Good or bad, they’re always there…
Transitions—they sneak up on you. Just when you think you’re settled in, another one can start without warning. Sometimes, it would be good to plan, but for those that sweat new details, maybe suddenly realizing that you’re in a new time of life isn’t so bad.
The bigger life changes can be hard and/or exhilarating—that new job, new school, new community—dear God, will you ever learn all the names and systems?? How will you manage the new schedule when you just got used to the old one?…And don’t even get me started about moving—throwing out all that stuff (those are my memories!!) and where the *&%# is the box I need?? There are boxes everywhere!!
But ahh…the exhilaration—college—work—I got lucky on those and loved them both right away. Stressful, yes, but a “Bring It,” exciting, kind of stress. Ultimately though, the most challenging transitions gave me the most personal growth:
Any long-term relationship has its challenges, but marriage and children affect you 24/7 and influence every aspect of life. My husband, Mike, and I will be married 39 years in June and were together for five-and-a-half years before that. We haven’t dated anyone else since I was 18 and he was 20. In many ways, we’re opposites, which can be thought of as being complementary parts of a whole. Then again, it can be seen as each one being from different planets—and it was often that—we lived it:) That said, we’ve both grown and changed tremendously because of each other—listening to and appreciating each other’s very different perspectives. We’re together not because the road was without bumps, but because we managed to fill in many of the potholes.
In my 20s, I didn’t think I wanted to have them—I was devoted to my career and personal interests. Five years and three children later, I was a changed person. Being a mom was the hardest and most rewarding job that I’ve ever had. I’ve loved my career and am proud of all its accomplishments. That said, those achievements take second place to the pride that I have in the now grown adults that I had the pleasure of raising.
I have been in investments for more than 30 years. While there is still a heavy male influence, the industry is far friendlier to women, today, than when I started in the late 1970s. I started my career as a secretary and after several job changes, became a Vice President. When they were young, our children had nannies which in general, was a good experience. I opted out of the full-time job force to work from home when our oldest child approached her middle school years, though. It was 1995 and working remote wasn’t an option, particularly with the type of job that I had. So, seeking a better life balance, I said good-bye to my colleagues, my hard-earned book of business, and VP title, and developed a writing business that ultimately paved the way for future endeavors.
Opting in—The kids grew up and moved out, and I planned to go back to work, full time. The problem was, the workplace didn’t want me back—it was 2008 and the country was in the grips of the financial crisis. Not only was my background strictly financial services, I was 53 and hadn’t worked full time in 13 years. It took two years to find a job—and now, to the disbelief of friends, I was back to 12-hour days and a commute that approached an hour-and-a-half each way when the trains ran on time. And the office? Things had changed—really changed—from 1995 when we were focused on a new means of communication—electronic mail—and a new information “highway” of sorts—the worldwideweb. Yes, things were different in 2011. My salary was half of what it had been in 1995 and the position was far junior to the one that I’d left. Nine months later, the company filed for bankruptcy and I was back in the job hunt. This time it took six months and brought me to a company and colleagues that I came to love. Yet, three’s a charm—a recruiter called with a position that was hard to imagine only three years earlier. I was reluctant to move again, but my current job had changed and this was a good step up. After a long series of interviews, I was offered a job that would use the background I had worked so hard to cultivate. In addition, it brought with it recognition (I was a Vice President, once again), attractive compensation, and an outstanding team of colleagues. Jackpot!
We purchased a home in Florida, planning to move there several years down the road. In the process, we sold our home of nearly 30 years in the Boston suburbs and downsized to an apartment that was closer to the city. The move, itself, was nothing short of torture as we sent some items to the apartment, shipped other things to Florida, threw a lot of things out, found new homes for other items, and sent way too much stuff to storage. In the end, though, we had an enormous sense of freedom—we were footloose and fancy free—and felt a whole lot “lighter.”
We were thrilled to learn that our daughter was pregnant. That said, “Grandma” was not the image I’d been going for! The experience has been like none other. We watched the physical changes in our daughter, concealing our concern about some of them, during her pregnancy. We saw the graciousness and good nature with which she faced a difficult delivery, the love and strength of our son-in-law as he stood by her, and felt an even deeper connection to our daughter’s in-laws (with whom we had become friends) as the four of us waited together for the big news. And then, the prize at the end—a beautiful granddaughter—the magnificence and miracle of her new life, her innocence and our hope of what her life will be, and the overwhelming love of having her in our lives.
The Next Chapter (Spring 2018)
All good things, as they say…I got laid off and Mike was given early retirement. Thankfully, both of us were treated well by our companies. So…the move that was scheduled for several years down the road took place faster than we expected. House free, we packed up once again, and headed to our home in SWFL—aka, “Paradise.” And btw, there’s a good reason that it’s called paradise—the weather, the day-to-day existence—we love the whole thing—except of course that we miss family and friends, especially our daughter and her family.
What’s next? Who knows…? I just keep moving forward—putting our new home together, staying in touch with loved ones, and being open to new experiences. At some point, I will likely go back to work, full time, assuming that I can find the right fit. I believe that things happen for a reason and that we’re here to learn lessons. Life has always worked out for the best—I don’t see any reason for that to change now.
Until next time,
Copyright 2018 – 2022 Maggie Stenman Communications, LLC