Sunday, May 06, 2012

Answered Prayers

There's never enough time in my life to write. Working full time, taking care of a house and yard, volunteering, trying to participate in church functions and classes, family visits--the list of things to do seems endless. I used to try to write at night, but I'm usually much too tired to write anything that's halfway good. Too often, by the time I'd finished dinner, all I wanted to do was sit in my recliner in front of the television.

After taking Margie Lawson's Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors class in January, I managed to make an attitude adjustment. I got over my belief that I needed at least two hours of writing time before I could start by making a list of writing-related tasks I could achieve in fifteen minutes. I also decided to try getting up earlier and writing then, even though I am so not a morning person.

I've been writing between the hours of five and six before I get ready for work for three months now. Somewhere in that hour, with the help of enough coffee, I wake up and the words start flowing. I've managed to actually make progress on my current novel by doing this.

It's not enough.

I've been wrestling with the decision of when to retire for over a year now. Several times a week I agonize over whether I can afford to retire now, in three months, in six months, a year. Will I have enough to live on if I take a reduced benefit from Social Security by retiring early? Will I eat up my savings in health insurance premiums?

On the other hand, I hear the clock ticking. I'm not getting any younger and I wonder if I'll die before publishing one novel, much less the dozens I want to write. Recently a coworker, many years younger than I am, passed away from a stroke. It makes you pause and reevaluate when something like that happens.

I also wonder if it's just my fear that keeps me from doing what I really want to do. I've always been conservative where finances are concerned. It comes from growing up poor, remembering days when there was no heat in the house because my parents didn't have the money for an oil delivery, and days when dinner was scrambled eggs. I kept telling myself there are times when you just have to take the risk if you want your dreams to come true. But still I couldn't commit to a firm date, even to myself.

I've prayed a lot about this decision. Keep working and hope that I'll reach full retirement age and that, when I do, I'll still be healthy enough and motivated enough to write novels? Or take that leap of faith now and hope that, if I need to, I'll be able to work part time in some retail job to supplement my retirement income? I asked God to help me choose and wondered how I'd recognize His response--if I got one.

This week, God supplied another answer.

Monday morning I found an email in my work inbox notifying me that my company was offering a transition to retirement program for employees of a certain age. If approved, you can work three days a week with full benefits, as long as you commit to retiring by a certain date. The date given is one month before my full retirement age for Social Security purposes.

I felt like I had won the lottery. Two full days a week for writing! I keep my benefits! I was doing the Snoopy dance all morning.

It was only later that I realized that this was the answer to all my prayers. No, God hadn't told me which of my options was the one I should choose. He gave me a better one.
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