Life is full of ups and downs. If you’re a woman of a certain age, like me, there’s a very good chance that you’ve spent a large part of your life caring for other people or managing a household. It’s not unlikely that you’ve put yourself aside to manage the day-in day-out tasks of running a home, often in tandem with having a career.
We’re women. We’re nurturers. It’s what we do.
That’s all well and good until the people you’ve made your priority no longer need you in the same way they used to. You know what I’m talking about. The kids grow up and go off to university. Sometimes they move back in and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, marriages come to an end. Or maybe a career ends abruptly. The project of finding a new path can take months, even years.
When these monumental life shifts happen, it’s time to ask yourself: “What’s in it for me? What’s next in my book of life?”
I’m the sort of woman who is always better off the busier I am. I need that daily purpose and schedule. And although I’ve had many different careers, nothing really stuck during these past 30 years. Some were incredibly fulfilling, while others were time-fillers. It wasn’t until these last three to five years — once I stopped running from whim to whim about what might interest and fulfill me — that I truly found my centre, my passion and my calling.
Sounds corny, I know. And it might even come across as “privilege” to have the luxury to wait until I found work that ticked off all the soul and spirit boxes. But I challenge you to not be too quick to judge. This was about re-entering the workforce and at the same time reinventing myself. I wanted to take the time to envision what it was that I would love to do. No matter the pay grade, I totally believe with all my heart that it is in us to create the life, the job and the next chapter of our lives exactly how we want it to be.
Take me, for example. I left school with a high school degree, with my gap year ending in a pregnancy. With this new reality, I never did get the opportunity to get a post-secondary degree. I decided if I was going to be a mother, I wanted to do that full time. But there was still that super ambitious “make your own life happen” person inside of me. What was I going to do to help honour and fulfill that part of myself? I’d tried to make a living from both what I was passionate about, as well as jobs that paid the bills. I had already been an actress, a professional dancer, a waitress, a bartender, a saleswoman, an office manager and a business owner. What on earth was there left to be without a degree? There I was, mid-late 40s, feeling lost. There were my kids, all living their own lives and doing their own thing, my husband who was extremely busy with his career — and then there was me. Who was I, now that my day-in day-out mom role was behind me?
There were days I couldn’t even get out of bed I felt so empty, so hopeless. The role that I had identified with for 27 years had come to an end, and I knew that staying home to simply manage the life of my husband and myself was not nearly satisfying enough for the next 30 to 40 years of my life. So, in order to figure out how to make the next chapter of my life as rich as the earlier ones, I did a few things.