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I’m a planner. No, really, I’m a bit obsessive about it – just ask my family. Whether it’s a day, a weekend or a weeklong vacation, I have to have a plan. 

In January 2016, I started seriously thinking about retiring. I loved my job with the National Park Service, but after 30 years, I was ready to try something new. So, you guessed it, I needed a plan. That’s where Great Escape Publishing (GEP) came to the rescue. 

I’d been receiving emails and newsletters about their photography and travel-writing programs for years. As a photographer and writer, these had always piqued my interest, but now I started to think about how they could help me formulate a retirement plan.

I immediately signed up for the April Ultimate Photography Workshop in Palm Springs. There I made new friends, attended amazing workshops with helpful instructors, and learned about the Loyalty Club. 

Honestly, the cost threw me off at first, but then I started thinking of it as an investment in my future. I talked to Loyalty Club members and reviewed my budget with them. I loved the idea of discounts on future workshops and travel. It turned out that the cost of the subsequent Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in New Orleans the following September (a $1,697 value) – which I very much wanted to attend — would be covered if I joined. 

I would also receive a 5-year membership in the International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance (a $1,450 value). There were other perks, too, but these were most important to me. Following careful consideration, I joined – and I have never regretted this decision.

Since retiring at the end of 2016, I’m a happy and thriving freelance writer and photographer. 

The freedom of working for myself each day is amazing. I’m building a website, adding to my stock photography portfolio, sending out queries for new stories, and planning a dream list of trips for the future. 

My article on “Denali’s Canine Rangers” was published in Alaska magazine’s March issue, and I’m waiting to hear back on several other stories. I’m starting the online videography program soon. I receive great support from the office staff, Loyalty Club members, and other GEP participants. 

I’m focused and excited about my work, and thanks to GEP, I have a plan for the future – and I’m loving life!

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