Reinventing Myself? Seriously?

Posted: 28 March 2011 in Love.
Tags: , ,

A former co-worker and friend from New York emailed me last week to profess that I’ve inspired her, exercising the courage it takes to reinvent myself.


Her email took me by surprise and I had to read it three times to make sure she was talking about me.  Because is that what I’ve done?  Reinvented myself?  Wow.

When I look at it objectively, I suppose she’s right.  Still, it’s an idea I need to absorb.

Almost two years ago, the New York office of the executive search firm I’d been working for closed down abruptly and with virtually no warning and no severance, my colleagues and I were out of work.  The problem was, over 10% of NYC was out of work, too–but then I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

It was May 2009 and the chances of my finding a job in retained executive search then were nil, so Ken and I talked about it and decided my summer would be better spent working on my novel than looking for a job that didn’t exist.  He was working and I had some savings, so even with our exorbitant rent we’d be fine.

Fast forward a year later, I was getting some sporadic contract search work, but now Ken was also laid off due to the economy.  Our rent had been increased and our cost of living continued to rise, despite more and more people being unemployed.

A month after that, Ken was in a motorcycle accident–a hit and run on a busy Manhattan avenue.  Miraculously, he sustained little injury, but as cliche as it may be, the incident got us thinking more seriously than before about alternatives to a life that seemed to be sucking us dry on too many fronts.

We love New York–it is and always will be home in my heart–but between the cost of living, the brutal winters and the challenges inherent in a continual struggle for space in a dense city, we were beginning to feel we’d had enough.  Not to mention that for years we have both been forced to pursue our artistic passions in our very limited free time and our frustrations were getting harder and harder to ignore.

We moved to Sarasota, a small town on the Gulf Coast of Florida at the beginning of the new year.  We’ve rented an apartment directly on the beach for 2/3 the price of our old place in Queens.  We managed to escape one of the the worst winters in NYC history.  From our 10th story lanai, we watch pelicans swoop by, and we walk under the everyday sunshine along the beach with the ibis and the snowy egrets.

Most significantly, instead of working full-time at jobs that pay the bills but do not satisfy, we now take on contract consulting work that we can do from home and which offers far more flexibility.  That work pays the rent, with not much left over (yet), but it leaves time for me to write and for Ken to make films.

What prompted my friend M.’s email was my Facebook post announcing that my fiction craft workshop was beginning in a couple of weeks.  This was something I’d been unable to do much back in New York because I was too busy working at a soul-sapping job.  In Sarasota, though, this is now possible.  And it’s not only the workshop.  I’m working one-on-one with a new client on his book manuscript, I’m writing website content for an old boss, and I’m volunteering for the local aquarium’s Sea Turtle Patrol.

Over the past three months, then, the way we earn our living has changed dramatically.  Getting all the pistons firing will take more time, but economics aside, our larger plan to improve our lifestyle has already taken hold and gains more momentum each day.

And now I understand that being on the outside looking in, M. saw what I didn’t see myself:  this didn’t just happen to us.  Rather, we made it happen.  We have indeed reinvented ourselves.  Go figure!

  1. Marian says:

    Isn’t it the case that people ALWAYS see us in ways we cannot/do not see ourselves? There’s nothing like learning about ourselves from others. Keep reinventing Jude and we’ll keep telling you what we see!

  2. marusso1030 says:

    So very inspiring. Your post gives me hope that more people will take a leap of faith and begin to live out their passions. Bravo!

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