Seven months and counting! That’s right. Seven months before turning 70…And guess what? I went on an interview. You read it right. I went on an interview. What image conjures in your mind? Too old? Out of touch? Incapable? “Shouldn’t she be retiring at this age?” “She must be desperate!” Either way, it wasn’t an easy decision, brutal, in fact.
Of course, I WANT to retire and sail into the sunset. Yet, in all seriousness, I’m not quite ready. My heart still wants to share a mission, to help children and our communities, to be creative, to be visible. The fact that I’m single measures into the decision, too. What will I do if I’m not working? Retirement doesn’t allow me enough funds to travel around the world..haha…or even live ‘high on the hog’ as my mama would say. Plus, I can’t wrap my head around the scenario of being home alone without a viable purpose.
Also, I love my current co-workers, but I simply woke up one morning and realized that I need to use every creative bone in my body. I need to learn, share, grow…and not be dying on the vine. I realized that I had become invisible, even to myself, and sensed that I need to feel alive again, with an eagerness to wake up proudly and smile at the woman in the mirror, wrinkles and all.
Have you ever not wanted to look closely at yourself in the mirror? I certainly have; and such an attitude can be debilitating, a cancer-causing sucker of life. It can be a killer of dreams, of goals. Aging takes spunk, sass and soul; it’s not for the faint. It can steal one’s gratitude and happiness, and I was allowing myself to be invisibly depressed. Every time I looked in the mirror, I was loosing confidence and purpose.
My wrinkles weren’t the problem. It was the fact that I was losing purpose. Losing my edge. I was feeling ‘less than’. Thankfully, I got a grip and came up with a game plan…right, wrong, or indifferent. I said, “Quit It!” (Risky, for sure. True to myself? Definitely).
So, I did. I submitted my resignation of my current job, then spent hours creating a portfolio, a resume and a focus to match my creative energies with a purposeful job. I began smiling as I looked at the pictures of my past accomplishments, my past tribes.
Let me backtrack for a second. After the interview and over the weekend, I had a fun bucket list adventure at the San Antonio Riverwalk. The reason I’m sharing this now is that I had the pleasure of meeting a 90ish year old woman, an owner of one of the shops we visited. As we were leaving, she said to me, “Well, aren’t you cute. What is your name?” I introduced myself, and she in turn introduced herself as Mrs. Pace. She said, “You may recognize this name, as in my past husband’s business, Pace Picante.” I asked how long she had had the store, and she said, “Upon the death of my husband, I took my money and headed straight to the Dallas Market. I’ve been here ever since, and that was many many years ago!” Her young eyes gleamed through her aging body. She was happy. She was proud. She was at peace with her choices. So, my heart took a leap as I listened and as I realized that I, too, had made the right decision. Her age did not define her.
Back to my interview! Yes, I went to the interview. Walked into a new adventure, began my re-invention yet once again, and introduced myself, age and all, to a believer of holistic learning…(and, yep, now my new employer), who sees my vision, who appreciates my creative mind, who feels that I will be a wonderful asset to their school. I even received the salary that I felt worthy of asking.
Can I see me now? Yes, because I took the leap and respect for myself. Yes, because I got out of my own way.
The cammo is gone. I threw it away the moment I walked into her office. She saw me. The real me. As I told her, “I’m old enough to know better, but too young to be put out to pasture.” She laughed. We chatted at length about how I could creatively contribute to her vision of learning and care for their students. It was fun. I felt alive. I felt purposeful.
I start my new job next week. Of course, I am nervous; but I am visible, with no desire to hide behind any rhetoric of aging. WE all have much to contribute. Don’t hide! Share your gifts, your wisdom, your good and bad experiences. Be heard. Be seen. Be loved.
God Bless Us All,