Our last morning together.
“A woman looks back at her life and ponders where she has been and how far she has come. Now is the time when she grieves the loss of any unrealized dreams she may have had when she was a young woman, and prepares the soil for the next stage of her life.” ~ Christiane Northrup, MD, on perimenopause (from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom)
I’ve been talking to my therapist a lot recently about feeling like I’m on a precipice. She reminded me that I’ve always landed on my feet before, and will land on my feet again no matter which direction I choose to jump. She gave me permission to jump.
She’s been through many of the things I have been through. Loss of a parent, loss of a beloved dog, changing careers to become a counselor in her 40s. She’s not what you might envision in a therapist at first glance: she looks more like a cool older sister hippie-punk-cool yoga teacher. Her nose is pierced on both sides, her hair is often in two long braids with a beanie on top, she has tattoos, and personally reminds me of the old Portland of my youth (Hawthorne Third Eye style), with a quiet gentle demeanor and with that voice that tells you in its softness and directness, I’ve got you. We learned about her during infertility treatments as the leader of a support group we never attended as, after reading her website, I simply asked her if we could come to her just the two of us, and she said yes. We’ve both talked to her individually and as a couple, not just addressing our emotions around our failed infertility treatments but everything else that’s brought us to where we are today in our lives. We are blessed to have her support.
So many things right now make me feel my legs dangling over the edge, I feel like I’m sitting on the peak of a tall mountain, with nowhere to stay but not knowing quite yet where to go. I contemplate the evolution that is beginning once again in my life…
Leaving my beloved home of 12 years in the town, just two miles from where I was born, one I bought all by myself with no help from anyone, to move to a new town along the Oregon coast with my sweetheart. Having land and being near the beach is something I’ve always dreamed of, but still absolutely mindblowing to contemplate. It’s not like I have a lot of things keeping me here in Portland, it’s just the familiarity of what raised me and what saved me and where I found myself again after a decade of wandering around the West. It’s where I walked in that spring into its empty rooms and huge backyard and said to my dog Daisy, this is ours, and no one else’s. We are safe here. It’s the town where I last walked down North Boston with my father and ate at the Italian bakery for the last time and it’s the town where I healed from my divorce and it’s the town where my blog began that brought me my love from across the Pacific and it’s the town where I said goodbye to all of my grandparents and the town where I learned my belly would never swell for a full 9 months and the town where I started my own company and learned to live life on my terms. Not to say that where I’m going will not give me its own gifts – it will – and it’s not to say that we will not return to visit – we will – but it is a new chapter that both terrifies and exhilarates.
Saying goodbye to my sweet girl Ruby this morning, the second dog I’ve ever had the honor of caring for, and not being able to imagine life without her silly happy face pushing into my hand each morning beckoning me to wake up so we can go let the ducks out of their coop, or doing her little wackadoo run she did before her disease progressed, legs flailing every which way, ears flapping and tongue lolling about, or jamming herself between us when my husband embraces me to say “hey, I need some of this love too!” We will eventually have more pets, and we still have our ducks and bees to look after, but my girl Ruby represents the first being to belong to the two of us, and the three years we’ve had the privilege of having her around are not nearly enough. We both held and stroked her as she went off into sedation in her red traveling coat and the vet and Dan carried her in her bed to his van so she could leave in comfort (we’re having her cremated and getting the ashes later this week). We made her French toast with fried duck egg and homemade bacon, and even a wee bit of cocoa on the side, then walked her around the block where she got to say goodbye to her friend Roxie and Roxie’s mum, who whispered love in her ear and Ruby gave her a paw in goodbye. She was much sicker than she let on to us as the sedation which can take up to 5 minutes happened much more quickly which the vet said probably means the cancers in her belly had spread to her lungs (she had been coughing the last couple of days, a sign of it), but she went in peace, with kisses upon kisses as she went to meet my girl Daisy and Dan’s old dog Reg over the Rainbow Bridge where they all now play, waiting for us to reunite with them someday. This morning I saw my husband break down in a way I’ve not seen in years, and as afternoon progresses, the house sits quiet. We left the house and walked in the park amongst the yellow leaves and bought a small plant to remember her by. This will take time.
Along with this, another leap, preparing for a change in my business. While coaching will always be part of who I am, and I never plan on giving that up, I have found myself talking to my husband and my therapist about how it seems over the past year I’ve seen more bad behavior than good from a number of clients and prospective clients that show me more and more that life is too short to deal with the nastiness I am witnessing so much in the world of recruiting. From blatant discrimination in hiring processes, to rude behavior during meetings to immense condescension towards me as a business owner, to lowballing candidates during the offer process, to (this past week) a midsize client trying to weasel out of paying me for work I have completed (then insulting in writing me for simply enforcing the terms of my contract that they’ve had on file for well over a year and attempting to make ME look like the bad guy) to seeing NOTHING change in the way women and minorities are treated in the tech industry (no matter how much I present it on a silver platter to those who say they want my advice on how to improve diversity, there’s zero attempt to change the things they do to make their places a more female and minority-friendly workplace, just a whole lotta talk with no action). I’ve equated my job to mathematics so many times this year that it’s no longer funny – i.e., just because I’m good at it doesn’t mean it’s what I should be doing. The crossroads of contemplating leaving my career as a recruiter and taking a new direction is a huge one – I’ve been in this field for almost two decades and running my own business for over half a decade, and with the money it’s brought in, it’s not easy to walk away from. But I swear to fucking god, while I have had clients that have been so amazingly wonderful, the negative side of working as a recruiter in tech is starting to drown out those positive moments. I love working with the candidates, I love giving them a great experience (just the other day an engineer said I was one of the best recruiters he’d ever worked with), and I love the other side of my work as a career coach. And that is what GIVES me energy – helping them maximize their chances for success, being real with them where others are not, and doing some actual GOOD in the world. Yet I still feel the pull when I meet with new clients, advise them (even if they don’t end up retaining me), being an ear and a safe place to get things off their collective chests when it comes to the frustrations they deal with. There are still good eggs out there – but is that where I want to be?
“This is a time when many women…begin to manifest some of the fierce need for self-expression that frequently goes underground at adolescence. I like to think of midlife women as dangerous – dangerous to any forces existing in our lives that seek to turn us into silent little old ladies, dangerous to the deadening effects of convention and niceness, and dangerous to any accommodations we have made that are stifling who we are now capable of becoming. By the age of forty-five, I found myself deeply engaged int he process of scrutinizing every aspect of my life and my relationships in an effort to eradicate any dead wood that either held me back or no longer served who I had become. My tolerance for dead-end relationships of all kinds began to evaporate…Women at midlife are at a turning point: Either we can continue living with relationships, jobs, and situations that we have outgrown – a choice that hastens the aging process and the chance for disease dramatically – or we can do the developmental work that our bodies, and our hormone levels, are calling out for. We must source our lives from our souls now. Nothing less will work…It all boils down to this: Grow or die.” ~ Christiane Northrup, MD