A Year of Living Precariously: What is Success?

22 Jan

By Rosemarie Fitzsimmons

What does success look like?
This week marks one year since I traded my 9-to-5 job to start a freelance writing business from home. Naturally, I find myself reflecting and wondering if it was a good decision.

Financially, one could argue it was a disaster. I made one tenth of last year’s income (and much of that came from working 20 days in the old job), and my writing has yet to achieve confetti-strewing victory status. However, I hadn’t expected great riches in the first year.

So what measuring tool should I use? How about the divided paper list of minuses (regrets) and pluses (encouragements).

Do I have regrets? Absolutely. I regret missing out on the office Fantasy Football league this past fall. Every Sunday, every highlight, every game promotion—pretty much every time I saw a football on television, I wondered about the ol’ gang. Like, who had Demaryius Thomas (my money’s on Rob) and who in their right mind would had the good fortune to pick the Eagles defense?  More than that, I miss the Monday morning recaps and Friday trash talking. Big regrets there.

And I regret being away from people I came to love over my 12 years there. I miss the get-togethers, the Styrofoam rocket wars (probably shouldn’t mention those, but it’s not like I would get in trouble) and the electrifying brainstorming sessions, especially those first moments where we’d see a solution forming and ideas would just burst forth, each one building on the last. I hadn’t anticipated how deeply I’d miss my coworkers. I miss the creativity, the humor (the cat rarely laughs at my puns the way Albert did, although the cackle is eerily similar), and the practical jokes…knowing I’m potentially alienating a sizable portion of the PW readers by not giving the entire story here, I feel compelled to tell the gang that I STILL giggle when I think of mailing the Justin Bieber doll to Puerto Rico.

Surprisingly, that’s it.

On the positive side, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the way my family met many financial situations head-on this year and emerged, not only okay, but with far less debt than we’ve had in many years. How is that even possible? Well, to be honest, we did kick a few cans down the road, but every time there was truly a need (broken vehicle, vet bills, oven replacement), the money just seemed to show up. I realize the Bible teaches us that this is just God’s way, but it’s still a concept that surprises me every time I witness it. One day, just as I was starting to panic over our empty fridge, my neighbor came over out of the blue and handed me a check for walking and caring for her dog. I hadn’t asked for payment, nor expected it, and she wouldn’t take it back. It was just enough for a trip to the commissary.

Last year I wrote one book, 15 short stories, and about 30 blog posts—all fulfilling, fun work. The short stories provided enough income that I could keep writing, and now I’m looking at the possibility of having a book announcement for you by the end of next month.

I also met many new people through the freelance work I took on this year. They’ll never replace my gang, but they keep me from talking to myself and I enjoy them immensely.

Best of all, my heart is happy. I’m doing what I love and the peace of mind is incredible—not to mention the short, snow-less, and traffic-free commute. Despite what may look like (and at times feel like) stalling, I know I’m on the verge of something. I’ve learned to be content in the waiting, even though I don’t know what or when it will occur.

As I look at my list, I’d have to say the plus side is the weighted side.

Yesterday I sat at a table with some friends, and we were discussing how you know if you’re on the right track. Becky pointed out that the apostle Paul, who penned many of the letters in the Bible, and who we all know was on the right track, died with no clue that his letters would still be around more than 2,000 years later, changing lives by the millions.

I can wait a bit longer.

Road in the woods

Can’t see where the road leads, but I’m loving the walk.

So, what is success? I still don’t know. But in my annual State of the Rose report, I can say with confidence, I’m at peace, I do believe I’m right where God wants me to be, and I’m ready for another year of this.

Also, if the fantasy league ever decides to open the roster to non-employees, I’m there. I still won’t take the Eagles defense, but I’m there.

5 Responses to “A Year of Living Precariously: What is Success?”

  1. Mark Brown January 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Rose, may I join others in affirming your courageous and godly choice. I KNOW you’re on the right track!

  2. Albert Martinez January 22, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    E-A-G-L-E-S! We do miss ya! Wow, hard to believe it’s been 1 year. Your courage to take that first step without knowing where it would lead you is inspiring. Looking forward to a signed copy of your book. God Bless ya!

  3. Ed Speare January 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    Well done Rose–Congratulations on your first of hopefully many years to come. Blessings, Ed Speare

  4. Allyn Bamberger January 24, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    I so enjoy your writing, Rose, and I, too, know you are on the right track. Keep on hiking down that road and God will guide your every step.

    • Kathleen Grunden February 21, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

      Rose, your writing is such a joy and mind-opening. I look forward to each “edition” and am so proud of your courage and so thankful for God’s wonderful gift of writing He has given you.

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