My Free Day
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.