A Year Later

A year ago today, I quit my career and entered phase 3 of my life. Best.decision.ever.

What you should know, if you retire early, is that it is about quality of life and not money. My career was basically about making and saving money. Now, my focus is on learning new things and building a new life.

The key thing is that I am happy. I can\’t really explain why I was so unhappy at my career and the environment of the Gulf Coast. I should have been able to generate a good attitude regardless, but never did. However, upon moving north to Missouri and now working part time, I was instantly happy, and haven\’t looked back. Joy is now a skill I have and I do have to produce it consciously but it seems easy given my current way of living.

My plan for phase 3 of my life has been adhered to: move to Missouri, run alot, work part time, learn to be a writer and produce a publishable work from the material I wrote before I quit my career.

The good side of my writing project is that it is making steady progress. I have my content together and am now trying to sort through the information and organize it. I have learned much about the business of writing and publishing in the past year, enough to know what direction I am headed and what it could look like. I have the tools, though still learning to use them. As my writing project moves forward, it is bringing people and experiences into my life which I wouldn\’t otherwise have. I live near a public library which has a writing center funded by the Kaufmann Foundation. So, they have many classes, groups and staff to help writers. They even have a book making machine right in the library.

I never planned for my writing to be my source of financial support, so I am free to work on it a bit too slowly. What I wish I could do better is spend more of my afternoons writing, and doing deep work. But napping and then working out seem to take precedence, especially if I was up at 3 am for work. I seem to need the down time and then later on it is difficult to get my mind turned on and focused. I have been working on the habit of just getting my body into the chair at my desk, without YouTube.

I have entered a very happy time at my barista job. I have learned enough to be a valuable team member and to have fun. The young partners are accepting me. My body is better physically for working on my feet, lifting, bending, reaching, instead of spending all day at a computer. My mind is better for having to learn almost a whole new barista language and software. I\’m having to use parts of my brain that engineers don\’t need to use and so I didn\’t use them for decades. There is big value in an old person learning new things (hint: mental longevity). This part time job provides health insurance and pays most of my day to day living expenses. My assets have increased since quitting my career.

I survived the winter, but did not start 3 races due to cold weather. In Texas, I did not start races due to heat. But I did run all winter. I have run all summer. The Gulf Coast was a huge problem with overwhelming heat for 8 or so months a year. I suffered from heat related illness every weekend. That problem has disappeared here in Missouri. And so, I run faster more often. Running fast has been a blast. I had a great marathon a week ago. Even at mile 21, I was very happy (check out my smile):

In the area of Missouri where I now live, I am around people whom I\’ve known for 30 or more years. In terms of social capital, I am very rich. I got to celebrate my 34th sobriety anniversary with numerous people I got sober with all those years ago.

I have become a neuro science geek. Part of my writing project involves studying neuro science to explain addiction and recovery. In my retired life, I have time to read neuro science books and addiction books, which seem to be coming out at a furious pace. Luckily, the public library stocks the latest and greatest books.

Here is a video from today\’s jaunt in the forest:


Running After 60

Anyone who reads this blog may have guessed that it is more about running miles than anything else. I frequently amaze myself that I am still in good shape physically at 60 years of age.

June was a great month for getting some miles done. In the past week, I\’ve had 4 runs of 12.5 miles or longer. Two of these runs were at speed. And it is the speed that amazes me. When I was living on the Gulf Coast last year, I rarely ran fast because it was always so hot. Here in Missouri, it gets hot and humid but nothing like the Gulf Coast. So I am running faster this year than last.

I am actually \”training.\” I have a marathon in 2 months which is very hilly and has a 6 hour time limit. So I have been working on hills and speed to prepare, and running in the heat.

On the FIRE front. I added up my assets at the end of June. I gained substantially in the past 2 months, so I am ahead of when I left my corporate job last September. The trade off is spending a part of every day outside in a park, spending more time with friends, part time work as a barista for fun, learning to be a writer.

