My Free Day

The Belle Writers Studio the Best Place I've Ever Worked

The Belle Writers Studio the Best Place I've Ever Worked

Saturday, October 31 was my Free Day.

I think it’s fitting it’s on one of my favorite holidays. There’s been times when being on my own is a little scary, but mostly it’s a treat.

Eleven years ago, I walked away from a good, guaranteed salary, about 50 days off per year, a great healthcare plan, a 401K, and the financial ability to stop at a travel agent on a whim and walk out with tickets to anywhere for the weekend.
I also walked away from a 40 minute commute, gray pod walls that surrounded my gray desk, an online time clock that would drive anyone mad, an environment that told me when I could eat, what I could have at my desk to drink, what I could use to decorate my pod walls, the pressure of making quotas, a job that was turning the creative side of my brain to mush, a night guard I wore every night because I was grinding my teeth so hard I would literally break them off in my sleep (I lost 2), and a prescription for anxiety and depression.
Yes, I walked away from a lot of material things, but I also walked into a world that’s afforded me experiences I never could have imagined otherwise.

Being a writer is truly an adventure. In my research for stories, I’ve had the opportunity to wear a lab coat, booties and hair net to watch fertility specialists begin the process of creating human life in a petri-dish; I’ve spent the night I in Jesse James’ boyhood home in hopes of catching his ghost (my husband even got to come with me on that one); and I road along with a rescue group (through their story to me) when they took more than a dozen of Michael Vick’s dogs from the horror of a dog fighting operation to a new life full of sunlight and love.

Almost everyday, I get to talk to interesting people such as the investigator who caught the BTK serial killer in Wichita, and the soldier who fought to bring home Ratchet, the dog she rescued while serving in Iraq.

On assignment, I’ve traveled from the wonders of Great Smoky Mountains where I was able to visualize where my paternal ancestors once lived, to the city streets of Chicago, where I saw the school my mother attended on the south side.

Last week, I traveled the world in five days by researching the greatest sights ten capital cities had to offer around the globe.

I have a wonderful new office in a cabin that overlooks the Ozark Mountains.

Eleven years ago, that office was just a dream; with it’s bookshelves to hold all of my precious books (as well as some my mom held dear) and brightly painted walls – no drab gray pods!

I take breaks when I need them, not when someone else says I can; and  I have a snack if I’m feeling hungry. If I feel like leaving in the middle of the day and coming back to work in the middle of the night, I do.

I drink coffee at my desk in non-corporate approved mugs that have saying such as “My journey begins today,” my dog mug that states, “My love is unconditional,” my black bear mug, and my Fleetwood Mac mug I picked up this year after attending their concert in a VIP suite on another assignment.

I was born to be a writer, as soon as I could form words on paper, I was writing stories. It is, as a friend wrote in an email this past weekend, my purpose in life.

Hanging on my wall directly across from my desk are photos of some of the places we’ve traveled, the good memories that came from having a disposable income.

Among those photos is also another reminder. It’s a framed copy of my first paid published piece with the copy of the $25 check I got for it.

I cashed the check and paid about 4 times that to have it framed with the essay, but it continues to serve as a reminder to me that money doesn’t always buy happiness, and if you’re not happy with your purpose in life, it will never buy you peace of mind.

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11 Responses

  1. I never could go the corporate route, which is why I spend all day writing in my pajamas!

  2. Tammy says:

    Kerri – beautiful post! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    I left a corporate job about 5 years ago and am so thankful that I did! We were in debt and I had no job prospects. But everything worked out. I found a job, went back to school for a second masters degree and am in a better place with my career.

    I’m so happy for you! Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

    • kerri says:

      This has been such a challenging year, Tammy, that I’ve thought about having to go back. I hope it doesn’t happen.

  3. Cal Olson says:

    Thanks SO much for sharing this. I’m one of those still trying to find my purpose after being laid off from a job I was at for almost 20 years. It was three years ago, but at times I still feel like a nomad, trying to find my way. Thanks for another light on the horizon. 😀

  4. Kerri says:

    You’re right. What I didn’t write in my post is that I was JD’d, the corporate term for “Job Discontinued.” Maybe if that hadn’t happened I would still be sitting mind numbed in a job I hate, fearing what would happen if I walked away.
    That was the best kick in the butt I ever got!

  5. Kent says:

    Hi Kerri – thanks for sharing your story. I too recently made the move from employed to self-employed and really enjoy the change as it has always been a dream of mine and has finally come to me in my 50’s.

    I was laid off from a a mortgage bank programmer a few years ago and went into a job that payed about 1/3 of what I had grown accustom to plus it had no benefits. I was thankful for the work at the time, but than it was cut to half time and fortunately during that time I started my own blog. My blog grew to the point that when the time came for another layoff that I was ready to move into working it full time.

    I am now a full time writer or internet publisher which I consider my “professional title” and love the freedom and people I am meeting on the journey of this new phase in my life.

    Keep up the good work Kerri.

    • Kerri says:

      That’s great, Kent. It is truly an amazing thing when you can do what you were “meant” to do, and not what you have to do to survive.

  6. Kathy Winn says:

    I too am a refugee from the gray flannel cube and oppressive corporate environment. When I left my last corporate job, working in the legal department of a sub-prime mortgage company, I told my husband that I simply didn’t think I could face another day of doing work that was unfulfilling, devoid of true challenge and that left me drained and dreading the next day of incarceration.

    I asked him if he thought that we’d be okay financially, if we did without my paycheck for awhile so that I could pursue my lifelong dream of being a writer. He agreed, and five years later, I like you, have a framed copy of my first real paycheck for writing, hanging in my office. It was the best decision I ever made and I have never looked back.

    I think fear keeps a lot of people from pursuing what their heart tells them is their true calling. Maybe there is an upside to this terrible economy, as people are laid off from jobs that might have been providing financial security, but not true fulfillment.

    Great blog Kerri!

  1. November 9, 2009

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