You aren’t what you eat; you’re what you do

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I recommend changing careers if you wake up one day and realize that the thing that has always made you happy is making you deeply unhappy.

Oh, it isn’t like it happened to me overnight. It was more of a wearing-down-over-time kind of thing. First, an unkind boss and then the company becomes less than caring paired with long hours and low pay and there I was wondering, “What am I doing here?”

So now I’m on one of the biggest adventures of my life. I made the best plan I could, fashioned a type of parachute moneywise and jumped out of the corporate plane for freedom. And I’m not looking back.

I decided that rather than write and edit for someone else to make them money, I would write and edit for myself to make me money. It’s exciting and fun and scary as hell.

They say you never know what you’re made of until you risk it all and find out. Well, I’m finding out, day by day. It’s been nearly five months since I left my job of 10 1/2 years. It was a job I loved, until it wasn’t.

The pay was never great; the hours were terrible. Sure, I could take a long lunch often when I wanted to, go to the office later in the day if I needed to and make up hours sometimes when I wanted to. Sometimes, I was even allowed to work from home.

But there were times when I called in sick and I would get asked, “Are you sure you can’t make it in anyway? What’s wrong with you? We need you here.” I once worked a 15-hour day, and workdays that lasted 10 hours or more were not the exception, but rather the rule. Some weeks, my dog walker saw my dog more than I did.

For years, I wasn’t allowed to take vacation when I wanted to, and sometimes not at all. There were years when I was told, “You can take one of these weeks here, or don’t go.” Honestly. I have the emails to prove it.

I missed events I had bought tickets to, family events, things I wanted to do with friends and even funerals of family members. I missed too many holidays to count because I HAD to be at the office.

More than one man broke up with me because I always had to put my job first. I never met a relationship that stood up to that test, at least not for very long.

But that is all behind me now and I’m working for myself. I can spend the day in my pajamas if I want to, watching episode after episode of “Star Trek” (The Original Series) and I have. I can also write all day, but do it in my pajamas if I want to, like I did today. I can play hooky when I want to, and I am spending a lot of time with my dad, my last family member. See, two years ago, I lost other family members, unexpectedly, in the space of a few months. That can really change how you think about your life and what it means to really live it.

After I grieved until I could grieve no more (although that never really ends), I took a look around and thought about the time I have left in life. After all, maybe I won’t live to be as old as I want to be. My mom didn’t. She had dreams and goals and things she was going to do. And then she was no more, and the dreams and goals and things were gone. Because of that, I thought about what I really want, and want I really don’t want. Lo and behold, that job was the first thing that I no longer wanted.

I’m freelancing now, and working on a few books. I spend time with my German shepherd and we go for a lot of walks. She loves chasing her tennis ball in a field near where we live in the little town into which I have disappeared. She’s snoring away at my feet as I write this. But it has been hard to find a groove, to set and/or stick to any kind of schedule, to get things figured out.

Turns out that when all you are is what you do, you don’t quite know who you are when you don’t do that anymore. That’s OK. I’m happy now. And that’s what really matters.

If there is something in this post that speaks to you, please share it with family and friends.

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