Veteran news anchor Brenda Wood has announced her upcoming retirement from WXIA 11Alive in February 2017 after 20 years with the station and 40 years in television news. In her own words, she explains why she's leaving the business.

My heart is pounding. I'm so excited I can hardly breathe.

Today is the start of a new journey for me.

Today I'm announcing that in February I will retire from the anchor desk at WXIA-TV. I chose February because it will mark 20 years at 11Alive, and 40 years for me in the television news business. 40 years!

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It's time. As in, time for a change.

I've decided to finally follow my passion, to pursue my longtime dream to develop, produce and give creative voice to new and meaningful artistic projects outside of news.

I'm announcing this now so there won't be any speculation about why I'm leaving. 11Alive wanted to extend my contract. I chose to walk away because I feel the time is right.

No question it will be hard to say goodbye to all my friends and the great folks at 11Alive, because we're like family. And it's been a great ride.

At some point, if you're going to follow your dream it means you have to jump, even if it's in the 2nd chapter of your life. I can't ignore the calling anymore.

That said, I want to thank you for allowing me into your homes every night over the years and trusting me to bring you the day's news.

And Thank you, most especially, for all the love and support you've shown me.

I never imagined my career in this business would last so long. #Grateful #Blessed

Now, in just a few months it's on to Act two.

And I can't wait to see what's next.

Send your well wishes and thoughts to Brenda on her Twitter account.

WATCH: Colleagues react to Brenda's announcement %INLINE%