I got a bit distracted while planning for my big Sunday cooking marathon. Normally, I spend the entire day preparing and freezing my meals for the upcoming week. Sometime in between the spicy marinara sauce and herb-roasted chicken strips I started thinking about some important defining moments I’ve had over the past 10 years and I felt compelled to write.
At the age of 58, I was an early-retired woman planning to start a new chapter of life, mostly focused on a long list of delayed leisure activities. My retirement bucket list included all of the things I’d put off when I was working with my ex-husband in a high stress, real estate investment, development and property management company. However, like it normally does, life happened and made me re-think everything. I became suddenly single and I needed to go beck to work to improve my financial and mental health. I ditched my jogging suits and resurrected the business suits and heels.
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” John Lennon
We got divorced during a brief test drive of retirement living. It was my choice to re-enter the world of work but the market crash of 2007-08 helped me along. At the local business networking meetings, I was usually one of the oldest in the room. Undaunted, I revamped my resume and applied for hundreds of jobs. I got rejected time and again. And then I got depressed.
It became evident to me that I no longer fit in. I wasn’t an up and comer and no one referred to me as a major player or marketing guru. I was a one hit wonder and yesterday’s news. I almost gave up.
As I was leaving the family home, my son decided to settle in Berlin Germany. Both of my parents had passed away. My retirement savings all but disappeared during the crash. My retired friends moved to be closer to grandkids or they headed for milder climes. I was experiencing a series of losses and, wouldn’t you just know it, even my damned cats died! I got stuck in my own later-life-divorce-hell while fuelling my misery with Italian food and red wine.
At the local workshops for employment-seekers, I affectionately became known as the token older worker. Eventually, I knew there was no choice but to embrace the moniker. It finally occurred to me I also needed a new understanding of the local economy and available opportunities. I desperately needed a new attitude as well.
Solution? Practice radical acceptance. Instead of hiding my grey hair, I enhanced it. Instead of denying my age, I flaunted it. It didn’t take long to realize a new “silver economy” was peeking up over the horizon and I that changed everything!
Note: At the age of 60, I crossed over and started a new career in the “seniors’ services sector” the term used to describe the seniors organizations, institutions and service-providers in the community. With sponsorship and support from a local organization and provincial funder, I created a plan to assemble a team to interview and survey over 1,000 baby boomers, people like me and a new generation of so-called seniors. The goal was to find out what they wanted and needed. This research provided new understanding, meaning and purpose and eventually became the start of a new career.
Gotta fly – I think the chicken breasts are done. No pasta.