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Dare to Dream and Leap into the Life You Were Meant to Live

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Six months ago I was spending the majority of my waking hours driving the freeways of Los Angeles. Actually, I did this for fourteen years while working on my last two day jobs that were both located in Century City. Monday through Friday at 4:50 a.m., I would awake to my ringing alarm and invariably I would turn over and hit the snooze button, not wanting to leave the comfort of my warm bed. I dreaded the inevitable two-hour drive west on the 10 freeway, not knowing what I might encounter on the way. Would I become the victim of road rage or some drunken driver? Thankfully, God spared me.
Once I made it to the other side of town, I would spend eight hours each day, answering phones, setting up meetings, completing expense reports—honest, but mind-numbing work. The truth of the matter was is that while I roamed the halls of my corporate job, visions of writing my books full time and acting danced through my head. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful to be employed, to have a job, but I had reached a point in my life that I wanted more than a job, I wanted my dream. But how would I pay my mortgage, how would I stay afloat financially if I let my nine-to-five go? But I knew I had reached my wits end. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t spend two to three hours driving home anymore. I couldn’t answer another phone call, I couldn’t bind another book. I was done. I had to find a way. And I knew with God anything is possible.
So I cried out to him and He heard my cry. I discovered that at the age of 55 I could take a lump sum distribution from my 401K without penalty. How I discovered this was truly a miracle. I literally stumbled upon this information. I believe my discovery was divine. I immediately created a financial plan based on this information. It was doable. I presented the plan to my husband, who had already retired, and he got on board. Even though things were falling in place financially, it was still hard for me to believe that I would soon be able to leave my commute behind, that I would be able to live my dream life.
It has been six months since I retired and living my dream is beyond amazing! Shortly after I retired, I signed with an incredible theatrical/commercial agency – The Shawn Brogan Agency. I am acting now and have booked four jobs, including a commercial wherein I was flown first class to the east coast to shoot it. I have also been able to start a new mystery series—The Rachel Storme series, and I have recently completed the first book in that series, Justice for Jessica, that’s available on Amazon. I am in the final stages of editing the second book in that series. I am living my dream. I still pinch myself and I still thank God daily for making it possible for me to leave my day job.
I hope that my journey will inspire you and if you were unaware of the 55 rule regarding 401ks, now you know. Take advantage of it, if you can. You have to be retired from your job before you can make the distribution. Please be sure to consult with a tax specialist and a financial planner before doing so. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done!
Now stop talking about your dream and step out on faith and make it happen. Good luck and God bless.


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Born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco, playwright and author, Alretha Thomas is making her name through her pen. She started at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher picked and read her short story assignment in front of the class – that simple, loving act empowered a new writer. A graduate of U.S.C., Alretha’s plays have graced numerous Southern California stages. Her most recent production, “One Woman, Two Lives,” starred Kellita Smith of the Bernie Mac Show. Her debut novel, “Daughter Denied” was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Her second novel “Dancing Her Dreams Away,” launched in 2011 and was also well-received. “Married in the Nick of Nine” is her third novel and she recently completed the sequel, “The Baby in the Window.” Alretha says the one and only upside to her 350-mile-a-week-commute, is that it gives her ample time to come up with story ideas. When not in bumper–to-bumper traffic she enjoys going to the movies, blogging, and spending time with her husband Roy.