For more than twenty-six years, I worked as the director of educational outreach at a Holocaust Center in South Florida. My main responsibility entailed creating programming that helped Holocaust survivors educate today’s youth about how prejudice can lead to genocide. Through our educational endeavors, the survivors touched the lives of tens of thousands of students each year.
While the job was tremendously fulfilling, all along I knew that I had been postponing my passion. Throughout my adult years, I have been keeping journals and sprinkled within these 350 volumes was my hope of someday becoming a published author. However, between a demanding job and a family to care for, there was little time left for me to write much else besides my daily journaling.
In 2011, I began to contemplate leaving my meaningful career in Holocaust education and finally writing the book that had been simmering since 1984. I spent the entire year answering questions I had posed to myself about how my life would look without a steady paycheck, without the camaraderie of my colleagues, without working closely with the survivors, and without making a difference in the way that I had for all those years. I knew that it would be a huge risk to leave and write full-time, having no idea if I would even be successful in completing the book or putting it out into the world. I also understood that being a writer would lead to vulnerable feelings that I rarely experienced otherwise. I finally made up my mind that I must be true to myself, answer to my yearning, and follow my dream.
During that last year at the Center, I spent time planning my future. I set my goals and determined that I would write the book, create and teach a course entitled "Living and Leaving Your Legacy," and volunteer with a hospice organization – specifically helping them to do legacy work with patients.
Leaving was not easy. I gave plenty of notice so that I could say my goodbyes and train someone to take my place. On my last day, I felt overwhelmed with a mixture of sadness and trepidation. I had a vision, but still I had no guarantee that my future would turn out as I had hoped.
Somehow, through it all, I never regretted my decision. By the end of December 2012, Room 732, my debut collection of short stories each taking place in the historic Hollywood Beach Hotel, had been published. I am now challenging myself to learn how to market Room 732, something I have never done before. While the experience is all new to me, within this short time, I realize that I have never been happier or felt more fulfilled.
When I look back, I see that I have made my dream come true by setting goals and devoting my time and energy toward making them happen. I understand that for me, the joy is in the journey.