Back to work

September for me is  a time of new beginnings.  As a kid, I always loved going back to school–new school supplies, new clothes, a new grade, and new books and things to learn.  September is also the beginning of the Jewish New Year–a time for reflection, looking both backward and forward and turning over a new page.  And finally, it is a time of incredible beauty–fall leaves and cooler nights.  It’s  my favorite time of year.

For a while now I have been thinking about going back to work.   I have enjoyed the time off in the last year since I returned from China, but I have also felt at loose ends, and found myself wasting a lot of time.   I kept having the nagging sense that it was  too soon for me to hang it up and retire. Having said this, I think this is a very personal decision and I know a lot of people who have retired at my age or even younger who are having the time of their lives,  and who wouldn’t dream of giving up their free time and going back to work.  For a while, I thought I might be one of those people, too.

But, over a period of months, I realized that I am not–at least not yet.   So, earlier this summer, I decided to start looking for a job–whether full or part time, I wasn’t sure, but definitely something that would energize me and allow me to continue to contribute.  And with all the market swings and economic uncertainty, it was also a reasonable decision from a financial planning perspective, as well, particularly since I have family members on both sides who have lived to 90 and beyond.

Fortunately, the universe heard my decision and responded in record time.   I actually found the position through an online posting, which I have come to view as kind of a lottery type way of getting a job–there are so many applicants per position, that often the HR people don’t even respond to a resume submission.    I had only two rounds of interviews, and the entire process took less than six weeks–quite unusual in these times.   I started the job last Monday.  It’s a great company and the role is one that I like–lots of change management, international work, and bringing a team together.   At the same time, it’s a different industry than I’m used to, so I’ll learn new things.

The company is in metro west Boston, meaning that I have had to find a place to stay during the week, and come home on weekends.  Along with working full time, that will also be a big change.   I’m hoping that down the road, I will be able to work at least part-time from home, though that will not be realistic for the foreseeable future.   I am not sure how long this phase of life will last–as long as I enjoy it, I suppose!

Running

On Sunday I ran a half marathon–13.1 miles, a beautiful course through four covered bridges in the next town.   It’s nothing I would have predicted myself doing even a few months ago.  All goes to show that no matter how old you get, life is full of surprises and you can do things that you never imagined.

Back in the late 1980s I used to run, but I let it go a few years later.  About a year ago, I found a tape I used then in a box with some old stuff– beat music for a 9 minute mile. At 60, I’m far from that now–I’m lucky to run a 5K in 33 minutes, and it took me 2:44 to run the half marathon.   But, there are relatively few of us older folks out for these races, especially the longer ones.  I was the only female over 60 at a 10 miler I did a few weeks ago, and I came in first out of three in my age group for the half-marathon, despite the slow time.

It’s not a desire to recapture my lost youth that has gotten me to take up running–rather, something much more serious.  Late last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and as a result, I have to take a medication that suppresses all estrogen production in my body–and with it the protective effects on the bones.   To prevent bone loss, I need to do weight-bearing exercise, and running is simply the most time effective and logical thing to do (along with some weight training).  I started on a treadmill in the winter, and moved outdoors with the coming of spring.

Running has had a lot of benefits.  I’ve lost weight, and feel much better.  It clears my head.   (At first, I had to have an iPod with me at all times–or so I thought.  One day I forgot it and realized that I really didn’t need it–though I still take it on occasion.)  And I enjoy the races and challenging myself, and meeting new people (some of them virtually, on Dailymile where I record my workouts).  I’m not fast, but I’m steady.

In June I took a class in Chi Running, which I strongly recommend to anyone who is taking up this sport.   The techniques of Chi running, which are based in part on the Chinese T’ai Chi, help the runner maintain proper form,  relax while running, and most important, prevent injuries.    I am still working on the technique, but there are certain aspects of it I feel I have mastered pretty well–like running uphill without huffing and puffing.

Running has also helped me reconnect with family–three of my first cousins run, as well one of my cousins’ grown daughters.  One of my cousins has lost a lot of weight and taken up triathletics–you can read about her amazing journey here.  We all plan to do the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Savannah in November.

My goals are to run more half marathons, as well as shorter races, and improve my form and times.   Though it took a major  illness to get me here,  I will keep running as long as I can.