On the writing front. I have been working on editing my spiritual writing. Last night I took two of the paragraphs to the writer\’s Critique Group. I got some very valuable feedback. I now  know that I don\’t really know how to edit my material so that others can understand it. I am enrolled in a class on that topic in August. I\’ll probably need to read some more books. But I also now have a friend who can steer me. I\’ll eventually hire an editor, but I need to get closer before I do that or I\’ll spend too much money.

I went to a talk by a professional blogger last week. Very interesting to learn what is necessary to be a professional blogger. But in the end, I noted that she makes most of her money from traditional publishing of books, and second from self publishing. And then she spend a bunch of time on social media, making speeches, blogging and going to book signings in order to sell her books. Traditional publishing houses now require authors to have a huge social media presence before they will consider publishing your book. So, yes you are doing most of the work selling, even if the traditional publishing house takes it on. So you might as well self publish. Most of what that blogger does is uninteresting to me.

I came away with this knowledge. I spent two years on spiritual writing. I believe the writing should make it out into the world, and I will support it after I publish it. But I\’m not under financial pressure, so I don\’t need to worry about spending hours every day tagging things on twitter, instagram, fb or  other places. I am free to do the best job I possibly can at self publishing. I also deeply believe that my intuitive self will guide me and the little miracles I need to be successful will come. I\’m also done trying to explain what I am doing to my social circle. To them, it is a pie in the sky project. They may humor me but they don\’t believe in me. My writing friends do believe because they are on the path with me and we are learning together.

If you do read this blog, thank you very much. If you haven\’t followed the blog, please do.

What its like now.

I have been a spiritual seeker for many years. I have studied the works of many spiritual adepts. I mean, over 30 years worth of study.

I have gone once before through a period where I wasn\’t teachable. I couldn\’t go to church because every pastor seemed un-meaningful to me. I wasn\’t inspired. What they were saying was fake, not a deep enough truth. All I could grasp for years was A Course in Miracles and the works of Paul Brunton.

I ran many many miles. Why was doing 22 marathons a year so important?

Then, I started working on my own spiritual writing project. It was conceived as an app for addicts. I continue to slowly type what I have already written. My own writing inspires me. I don\’t know where this work will end up, but it continues.

Along the way in the past three years, I met the works of Abraham Hicks. This information helped me to improve my connection with my inner being. This information helped me get out of my corporate job and into a semi-retired life.

In semi-retirement, Starbucks has somehow captured me. I can\’t explain what is almost addictive about working at Starbucks. I look forward each week to another set of shifts, yet each shift is difficult to get through. Working at Starbucks is not easy. We rush almost continuously. Driving home, I feel good. I have a load of endorphins from six hours on my feet.

Along side my app for addicts, I got the brilliant idea to write a novel. Because I am writing a novel, I need to learn how to be a writer. Because I need to learn how to be  writer, I have been reading books on that topic. This morning, I was reading such a memoir from an author which was dull. So dull a tedious, I couldn\’t do more than skim it. I wasn\’t at all gripped by the story of her life.

I teetered on the edge of giving up my own writing. What would make my novel gripping so others enjoy reading it?

I\’m not at the place which Abraham Hicks describes as \”alignment\” or \”in the vortex.\” Further, I can\’t seem to get there from here.

So I stopped to meditate. I prayed for an intuitive thought, inspiration or decision. I took stock of my life now. I love running and being in the forested parks available to me here where I live. I love my sober life and AA fellowship. I am captivated by Starbucks. I have two writing projects for which self motivation is needed. I still want to know my higher self more and more.

And so I decided. Pull yourself together and go on from here. I\’m again in the place of \”unteachable.\” Which means total trust in whatever intuitive thoughts I receive. I will walk forward each day. I want to succeed at being a writer, no matter how long that takes. I want to be sober for life and go to the Big Meeting sober. (This thought brings me to tears it is so meaningful to me). And, I will continue to seek and listen to my Higher Self. That pursuit will never end.

