a short period of time has been challenging for my husband. He’s still struggling to adjust to the all the changes, from the effects of the time zone change on his TV schedule to having to find a new barber. Some days I wonder if I should have been more cautious, taken more time to consider and evaluate my options. I’m a thinker by nature; I don’t usually make rash decisions. But for some reason, this felt like the time to take risks. I’m an eternal optimist, and my heart tells me everything will work out for the best. I hope I’m right. Only time will tell if I was fearless or foolish.
If you’re curious about the ups and downs of my big year of change, I took a page from Brenda’s book and started my blog The Second Half (http://alisonhenderson.blogspot.com) in January to chronicle the challenges and opportunities of re-inventing yourself after fifty.