Redefining Success

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Kathy Bryson talking about letting go of expectations and heading off the beaten path.

Here’s Kathy!

kathybrysonWhen Joanne asked me to write about my second act, I was intrigued. I’m currently reading Between Land and Sea and laughing in recognition. I think that’s the first thing you learn if you make a change at mid-life. A lot of us realize somewhere in our forties or fifties that we really want to be doing something else and, whether through circumstances or conscious decision, head off the beaten path. You’ll be in good company.

When I left corporate America for teaching, I met bicyclists who were training for races on weekends, artists who worked craft fairs around temp jobs, and poets who taught night school. There was an amazing wealth of people and interests that had nothing to do with ad copy! My particular skill set was welcomed, however. I got to know people by working on their web promotions and learned I as I transitioned into part-time jobs and, ultimately, writing my own stories.

My background is 20+ years of advertising and marketing. I worked for Fortune 1000 companies and managed major campaigns. And like many, I bottle-necked somewhere in middle management, where positions start to disappear and everyone fights for the same budget and recognition. In my last job, my boss literally could not shut up from sheer stress. She talked non-stop from the moment she walked in the door until we finally escaped at the end of the day. It was infuriating, it was funny, and it was sad. I finally walked when she put me on notice, saying I couldn’t write headlines.

I had been working towards a change anyway. I’d gone back to school to get the credits I needed to teach and was moonlighting at my local community college. The timing wasn’t perfect. Since then, I’ve struggled with having hours cut and some of the weirdest state legislation regarding standardized testing you ever saw. And I don’t regret any of it. Instead of sitting in a cubicle waiting for retirement to enjoy my life, I’m sitting on a futon, drinking a second cup of coffee, and wondering how a toad managed to get in my front door peephole and how he’s going to get out. He’s a fat little guy.

The part that was hard was letting go of my expectations. I grew up in California during the first computer boom when everybody was going to be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. I have no problem being an ‘entrepreneur,’ but it’s taken me awhile not to beat myself up because I wasn’t wildly successful. I don’t make big money, I don’t have guaranteed employment, I have a small house, and my car is fifteen years old. It took me a long time to realize that I was the only one making the comparison and to silly expectations. No one has a guaranteed income, there’s never enough money, and the house is just fine. I will probably replace the car since the door handles are falling off; my brother’s hunting a used one for me.

Ultimately, that was the best lesson learned out of this whole transition and my one suggestion. There’s no point in living a supposedly successful life if your reality is just miserable. Ultimately I can live without success because I am living. As my leprechaun pointed out, “It’s never just about the money!”


feelingluckyMegan O’Malley pinched a cute guy and accidentally captured a leprechaun. Who’d have thought a perfectly normal guy – okay a bit short – would have such a bad attitude about giving away his money?! Megan may be millions richer, but she’s also got an angry leprechaun camped out on her sofa, trying to keep her from becoming the business mogul of her dreams!

Fergus O’Reilly cannot figure out what he did to upset the Queen of the Fairies. He was playing a wedding when a drunken lady pinched his ass and the Queen declared him caught. Now he’s broke, homeless, and hustling to stop the lovely lady with the wandering fingers from spending his money! This would be so much easier if she wasn’t cute, caring, and determined to help with his so-called money addiction!

Where to find Kathy…


Joanne here!

Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey, Kathy. Feeling Lucky sounds simply delightful. I’ve just picked up the e-book and look forward to reading it.


3 responses to “Redefining Success

  1. Pingback: Second Act Wisdom |

    • Hi Christy,

      It is amazing what we spend a lot of time working for that turns out, I could live without. For example, I like clothes as much as the next woman, but I don’t miss suits or heels! When I had time to think about what I wanted, turns out I wanted much simpler.

      This is a great series. I’m definitely going to have to keep following everyone’s story!

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