And so?

I am no longer trying to find something out there, from some other spiritual author. I am finding it within.

Get the clothes out of the dryer. Go to the grocery store. Got to an AA meeting. Go running. Meditate again.

FIRE Update

Here is my success video:

(watch it on YouTube to get a bigger picture)

I am very happy with myself today because I had a break through in the writing world. I\’ve been a little stuck since the publishing workshop last weekend with a literary agent. I almost quit because I didn\’t really have the plot for my novel nailed down. So, why would anyone else want to read it? I had almost decided that I would just proceed with my app writing project because it pleases me and has no goals.

I didn\’t have much goal for any of my writing when I retired, just maybe a few thousand dollars a year. But working at Starbucks is definitely the easier path of least resistance if my only goal is a few thousand dollars. But if the plan is also to produce something creative, then writing should stay on the table. And writing feels like something I am called to do, like my life needs to get a story onto paper in order for my life to be complete.

So unexpectedly, I had a writing victory this morning. I was sitting at my table looking at someone else\’s book when I spied a piece of paper which I had printed, a mini-part of my novel plan. I thought it was about one topic, but when I read it, it was about the plot for my novel. And I was surprised.
This one page, written a few days ago, very clearly described what the book was about and what was to be gripping for readers. After reading it, I realized how easy it would be to tie each scene to one of the gripping subplots. Easy peasy. Just get to work. I did. I wrote two scenes directly onto the computer.

So life goes on. I am very stable. Some mornings I work at Starbucks. Other mornings I work on writing. Frequently, I do both. In the afternoon, I am most often found in a park, running.

Such a great life. I am living for free. My assets are the same as when I quit my job.

Its Green!

Today I went for a run on Line creek trail. 10 miles in chilly sunshine. It was wonderful. It is starting to get green!  Spring is coming!

I\’m still working on my project of re-inventing myself, or Phase III of my life. The writing projects are still moving forward. I have momentum and am finishing little mile-stones I set for myself. Like, I wanted to have a character development piece written in time for this months Writers Group meeting on Monday: done! And a newly written opening scene.

I\’ve also re-started my spiritual writing. I got stuck because I showed one of the paragraphs to a friend and he said, \” Well you shouldn\’t blah blah blah,\” stuff which is main stream. What I realized today was I can\’t stop because of someone\’s opinion. And I should focus on completing the work because my Higher Self has plans for the work; just waiting for me to finish it off.

I have started to contemplate the gift of Starbucks. This little job has taken over a portion of my brain. At my new store, I often spend hours at the drive up window handing out drinks and saying hi to people. I really like it. I am happy. Is Starbucks a distraction from my real mission in life? Or is it part of my re-inventing. I do know that it is changing me; and perhaps keeping me from being depressed.

Other than that, I got a filling replaced this morning. Thanks to Starbucks, I have dental insurance.

I so frequently during each day have time to be appreciative of my life. I\’m so glad I retired early so I could enjoy just being alive. If I accomplish nothing with my writing, that is okay with me. I just appreciate life and being alive and enjoying each day.

Morning Pages

Yesterday, I discovered a new book, \”The Artist\’s Way\” by Julia Cameron. For those of you in recovery, it does not mention AA, but it does mention that she got sober in 1978. And the book is filled with \”higher power\” and \”spiritual experience.\”

I\’m sharing this tool, Morning Pages, with you because I think is helps me to feel better. If you are an Abraham Hicks fan, I think this tool will help you to get on a high flying disk, write rampages of appreciation, get in alignment, stop doing that thing you are doing, get all the way to San Diego instead of stopping in Yuma and going back to San Antonio.

