Traveling Reinvention Road

Life is a journey filled with twists and turns and unexpected sorrow and happiness. It is a road we all travel; sometimes alone and sometimes with others. We encounter so many crossroads and various road conditions along the way; some treacherous and others smooth, calm and uneventful. There is much uncertainty as to whether or not we are going in the right direction.
As we all know, life does not always happen according to our plans.  Major life changes both planned and unplanned can have enormous effects.  We think we have arrived at our destination and all of a sudden we realize that we can no longer stay.  Job loss is one of those major life changes that can have devastating effects.  The ripple effects can sometimes seem endless.
My purpose in writing this blog is mainly to share my story and inspire others as they try to cope with job loss and its effects.   It can be a treacherous part of the road riddled with crossroads and many dark tunnels.  I hope to help you find some light in those tunnels so you can get through that stretch of road.
We sometimes experience such uncertainty as we come to these crossroads.  They are not always well marked and our GPS seems out of whack.   But perhaps with the right perspective, we can take the turn, and take the chance to reinvent ourselves optimistically for the better. Hopefully, we can come together and share our experiences so that we can all become stronger and more confident as we navigate and look for the yellow brick portion of ReinventionRoad.

When Change is Good

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Another Road Trip…..

Sometimes the hardest part of writing each of my stories is picking the best beginning.   Would it be better to start with the big event? Or, perhaps it would be better to provide some background and build up to that particular catastrophe that set off the destruction of the road we were presently traveling? The pulling of that cosmic strand of yarn, and the consequences of which started the full unraveling of our lives at the time.

I think for this piece, and because my story is new, it’s best to give some chronological perspective. By this time in my life, I had already reinvented myself a few times. Trying to pursue this and that, raising a young family but constantly looking to do more and build something for myself and for my family.

My husband Bruce received a nice promotion and a transfer opportunity from Los Angeles to New York City (which we were excited about because most of our family was back east.) Everything happened so quickly. We found out the news, packed up all our belongings, said goodbye to all of our friends, including my best friend, and then we moved across the country. Leaving my best friend was more emotionally taxing than I ever could have imagined. She was the kind of friend you spent hours with almost daily and then you were on the phone with her at night again! I can’t tell you how many times I heard Bruce say, “What more could you two possibly have to talk about?” Strangely though, there was always something more to be said!  It was only one month from the time we received the news of his transfer to the time we arrived back east. In looking back now, I wish the whole process had taken longer. We never really took the time to think all the ramifications through. It was not a small backcountry road we were diverting to – it was an eight-lane superhighway!

Reality hit quickly and it hit hard. We had nowhere to live. We had to find a house and schools for the kids. We moved into my parent’s house. This seemed like a great idea – on paper. After my brothers and I left the nest, instead of scaling down, as do many parents, my parents did the exact opposite. They scaled up – way up! My parents worked hard their entire lives and my mom had always hated the house in which I grew up. Both of my parents were working full time. My dad was in institutional equity sales and my mom was a math specialist in an elementary school. Their life was financially sound so they built their dream house!

My mom was so happy then. She had put up with a lot from many rocky years of marriage issues caused by my father’s very poor choices. It was a testament to her strength that they were still together so my mom especially deserved the house. As it turns out, it was my mom’s idea to have us come live with them and luckily for us, there was plenty of room.

So, in less than one full month, my husband and I with our two small children and a German Shepherd went from living on our own and living a very active lifestyle one house up from the beach in Manhattan Beach CA, to moving into my parent’s house in New Jersey.   I’ll never forget my husband turning to me in bed on our very first night in the guest room and saying, “I think we just made one of the biggest mistakes in our life.”

My mom was overjoyed; my dad laid down the rules about doors, electricity, garbage separation, etc. For a while, it seemed to work out well. Both my mom and dad were pretty much gone all day at work and when my mom got home she made dinner. She was an amazing cook. We, of course, helped out as much as possible but even in a big house, toes get stepped on, (especially where my dad was concerned,) so it seemed like tactful family diplomacy was a daily practice.

We had planned on moving to CT but after many drives back and forth to look at houses/ property we came to the realization that we could get more bang for our buck in NJ. My mom was in heaven! I have yet to mention that in addition to being the first child, I am the only daughter and although our relationship was not always free of arguments and raised voices, we were best friends to the end. My two children were the first grandchildren.  Since we had already found a great school for our oldest, Lindsay, and it would be the perfect choice for our son Harrison as well, and the school was right around the corner from where grandma taught, it made perfect sense to look for a home not too far from Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Before we moved, I had been working and pursuing skills that would be able to provide a strong foundation on which to build something for me and my family. I had never intended for my efforts to substitute for my husband’s income someday, nor did I work just to have some extra spending money.  I am a self-taught tennis player. I learned to play by hitting on the side of my house and breaking a lot of glass. I played briefly in college before I transferred schools. I graduated from NYU Stern Business School and intended to have a career on Wall Street. That was then. My life BC, (Before Children.) I was now teaching tennis and taking part in creating a program to teach tennis to young children.   If you had told me when I was back in college that I would be teaching tennis to young children as a possible career I would have laughed! It very much seemed like this new path I was on was where I was meant to be all along.

Although it was sometimes a bumpy road and navigation was frustrating because my primary concern was the raising of my children, my job was fulfilling, and I was learning so much and tapping into skills I never knew existed. Pursuing this opportunity gave me an extra sense of security and self-awareness.   It was a path I choose to travel and it was on my terms.

Our move was a good opportunity for my husband and for the family as a whole. For me personally, however, it was an impasse on the road. I would have to double back a bit and reconsider the map and the new route I thought best to follow.   I was not new to sudden disruptions on my travels, and I was getting better and better at juggling. But by this time I had some experience in bouncing back and digging in and I had a renewed sense of patience and confidence. I had learned so much already and although I knew I still had so much more to learn, I felt secure.