Midlife Madness? One Women’s Story of Change

What happens when, at mid-life, you wake up feeling that there must be something more? this is Anne’s story. She’s now 54, long-divorced with one adult daughter.

Here’s a short career short synopsis:
From jet mechanic in the military to legal secretary to sales professional to sales management back to sales professional. And there’s a huge difference between managing and being part of a team.

In her last career, she was doing recycling – “which is pretty much, you know, what kind of trash can I buy? And now I’m doing technology sales.”

I got fed up with technology sales. And all of this occurred during my menopause. I’m very serious. All started out at about age 50 – the rollercoaster ride. From a good management position to buying trash to what I’m doing now, which is technology sales.

In technology, recycling is sort of reverse logistics – it’s where I would meet with government – federal and state and I would procure obsolete electronic equipment because there’s a lot of money in electronic equipment. There’s a lot of gold and platinum – they have a value on the market – they’re a commodity. You can’t resell government equipment. You have to break it down into the raw commodities and put it back on the market.

I moved into technology sales because I was ready for a change, but I don’t like it. I find that these kids – and they are – just kids – they’re half my age and they just don’t get it I was taught that when you’re at a job you run it for profit and you follow business ethics and you don’t cut corners. You don’t cut throats, you respect one another. There’s two type of people – there’s the kind – you know, when you walk into a furniture store and they’re all can I help you, can I help you and then there’s the kind of sales person who wants to build a relationship and develop that relationship. These kids don’t get relationship sales. They have this “what’s in it for me” mentality and I just got fed up with the whole environment. I was just fed up with these whiny, backstabbing kids. And that’s exactly what – they create drama. But it wasn’t just one company. It’s that – I mean, I’ve had other positions. I’ve some 40 within this 7 or 8 year stretch – companies that I’ve worked with – these kids – and they are kids – they don’t have what we had. They aren’t taught that businesses are run for profit – that you run it as if it’s your own business – they don’t have that mentality. They have a drama queen mentality.

I did the recycling thing for a little over a year. And I will share with you that it’s a little like a being a bottom-feeder in the food chain because you’re buying trash. I mean, so it’s like from silk dresses to jeans.  It was like going from queen to the ugly one instead of ugly one to queen.
Humbling. Very humbling.

It was a real journey. Yeah – I really started to look at me as me. I mean, me as a bottom-feeder. You know, I guess I really allowed myself to feel kicked down. It lasted until I decided to get back into technology sales. Which was 13 months ago. And I don’t know if it was brought on by menopause – I mean, I really and truly don’t what brought that on – or post-menopause. I took the job because I was frustrated with dealing with all these kids. I’m talking about the companies that are going after these young kids so that they can hire them for half of what you or I would get.

So I didn’t realize that was my next journey – my next transition, if you will. And it was a transition, because I did feel completely kicked down. I read a lot of therapy books. And start seeing a psychologist. I mean, literally, to pick myself back up. I’ve spent this whole year reading all kinds of books. I read The Art and Science of Communication: Tools for the Effective Communication in the Workplace by P.F. Perkins – she really did do a good job writing about interracial – or different groups – she writes about working with these young kids, The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, The Secret – and then I found a really good tape called The Secret Things to God – now I’m pretty darned religious. I don’t know that that had popped out, but now it’s back in. Keeping the Love You Find, 7 Habits of Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Giving the Love that Heals, Your Perfect Right, which was an excellent book by Albert Nevins.

When I was growing up – and I’m a 60’s child – late 60’s , early 70’s is when I graduated, from California, Haight-Ashbury – and I know that growing up I’d always heard about a generation gap. Well that’s what I feel I’m caught up in right now. It is a generation gap. And that’s what prompted me to start seeing Dr. B – that there was such a communication gap between myself and my peers and these younger kids.

Let’s just say when you’re kicked down, it’s a a journey to pick yourself back up. It really is. And it’s a lot of self-assessment. And its not so much of looking backwards. Its living in the now and what can I do to adjust to the now.

