Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Second Acts: What Will You Do With the Rest of Your Life?

As baby boomers go, so does popular culture.  It's bugged me for years--I am technically a boomer, but at the tail end of the long tail.  Although I fancy myself a GenX type, I'm really just a lagging boomer.  At some point, they will all die off and I will get to do something first. But for now, if I run across certain kinds of Me and My Friends journalism or a blog that speaks to what boomers are going through, it often resonates. 

The my husband wasn't happy and left me and I had no idea books are rather funny--really, do the women in this generation think they're the first who've been traded in for newer models?  It's an old story, and all the Pilates and Botox in the world won't change that. 

But the stories about the second act--and these often include the ones moving past the shock of losing a spouse--are compelling.  After all, this generation, really is different, now that they are older. At least in higher income and educational brackets, they are enjoying robust, to say the least, middle age, and living longer and better. They are seriously engaged in the world (which does, after all, revolve around them) and certainly are not interested in retiring to the La-Z-Boy and the remote anytime soon.  They're entirely too hot and interesting for that. 

Jean Chatsky, on WoWoWow, gives us a glimpse into the lives of those who make successful transitions into a second or third career.  Spoiler:  if you dream of owning a B&B or a restaurant, go work at one before you throw your 401K behind it.  She quotes extensively from Kerry Hannon's What's Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job.  As with anything worth having, Chatsky notes, a successful second career takes due diligence, contacts, and a healthy dose of realism.

Dominique Browning was a successful editor and writer, until she wasn't.  Her bookSlow Love:  How I Lost my Job, Put on my Pajamas and Found Happiness tells how she found a substantial existence after her identity got blown away.  Not easy--illness, the end of a love affair and the sale of the house where she'd envisioned her grandchildren visiting were part of it, but not having a place to go every day was the worst.  As with so many high achievers, she didn't know who she was once people stopped taking her calls.  A long, painful journey, but as is the way with those who endure these trips and take notes while they travel, hers is a great story.  Her blog, Slow Love: Intertidal Years is the wonderful result of that hard-earned wisdom.  She tells us of her garden gate, helping friends through illness and the empty chair that means the end of a friendship.  I hate to say it, but I look to her and others like her as I consider where I might go someday.  But right now I am too hot and interesting for that. 

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