Reinvention is No Joke

This whole “second career” transition thing is tough. I’ve been in the middle of a bit of a writer’s block (hence, my lack of blog posts) and a bad case of self doubt. It sneaks into my head at the worst times, too. I’m a lounger in the mornings and it takes me a good half hour to really wake up and get moving. I love to just hang out in my bed contemplating my day, my week, my month, my life. But that’s exactly the time those little voices telling me I’ve lost my marbles, that I walked away from a good income, stability and admiration, that I’m absolutely crazy to put everything – my kids, my home, my relationships, my free time, everything that brings me joy – on the line. This is the mind game I play almost every day, and it’s exhausting.

You see, I spent 16 years building a business, and before that, I spent my education and the early part of my career building my skills as a marketing and public relations professional. For nearly a quarter of a century, I worked hard at becoming the professional I am today. To just stop and completely change direction is no small feat. In the past few months, in those mornings snuggled in my bed, I realized I have a lot of layers to peel back and in some cases outright shed. I also realized I have a lot layers that I should keep and are worth keeping. I’m learning that sorting through who I am and who I’ll still become is at the core of my mid-life reinvention.

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I love this photo because it represents the pinnacle campaign of my career. My work with Colorado Proud and the Colorado Department of Agriculture was creative, collaborative, challenging and rewarding. And, it was all about food! More of this, please.

As I sit and write, I look around my desk, and I have sayings posted everywhere, small reminders and inspiration. “Self care is a divine responsibility.” “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” “What if you treated you, not the way you were treated, but the way you should have been treated?” “Be present.” And there’s more. I have an entire box of daily reminders, wishes and inspiration – 365 of them that I try to grab and read every day, although, admittedly I forget some days. I have a journal book that’s all about discovering my gifts, giving myself motivation and being nice to myself. I have kind and caring advisors and friends who support me and give me tools and resources to help me find my way. And still I struggle.

I find solace in the kitchen, chopping, stirring, tasting and experimenting. I find clarity when I write. I find connection with good friends, good wine and great conversation. I find contentment in visual order, whether in my closet, in my kitchen cabinets or in the pages of my favorite food and lifestyle magazines. I find adventure in my car or on an airplane on my way to a new, unknown place. And I find pure joy on a snowy mountainside with my kiddos bundled up looking like astronauts on skis. These are the things that help me through my struggle. These are the things that I long to do when I’m doing anything else.

When it comes to my mid-life career reinvention, I’m trying to figure out how to do more of what I love and still make a financial contribution to my family and my community. It’s not easy, because deep down, I’m terrified. I’m afraid I’ll be judged if I take a step (or five) back to an entry-level job. I’m afraid I’ll run out of money. I’m afraid I’ll never find satisfaction and joy in my work, whatever that happens to be. I’m afraid I won’t have time with my kids. I’m afraid my kids will resent me if I move them away to explore a new opportunity. I’m afraid my already fragile marriage will completely disintegrate and I’ll be alone. I’m afraid I’ll be alone.

There it is. The crux of my midlife fears. I’m scared of being alone. Shit.

Here’s the funny thing. I really love solitude. Before I had kids, my favorite thing to do was to ski by myself. I loved to get in the singles lift line and ride up with complete strangers, quietly listening to their stories of fun on the hill. My most cherished part about skiing alone, however, was stopping midway down an uncrowded run and just listening to the quiet of the mountains. That kind of solitude is something I seek, but the idea of being alone in life is not the same thing.

To me being alone is the feeling of being rejected by friends, family and loved ones because I choose to go down an unpopular and unchartered path. Being alone is being misunderstood and feeling like I’m the outcast or that I simply don’t fit in. Those feelings suck, and it’s hard for me to wrap my head around my sense of being rejected. “Why do I care?” I ask myself. “Plow ahead, because pursing a path that calls you is a noble thing,” I answer. But it’s. So. Damn. Hard.

Here I am, baring parts of my crazy soul that I’ve never shared before. And I may be rejected. Alone. But I suppose that’s the point. Perhaps the more I do it, the better I’ll get at it, and the light that’s guiding my way will become brighter, my future more focused. I have to believe that it will.

In the meantime, for anyone else out there searching, know that you are not alone. You’ve at least got me, flailing at my computer in my basement trying to figure out the point of it all. I’m open to anyone who’s made the leap into the unknown, hoping their net eventually appears. Even if you haven’t made the leap or never will, I know you have your own struggles, and I am open to you, too. It’s true that reinvention is no joke, but I know that in the end it’s all worth it. And so are you. And so am I.

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Among wine grapes ready to be harvested in the Loire Valley in France. One of my all-time favorite days with some of my all-time favorite people.
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Soul-satisfying solitary skiing in Crested Butte.
Ski day with the kiddos
Micro astronauts on skis in Breckenridge.

Much love and connection to you all. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Nothing Says “Slow Down” Quite Like Hearty Bolognese

It’s been a while since I wrote. I’m sorry for that. I have lots of reasons as to why, but I won’t bore you with those right now. Instead, I’m going to share a favorite quote and reminder this holiday season. Oh, and I’m sharing my hearty Bolognese recipe, too, to demonstrate just how great slowing down can be.

Gandhi once said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” In a season that’s supposed to be marked with gratitude, giving, peace, hope and love, but instead is surrounded by messages of excess, hyper-consumerism and busy-ness, Gandhi’s quote is a good reminder for us all to slow down.

I’ll admit, I participate in the holiday frenzy, too. But trying to do everything faster or bigger only leaves me with icky feelings of inadequacy. It’s time to slow down, take in the moment, and make a big pot of meaty sauce that only gets better the longer it simmers. Patience, my friend. Patience.

IMG_0670Hearty Bolognese Over Egg Noodles

  • 1 pound ground beef or veal
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound pancetta or regular bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Italian red wine, such as Sangiovese or Chianti
  • 3 cups chicken broth (1-2 cups more if you like a thinner sauce)
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cups cooked egg noodles or Pappardalle
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, brown the meat over medium-high heat with plenty of salt and pepper. Drain the rendered fat and discard. Put the browned meat in a bowl and set aside. In the same pan, cook the pancetta or bacon until just crisp. Drain the pancetta on paper towels, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Add the chopped onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms and plenty of salt and pepper to the pan and cook until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Add a tablespoon of olive oil if the veggies absorb all the pancetta fat before they’re fully cooked.

Add the cooked ground meat and pancetta back to the pan and then pour the wine into the pan, allowing it to deglaze any browned bits off the bottom. Cook for three minutes and then pour in the broth. Add the tomato paste, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave all that meaty goodness to simmer for an hour or longer to let the flavors meld. At this point, feel free to add dried herbs, such as oregano, thyme or rosemary, to boost the flavor even more.

After simmering for an hour or so, add the milk to the sauce and let simmer for 15 minutes more. If the sauce is too thick, add more broth to reach the consistency you prefer. Season to taste. Divide cooked noodles into four bowls and top with a couple ladles full of bolognese. Finish with Parmesan and chopped parsley and more salt and pepper to taste. Then, sit back, relax and take your time filling your belly. Enjoy!