And you may ask yourself, “Well … how did I get here?”

California vs. Michigan in April. Photos by Linda and James Powell.

Even if you’re not a Talking Heads fan, you’ve asked yourself this question, probably more than once. I reflected on the geographic “here” the other day after making a very brisk trek to the mailbox in 8-degree weather. What’s a California native doing freezing in a Michigan winter? The short answer is simple and familiar — I took a job here, a good opportunity in an affordable location. I could reasonably hope to buy a house, a prospect that was dim at best in Los Angeles.

That led to thinking about the “here” in the bigger picture of life. At age 16, I set my sights on a career in computers. I spent the next 10 years studying for it and landed a job in artificial intelligence. It went well enough for a while. Some twists and turns (including that move to Michigan) as technology and opportunities changed, and a lot of long hours, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

It got rougher after 2000, with the bursting of the tech bubble, then an acquisition of my company. The future was unclear; stress and uncertainty were constant. The ax finally fell in 2012, but I got a reprieve from unemployment when my long-time client hired me as a contractor. That ended in March 2017. So now what? Find another IT job as an over-50 candidate? I tried, even applying for several jobs at that client corporation that used to like my work so much, but the response (crickets) was pretty much as I expected.

Time for a Plan B. What about that jewelry business I started a few years ago, which never got off the ground because all I could give it was a little spare time? Could I make that my full-time job? I decided to go for it, soaking up all of the information I could find about running a small business. I built a Web site, created business accounts on social media, and practiced product photography. 

So much to learn, so much to do! Do I still have stress? Yes. Uncertainty? Even more. Long hours? That too. But it’s different now. The goals, priorities, and standards are mine, not someone else’s. I’m doing something I love and making new friends. It’s been a slow start, but I know that success doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time, patience, and persistence.

You may ask yourself, “Where does that highway go to?” I don’t know … but come along with me and we’ll find out.

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