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Article Title:  Priorities and Perspective– This Was the Original Title

We have all been in this same spot – working, probably full time, managing the household (with or without help), getting the oil changed in the car, finding time to get to the nail salon, yada yada yada. One day becomes the next without distinction.  You can do your job with half your brain tied behind your back.  Your coworkers become younger with each passing year. The whole workplace seems overly peopled.

Then, your father dies unexpectedly. A year later, your mother also passes. Your old dog and your geriatric cat both die within a few months of each other. You have a heart attack. You develop a chronic illness. You spend a year getting your health back. And just about the time you begin to think about reinventing yourself at midlife, your only sister develops Stage III Uterine Cancer and must have surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Except this did not happen to you; it happened to me.

My priorities changed overnight. I decided I could always get another job, but I could not get another sister. In the space of three weeks since her diagnosis, I have quit my mind numbing job, canceled social plans, rescheduled my own appointments as I prepare to make an extended cross country trip. My sister is the one person in my life who loves me warts and all, who has been there for me my entire life. She is my go-to person for all things worrisome, hilarious, silly, or politically incorrect.  She is the one person who knows what I am thinking. We can communicate with the lift of an eyebrow, a slight tilt of the head, and can finish one another’s sentences.  Even so, this cancer diagnosis is a real conversation stopper.

Both of us are Registered Nurses. We both know the risks and  survival rate of this diagnosis. At our age, we know this will be the fight of her life and her life will most certainly be shortened.

However, I must still earn an income and must do so in a way that permits me to travel cross country when needed.  After quitting my job, I am seeking only RN Work-From-Home positions that allow me to work securely from my home office at my home in Arizona or my home office in Oregon. Narrowing my search to these positions is the opposite of casting a wide net, but it is what I need to do to live a life of purpose and intent.

My Masters in Healthcare Administration prepared me for extensive writing, primarily policy and procedures, and I have been blessed to get a few freelance gigs.  If I work from home, I can be in the same town as my sister or back at my home in Arizona.  Through networking, technology, and prayer, I hope I can make this happen.  As challenging as this new midlife goal is to me, I am reminded my sisters’ goal is far more challenging. It is all about perspective.  

I know I have 20-plus years experience as an RN. I know about hands-on care and administrative capacity because of my experience and education. But my age… it is tough enough to find work over the age of 50 with ageism in play. One job I wanted posted requirements that stipulated “must not have more than ten years in this career field; must be open to staying for 15 years in this position, must not have reached supervisory level in career”, clearly looking for someone much younger than 50 but without saying it.

Needless to say, I did not meet their criteria as I have held supervisory roles in utilization review, patient safety and quality/risk as well as bedside care. I have had colleagues advise me to “dumb down” my resume, but I cannot bring myself to do it – it would be dishonest and inauthentic.

My sister having cancer has made me rethink and reset my priorities (as I’m sure it has for her as well). Age should not be a deterrent to goal setting. Women are accustomed to reinventing themselves, we do it all the time. My goal will be met; it will simply take some time to make connections and get my materials into the right hands. In the meantime, I am sending as much positive energy into the universe for people dealing with potentially fatal diagnoses. Maybe you will too?

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Work And Life After 50: Getting Back On Track was last modified: by

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