Three years ago, in my late fifties, I walked out of my life. I remember waking up one Monday morning and saying to myself, “I can’t do this anymore”. I was working at a job that I’d come to loathe, after years of loving it, and I was living in an environment where I felt I’d reached a stalemate. It would have been easy to continue, but I felt trapped. There had to be more to my life. I knew it was time to jump ship, but at my age it was scary and one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.
I sold my house, got rid of most of my possessions and walked away from the working world that I was a part of, and my friendship circle too. On reflection, I realise now that I’d had a breakdown and adjusting to the change was very frightening. But I knew that I couldn’t continue to live in an environment that no longer felt right, working at a job that was wrong for me. So often we hear, ‘You only have one life, make the most of it, live each day as if it’s your last.’ But how many of us actually do that?
For years, I’d taken care of my mum, who eventually passed away suffering from dementia. Watching her deteriorate was heart-breaking. I’d raised my family, looked after other people and worked very hard all my life. I’ve had a great life and there have been some amazing highs. There have been some terrible lows too, with divorce, near destitution and sudden and devastating deaths. Now, a voice in my head said, “Change what you do, before it’s too late!”
From a very young age I’d dreamt of being an author, but I didn’t do well at school and thought I wouldn’t be good enough to write novels. My career went in a completely different direction, in the hospitality industry, and I was successful. But my writing dream never left me. Four years prior to my epiphany, I’d begun to write, cramming it into my busy life. Getting up at dawn to write, re-writing when I should have been sleeping – anything to get my novels out. And to my joy, I found success. My books sold.
Now as my body clock was ticking, my literary one was too. I had to take that leap of faith to focus on me and to write full-time. In the first few months of my new life, I sat in the Caribbean sunshine, glued myself to a laptop and wrote a book about older protagonists having fun. When I returned to the UK, I kept writing and slowly, I recovered. A new me was born and this one was happier and healthier than she’d ever been. By walking away from a life that wasn’t happy, I was able to embrace fresh challenges and it opened up opportunities that I never imagined, like being a guest speaker on world-wide cruise ships and travelling. It also enabled the unthinkable to happen: I fell in love and as I write, I am celebrating our marriage.
Whatever your age, whatever you do, don’t be afraid of coming out of your comfort zone, be afraid of staying in it.
It’s never too late to change your life.