honey? it’s dad.

Dotsie’s Story: Finding Purpose in Mid-Life

In this newsletter we feature the mid-life transition of
Dotsie, a bona fide member of the “Sandwich Generation.”
She writes about how a contemplative period after the death
of her Mother helped her prepare for the empty nest.

“Honey? It’s Dad. I’m at the emergency room with Mother
and the doctor wants her to see an oncologist before she
leaves. They think she has cancer.”

I had no clue how Dad’s words would change my life.

I was absorbed in family life as a stay-at-home mom.
Volunteering at schools, church, and neighborhood defined
me. Mom’s news made me drop every bit of it except one
project so I could help care for her. I’ll never regret it.

The diagnosis was cancer. She chose treatments and they
sucked the life right out of her. She survived seven
heart-wrenching months. The Lord took her Irish soul to
dance the streets of heaven on St. Patrick’s Day shortly
after we feasted on corned beef and cabbage in the next

I felt a void and lack of purpose following Mom’s death.
No longer volunteering or caring for Mom, my days were long.
My oldest was soon leaving for college with the two younger
ones flying the coop shortly behind him. What was I going
to do with my life? I felt empty. What did I want to be
when I grew up?

I’ve always looked at life as seasons: a time to work, a time
to raise children, and a time to well, what exactly? That was
the question.

I recall the time my husband and I wanted to start our family.
We endured four years of infertility. That was another time
life was on hold. Aching to have a baby, we adopted our son
and got pregnant while waiting for our little girl to arrive
from Korea. We had three children in three years. Life has
been a wonderful roller coaster ride, but the ride’s coming to
a halt. I’m at the other end and find myself searching again.

What do you do when life throws you for a loop? It happens
to all of us at some point. Women divorce, lose jobs, have
kids move, lose loved ones, and life goes on.

How do you find your purpose? Here are five tips that
helped me through my soul searching and gave me a
renewed sense of meaning.

1. Spend time alone: Set aside time each day for quiet
reflection. Journal, pray, and consider your purpose in life.
What is important to you? Why are you here? Make lists
and work it out on paper.

2. Focus on God-given gifts: Consider what brings you joy.
What makes you tick? What are you passionate about? Is
there something you can do with that passion to rejuvenate
your life? God gives all of us gifts. Tune in and decide
how to use the gifts to fulfill your life purpose. Work isn’t
a hardship when you align your passions with your profession.

3. Open up to others: Don’t be shy. Tell loved ones what
you are going through. They know you best and can share
your strengths and weaknesses. They can help you discover
what to do with your life. Rely on them for advice and

4. Research: Get online and do career searches. Today’s
technology allows you to post a few words in a program and
have a list of careers at your fingertips. Use community
colleges’ occupational data-bases. Sign up for a class that
piques your interest. Go to the library. Hit bookstores.
Wander the aisles until something strikes you and read

5. Get busy: Be diligent until you have answers. Work
at your future with enthusiasm. You are the one in charge
Make changes. Soul search. You’ll be glad you did!”


Stepping Stones: Journaling

At a time when many women feel at loose ends, Dotsie
marshaled her resources. As you reflect on her story,
consider how her reactions might relate to your own. Begin
to examine your own emotions and behavior in the face of
crisis and transition.

We have found that, for many women, keeping a journal is
a valuable tool for self- awareness. It can be a freeing
experience as there is no one right way to journal. You are
in charge and you should do what works for you. Either
establish a regular pattern by journaling daily or write when
you feel stuck. In this way, you can both sort out any of your
jumbled internal thoughts and also have a catharsis or
emotional release. If you are still caring for your family
at home, it is likely you often do not have a chance to focus
primarily on yourself. Now is the time to give thought to
what you need and want.

Remember when you had a diary as a young girl and shared
your most intimate thoughts with this “best friend.” Now,
once again, the act of committing your private feelings to
paper can add clarity to your thoughts about a particular
issue. The continuity you create by tracking your reflections
will lead to greater insight. Naturally, the more value you
place on and attention you pay to this strategy, the more
you will benefit from it. And as you continue to evaluate
your situation, you will gain a deeper understanding.
Realize that this is a major first step toward planning and
implementing change.

So get comfortable and focus on what is on your mind
these days. Without too much deliberate thought, write
about your concerns, feelings and ideas:

*** What is coming to an end?
*** What is beginning?
*** What is its significance?
*** How does it affect you?
*** What kind of help do you need?
*** Who can you go to for understanding and guidance?
*** How can you give to yourself?
*** What is the source of your strength and power?
*** What are your long-term goals?
*** What small steps can you take toward them?



Dotsie was the founder of the National Association of Baby
Boomer Women. She developed two websites,
www.BoomerWomenSpeak.com and www.nabbw.com,
dedicated to women helping women. Visit these websites and find
a warm and welcoming community of women, thought provoking forums,
and a virtual library of diverse and interesting material.


Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us.

(c) HerMentorCenter, 2005. All rights reserved. The above
material may not be copied to another web site without the
express permission of HerMentorCenter.com.