As a self-described grammar “Nazi”, it seems a little odd that a repetitive misspelling led me to where I am today. Okay, it wasn’t really a misspelling, but more of a typo. A typo that proved to not be merely a random error, but somewhat of a epiphany… and a prophesy of sorts.

In the summer of 2009 I was in my fifth year of working at Tranter in Wichita Falls. I loved that job. I was good at that job. I was laid off from that job.

But I didn’t take it personally. The “political unrest” within the company was aggravating and the tension-filled workplace was annoying, so being gone from there lifted a weight from me.

As I shared the news of my newly found unemployment, friends responded with, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” And what I meant to type in response was how much of a relief it was. Relief. R-E-L-I-E-F. As in, I felt RELIEVED.

But my 80-words-per-minute typing fingers kept tapping out “relife.”

R-E-L-I-F-E.

“Oops! Sorry! I mean RELIEF,” I would quickly follow-up with. Haha. Funny.

But it kept happening. And I started paying attention.

“Oh yeah,” I thought to myself, “New job. New boss. New coworkers. New life.”

Soon I realized it was much more literal than that.

Since being laid off I have had the opportunity to do more than I ever thought possible, especially in a relatively short – and fast – five and a half years. Some were small things, some were big things, some of the somethings were in between. But honestly, so many were things I either wouldn’t have had the time and/or energy, or devotion, to do in my busy 8:00am-5:00pm (more like 7:00am-8:00pm) middle-management job.

I’ve been able to do more for my family - a LOT more – reducing our stress by not having to cram so much into each day. We added beautiful twin granddaughters to our family and I got be babysit them weekly. I got in the best shape I had been in since my 20s. I raised baby calves. I worked part-time. I trained for, and ran, my first half marathon. I ran numerous 5Ks and obstacle course races. I took an Emergency Medical Responder course. I certified as a lifeguard, twice. I worked five summers as a lifeguard (three of those summers I also served as pool manager). I took a class to become a certified Zumba instructor, and led Zumba classes. I even led Zumba a few times at the Archer County Relay for Life. I took an intense, time-consuming 3-month Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-Basic) class, followed by a month filled with ambulance and hospital clinical rotations, then passed the National Registry. I served on my church’s medical team.

I took an 8-week sign language class, a couple of painting classes, and worked part-time as a medical assistant. I was asked to be a guest speaker at a school several times, and I even painted the walls of a local business. I volunteered for different organizations, helped a friend move, did photography, babysat, house-sat, dog sat, and even “cattle-sat.” I organized a group of friends to meet and support different charitable organizations, prepared for and rode in my first Hotter-n-Hell (riding 50 miles on only a few weeks of training), joined a writer’s group, went to two writer’s conferences and got to be a guest at the last University of North Texas-sponsored Archer City Writer’s Workshop, and met several great writers including Jim Black, Larry McMurtry and George Getschow, and many others.

For the last three years I have been blessed with the opportunity to do something I love (WRITE) while working for two people I admire and adore. Barbara and Jerry Phillips have given me the opportunity to tell the stories of many incredible people of Archer County.

Looking back to the realization of this “relife” in 2009 when I was laid off, I could have viewed it as the end of the world. In reality, it wasn’t the end, it was merely the end of the world as I knew it. I chose not to let circumstance beat me down, but used it to propel me into a “relife,” filled with new experiences and opportunities to grow, to learn, and to live bigger than I ever imagined.

But there’s always a flip side to every coin, and “relife” is now taking me away from my weekly post at the Archer County News and leading me on to new adventures. But don’t worry, my lifelong love of writing will keep me close. I’ll still have a byline from time to time, and maybe someday a few of the books you will buy will have my name on the cover.

May God Bless you with amazing “relifes” of your own.

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