As sudden as it feels now that Phase 3 is almost here, I have been laying some foundations for it:
A. Found a writing coach. I needed someone to keep me motivated to write, to advise me on making this a business, to listen to me whine. I chose someone I met at a writers' conference, because I remembered her warm and sunny personality (she is from California), her professionalism, and her great laugh. That laugh alone is worth the investment. We talk once or twice a month on the phone. I update her on what I'm doing, brag or wimper, and she offers insights and suggestions and gives me assignments which I usually forget to do. I know that I wouldn't have accomplished nearly as much as I have without her support.
B. Got my finances in order. I originally planned to retire in October of 2008. I made that my deadline to pay off the mortgage on my house. I found out what the payments would have to be to make that happen, and since I wasn't too far off from paying it off, managed to pay enough more per month to close it out. So now those lovely chunks of change, instead of going to the mortgage holder, accumulate in my bank account. My car is paid for. And I've been using my Social Security checks to pay off a credit card debt.
C. Began working regularly on a couple of novels, just to prove to myself I was serious. I discovered that I could find 30 minutes a day of writing time after work, and half-hour by half-hour I finished drafts of both of them.
D. Renovated my garden. I love growing vegetables, but for the last few years had given up trying to have a garden, and it quickly became a weedy jungle. Last summer and fall I pulled up every weed there was and covered the beds with straw. Now the beds are ready for their own Phase 3. Spinach, anyone? I'm also building some more beds so I can go crazy, vegetively speaking. To celebrate, I bought a beautiful pair of stone washed overalls which I plan to live in this summer, and a great straw gardening hat.
I feel some sense of security that I have looked ahead and committed to making a successful transition. There will always be unknowns, happy and scary. I'll take them as they come.
Joyce Sidman in Chicago: April 20
4 hours ago