Starting Over in Your Second Act
Note: This post originally appeared as a guest article on sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au, a blogging friend’s site in Australia. She asked me to talk about what life after 50 looked like for me. In my case, that was a little complicated. I thought I ‘d share it here. You’ve heard some if it before- sorry! So here’s my story about the joy of new beginnings.
I’m well past 60, and I happen to think I’m rocking it!
But it didn’t always look this way to me. It seems like just yesterday, and yet a lifetime ago when my life imploded.
The Short Version
Six years ago I took an exit package and left a pretty successful executive level career in the travel industry.
Two weeks into my new life, my long-time partner went downstairs to make coffee and collapsed. He died that day.
Three weeks later my mom died.
So, it was a rough patch.
In a matter of 4 weeks, no job, no partner, no mom.
And the silence in my home was deafening. I spun for a year or so then knew I was in trouble if I didn’t make something happen.
The job market does not love a 60 year old woman. And honestly, I didn’t love it back. My days of commuting, board rooms, and corner offices were done. And so I knew I had to reinvent my life and myself.
Finding the beginning in what seems like the end
In the beginning it was mostly about personal recovery.
But at the same time that I was picking up the pieces of what had been my life, I knew I had to find a new way of being in the world.
It took time. Two years to be exact.
And it took tools.
Journaling, emotional healing classes, meditation, yoga, self-help books, retreats.
All those things you do to find a thread of yourself.
And still, every single day, I did something to build my future and new life.
I was a traditional marketing person in a digital world, so the outlook was not great.
I took free webinars, followed digital marketing experts, did research, talked to people I knew – All to try and regain my relevance.
Note: If you’re struggling, healing or starting over, I highly recommend this. Healing is not passive. Do one thing every day that is proactive. That’s the beginning of taking back control. Read a blog, go somewhere new, cook a new recipe. Do something!
Every couple of days I’d pull out the white board “old school” style and list every possible thing that I could do moving forward to make a living in my own way. I still have that board in my garage as a reminder. (“Spoiler Alert” Not one of them involved a corporate structure, commute or HR department.)
I knew I didn’t have much longer financially before I had to get cracking.
My dream of writing novels surely wasn’t going to pay the bills.
What did I want to do?
What was I qualified to do?
Who did I know?
When Recovery Turns Into Discovery
And then one miraculous day, recovery began to turn into discovery. Life was getting interesting again.
A former colleague knew I had a penchant for writing and called to see if I wanted to help out in his new business. He was starting a magazine to promote the very exclusive portfolio of resorts he represented. Heck yes! And soon I was traveling about the world to experience these fabulous resorts and then write about them. Curacao, Costa Rica, Panama. He couldn’t pay me much, in fact, sometimes not at all. But that was ok. I’m not ashamed to say I’ll gladly work for travel. And more importantly, I was back in my groove again. This has since led to doing a magazine for one of my top clients, an ultra-luxury resort in Puerto Rico.
Not long after, fate put me in a position to start working with a couple smart young guys in their digital marketing company. Again, through a friend of a friend. I was clueless, but they knew I had good contacts, and that I wanted to learn. And that I did. I still work with them today. We work “virtually” 95% of the time – think yoga pants and tea in my own home office, with my pup snoozing at my feet. We talk many times throughout the day and have developed a deep friendship. I’m happy to say they are “age-nostic” and rarely remind me that I’m their mom’s age.
It would not be exaggerating to say they saved me.
Purpose, friendship, financial security. The entire package.
And I still work with them today. Having said that, I am always looking forward to the next thing. It’s in my DNA. Always watching for the next evolution of me, not because something is lacking, but because I am open. Open to whatever comes next. After all, if there’s nothing new to come, we may as well close the book, right? Next chapter.
Second Mojo- The Blog
A couple years ago, we were working with bloggers on behalf of some of our clients. As a frustrated writer, I thought, “I could do that!” But what would I blog about? The name “second mojo” seemed to say it all for me, and so secondmojo.com was born. I’m new to blogging and just finally launched a couple months ago. But I’m loving it. For me, blogging is building an expanded family. I love to write and I love to research. And mostly, I like to laugh, so I try not to take myself too seriously.
I blog about all sorts of things, from my 5 month alcohol experiment, to my personal survival guide to getting through the rough stuff, to why spaghetti squash rocks.
I’m not going to lie. I was petrified to hit “publish” on that first blog. But I did it.
Checking google analytics to see that my posts have been read in Auckland, Scotland, UK, Australia? Now that’s a thrill. To have women reach out about the Alcohol Free post and tell me they get it, that it made them feel better to see they were in good company? Gold!
My tagline is “Life Hacks for the Second Act” What does that mean?
It means I love to explore every aspect of life.
Yesterday I may have been in search of the perfect pot pie recipe and managed to execute a respectable version.
Today I’m about my meditation practice and jazzed about a new Deepak and Oprah 21 Day Series.
Tomorrow, I’m going to document some of my favorite alcohol free craft mocktails.
If that sounds a bit scattered, even frenetic, it’s not.
It just means there are so many ways to find joy in life and it has taken me the vantage point of being 60+ to realize that.
And I love to share the things that make me happy, make me smile a bit or make me think a little more deeply than usual.
Second Mojo- The Life
So present day.
Somewhere along the line, I have discovered gratitude.
I’ve discovered peace.
I’ve experienced the miracle of reinvention.
I like to think of this as my time.
I’ve never been more self-assured.
I’ve never been more centered or more comfortable in my skin.
There are a few non-negotiables for me now.
I try not to miss in my daily walk – around the park, along the ocean, whatever suits my whim. It’s centering, relaxing and soul soothing.
I try to do some form of meditation wherever I find myself, even if it’s just a few minutes of quiet reflection in the early morning hours, with a couple candles going, before the lights go on and the blinds come up.
I separate myself from people who bring me stress.
And I don’t do much that I don’t choose to do.
At 60 plus, life is finally about following my soul on a daily basis.
It’s about giving myself permission to ebb and flow with my soul, and to do whatever I darn please.
Ahhhh…the sweet, sweet, sixties. (60’s)
And I am living my dream after all. Yes, I am.
Does it look like I expected? No, but it seldom does.
After all, dreams always morph and shape shift on us, right?
Am I living on an island writing that elusive novel? Nope.
But even better, I am writing, and I get to write whatever, whenever, wherever I darn please.
And that’s just fine with me.