your stories

I’m amazed, frankly, at the stories that people tell about how they totally re-invented themselves and their lives.  I’ve included some of them here to inspire us all!

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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