I worked for more than 30 years in the radio news business. ‘Tis true I never had a lunch break working radio news. In fact, at my last job, with deadlines every ten minutes or so, I found a few minutes about four hours into my shift to down a little breakfast. When a boss gave me more tasks to do during that period, I mentioned that was when I ate some breakfast. Her reply was, “Are you asking for a break?” I suppose a potty break and five minutes to down some instant oatmeal WAS too much to ask.
Now, I set my own schedule. I can cram four hours work into two or work late at night. Today, I decided to go to lunch. I took a walk down my block dressed in my bathing suit, cover-up, visor and SPF30 liberally sprayed on my skin and took a chair at the neighborhood pool. Some ice water and a cereal bar was all I needed. The scenery consisted of kids from baby-carriage size to teens along with moms and dads. The swim team was wrapping up practice. Little paddlers were getting swim lessons in the shallow end. A refreshing summer breeze cooled us off. I took a mini-vacation with a magazine. The sounds of the pool scene were intoxicating. Care-free with only fun on their minds, in between pages of my magazine, I watched a group of kids in the deep end playing tag; a boy about 8 years old, was watching in delight as his swim teacher showed him how to make a racing dive off the race platform. What a belly-flop! I mentally gave him a “7” for his enthusiasm and the attempt. I admired the patience of the swim teachers as little ones tried, tried, and tried again to carry out the kicking and arm strokes and blowing bubbles. So many tasks to coordinate with one little body!
An hour passed effortlessly and I knew it was time to walk home. My head was clear; my mood upbeat and no one asked whether I was getting all my work done. Granted, tripping and falling over an offset slab of concrete on the sidewalk did annoy me. (Seriously??) I don’t think anyone saw me take my spill and I just have a slightly skinned knee as proof of the klutzy moment. I’d rather take that fall than hear someone ask my if I was requesting a break. Guess what: I’m getting a work break for the first time in more than 30 years. Happy day!
The perfect age is 38. I made this declaration on the eve of my 51st birthday as my husband and I talked about the significance of this birthday. My 50th birthday came and went last year; I got a few more birthday cards than normal. This year, the usual smattering of cards along with some Facebook greetings, emails and text messages. But, as they say, it’s all good. This surely has been a transition year. My career change; deciding to begin a PR consulting business (What’s Next Productions) and actually signing my first client (Plato’s Closet franchise owners in the region).
We spent the weekend in Ocean City just as we have one weekend in June every year for years. My parents, brother and his wife and the three of us enjoyed family time with an ocean view. Doug and I spent a few hours on the beach Saturday. There were high school seniors soaking up the sun. Their toasted bodies showed no wrinkles or lines. Their smiles were carefree and (for the most part) their hair color was untouched by chemicals. Now looking at the groups of happy-go-lucky groups lying on colorful towels on this perfect beach day in June, I felt all of my 51 years. Your mind jumps into “oh-my-god” mode. How did the time go so quickly? Why didn’t I study in Europe? Why didn’t I take that OTHER job? What would have happened if… And then I stopped. I know the phrase, “count your blessings” is so cliche. But there’s a reason: it’s TRUE! I have a wonderful husband, son, family, a new career path, friends all the things you have no idea about when you’re 18. Now, when your 38, that’s PERFECT! You’ve been through all of the growing pains, trials and tribulations, breakups, career hiccups and missteps of your 20’s and 30’s. Finally at 38, you’re perfect. You’re in reasonbly good shape and have the stamina to stay that way, your career could be fairly stable (though probably not in this economy) and your hair is likely looking good just the color it has been for years without modifications. I must say, I am now in better shape than I was at 38. I was looking at a photo album the other day from a vacation in 1992. That was NOT a pretty picture of me. A few weeks ago at a party, a 16-year old girl was in disbelief that I was turning 51. She’d never seen me before and really thought I was younger. God bless her, her tight skin and naturally-colored hair.
The one thing I have now that I didn’t have at 38 was the patience to carry on. During my long career in radio news, deadlines were constant. I didn’t know any other way. Every minute was critical in getting stories and newscasts on the air. Even today, there’s no other way to approach radio. It’s hard to automate local news (though I’m sure they’re trying to figure out how to do that). Today, without that radio deadline clock in my face, I still have deadlines, but they are self-imposed AND forgiving. That’s the key: I forgive myself for being a little behind schedule. I’m thrilled when I come out ahead of the game. Come in on schedule: perfect.
So, friends, at 51, I’m the boss of me. I listen better now; I understand more with an open mind now; I’m able to turn the gray skies blue when the days are not so bright.
Give more, hope more, love more. Happy Birthday to me!
A wise friend of mine has told me more than once, that while I’m in transition, think about doing something that makes me really happy. Great thought, but figuring out what I want to do that I can make a living at these days, is not an easy proposition. The journey includes good days and downright dreary days. The other night I headed into center city for an event where I could do a little networking. A few people I’ve known for some time as business associates gave me “the face.” They cock their head a little to one side and say with a serious face, “So, how ‘ya doin‘?” Please don’t give me “the face.” I’m fine, thanks very much. I sure have been better. Then they go on to talk about how busy, busy, busy they are. That’s wonderful. Now, how can I find some of THAT!
Here’s the plan: I’m on a two-week jaunt to reach out for any opportunities that might be plausible. I’m going to a networking event and have signed up for a “starting-a-business” seminar. I’ve applied for a few more positions I found and have sent some emails to people I needed to catch up with. Then, I’m going to breathe. The gym gives me sanity and health. Summertime can make be feel good. My son turns 15 soon and he has a summer to enjoy. I want to enjoy some time with my husband and son. I’ll continue tapping into various resources and people who are supportive and helpful in this journey and will continue freelance opportunities, but I now need to give my head and heart a break. I get depressed reading about how the economy is depressing. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. The “front” I put on is also distressing. It’s time to remember what my wise friend has said: Be happy.