[Musings] Finally FREE!

As the end of 2017 drew near, I knew that I wanted 2018 to signify the end of stress and strife, and the beginning of living life. For too many years my husband and I have sacrificed much so that later in life we could provide certain things for our children and ourselves. We wanted to ensure that we would be able to live our retirement years without worry and financially comfortable.

I almost sacrificed my life…

In 2013, I had my first of six strokes. Then I had a second one a few months later. My primary care physician is a wise woman, and after the second stroke she put me on medical leave for 7 months. She knew she had to remove me from the job I loved but that same job was also killing me from the stress. Fast-paced, ever changing priorities, and all that comes with a stressful job.

In the first month or so of my medical leave, I had a heart attack. Two strokes down, and now this…

My heart attack presented as if I had a terrible case of heartburn. Really bad — it felt like it was burning a hole straight through the center of my chest and out my back. Because I had already had 2 strokes, I didn’t trust that this was simply heartburn. I also suffer from GERD and this was nothing I had ever experienced! So I got hubby to take me to the ER. Once there, after a few tests, that hospital took me by ambulance straight to the Sinai Heart Center, where the heart attack was confirmed and treated.

I share my story because my heart attack symptoms did not involve numbness or tingling of the left arm/left side of my body, I didn’t have “pressure” or pain in my chest — just what felt like bad heartburn. My symptoms were nothing like the symptoms that you always hear about when someone’s had a heart attack: chest pain, etc. Trust your body and your instincts! If something doesn’t feel right, if you are unsure, GO TO THE ER anyway! I’d rather you be labeled a hypochondriac by hospital staff than for you to be labeled with a toe tag…

Changed meds, changed regimens, increased the number of doctors and appointments I had and things leveled off. For now… But what is key about these 7 months is that during that time I opened the Soulful Emergence Art Gallery, my art gallery which is dedicated to the positive image of women. And while initially it was a rocky road medically, the longer I was away from the 9 to 5 the better my health became. Hmmmmm… Do we have a trend? Leave the stress and the health improves?? Is doc on to something here???

I returned to work mid-year the following year after having a heart monitor implanted in my chest. This device monitored my heart electronically 24x7x365 and was wirelessly connected to the Internet to be able to send readings at regular intervals as well as if a crisis occurred. The device, a handful of pills to take every day, visits to my heart doctor and primary care physician every 90 days, and a whole lot of other precautionary measures and I still had several more strokes, including one which left me partially blind in my right eye.

My last stroke was just in October of 2017, while sitting at my desk at work…

And it was this stroke that made me start thinking about my future. About how much life I actually had left — I did just lose my 53 year old sister this past September and I am 51. Makes you start to think about the quality of your life. Yes, I absolutely loved the job but my body was clearly showing me that it didn’t love me back. So I began to make an exit strategy. I wanted to retire by the end of 2018 and be able to live out the rest of my life, how ever long that would be, without the stress of busting my hump to build someone else’s business.

My husband and I discussed it, came up with a plan and partied ourselves into the New Year with the plan in hand and ready to execute. We were going to ramp up our investments and business endeavors with the goal to bring me home by December 31, 2018. But we all know we aren’t in control of our destiny and on January 2, 2018 — 363 days EARLY — I became FREE! My best laid plans were put into motion a year early and on that day,

I walked out of the last office building I will ever walk into as someone else’s employee…

I. Am. FREE! No more 9 to 5!! No more driving from MD to DC 5 days a week, a 40 minute drive that takes 90 minutes in the morning and 2+ hours in the evening because of the traffic! No more being used by an employer who began to see their employees as numbers and doing things that the Founders wouldn’t be proud of. No more loving a job that could care less about me and was killing me.

It didn’t come in the manner that I planned it. You know how we all do on such a major decision, plan and then plan some more and then plan some more. There’s no one I know who wakes up and says, “I’m going to leave my job today and do my own thing.” A decision to transfer from someone’s employee to being your own boss is always a decision that is thought and planned out to the Nth degree. And that’s what I had done, why I was aiming for the last day of the year to walk away…

But the Divine has the Divine Plan and that was not in the cards…

What was in the cards was the Divine showing me that my Self and my health were more important than any job. I was shoved off the cliff simply to be shown that the net was already there… It’s been 4 days. I haven’t looked at an employment ad, reached out to my headhunter connections, or even thought about another job. I haven’t looked into unemployment insurance — I don’t need it. I came home on January 2nd and my husband took me out to celebrate my freedom. Yummy yummy food from the Japanese Steak House Hibachi Grill. Two days later, we took the family out to the movies to see Jumanji in 3D.

I know you’re probably scratching your head and saying “if I’ve followed her story correctly, her husband was unemployed in 2012 and now she is too but she’s writing this article without a worry in the world. What in the hell? I’d be frantic!” And if this is your understanding, then you are 100% correct. Except I’m not panicked. The net that the Divine already had waiting for me was a “final check” from my employer to the tune of more than TWO TIMES my annual salary. Let’s not forget that I’ve been the sole breadwinner supporting a family of 4 living in Columbia MD for last 6 years…

Won’t S/He do it?!?!?!?!?!?!

January 2, 2018 was my last day of work. Forever. I will never work for anyone again. On January 4th, I made my first investment. I am making my money work for me instead of making me work for my money. My husband and I have been researching SUVs. We’re buying our first brand new car ever in the next couple of weeks. I think it’s going to be that sexy ass Murano Platinum! We both are really liking that. And we’ve sat down with the boys to decide where we will be going on vacation this summer. The family has chosen Hawaii so I will start looking into planning that trip.

If this is what retirement looks like, I’ll take it! I officially claim my retirement!

As you know, I run a Gratitude Journal Workshop here on this website (first post coming on 1/7/18). But today I’m sharing my gratitude right here on my blog post: I am deeply grateful for the events of January 2, 2018, securing my freedom from the daily work grind while simultaneously securing my financial freedom. Because of these events, I am FREE and I will never have to work for someone else again. With my freedom from work I was given financial freedom too, greater financial freedom than I have ever had while I was working. For this I am humbled and deeply grateful and I acknowledge the blessing that this is. Ase!

What seemingly major catastrophe in your life is actually the biggest blessing you ever received? In essence, what are you grateful for?

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