Guest Blog: When Just Enough Isn’t…

17Oct09

It strikes me that there are many times in our lives when we are at a crossroads.  Often it’s obvious, a graduation, a marriage, a new job.  But other times also offer opportunities that go unnoticed or unrealized.  In our obliviousness, or hopelessness, we substitute drifting for doing.

I’m thrilled to have Ginger B. Collins tell us about her own “re-invention”.  Ginger has inspired me since I met her.  Her words, spoken from the heart below, speak directly to what this blog is all about.


My 27th birthday was spent under the covers, waiting for the threat of a cake or chorus of “Happy Birthday” to pass. I was the divorced mother of a first grader. Her seldom-seen father sent child support that was regularly irregular, which left me to look after the majority of our financial and emotional needs. So far I had accomplished that task. With tight budgeting, and maximum use of my limited job skills, I had pulled us onto the teetering edge of middle class.

In my West Virginia hometown there was just enough activity, just enough enrichment, and just enough excitement to lull a person into complacency. A candid look exposed the truth beyond the “just enough” of my secretarial desk at the local bank. My present life held a scant handful of options for the future, and none of them were very appealing.

Soon after that birthday, a friend called with free tickets to a motivational seminar. We walked into an auditorium laced with energy and were treated to an inspirational road show of speakers, each with their own prescription and healthy dose of encouragement.

One speaker described career evolution in this way: “In your twenties you are the golden one; in your thirties, you are the rising star; in your forties, you are the seasoned professional. Plan your work and work your plan. Stay focused and by the time you reach fifty, you’ll be the resident expert in your field.”

I could not have been more “born again” at a tent revival. The words were seeds of change and as they took root I became an enthusiastic new believer. I had three years to complete an accelerated course in “golden one” and prepare for the coming out party on my 30th birthday-my transition into a “rising star.”

A serious attitude about work and personal responsibility was built into my nature, and the young daughter who was a fact-of-my-life strengthened the desire to succeed. It was my duty to secure our future, and I could no longer just work a job. I needed to focus on a specific career, develop the skills needed to qualify for positions higher up the ladder, and then let my accomplishments showcase my status as a serious contender for bigger things.

I began with a closet upgrade. I visited the same thrift shops that outfitted my daughter for school and found the necessary pieces to create a career wardrobe. By the next season, my mix-and-match working girl separates had evolved into the coordinated outfits of a professional young woman.

I was also developing the inside – sharpening and polishing my presence and work skills. I listened to vocabulary building tapes in the car, paid close attention to current events, and volunteered for assignments that would detach me from the typewriter and expand my knowledge. I also signed up to help at company sponsored events. This allowed contact with both customers and members of management, and helped create a reputation beyond typing and filing. I became recognized as a quick study who could think on her feet in new situations, and above all, had the desire to succeed.

With a willing parent and supportive friends, I developed a network for my daughter to cover long work hours. Between play dates with friends, and sleepovers with her grandmother, I created pockets of time for movies and trips to the roller rink, her two favorite activities. My super-slim social life went on hold, and instead I made evening dates with reports and paperwork after my daughter went to sleep.

In eighteen months, my halfway point, I was reaping the benefits of my hard work. I was asked to fill in for the marketing manager whose untimely exit left things in a lurch. By the time they found the permanent replacement, I had functioned in the job long enough to legitimately use it as the “Current Position” on my first resume.

Turning thirty became a turning point. I came out of the 30th birthday gate at full speed, ready to be a rising star. In the future, I always took stock on the seven’s, planning a location move and job upgrade at thirty-seven, and a mid-life career change at forty-seven. At the next “seven” I was headed toward my goal of being a published author. When “seven” rolls around again, I aim to add published novelist to my list of accomplishments.

A lot can happen when you decide “just enough” isn’t.

If you haven’t heard of Ginger B. Collins yet, trust me you will!  She writes short fiction and creative non-fiction. Her work appears online and has been published in Freckles to Wrinkles, Silver Boomers, and the newly released Scratch Anthology of Short Fiction.  She recently completed her first novel – excerpts at www.gingerbcollins.com.

For more of her delicious perspective on life, check out her blog at OFF THE TOP OF MY RED HEAD.

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4 Responses to “Guest Blog: When Just Enough Isn’t…”

  1. I’m curious Ginger, have you sat down and talked to your daughter, what her memories of her childhood are and what lessons she might have learned from watching you succeed the way you did?

    In many ways I too reinvented myself at 30, beginning a career in a non-traditional job for women. I hope it gave my daughter the sense that gender need not be a roadblock to success in any job, but, I must admit, I now worry that my desire to succeed and my success in that career took away some valuable time from my children.

    Here I am at 50 (+) reinventing myself once again.

    • GINGER RESPONDS:

      Julie, It is said that God doesn’t give you the family you want, but instead, the family you need. My daughter is my complete opposite and although she admits to learning strong lessons in resourcefulness and determination from me, she saw my career path as stressful and overly demanding.

      She went on elaborate vacations with my mother, (Hawaii, Australia, Greece, Scandinavia, Russia, and others) but I couldn’t spare weeks away from the job. We did take ski weekends together every winter, but she saw that I had no other hobbies or creative pursuits. My free time was spent on freelance projects like writing resumes or doing media plans for extra cash of trade.

      I became both an example of what to do and a warning of what not to do. Where I was eager to change locations in pursuit of career advancement, my daughter has chosen to stay in the same town and in the same little apartment for years. This is her idea of contentment. Yes, like me she’s a thrift store shopper and a master at bartering services with friends, but her work is not a career. It’s a job that pays the bills and allows time for creative pursuits like travel and art.

      She has a network of friends that astound me. Not mere acquaintances, but the kind of friends who bring soup when you’re sick, drive you to 6am plane departures, and give you a spare air conditioner when they know yours is on the fritz. Over the years, I’ve had friends, but I confess many of them were either clients or vendors. I had one, maybe two of those people you can call at 4am when your car is in a ditch. My daughter has a platoon she can muster.

      It is only in the last few years that I have come to understand how her life decisions fit her nature as my decisions fit mine. This is not a one-path-for-all life. That’s one of the best parts of the Re-Do You! blog . . . finding the combination that fulfills your goals and dreams. My daughter is as satisfied with her path as I am with mine. Each one is a perfect fit.

      Thanks for asking this question.

      Ginger B.
      http://coppertopcollins.blogspot.com
      http://www.gingerbcollins.com

  2. 3 Chrystal

    I am so glad that Ginger is one of my LinkedIn connections, had she not been I would have probably missed this inspirational post. Since being connected to Ginger I must say I’ve had the opp to engage in some very good reads by her.

    Ginger, See you at Linked In. btw, I’ve posted some discussions in our Linkeds & writers group, be certain to check them out & chime in if you wish.
    Wonderfully,
    Chrystal

    • Chrystal, Thank you for the kind words. I agree about LinkedIn. It has the ability to connect people in the same city who never would have met otherwise. I’m eager to meet you when I return to Atlanta next month.

      Ginger B.



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