I read a book called Parent, Adult, Child – and that’s what prompted all this. And I must have been just on my 50th birthday or thereabouts. And I picked it up at a garage sale. And I thought, what a good book. And I guess at that point it was just a turning point for me. And I guess I allowed myself to get kicked down. And you know, the job was not bad – it’s not like I was crawling in trash or anything, but I guess I felt kicked down, because I was feeling – I knew it was trash. It was all about association, if that makes any sense to you. And I mean seriously, if you saw my wardrobe – all silk dresses – I mean, I’ve got some very nice attire here – to go down to buying trash. And I don’t know if it was the hot flashes, the lack of sleep, I mean, I don’t know if it was the whole pre-menopausal that led me to be fed up with corporate America. I don’t know if it was the body changing that led to this escalation. And I do sometimes think about that. And I wonder if there are any studies on that, because I do know that there are hormonal changes. And I opted to not take any hormones. Nope – I will not subject myself to that.

I think I came to terms with me. I’m finally at peace in my journey of life. I’m finally at the level now that I realize that everything is OK. There’s only so much – you take on jobs and go to work and come home so unfulfilled or you can just say the hell with it. And I did. When I got out of the recycling I didn’t work for three months. I spent a good month and a half not looking for work – just looking at who am I? And journaling, who am I? Where do I want to be in life? What are my goals? And it wasn’t work-related goals. You know – do I want to have my house paid? Do I want to take trips? Do I want to take life a little easier now? Now that my child is grown and out of the house, do I even want to own a house any more? And those are the things I’ve evaluating right now and assessing as far as do I want to sell my home.

And do I just want to – and I’m seriously considering – do I want to just get myself a Winnebago and travel the country. I’m seriously considering it. You know, I’ve got a good 20 years left to work, according to Social Security. And I can pick up little odd-and-end jobs – Walmart greeter, waitress, here and there. And just not have any responsibility. I’ve had responsibility for so many years. I’m to the point where I wonder do I want responsibility any more, other than to myself. And owning a home is a responsibility. Or do I want to be free like I was before I got into the working world? So I don’t know why people ever contemplate whether there would be a journey, cause I’m living it right now.

But I am at that cusp of what direction do I want to go now. I’ve worked almost half my life and do I want to work hard the rest of my life to maintain the lifestyle that I have or do I just want to become free? Because I’m not married, and I have that choice.

My heart is not in my job. It truly is not. My heart is really weighing towards selling my home – and getting a Winnebago and just journeying – just traveling and meeting people. You know – living in these HOA parks and just going from park site to park site.  I got out of the criminal justice business into the trash business industry. And now I’m in the school district industry.

I’m selling software to school districts. I’ve always worked selling to state and federal agencies. I’ve always been in sales. But I’m really weighing this HOA camping business. Winnebago – that’s the deal. And I wish I could find another 50+ year old who would like to take that journey with me and just shrug responsibility other than to ourselves.

I know I’m at a turning point. And I truly believe I’m at a turning point in my life. If I could, I would go back to school. I mean, to get a Winnebago with the price of gas being so low and sleeping in the Winnebago you know, and buying food and cooking food on gas or a charcoal grill is very cheap to live. You know, you can live on $15 a day. So it can extend out for a long, long time. To go to school, you have to have thousands of dollars or take out thousands of dollars of loans. And at my age the thought of having $20,000 or $30,000 in notes in front of me – it’s just, no, I don’t want that burden. Ten more years and I can go to college free. Ten more years, but I think they should change that rule and make it in the 50’s. You know how they talk about men having that mid-years crisis and men have it in their late 30’s, early 40’s? Well I really believe that women go through it in their 50’s.

I truly believe it and my friends who are in their 50’s are going through the same kind of change that I am and its an unexplainable change. And its not a physical change. Its more of a whole new mental playing field. Its seeing life from a whole different perspective, a whole different vision.

Despite all her personal development work, Anne seems to be a little stuck. Do you see yourself in parts of her story? If you want to see a different take – a couple who actually did sell their home and buy the Winnebago, follow the Gypsynester. If you want a partner in vamping up your own story, contact the Life Architect.

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