In October of 2011, I attended a mini high-school reunion (the 41st!) in my hometown of Santa Barbara, California. Although I’ve lived in Oregon now for many years, there is a big part of me that still considers myself a Californian. The chief reason for that: the beach. The place I love most on the planet (thus far!) is a beach we used to call Henry’s Beach in Santa Barbara. When I am walking on this particular sandy retreat, I experience such bliss as I hunt for shells, listen to the waves, watch the birds as they forage, smell that unique sea breeze completely present with the joy of experiencing this familiar place.
It is with this contentment that I boarded the plane in Los Angeles to take me home to Oregon. (OK: Oregon has a beautiful ocean too but for a Californian, there is a big difference between the “coast” and the “beach!”). As I sat in my aisle seat, I noticed that the plane was filling up quickly, but the window seat next to me continued to remain vacant. Just as I was beginning to think Yes!…I’ll have some space around me…in walked an good looking young man with beautiful blonde dreadlocks, and he gestured that the vacant seat was his. We said a brief, cordial hello to each other then turned to our own amusements for the first part of our journey.
After awhile, we struck up a conversation sharing a bit about where we were flying from and to (he was flying home to Vancouver, B.C. after spending time at the Burning Man festival in Nevada). He told me his name was Sean Aiken, and then proceeded to tell me about the project he has created: The One Week Job Project. And that he had just had a book published and a documentary released about this project—and that he has been an invited guest on many national and international radio and TV shows discussing his project.
As I listened to him talk about his story, I was incredibly impressed with his intelligence, maturity, clarity of vision and his ability to connect so fully in our conversation. A rare human being, indeed. As we talked more and I recounted my own checkered career path over the years a germ of an idea began to take hold. I talked about my masters degree in speech communication which I had made use of over the years in the nonprofit world and in sales. I also had worked many short-term jobs over the years simply to pay the bills, but no job had ever been my “passion.”
I shared with Sean that my passion has always been caring for and loving my two children–and singing–that I was born with a vocal gift and had sung for decades but not recently, and not for years except sporadically. I found myself telling Sean that I felt such a great loss in not having made the decision to really pursue my music and design my life to include my singing. I found myself reflecting on Sean’s experience with trying to find his passion by trying all sorts of jobs, and I disclosed to him that I had been under-employed or unemployed for the past 3 years and was actively looking for a new career to take me through the next chapter in my life.
That’s when I got the idea: I, an almost-60-year-old woman could take the challenge of Sean’s 52 jobs/one job per week/for one year and by so doing redesign and redefine my life, perhaps find a passion, hopefully find a career, re-energize myself in the process and perhaps help others to re-energize their lives. As I was telling this idea to Sean, his eyes lit up and he said “I absolutely know that we were supposed to meet and this is what you’re supposed to do!”
Sean was especially touched by hearing about my incredibly youthful 85 year old mother who has the energy of a 30 year old and who always wanted to find her passion and actively pursue something she loved, but her life was limited by the constraints of society’s rigid roles of what was expected of a woman.
With that thought, we both remarked on how short life was and that this was an opportunity for me to design an adventure based on the integrity of Sean’s 52-job journey.
Welcome to the “Never Too Late: the Redesigning and Redefining of a Woman’s Life, Passion and Career” experience!
I hope you join me for the journey!