Life is a Journey: What’s Yours?

I believe I am fortunate because I am generally in touch with my life and try to always learn something new as well as be in tune to my body to know when something is off.  I have always considered that I am doing the things I should be at the times I should be in life.  Some of that changed in 2009.

I’ve believed for a lot of my adult life that things happen for a reason.  I don’t consider it karma, but more of an entity bigger than us.  For me it’s God, but I am open-minded enough to leave room for interpretation that it could be any higher being.  It’s always been a hindsight.  Have you ever looked back on a situation or period of time and thought, “This was meant to happen?”

I’m one of those people that fixes things and takes care of people.  It’s natural for me and I don’t consider it a chore.  I’ve done this for many years and learned a lot along the journey.

In 2000, I met a man that a family member had tried to tell me about for probably almost 10 years.  I was focused on raising my son and was not interested in any relationships.  I thought that would be taking time away from what was important at the time which was preparing a child to become an adult with good values and to be able to be independent.  Along comes Pete!

As Pete would say, sometimes life hits you with a 2 x 4 to get your attention.  That statement couldn’t be any more true.  Throughout 2001 we talked long distance weekly which became daily.  He was in Philly and I was in Roanoke, Virginia.  I bought a house and he bought land near here.  We were soul mates and he opened my naive eyes to more than I could imagine.  As it turned out we had crossed paths in 1980 when we had taken photos of the exact same vehicles at a vintage vehicle show we both attended.  We had been to many of the same events in the late 1970’s until I left Pennsylvania to return to my home state of Oklahoma in late 1981.  It was obviously a meeting that was destined to happen, but it happened when it did in 2001 for a reason.  In 2002 Pete was diagnosed with Stage III Multiple Myeloma which is a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow and can cause fractures.  I have no doubt that I was put in the position to meet him and step into his life at that time.  Of course when he was diagnosed and he moved in with me I felt cheated to lose someone that I had just met and loved so dearly.

Being optimistic and generally good-natured all through the years taught me a lot and allowed us to enjoy a lot of life and have a lot of fun over the next seven years.  In September 2009 things got to the point that he was losing the battle but refused to give up.  I had to step in and call the shots and stop experimental treatments and he died later that month on September 19, 2009.

Pete and Beth on one of their many Jeep adventures!
Pete and Beth on one of their many Jeep adventures!

We had talked about it openly and laughed about a lot.  I was sure it would be no big deal when he died, but I was completely wrong.  I was devastated.  I cried for months.  Nights were the worse.  I could make it through some of the days, but I was not living but just surviving.  Then when night would come and I’d try to go to bed I would just sob continuously.

In 2001 also I was laid off from my job as CAD Manager after 10 years.  New management came in and decided that the company didn’t need a CAD Department anymore.  I will tell you in another post how I began a business in 24 hours.  While I did work again from 2003-2007, I mainly was self-employed until Pete died.  That was a benefit because through trips for treatment and doctor visits I could work my own schedule.

After Pete died, I couldn’t focus on work.  I couldn’t make an income.  I didn’t want to do CAD work anymore.  I thought I was burned out.  I applied for jobs in the CAD field, but the environment had changed and firms either wanted engineers or people with certifications.  I was known as a CAD expert, but that didn’t matter.  I taught classes, wrote training material, and knew AutoCAD inside and out.  I thought it was a good opportunity to have a fresh start and change careers.  I have always loved learning and taking classes.

I completed some exercises in careers and found that medical technology was a good fit and sounded interesting.  I had never been interested in the medical field because my paternal grandmother was an R.N. and my grandfather was a pharmacist.  But working in a lab sounded very interesting to me.  It was also very analytical like my CAD career had been.  So I started back to school.

There was not a degree program in my town, but I was advised to take all the other classes and then only need to travel to take the remaining few.  The more classes I took in anatomy, microbiology, and medical terminology the more fascinated I became.  I finally became alive again.  I was presented with an opportunity to become a phlebotomist and was advised this would be a good first step into the lab career so I followed through with that and became a Certified Phlebotomist Technician.  I learned a hard lesson that while there were plenty of jobs, no one would hire me because I had no experience at all in a medical office or any medical setting.  I began to think this was all a terrible mistake with the exception of really enjoying myself.

I eventually got what I thought was a start into a job to spring board me into the medical field, but the pay was too low to live on even as simply as I live and while the company had high hopes of adding phlebotomy services, I never got to use my skills more than half a dozen times and was nothing more than an office manager in a stressful office that had nothing to do with medicine.

While looking for another job and questioning everything that had happened since Pete died, I applied for a part-time job doing what seemed like CAD work.  Within 2 weeks I was on a flight for Okinawa and found myself doing more physical work and not much to do with CAD and wondering how I got here.

Now what?  Being self-employed seemed like it was the best thing for me.  Yes, it takes work to bring in new business and maintain business.  I wasn’t in the frame of mind to do this.  Did I give up too quickly?  I can’t go back to what I did because I’m too far out of touch and still don’t feel the passion I once did.  I love teaching others and sharing information.  For years I maintained one of the oldest and top read blogs in the AutoCAD world and a blog on Pete’s cancer journey to help other patients and families.  I also love nutrition and exercise and mentoring and coaching.

Life is a journey.  Are you on the journey you want to be on today?  Have you been in the past?  Have you run off course?  Have you ever made a career change?

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