If you knew my childhood story - which included events like only eating when the food stamps arrived - and you compared it to my current life as a retired CEO living in a beautiful suburban home, you may be curious to know what happened in the middle.
In time and with reflection, I realize what happened: I not only accepted change, I thrived on it. At times, my ability to handle change made me different from others; I could see opportunities they did not. Accepting change supported my deep-seated drive not to fail. I embraced change - and the accompanying challenges - as though there was no alternative. Recognizing and initiating change was one of the keys to my professional success.
The acceptance of change was also pivotal as I raised five children with my first husband. As I managed a 38-year career in the reinsurance world. As I lived through the sudden death of my oldest child. As I became an executive with little preparation for it. As I married and divorced twice. As I retired at the age of 56 and became a certified life coach in that same year.
Change is exciting to me. It gets my juices flowing. I know that change can be heavy, filled with anxiety, and at times, debilitating. I’ve experienced these emotions during my life transitions. For example, as I celebrated a recent birthday, I realized that I was tired. Really, really tired. After 38 years in the corporate world, living and breathing my work 24-7, I didn’t know how to stop. According to my type-A personality, my values, and my view towards responsibility, walking away from my career felt like I was quitting, giving up. But after months of serious consideration, I decided to do it. I had to.
I was anxious about this decision because I honestly didn’t know what I would do with myself if I didn’t work. It reminded me of my first real date after being married for 23 years; my date asked what I did for fun. I couldn’t think of anything – not one thing that I did for myself that was fun. I liked to take walks, spend time with my kids, and work hard. Sometimes, that was fun. But it felt like my answer should have more life to it.
I’d managed so many changes in my life up to this point. But for this transition into retirement, I knew I’d need help to get through it. I read self-help books, talked to therapists, learned to meditate, went to a nutritionist and, of course, cried quite a bit. But as I continued this journey, little bits and pieces of the learnings began to stick and I started to find moments of peace. I made major decisions, like telling my employer I was retiring. I learned to have faith and confidence that good things awaited me. I realized that I lived in the past and future - and avoided the present like the plague. I learned to be still and to be in the moment for a few minutes at a time.
These learnings were greatly enhanced by completing the Martha Beck Life Coaching Training program, which I did mainly for self-help. But as I listened to Martha and her master coaches, and as I practiced using the tools that would lead to a less chaotic, more peaceful life, I realized that I wanted to share this with others. I became a certified life coach in September 2016.
The transition into retirement has opened me up to “fun” activities; some of them I’d never have predicted that I’d be doing! I make handmade jewelry and sell it at craft shows. I work in a farm nursery where I learn more about plants and flowers. I’m reconnecting with long-lost friends from my earlier life. I practice meditation to remind myself to live in the present. I spend more time with my mom than I used to. I work out to feel healthier. I play with other ideas on how to supplement my retirement income. And, very importantly, I coach individuals who are experiencing changes in their career and in their lives.
My mission is to support anyone who has lost their true self through their life journey. Anyone who is going through a major life, career, or retirement transition, or dealing with unexpected change. Anyone who would simply like to slow down but doesn’t know how to do so. I would love to support your new journey.
Contact me to share your story. Tell me your goals. Begin your journey today.
certified life coach