For so many years, I have had what I considered a purpose-driven career and life, shaped by my early life experience in a family that includes a sibling with a disability. That singular experience had driven me to have a compass-heading of always aiming to have a positive impact on the greater social good for anyone with similar experiences. It created in me a hard-charging desire to “do the right thing” and not being deterred by the pull of the size of my income, and the feeling of ALWAYS needing to feel that I was on the side of “right” (whatever that was).
And then I went and fell in love (geez!) with a military guy. What was I thinking? I mean, how was I going to keep on target in changing the world from my own personal perspective? I worked hard at it for more than a decade, always getting creative with each new locale to keep somehow connected to social service and that desire to have a deeper impact on the world around me. Supporting families overseas to help them assimilate to a new culture, and a new support system; jumping at a job with a familiar organization that paid next-to-nothing, but fed my inner “do-gooder”; reaching back to my pre-military life connections to carve out consulting opportunities that kept me engaged in my field, and had a small income to boot; and finally landing what I thought was my “dream job” at my favorite social service organization—the pinnacle of what was cutting-edge and having the greatest impact for the most people.
Then, my darned husband had to go and get promoted and land a great job, one that required yet another move to a location I thought we were done with. Sigh. Admittedly, my “perfect job” had taken on a new life of its own, and was slowly sucking the life out of me. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that burnout was taking such a toll on me, emotionally and physically, because of my continued dedication and long-time passion for the mission and desired long-term social impact. I was going to have to make a break, and my husband’s success was the “forcing function” (his words, not mine) needed for me to lean on as an excuse for that break. He was right, but the adjustment to the new and unfamiliar reality was tougher than any other transition thus far. But why this time?
Being yanked from one’s life is what happens when you’re married to the military. There are successes and joys in that journey, and there are moments of “why in the hell am I doing this AGAIN?” Oh yeah, because I love the darned guy. Geesh!
The common denominator, though, is opportunity. Opportunity for change, reinvention, new directions, exploration, for dropping old habits and starting new ones, and sometimes even quiet reflection (although the “quiet” part is hardest for some).
So the really hard part then is after the physical transition to that next new place; the “now what?” that happens once the boxes are yet again unpacked, the grocery store has been located, the dogs know their way around the new place, and the spouse has jumped into a new work routine. And if one more person says “oh, I’d love time to just RELAX, read a book, volunteer, workout more, take a pottery class, become a bee keeper, find my green thumb, stare at myself in the mirror, join a local cult!” Well, you get the idea.
The answer this time around? Embrace my “Midlife Kitchen”—change course completely and do something that I’ve come to love, which is cook, and show others how to embrace the spontaneity and fun that can be had in wondering what to do with a pile of ingredients. Kind of like life, right?