Saturday, June 4, 2011

A New Direction

For the last 18 months or so, I’ve been writing about work and transitions.  I’ve written about how work is changing – especially for those “of a certain age” – primarily those of us of the Boomer generation.  I’ve written about the ability to articulate one’s value to prospective employers, the importance of using social media to market one’s skills, and the power of story to give our lives meaning.  One thing I haven’t written about is my own story.  Blogger Francisco Rosales writes Why It’s Important to Humanize Your Blog Content.  So, taking his cue, future blog posts here will concentrate on my – that is mine and Camille’s – story.  Our hope is our story, what we’re experiencing in our midlife, will be of benefit – or at least of interest – to others experiencing similar transitions.

The title of this blog is Second Acts: Musings on Careers & Transitions – Advancements and the Occasional Retreat.  It’s a fair description of what Camille and I have been experiencing since we met.  We’re both of the Boomer generation; not in our first marriage; on the cusp of our early 60s; looking forward to a new – and improved – stage of life, which is not retirement.   Our story unfolds below…

"I was on my way to Hawaii before I met you," she said; "I need an ocean; I hate Denver."

"Well I'm not moving to Hawaii, I won't do well in the tropics," I countered.

So began the dance between Camille and me as we tried to figure out the rest of our life together.

We had met and married a year or so before this conversation began.  Suffice it to say, this was not the first marriage for either of us.  In our mid-50s we were exploring new paths in a new life together.

The compromise was relatively quickly reached: Portland, Maine.  We both knew and loved Maine, and it had the requisite ocean.

But there were things in life that had to settle first: I had a son still in high school; then Camille's daughter had a daughter.  Camille needed to make sure her granddaughter was on her way to growing up safe.

Another couple of years passed, we were now in our late fifties.  Neither of us was satisfied in our job; kids were on their own; grandkids were thriving.  One evening, Camille was complaining about work: about how much longer she could continue to function in a dysfunctional system.  She led the mental health team at a correctional facility.  I noted we had been talking about Maine for a few years, but had never put a date on the move.

She replied, "how about a year from now?"

"Done!  September 2011."

OMG! Now we had committed.  We moved in with her son to save money.  Over the next few months we downsized – getting rid of extraneous items we decided we could live without: furniture, clothing, books.

We adjusted to a different living experience: being part of a larger household; living in a house that wasn't ours; working around the routines of others.

And we worked on what we would do – what work we could do – when we moved to Maine.  Neither of us could afford to retire at 60, but we weren't sure what, exactly, we would do to bring in revenue.

We knew we wouldn't be employees.  I had the vague idea that I would continue some sort of the career coaching that I was doing in Denver.  But I didn't just want to write resumes for people looking for their next job. I wanted to work with people looking to make a real change in their lives and I wanted to write about their efforts.  Beyond that, I had no real idea of how that would manifest.

Next: Camille’s response.

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