In October of 2010 I decided to leave ABC News after 32 years as a director. For most of my time there I was in love with my work. Live television was exciting, unpredictable, and with all the adreneline of any live performance. In those years I got to travel the globe… Berlin when the wall came down, Manila when Marcos fled, Cuba when Gorbachev visited Castro… to name a few. But in the past few years I found that the business had changed so drastically that I no longer felt happy when I walked into the office. Technology became the mantra, not people working as a team making the impossible possible and feeling proud of their work. It was not an easy decision to leave. So much of my identity was tied up in my idea of myself as a TV DIRECTOR, and one of the only ones working in news then AND now!
So why did I go? I think that a lot of the reason can be traced to my yoga practice. Right after 9/11 I felt the need to find both a spiritual and a physical outlet for everything I was feeling. On a whim I signed up for a class and the rest is history. The more I began to profoundly invest in my practice the more I realized that what I really wanted was not to RETIRE (although as I will be turning 60 in May this could have been an option) but to reinvent the concept of retirement and follow my heart. That may sound simplistic or formulaic but trust me it isn’t. At first I basked in the pleasure of not working.. for the first time in 30 plus years I did not work for a large corporation where I was always reachable by beeper and phone. Then came the judgment phase: the I SHOULD be working. I am TOO YOUNG to quit. So I tried a few freelance jobs in the TV world. I knew that I COULD do the work. In every case the company involved wanted me to stay and told me how GREAT I would be. It was flattering. And, in fact, I had several dark nights of the soul when my head argued with my heart. But ultimately I knew that I had chosen a new path.
Now I am looking forward to training as a yoga instructor this summer. I have started a meditation workshop series with Vitalswitch. I have started visiting museums, reading books in the afternoon, and finally after 17 years of working long weekend hours having the time to see my husband and family. My sense of space is sometimes overwhelming. A lot of people have asked me if I am bored. I am not. I think I can say that I am really happy. I still struggle with the occasional judgmental whisper in my head that tells me that I am not PRODUCTIVE. But what does that word mean exactly? I am trying to learn to redefine that and a lot of other ideas of what retirement is in this day and age. 60 is the new 40. I have many years ahead of me to do many things. But this time it will be my own inner voice leading the way and not the voices of others. People tell me that I look younger, more relaxed and there is a calm about me that they haven’t seen before. I hope to maintain that as I continue my search for a happy, balanced life.
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About the Author: Ann Benjamin is a 30 year veteran of ABC NEWS where she was the director for programs such as World News, Nightline, 20/20, and major special events. In the fall of 2010 she followed her heart and left that world to pursue her dream of teaching yoga. In July 2011 she was certified by Laughing Lotus NYC. She now divides her time between her passion for yoga and those media projects which she finds interesting and rewarding. Check out her website at www.inlightyoganyc.com.