Edith north of Boston – but packing to be south of Philadelphia on retreat for a week starting tomorrow.
The title of this post does not mean I’m going jumping with my seventeen year old Quaker character. Rather, I was thinking about taking leaps of faith, as we call it. My younger son JD is back (on a one-way ticket) from a couple of years working and teaching at Plenitud Puerto Rico, a fabulous permaculture educational farm, and he’s investigating starting a branch of same in New England. It’s a big leap of faith, and I have no doubt he’s going to pull it off.
I’ve taken a few major leaps of faith in my own life. When I was just twenty-three, I bought a one-way ticket to Japan. I’d been pining for my boyfriend, who was stationed in the US Navy outside Tokyo. So off I went. We lived in a simple little house off base, I found a job teaching English conversation to Japanese businessmen, and I lined up private Japanese lessons. It was a great two years of learning and travel, and I came back to start a linguistics PhD program in Indiana.
Another big risky jump I took was leaving a very good job in high tech to stay home with my newborn and toddler sons, start a small farm, and teach prepared childbirth classes, a family decision I made with my husband. Babies
are young for such a short period of time in the overall scheme of our lives, and I didn’t want to miss it. Organic farming had been a passion of mine for a while, so I got to explore that, too. Those five years have now given me two mystery series worth of material – farming and midwifery – too!
The most recent leap off a cliff was quitting another very good job in hi tech. After almost twenty years as a software technical writer (what I retrained as after I left farming), three years ago I cut my five-year plan short by four years and plunged into full-time fiction writing. Financially it would have been prudent for me to keep the good salary, the 401k matching, and the benefits for a few more years. I didn’t have a husband with a cushy salary to fill in the gaps (my beau is talented and hardworking, but he’s self-employed) and I still don’t have what some say is the requisite amount in the bank required before retirement (but who does, really?). On the other hand, I’d landed the Local Foods Mysteries contract, and I was writing the books around the edges of a full-time job with an hour commute each way and no allowance to work from home. I was exhausted and frustrated.
When a dear friend died in her fifties a year after a brain cancer diagnosis, I said, “That’s it. I’m following my dream.” I gave notice, signed up for Affordable Care Act health services, and here I am, writing three series under contract with major publishers.
Your mileage will vary, of course, and past performance does guarantee future…oh, heck. I’d take those three leaps again, any time.
Readers, how about you? Have you taken a major risk in your life? Plunged into a new full-time gig without an adequate safety net?