Before making the jump to becoming a full-time freelance writer, Carol taught high school for years in Peel region. The connection and emotional rewards of working with students are what kept her involved but the restrictive structure of a school day began to choke her need for freedom and creativity; the feeling of being institutionalized was the opposite of how she had wanted to live. But now, the uncertainty of the freelance life has energized her and allowed her to return to her love of writing and days filled with daydreaming and creating. The element of the unknown has “breathed new life into her once sad balloon”.
Within 3 months of leaving teaching, Carol had her first piece published in the Globe and Mail.
She finally feels like herself again.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
Abandoning a 6 figure salary with a pension and benefits to become a freelance writer with little or no income to start. Two very different worlds and I prefer the latter! I have three children and I would say they are finally seeing the real me.
Self-expression, freedom, and creativity were nearly missing from my life before and I rationalized their absence because, on all other accounts, I was successful. I had been using the wrong barometer for success all along.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
I feel most powerful when I am daydreaming out loud, traveling, and observing the world. I feel like I am the best version of myself when I am in conversation with people and friends and I am inhaling their stories. Learning about other people – their lives, thoughts, secrets, worries, and hopes – is what fuels my ideas and stories and I feel empowered by that authenticity. I am so grateful when people share and connect.
What are the top 3 most important things to you right now?
Quiet time to think and dream, writing, and my kids (family).
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
A constant and nagging inner dialogue with myself to remind me to stay on track, serve my goals and grow the hell up and stop people pleasing!
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
My future right now has a bit of a selfish bent to it. I am focused solely on creating a body of work that I can be proud of. After years of focusing on my kids, husband, staff and students at school and ignoring the voices in my head, I’ve decided to move the spotlight. Centre stage is being given to those voices and thoughts in my mind and everything else is just slightly off stage – still in my sight line, still in my care, but the heat is really on my writing. I’ve had to reconcile that this is what has to happen for me right now and it may not be everyone’s ideal situation, however, I will say, the kids think it’s cool!
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
Instincts. I think we all have very childlike instincts about what we wanted for our life, what we imagined we could be, and often those instincts are rooted in something that is pretty close to your most authentic self. Adult responsibilities and the ugly notion of ‘limitation’ is often what overpowers our instincts to try, to risk, and to trust. It can be stifling.
How can people connect with you and your work?
The best place right now is through my writing at Myselfthink.com.