Lets review where I am coming from. I quit my job because I wanted to become a writer, yes. But also because I want to be the real me sometime before I die. The corporate engineer me is a logical brain construction and mainly exists to earn money and protect me from the world. Very little joy, or happy consciousness is allowed by the logical me. I\’ll be 60 in January. It is time to let go and find some joy in life. To find some happy reason for my existence. Yes, I can die as a millionaire, but did I experience The Universe\’s love for me?

Truly, I\’ve sought Love for most of my life; and only caught glimpses. The logical brain always calls me down.

\”morning pages are 3 pages of long hand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness…\”

Right there, I become unstuck. I was trying to write a rampage of appreciation when I had none. Or I was taking my inventory and only feeling worse. Or trying to write a novel instead of getting in touch with me.

\”These morning pages are not meant to be an art. Or even writing. I stress at this point to reassure the non-writers working with this book. Writing is simply a tool. Pages are meant to be simply the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.
     The morning pages are not supposed to sound smart….\”

But I will share further promises.

  • All that petty stuff you write down in morning pages is what stands between you and your creativity.
  • The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery.
  • We are victims of our own internalized Censor who constantly criticizes us. The morning pages are a way to evade the Censor and find your Artists Brain.
  • The morning pages are meditation because the stream of consciousness writing gives us insight and helps effect change in our lives. Moving from the logical Censor to the Artist Brain is meditation.
  • We meditate to discover our own identity, acquire a connection to our inner self. Morning pages build a link to the inner creative identity. (What wouldn\’t I give to have that. I\’ve spent my life wanting that.)
If you made it to here, google \”morning pages\” or go to the library and get the book The Artist\’s Way. I\’m not going to type entire directions for morning pages here. But I GUARANTEE YOU WILL BE INSPIRED. A being inspired feels good. Inspiration is good energy and I love it.
Today was my first attempt to get 3 pages written and I was successful. I couldn\’t do this when Abraham said to write 3 pages of a rampage of appreciation every day. Because, I don\’t appreciate that much or I am too afraid of the Law of Attraction looking in on my crummy thoughts and sending me more. Judgments and restrictions on my writing allow the Censor to shut everything down. And then I have nothing. But if I just free flow write with no restrictions or judgments, I find that the positivity does come out. Free flow writing is a way for me to dig myself out of my negativity. My negativity is mainly fear. My life has sort of mainly been about fear. What if I could dig out of feat and actually love being alive?
In any case, it felt good to let go and just write whatever. I feel better and that is important. This morning, I realized an important point: the life I created here in KC, post career, has room for the Artist and the point is that I need to learn who I am and be who I am. So working at part time jobs  with a hap hazard schedule does that. 
Also, I have created in my life some people I need. Like last night I met my tax office boss. But who I really met is a young guy who is extremely creative. By young, I mean really young. But he shared alot of his creative activities and explained why he like working for the tax office: to have time during the off season to be creative. So, I had the same life I have now 15 years ago, but went back into engineering because of the money. Also, 15 years ago, I had no creative projects so no reason to have a life with room for creativity. Now however, financial insecurity is not an issue and I do have creative projects. So, while this kid is my boss, I can surreptitiously watch a guy have a creative life. A real person, not a book author.
I feel inspired now. I feel good about my life. What could be more important than that?

How Do You Know?

How do you know that taking a risk was the right thing? You will. Knowing is a feeling. Pay attention. There will be moments of clarity even though the results of your decision are years away.

Two months ago, I quit my 6 figure engineering job to get a part time job as a barista and pursue a writing project. What idiot does that?

Here is a story about the past few days for me and how I received messages from my spiritual self.

There is a situation I was anticipating; an author sending me some books. But it wasn\’t happening very fast, so I forgot about it and decided he had forgotten me. Then they came, on a Friday, in the mail. I had quit being annoyed (annoyance is resistance if you are using the law of attraction) that so and so hadn\’t sent the books and let go; then they appeared. Metaphysics in motion. The art of allowing.

