What was it that made me realise it was time to re-evaluate my life and career? Was it any of the following?
- Driving 2,500 miles a month, on average.
- Five RTAs in seven years, including one vehicle write-off.
- Being a regular guest at several hotels in the Holiday Inn brand.
- Escalating blood pressure.
- Inability to attend Parish Council meetings due to work.
Probably a combination of all if the above. As a pagan, I would celebrate the Spring and Autumn Equinox, with a promise to seek balance in my life. It wasn’t happening, not in the last seven years. And for what? What did I gain? I had a good salary, which is generally seen as a mark of success. I had a decent car on the driveway. I was able to support my son through university. We had three family holidays a year. But …
I was tired. I was physically and mentally exhausted. My blood pressure was dangerously high, and my diabetes was out of control.
It would take a day at least to relax into being on holiday. My ‘hobby’ of writing urban fantasy became more of an outlet to pour emotions I couldn’t voice for fear of appearing weak. As I mentioned, five RTAs, albeit all but one were rear-impacts where I was the victim. The one involving a vehicle write-off? That was due to being tired, having to drive two hours to reach a destination by 0800, as my employers were cutting back on hotel stays as it affected the profit margin. Trust me, I would not have been on the road at 0550 through choice.
I accumulated a lot of Holiday Inn Reward points such that I was a Platinum member of their loyalty scheme. I was a regular guest at the Holiday Inn Scotch Corner such that the barman knew my favourite dinner order, but in seven years, I never had the energy to use their rather decent looking swimming pool. The same could be said for several other hotels. I would eat my dinner and maybe work on my current novel, but I would be too tired to exercise, even though it was essential if I wanted to stay healthy.
I have always been keen to represent my village, such that I served as a Parish Councillor on two occasions. I had to resign the second time, as I found it impossible to attend meetings. That was despite having a note in my diary of the dates. But work meant that I might be away from home.
The crux came in early 2018, when the risk of redundancy became real. I had known from 2017 and before that it was a risk. There was a crossover between my sales territory and that of three of my colleagues. An attempt had been made to ‘encourage’ me to leave, such that when the notice was given, I had decided that I would hold out for the best package that I could squeeze.
So, there I was. Redundant at the age of fifty. My severance package meant that I had enough to support my family for six to eight months. Surely I would find another job in that time, I did also sign in for benefits, only to discover that thirty years of working without interruption, the last ten of which were as a 40% tax payer, entitled me to £34 per week as Jobseeker’s Allowance, for which I had to trek into the Job Centre every fortnight to ‘sign on’.
But, I realised something. My heart wasn’t into finding another job in the medical sales industry. So, I used the time to examine my options. Could we live on a lower salary? Medical sales was described to me as the job with the golden handcuffs. I also helped my parents as they were downsizing. So many things accumulated and to what end? There was the health issue. I had a recent scare over throat cancer.
My religious path has demonstrated to me that much in my life happens for a reason. Even the bouts of anxiety and depression, given the support I have received from true friends. That was where I put my trust. It was well-placed. On one of the dreaded group sessions at the Job Centre, we were introduced to Darren, who was looking for people for The Works store in Cambridge. He could only offer a four-hour per week contract, but he reckoned that it would be more than that. I had nothing to lose in talking to him.
After a twenty minute discussion, he asked me to submit a CV online as that was their system. I did, but received a rejection. A month later, we were told he would be in on the next day. I decided to ask him why, after our positive discussion, I had been rejected, particularly if he was still recruiting. It transpired that he did still want to see me, the four-hour contract turned into eight-hours, and could I attend an interview at the store the next day. Another competency interview and bearing in mind this was my first job, at the age of 51, in retail, I left the store with a start date of 17 September.
I discovered that Darren had felt that I was capable of much more and had submitted my details to Gail, the Area Manager, with the potential for a store manager role. To cut a long story short, I was interviewed by Gail and offered the role of Manager of the Newmarket store.
So, there you have it. After much consideration, I have decided that the stress and anxiety of working in medical sales was not worth the salary. Yes, I earn less, but the difference in tax allowances mean that I have a net salary not far short of my previous job. More importantly, even those issues my colleagues view as stressful are nothing. Twenty years in medical sales did teach me transferable skills,
Now I go home each night. I eat with my family. My dogs know who I am. My diabetes is under control and my blood pressure in improving. All because I dared to take a risk.
Come 1 December, after three weeks of training, I shall take over as Store Manager of the Newmarket branch of The Works.
So why is this important to me as a writer? Time. I have time to write again, time to research. Time to enjoy writing, rather than seeing it as an escape from stress only. This whole things taught me an important lesson. I used those first months after being made redundant to write. Over seven years, my writing and characters had matured, so I took the opportunity to revaluate where my series was bound. The pleasure in writing was restored. Work life balance is essential. It is not a nicety.
RELEVANT LINKS FOR JO PILSWORTH
Paranormal may not be your thing. Urban fantasy may not either. But who knows? I may be one of your friends new favourite author.
Merysekhmet (US link): https://t.co/fFOUm5MHUs
Alpha (US link): https://t.co/IRZLR92AFu
Merysekhmet (US link): https://t.co/fFOUm5MHUs
Toho: (US link): https://t.co/oKtbDgrqiHhttps://t.co/mGMuJWd6Xd