I’ve never understood why people are so afraid of change. Life changes every single day, and so does how you feel about it. I have faced tragedies with grace, and fallen to pieces over minor setbacks. I am used to struggling, and fighting, to get what I want, and to keep from losing it. Sometimes, life comes easily to me, and sometimes it seems that no matter what I do or where my heart is, nothing goes the way I’d planned.
Michael and I have been at a crossroads for what seems like years. We both gave up our art careers to concentrate our energies on surviving, and while we are both as type A as they come, we just could not decide on a direction for our futures. We never really factored in how the economy was impacting our ability to get out of the mess we found ourselves in; we both thought it was something we were doing, that we could change our circumstances through sheer force of will and by redoubling our efforts.
In some ways we were right; in the past year we saved our house from foreclosure, put some money in the bank and decided on a direction for our future. We managed the impossible in just six short months, but we’ve also paid a high price for it. After working twelve hours a day, seven days a week as a whitewater raft guide this summer and putting every penny he made into the bank, Michael fell off the top of a whitewater raft bus a week before RV school started. He suffered a minor concussion but dug into school anyway and is number one in his class. On my way back from getting him set up in his new apartment in Largo, I discovered that the company I work for decided to move my division to the Phillipines in mid October, leaving me without a job (or the choice to take a job I would hate). A week after I returned home, I fell in the backyard and broke every bone in my ankle. I had to have emergency surgery and will be in a cast for at least another four to six weeks. Because I am on medical leave, I still have a job even though my division no longer exists, so I can’t work, but I also can’t collect unemployment.
One of the great benefits of age however, is understanding that even though the last few weeks have not been optimal, nothing lasts forever. We went from having no idea what to do with ourselves for the rest of our lives at the beginning of this year, to deciding on a totally new career path and working to make it happen in less than six months. Michael is just two short weeks away from being certified as an RV Technician by the RVTC, with the ability to replace, install, or repair everything from air conditioning units to water heaters, and from awnings to tow packages, in every type of recreational vehicle you can imagine. We plan on spending six months of the year in Asheville, and six months of the year on the road, which should suit both our pocketbooks, and our wanderlust, just fine. There are a few other projects in the offing, not the least of which is the whitewater raft guide intensive for baby boomers next summer, baby boomer TV, and whatever else happens to capture our fancy that other boomers can relate to long the way.
A very wise and amazing friend of mine and I were talking not long ago about how damaging this economy has been to baby boomers in particular, and some of the reasons why. We decided that it’s impossible to work harder, or even wiser, to change the trajectory we are on, not with the perfect storm of cutbacks, wage reductions and age discrimination to overcome. I still think most boomers feel there is no way out of the mess we are all in, but clinging to what worked before isn’t the answer. Take a deep breath, step out of the box, and look for ways to challenge yourself. Some things may work, some things may not, but holding fast to what you know won’t change the fact that that someday, you will be gone from this earth. Have the courage to do something different, even if you start one step at a time. Michael was a photographer for 25 years, then an artist, and now, an RV Tech. I was in the film business for 12 years, a successful gourd artist for 20 years, and now, a middle aged broad with a broken ankle and a whole new career at 53.
Life is too short to be afraid of change, and it won’t stop the inevitable from happening anyway. So get out there and do something different. You might be surprised at how much one slight shift in your consciousness opens you to new ideas, and new adventures. My next adventure is to put the finishing touches on the new website and promotional materials for the new business. I am designing the website myself, and I gotta say, its going to be killer….