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Throwing Rocks and Chasing Butterflies

One of the reasons I switched careers at 50 is to be able to spend more time parenting. I've been a single mother since 2003. When my biological children were growing up, I worked 50 hours a week in the construction industry. They went to before and after school programs, and summer programs. I picked up fast food on my way home and only cooked on the weekends. Sound familiar?

I became a grandmother the week before I became a mother again. Being a grandparent is the best! I'd been considering moving back to the city after my term as mayor was up, but the birth of my grandson made me realize I didn't want to be a city grandma. A week and a half later, I received a five-year-old bundle of joy through a foster care kinship placement. (Anyone who has done foster care will understand how "bundle of joy" can be both serious and sarcastic at the same time.)

When my youngest kiddo came to live with me, I was still working 50 hour weeks, traveling two days a week and working remotely the other three days, and I was spending about 20 hours a week being mayor of the town I lived in. I was already exhausted.

Fast forward four months and I ended up in the emergency room with stress-induced hyperthyroidism, and I knew some things had to change. I was too stressed and burned out to know what would make me happy, but I knew what didn't make me happy, and I knew my family (including the new kid) was at the top of my priority list. I decided not to accept another term as mayor, even if I was elected. I cut back on travel (to match my employment agreement), which lead to losing my job. That turned out to be a blessing for me (although maybe not so much for the guy who fired me).

My approach to change has always been that, if I have to make a change, it might as well be a big one. At every point in my life where change has been necessary (even if unwanted), I've tried to take time to think about what would make me happy, instead of just what would get me back to where I was. This time was no different.

Six weeks after I lost my job, I was off thyroid meds and my levels were normal. I really wanted to paint and make things for a living, but didn't have the inspiration or motivation to create at the pace necessary to support myself. And, if I'm honest, I like to make things as the mood strikes. I don't want to spend my time recreating the same things over and over.

After much consideration, I contacted the local paper, which I had previously done some freelance writing for, and it turned out they had a need for another journalist. They brought me on full time, and it turns out I love it! The work is great. I get to travel throughout the local area, talking to people and learning about things, then write about it. The schedule is flexible enough to allow me to walk my kid to school and pick him up, or for him to spend most summer days with me in my little office, a few blocks from my house.

This morning, I submitted a last-minute article for this week's paper, then the kid and I took a walk down to the river, walked home and made sandwiches, then came back to my office to work for a while. Days like today remind me what's important, and make me really grateful for all the things that came together to allow this change in my life.

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