Tag Archives: midlife crisis

I’m Moving and I Can’t Breathe

I’m sitting at a desk that is covered with God-knows-what that requires attending to. This is the scene in my living room.

Soon to be my former living room. I am at that state in the packing that might be described as chicken-without-a-head. Every room is mid-pack, an explosion of things to pack and things not to pack. The former are the easy ones to deal with: just pack ’em.  The latter, though, are giving me grief. I can’t in good conscience throw out things that I know someone else could/would use. How many loads of things can I take to GoodWill before I just say F*** It and start pitching?

Two Days Later…

I have said “F*** it” and am filling black bags with all manner of Stuff. I have run out of black bags.

I am also running out of air…because I keep forgetting to breathe.

Part of this is the angst of packing. Part of it is the angst of leaving MidLifeBloggers and MidLife-Beauty relatively unattended at the start of The Season. Suddenly those dreams I’ve had all my life, the ones where I forget that I’ve put my baby in a box on the window sill, the ones that made no sense because I’ve never had a baby, make sense. Oh, yeah, this is my baby. In my dreams, the baby in the box when I finally remembered it was hollow-cheeked, almost dead from starvation. Today’s version is that my stats for MidLifeBloggers and MidLife-Beauty withering away to almost nothing. In both cases, I’m overwhelmed by fear and guilt–I should have remembered…I should have done better…I’m getting what I deserved….

How I Fly

I have always been a by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. This time, I’m taking it to the extreme. The moving van arrives on Sunday, taking all our worldly goods to storage in Los Angeles, where it will live until we find a place to settle. We, two adults and a large dog, will be staying at an Extended Suites motelhotelwhatever you call it near the ariport. We are taking our own towels, because I understand the ones they offer are miniscule. Also, my movable kitchen, because a month or so of fast food might send me over the edge.

A Word About My Movable Kitchen

The first time around, I was married to an actor and we traveled to rep theatres all around Britain. We lived in what the Brits call[ed] digs, which always meant sharing not only a bath, but a kitchen as well. Cooking has always been a way that I’ve grounded myself and I cannot do it without some must-have tools–like a good knife and a grater and a whisk. Part of my luggage then was an old hard-sided plaid suitcase–a relic of WWII, I’m sure–that was filled with everything I needed to make any kitchen feel like my kitchen. When I started filling up a bag the other day with must-have kitchen tools, I suddenly remembered that suitcase and realized I was doing it again.

It isn’t only cooking that grounds me; even more, it’s writing.

I feel better now. I’m breathing.

The chicken has its head again….for now.

Boomer Career Reinvention: It Ain’t for Sissies

by Lorie Eber of Aging Beats the Alternative


A major career change can shake you to your core. If your sense of self is your career, as mine was, expect a 9.5 magnitude earthquake like the one that struck Chile in 1960.

I speak from experience. My first career was “Lorie the Lawyer.” I practiced law for 23 years as a corporate litigator. I “made partner,” established and managed the firm’s only branch office for the several years, but then that “been there, done that” malaise seeped into my soul and I took early retirement at 49. My farewell email echoed Hillary Clinton: “I have no idea what I’ll do next, but I will not be at home baking cookies.”

Career-Reinvention Lesson: Don’t Take Up Golf, but Do Go See a Shrink

I was totally unprepared for the emotional impact of laying myself bare, after extricating myself from the “Lorie the Lawyer” mantle. Career reinvention is comparable to basic training; you need to be broken down before you can be built up again. Another apt analogy is Bette Davis’ witticism about aging: its “no place for sissies.” Benefit from my experience before you mimic Evel Knievel.

The first few months after my retirement I was a bubbling cauldron of angst, like a character in a Woody Allen movie. Self-doubts arrived at the speed of a bullet train barreling through the Japanese countryside. I experienced a disconnect much like Tom Hanks in Big. It was as if I had time-traveled back to my confused adolescence, yet I looked like a 50 year-old. Profound questions begged for answers. “Who am I?” “What’s my purpose in life?” “What if I’m not special (as the high school teacher recently told his graduating class)?” “What if I’m not good at anything other than being a lawyer?”

In the meantime, I distracted myself briefly by taking golf lessons, which only exacerbated my free floating anxiety. Within a few months, my clubs were on eBay, an implicit acknowledgment that my chances of becoming a decent golfer were comparable to winning the $656 Mega Millions jackpot.

My experience taught me a basic lesson: discarding a life-long identity is one of those major life stressors that warrant professional assistance. Don’t make the mistake of going it alone. Consult a shrink.

Here are my other tips to buffet the slings and arrows of embarking on a second career:

Tip #1: Check your ego at the door. You are now an inexperienced, relatively old nobody. You will not be offered Meg Whitman’s CEO position. More than likely, you’ll be begging for the honor of doing the least desirable job in your new field–on a volunteer basis. I went back to school with 18 year-olds, worked diligently in a volunteer position for a nonprofit and was later rewarded with paid positions.

Tip #2: Get used to feeling like a complete idiot. You’ll have no idea what you’re doing for some time and find yourself reaching out to colleagues the age of your grandchildren for lifelines. Be humble and grab on. I flew by the seat of my pants in learning how to effectively teach, create curriculum, recruit and manage volunteers, and become an effective speaker and a creative blogger/writer. I asked for advice from all quarters. Fake it till you make it. Know that your life experiences count for a lot.

Tip #3: Steel yourself for a roller coaster ride. Ever ride Space Mountain? It’s just like starting your own business. You need a strong stomach to persevere through the highs and lows. Remember Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Plough ahead through mistake #10,001 and beyond, trusting that sooner or later you’ll be touted as an overnight success.

Tip #4: Keep looking for those open doors: Don’t beat your head against the wall. It hurts. Instead, focus on doors that open for you and long-buried talents will rise to the surface like properly cooked gnocchi. I had no idea I had an ability to make presentations in front of strangers or tell stories through creative writing.

To all you career changers, be forewarned: hold on tight, there are Class 6 rapids ahead!

Photo credit: bankrate.com



EBay, Etsy, Death and the Last Sad Days of August

I am suffering from the dog days of August.  Either that, or I’m just plain old garden variety down.

  • I spent today alternating between eBay and Etsy, listing various and sundry for sale. Talk about a futile occupation.
  • A spate of emails came in from people I last knew in high school and, if truth be told, remember best from grade school. One of our class died. I knew his name, but damned if I could remember who the hell he was or why he was deserving of the encomiums he was receiving. Once again, I am out of step with my peers.
  • I thought about going to LA for Yom Kippur. Then I saw that I’d have to pay $300 for tickets to the temple I used to belong to. It’s very expensive to be a practicing Jew these days.
  • Every day it seems I get another email trolling for link ads on MidLifeBloggers.  Mostly I don’t respond because mostly they say something like “I am so eager to alert you to my constant reading of your wonderful site and how much your posts about college tuition and home loans mean in my life.” That constant reading must be sans vision.
  • The midlife blogging group came back from BlogHer’12 fired up to claw their way into the lucrative laps of the MommyBloggers.  There are no less than two Facebook groups devoted to this. Clearly the women populating them have a lot more free time than I do.
  • Why don’t I have more free time? Simple. Because I must be doing something productive every moment of every day. Even my sleeping must be productive. I insist on it. Clearly I was raised with a Protestant ethic. Which is curious considering my whole family is Jewish.
  • I overuse the word clearly.