That evening I stood in my kitchen and looked at the package. Somehow it was a profound moment of the universe sending me a message. I felt it. I was holding the package unopened in my hands knowing that some weighty moment would occur related to these books. Not only do the books contain inspiring words for me on my journey, the Universe\’s message is along the lines of both let go (stop resisting) and don\’t give up (allow). Let go so the Universe can do it\’s job. Don\’t give up on believing the miracle will happen.

Inside the package are two books signed by the author. He had sent them for free. One of them is small and leather bound. Opening the package and looking at the books, I am again reminded of how much work I have to do on achieving my desired writing lifestyle. To be an author, you have to write. And it takes a few years to develop your skill. I can do it, but I have to do it. It is up to me. And I plan to do it with The Law of Attraction, plus many keystrokes as words come into being.

It was a long journey from high paid engineer to creative-writer-in-progress. About 2 years of discernment: what is my spiritual self calling me to? Do I stay in this engineering job, collecting a huge salary, but being bored and frustrated? Or do I follow my creative idea, give my life to it, let my spirit soar? How much financial insecurity can I stand? How can I get health insurance after I leave mother corporation?

I landed with a crash in my new life as a writer. Mother corporation used to take care of everything and now I was on my own. I didn\’t realize until I got here how much brain time can be devoted to finances until that was all I had. My house in Texas hadn\’t sold. The stock market had crashed. My house in Missouri needs new coils for the heat pump. I didn\’t want to live with those worries as my only consciousness. Why was I creating such a downward slope? The question still plagued me: What have I done? What idiot quits such a high paying job to pursue an idea? Was the Universe really speaking to me? I was waking up in the night with cortisol pouring out of my brain into my body over the financial issue. Return to the law of attraction. Rely on Source energy, not the money in this world

The two books went onto the table, unopened, to wait. I had library books on writing which needed to be read first, before their due dates. Saturday night I went to a group celebration. I ended up at a table where I met a lady that also wants to be a writer, only she is about 3 years ahead of me. She immediately started discussing writers groups in this area and some of the other things that writers need to go through. She wanted to get together so I had her put her information into my phone. It was a moment of gift. I had sat at the one table where I would meet someone who could help me on my journey. Intuition? I choose to believe that yes, it was intuition, and intuition is how my spiritual self speaks to me.

Sunday evening, I took one of the books, \”Look Ma, Life\’s Easy; how ordinary people attain extraordinary success and remarkable prosperity\” (Ernie Zelinski) into the bathroom and started a little reading. You know, in order to cram one more book into my day, I read on the stool; luckily I am a girl so there is more time sitting there. The story starts out with a person of color who is down and out about how he doesn\’t have any white privilege and how unfair life is. He meets a rich man who is trying to encourage him but the poor guy will have none of it. Then the poor guy finds a small leather bound book in a bathroom. \”Life\’s Secret Handbook; reminders for adventurous souls who want to make a big difference in this world.\” It appears to be a very valuable book, left by accident. He looks inside. Inside the front cover is a hand written note:

\”To whoever winds up with this handbook: You are privileged to own a copy of only 500 printed; billions on this planet do not own one. It is no accident that this handbook has found its way to you. Your duty is to put it to good use. Open this handbook at random and reflect on the content. Perhaps the words on the page you arrive at will be of life-changing significance to you. Please share what you learn with others. — Traveling Monk from the Himalayas\” 

The book is a collection of proverbs. The first proverb, still reading from Look Ma Life\’s Easy while sitting in the bathroom, says: \”Every great accomplishment in the history of humanity started with one small thought. We all have these thoughts. Few people do anything with theirs, however. What do you intend to do with yours?”

Bammo! WTF! I own one of the 500! That is what the other book I haven\’t looked at is! WTF! Holy crap! Big Magic just hit me in the face!

Me and my idiotic idea that I would quit my job and follow my idea and see that it came to life. A message! I just got a message. Yes, I should do what I am doing. Chills went through my body and I got a euphoric feeling. The law of attraction: I am attracting other like minded ideas.

