Home Alone

Linda1What do you do at the age I am when faced with big choices, huge life altering decisions? There are forks in the road at any age, but I think as we get older either we get less brave or they get more daunting, perhaps it is a bit of both. You would think it would be easier, these choices as there are less people and things to consider yet oddly it is not.

Let me give you some background. The strangeness of it all and my thinking on the subject of big decisions at this stage of life.

After a terrible run, I ended up in a job that suits me in many ways doing work that fits my skills and background. Like any position there is always good and bad. With this one the scale is fairly equally balanced. Odd to say that, but when I really look at it with clear eyes it is quite true. The issue? I don’t know that it is stable, not my position so much as the organization itself. This frightens me to death. At my age finding work is hard, I found that out after looking for six months, running through my entire savings and nearly losing everything. It was terrifying.

Dating at 62 is petrifying, looking for work is even more so.

Every now and then something comes along though, something that causes you to stop and think, stop and question. One of those questions is always, “what if?”

What if I take this risk? What will it cost me vs. what do I have to gain.

A few weeks ago a headhunter presented me with one of those conundrums, at least on paper. Usually I read these with a jaundiced eye. This one though, for some reason it caught me. This one seemed at least on paper to have been written for me. So, with a bit Opportunity-Signof ‘what the hell’ I responded to the request for me resume, my current status and my standard hourly rate. The next day I got a call back, would I be willing to negotiate my rate by $5, it was after all a long-term contract and it came with great benefits for the right candidate. Well, sure that did make a difference.

Then nothing. For a couple of weeks. I didn’t think much of the nothing, that is how things go. Then, well they really want a local candidate so that is what they are interviewing, well that really does make sense given the type of contract. Then, would you be willing to move for the contract duration, they won’t pay travel, but they might negotiate some of the cost of the move.

Hmmmm, that is a big ask for a contract. Give me a day to think about it. With one exception I have never been asked to physically move for job and that was under very different circumstances. My answer? Let’s get through the first round of interviews, see if we even like each other and if there really is a fit then we can talk about the rest.

Businesswoman and business planWell, we did that. Now we are trying to set a schedule for the next round and I am at that proverbial crossroad, though I see it as more of a branch. What is my answer? How much risk am I willing to take? I am 62 years old, I should be thinking about retirement not galivanting off on my next damned adventure. Instead here I am considering:

Do I shut my house down, rent it or sell it.

Do I have another great purge, move some or all of my things. I could always put what I love in storage. Hell some of my stuff is still in boxes from my move to this house three years ago.

Then there are really some personal questions that have to be answered, maybe asked and answered is a better way to think about these:

For four years I have been in and out of a relationship that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Recently it truly doesn’t and it has caused a great deal of hurt. I am using this as an opportunity to escape?

Will a move to a completely new city, new state cause me to act any differently than I do today? Will I suddenly become more extroverted, get out more?

Will going to an office everyday rather than working from home force me to form more human bonds?

Finally there are the financial questions, both short term and long term that loom at my age that have to be considered carefully. We all face these at any age, but I think as we get older they become more obvious and perhaps in some cases are more perilous.

My six months of unemployment wiped out my savings and damaged my debt. I have summer-job-hunting-0812worked on debt but have not rebuilt savings. This opportunity would allow me to finish wiping out debt and rebuild a great deal of what I lost in savings, if I sold my current house and banked the equity for the two years of the contract. Yes, I have run the numbers. Debt free, I would have far more choices than I have today about many things, including:

Where I live

The types of jobs I can accept

The salary I need to live

Two years out of my life doesn’t seem huge in the face of the choice it would give me for risk2a different future. A future with less struggle and less drama. A future less tied to the past. Perhaps the choice should be easy, I wish it were so. Yet, as with every big choice there remains that looming risk of ‘what if?’

Contracts go south every single day. Projects get put on hold or contractors get let go with no warning and no cushion to bounce on. There I would be 62, strange city, strange state, no family or friends and no home to go home to. Thus my challenge. How will I answer if the position is offered? What will I do? There are so many reasons to say yes, is fear the only reason to say no?


New Middle Age

Linda_1960When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

When we are young it seems the opportunities are endless doors to the future are flung wide open and we are bulletproof.

Bad love affair? Lost job? Bad grade in a class?

Never mind, we will overcome any and all of these very quickly with a few days of lamentation, perhaps a bitch session or two with our friends and then it is back to life. This is true of most of us; we are indeed invincible and these inconveniences teach us, toughen us up for adult life.

When we are young, doors are flung wide open and we march through them, assured life will hand us the gold medal, most of us rarely reach middle age unscathed by the arrows of real life beyond childhood. I look at my own history as a long hallway, some doors flung wide open and others securely locked with blinking “Do Not Enter” signs above the jams. My future is simply the continuation of that hallway, with fewer doors, fewer choices and not nearly as many frightening outcomes as my past.

My mother once said to me, “Keep it up and you won’t see 40!”

I don’t know if she was threatening me at the time or simply receiving visions of my future, I have always suspected it was part threat and part wishful thinking. Needless to say, not only did I see forty, I will be fifty-six this year. Each decade of my life has seen real changes take place, sometimes those changes have not been of my choosing but the upheaval brought something new and in later years usually something better.

They say fifty-five is the new middle age, with this I have reached a new pinnacle a new point in life. I am no longer ‘young’, can no longer excuse my indiscretions on youth; I am not ‘old’ either, I don’t have the excuse of age or memory loss. I don’t think of myself as anything other than me, just me with all my body dysfunction brought on by injury and misuse. I think of myself as just me, with foibles and strange predilections brought on by my history and need to protect myself and control my environment.

Having reached this wonderful milestone, this spectacular new middle age of fifty-five I can only consider what is next. There was no light flashing over my head last September when this magical age was reached, in fact I believe I was sitting at my favorite restaurant having forgone the normal holiday to bright and sunny spots. I am far too young to retire and honestly couldn’t imagine life without the hustle of work, despite there are days I do not love it.

I worry sometimes, how does society view us? Those of us reaching this magical new middle age, we aren’t old; we aren’t ready to retire to our rocking chairs. Most of us, no matter the lives we have led to now are vibrant, smart and ready still to rock-n-roll, we have much to offer yet we are often sidelined. I am lucky for now, at fifty I began to contract myself rather than work as someone’s employee. This transition gave me freedom though it is a frightening freedom to be sure, especially now in our economic uncertainty. They say though reinvention is necessary and so I reinvented myself, one more time.

Each decade of our lives, we change, sometimes the change is small and other times the change is spectacular. With each transition to a new decade, we carry with us the hopes and disappointments of the previous decade and our dreams for the future. It is inevitable our dreams change as our life is changed by providence. We grow up and expand our world, with people we love and causes we align with. As our world expands, as our vision of what we are capable of grows we are enriched and we are better able to enhance the lives of those we touch.

Although the pasture ahead of me seems welcoming, I am not quite ready yet. At the ripe middle age of fifty-five I suspect I still have some hell to raise and some childish things I haven’t put away. I am guessing the secret to not growing old even as we transition from one age to the next is holding on to all those special memories, loves and lights that caused us to cherish each decade  while releasing the hurts of the past to galaxy.

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