All posts filed under: Second Acts

I Was “Breakup Girl,” And Then My Job Dumped Me

This will not endear me to you: Until my mid-20s, I was convinced that I was special — that my life was actually charmed. That was the through line to my life story: Things just went my way. Hard work paid off. I earned good grades, had halfway normal parents and halfway decent boyfriends. My high school graduation speaker was Gloria Fucking Steinem. I got into Yale. I had the time of my life. I had an amazing dog named Montsi — a gorgeous white shepherd/tundra wolf mix who was my protector and soul sister. My books got published. I always had cool, land-in-your-lap life-changing experiences, like living and bonding with a family and “sister” in Mexico who looked just like me — whom I’m still friends with — and lucking into an awesome apartment with my best friend in Boston and winding up on both Geraldo and Ricki Lake in 1994, just because I looked exactly like Tonya Harding, which is a long story. It wasn’t that things never went wrong. They did. All …

11 Women Who Started Brand New Careers in Midlife— and Never Looked Back

Big changes in career, vocation and lifestyle in midlife or the years leading up to it are more often an evolution than a radical change. I went back to journalism school at 35 because the writing degree I’d started at 18 — and never finished —nagged at me for years. Going from full-time college counselor and teacher to graduate student was intimidating — financially, intellectually and emotionally. It was also one of the best, richest experiences of my life, and, no matter how many zeroes got added to my student loan balance, I have never regretted it. I traveled to Vietnam to cover business growth there. I was a reporter in the arena on the night Barack Obama accepted the nomination for President of the United States. I helped to run a student digital newsroom and emerged as the de facto den mother of several classmates a decade or more my junior. I now have a degree that means I can teach writing if I want to (because I loved teaching too much to leave …

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My Half-Baked Life and the Pastry Job That Saved Me

Last summer, two coworkers and I left our jobs running a hip and lauded bakery in Brooklyn to start our own catering and cakes company. The plan had come together organically: We shared mutual affections, bonded over grueling workdays and were all possessed by a deep desire to pull ourselves out from under the never-ending task of producing someone else’s dream to ride high on our own vision. We conspired over margaritas how we together would take over the world — or at least the New York Slow Food scene. The “plan” lasted a solid two months and eventually fell apart when a project shaped distinctly like something bigger than we could chew, coupled with an epic no-sleep, Adderall-fueled prep session flushed out our deeper natures. We pulled it off and the client was thrilled, but I was deemed both too soft and too harsh to enter into a long-term relationship with. The other partners pushed me out. My ego was left battered, but — oh god — in no way would I for a …

How Music and Loss Led Me to Become a Pastor

I don’t know when exactly it was that I realized that I wasn’t going to be an opera singer, but I do know when I realized I was going to be a pastor. Growing up in Montana, church was my favorite place to be and my favorite thing to do there was sing. It seemed that singing was my gift, so with one degree in music under my belt, I moved to Maryland to begin a master’s degree in opera. I worked my way through my graduate school by being a soloist in a large synagogue, a director of music at a Baptist church and working at the University Bookstore where I met a cashier who would one day be my husband. In 1994 my husband and I were married and moved to NYC so that I could pursue a career in opera. [pullquote]In choir, they were not “men living with AIDS.” They were musicians and not every part of them was sick.[/pullquote] I’d lived in the city for nearly a year when I received …

Secrets of a Second-Career Intern

When I left my last magazine job in 2008, it seemed there were exactly zero print publications left worthy to work for. I had devoted 20 years of my career to the magazine industry, but it was no secret that the field was going down the tubes. Also, If had to edit one more piece on why blueberries are a superfood, there was a good chance I would slide under the desk into a fetal position and never come out. I was burned out and my well of work ideas had run bone dry. So when a friend told me about the jumpstart she got from her career coach, I went to see him. One of the first exercises he gave me was simply to muse about my job: Turn off the censor in my head, and make a list of the places I would love to work. The first name that popped in my head was WNYC, the public radio station in New York City. I’d done a slew of radio interviews during my …