Sunday night was another sleepless night. The message had not fixed my uncertainty yet, I guess. In the night, I was at least productive by reading Anne Lamott\’s book \”Bird by Bird\” which is about how to write. Early in the morning, I had a successful spiritual workshop with the law of attraction before tackling tasks. I had to fill out many online forms for Starbucks (my new employer). I had to do some homework for my tax preparation class. Then I tackled an application for affordable health care. For some reason, I was extremely anxious during the application process with my body shivering uncontrollably. I noticed the emotion and wondered what energy in my system I was touching; metaphysics in motion again. But finally I got through all the questions and got to the Success! screen.

I can\’t explain why, but in that moment of accomplishing the health care, I suddenly felt like everything was not only true but all right. Somehow, clicking the final button was an act which suddenly opened my mind to knowing: yes, I am on the right path. All that discernment and decision making was not a mistake. Just walk the path. Whatever I need will be provided. My house in Texas is an asset. There are no worries regarding it. It will sell at the exact right time. I feel this huge drive to work on my writing. Ideas abound and I begin to think all the time about new concepts: plot, characters, narrators…

Feeling these positive energies and affirmative intuitive thoughts is huge. It is Big Magic. It is my soul speaking to me, encouraging me. I wanted to make more of my life than sit in a chemical plant and earn money. Something more. Something creative. I was willing to risk everything. Put all my skin in the game. I so appreciate those moments of clarity, gifts from the spirit world. Appreciate these and you\’ll get more of them.

On another note:

I voted today. I vote at a community college. They must have had a huge geographic area going to that location.Standing in a long line, some of the line out in cold temperatures, you get to see the largely silent population which upholds this country It is the population which has jobs and pays taxes. It is mostly white suburban native born. They mostly live frantic lives of working and family, without much time for making noise. But they will today. They do care about integrity and honor. They wish to see good character in Washington. They want to see government for the people not totally for the corporations. Unfortunately, we are all voting based on incomplete information. Aside from a total anarchist implosion, I don\’t think we can dislodge politicians who are in it for the money.

The Path

It had been an emotional morning. Not that anything in particular had happened to create emotions. These were the type of emotions that rise up when one has space and time. The sort of anxiety for no reason, but which picks on some minor issue of human life. The type of emotion which plagues the quiet emptiness of the solitary soul.

As usual, attempts to focus thoughts or quiet thoughts were initiated. 5 minutes. 5 minutes. 5 minutes. No phone call. 5 minutes. 5 minutes. 5 minutes. Still no e-mail.

Emotion is thought. Reach for a better feeling thought they said. I did. I just could hang on. Better thoughts disappeared as my feelings were too slow to grasp them. The crowd of anxiety moved back in.

And so the forest called. The forest had a nice path, beautiful trees and clean air for lungs that need to breathe deeply.

The path is cemented. Someone has brushed off the first batch of fallen leaves. The intense crackling of a foot landing on dry leaves is gone. Walking proceeds in silence.

Many leaves have fallen. Those still hanging are mostly brown with some green or yellow. Here and there, a gem, an orange maple. The orange takes my mind and stills all thought except for a wordless awe. Orange against a bright blue sky.

The path is neither flat nor straight. One cannot see beyond the next curve or over the next hill. The trees line the path in untamed existence. The old fallen ones left to rot amongst the living.

And rocks. A creative person has been here. Along the path, little piles of shale pieces. That mound looks like a man. That mound looks like a bench. That mound should fall over but doesn\’t.

Cold weather has silenced the cicadas. Beatles crawl cross the path. Daddy long legs. Don\’t step on the bugs. Rustling in the leaves is squirrels. Water falling over rocks soothes. Stop to listen to the water fall. It is a real sound, the real thing. Not an app. Pause and listen.

Then head back to the car. A purposeful brisk walk has helped the lungs to cleanse the body The forest has absorbed the emotional energy. The idea of serenity is the mood received.