Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, Beth Carpenter is talking about transitions and introducing her new book, Recalculating Route.
“And they lived happily ever after.” But what if they didn’t? Maybe the marriage didn’t work out. Maybe their career paths led them to a dead end. Maybe everything went just as planned, but now they are retired and need to reinvent themselves. “Happily ever after” isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
Often, life feels less like a bed of roses and more like a tree on a riverbank, growing from the rock. While the river keeps washing the ground from underneath it, the tree is putting out roots, desperately trying to hang on, to keep from toppling over. Over time, that tree develops a certain grace, a sense of purpose that the pretty roses will never achieve. The struggle creates the beauty.
Baby boomers everywhere are making transitions. Many, after years at one career, are making the decision to move to another, either to fulfill a lifelong dream or from necessity as their old job disappears. Sometimes, they’re starting their own business from scratch. Others are making that jump to retirement, structuring their days and their lives without the framework of a career to shape them.
Sometimes I think it’s absurd that we expect eighteen-year-olds to choose a college major that leads to a career path. What do they know about life, about the possibilities? On the other hand, a person has to start somewhere, and maybe where they begin is less important than taking that first step. Knowledge is seldom wasted. Many people move from one career to something completely different, and yet the lessons from that first career shape the person and help him or her succeed in the next. I recently read Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant. In that book, Marsha Roberts tells of the parables she has experienced in her life. She was a nurse, but later became a successful producer. The two careers seem to have little in common, but her compassion, organizational skills, and experience working with people in difficult situations undoubtedly contributed to her success in her second career.
All our experiences make us who we are, and sometimes life seems to circle around, bringing us back to our roots. A few years ago, my brother agreed to help organize his class reunion. One of the other members of the committee was a woman he’d known in high school, but hadn’t seen since, who lived in a completely different part of the state. They’re happily married now, and they’re not alone. I’ve known of several couples from the same hometown who reconnected after years of living in different parts of the country. It makes sense. They have that common ground, that rootstock from which their life took shape. This gives them something to build on as they make their transitions.
Transitions can be fairly smooth. My own path from stay-at-home mom and avid reader to writer felt like a natural progression as my children grew up. A combination of life experience and those thousands of books I’d devoured over the years gave me a base to build upon in writing that I wouldn’t have had at twenty-five.
Other times, it’s not so smooth. In my newest book, Recalculating Route, the main character, Marsha, was happily married and had retirement all mapped out when her beloved husband died. That left her without a clue on how to spend the rest of her life. She meets Ben, who is also rudderless after selling his company and retiring. The two of them have to figure out what happens next.
As we make our transitions, whether by choice or by necessity, we need to keep in mind that we are in charge of our own “happily ever afters,” and happiness involves growing and changing. Enjoy the journey.
Where you can find Beth…
Thank you, Beth for sharing your wonderful advice and insights about transitions. I just finished reading Recalculating Route and highly recommend it. Leave a comment for Beth and you could win a giveaway package valued at $50. Check out the link to the Prize Description.