This is the third in a series about the Big Pivot, women who make big moves after age 50.
When I started interviewing friends about making big changes in their lives after 50—some even during COVID-19—I had no inkling that I would be next. Or at least no conscious inkling that I would be making such a change.
Yet here I am, in Durango, Colorado, where I moved three days ago, to take a job as the opinion editor of the local newspaper, the Durango Herald. Yep. I’m returning to my first love, newspapering. My ministry and chaplaincy will become my avocation rather than my vocation.
It’s crazy, right? I’m 64. I had lived in Santa Fe for 32 years. I had a huge support group of friends, a solid client base for my editing and spiritual direction practices, and a couple of regular elder clients whom I helped in a variety of ways. I even had begun this blog, so I wasn’t without the opportunity to speak my mind—although who knows how many people are listening to a blog such as this?
A friend who lives in Durango and whom I had visited regularly for the past year or more had encouraged me to look for a job here. It seemed unlikely that I’d be able to find one that met my skill set; after all, this is a small town of only about 18,000 people. Earlier this year, I had applied and was interviewed for a chaplaincy job I didn’t get. It was a blessing in disguise; though I am board-certified by two professional chaplaincy organizations, this particular Durango institution requires everyone in its employ as chaplains to be certified by yet a third organization. At my age and with my experience, I didn’t think there was anything to gain from going through another such grueling process.
When I saw the opinion editor’s job advertised (I had subscribed to “alerts” from Indeed about jobs in Durango), I thought, hmmm. That’s one newspaper job I haven’t held. Maybe I’m mature enough now to fill those shoes. The opinion editor at a newspaper is responsible for editing the opinion pages, and usually writes the newspaper’s editorials as well. As I pen this, I haven’t even had my first day on the job, so I won’t go into further detail. Suffice it to say I was intrigued. I went through the interview process and was offered the job. I was surprised, and not surprised, simultaneously.
So here I am, in Durango. My townhouse in Santa Fe is rented to a wonderful man from New York. My closest friends threw me a COVID-safe going-away party. I found people to replace me for most of my clients. A few spiritual direction clients wanted to continue with me, and I’m glad for that, as I love the work and it keeps me honest with myself while I serve others. My friends here have generously offered me their guesthouse for the winter, as I familiarize myself with Durango and figure out where I’d like to live, and find my new home.
When I thought about this job and the possibility of getting it, thereby facilitating my move to this beautiful place, I found myself thinking, “Don’t you want another adventure, Hollis? Why not now, while you’ve got the energy? Are you going to wait until you’re 80 and then find you don’t have the chutzpah to do it?” I simply had to go for it.
It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to longstanding friends, although I will continue to visit Santa Fe from time to time; it’s only a four-hour drive. And in the process of moving my computer died (facilitated by my traveling coffee cup residing in close proximity to the laptop, in a canvas bag; need I explain further?) and I got into a minor fender-bender, which meant my car was in the body shop until the afternoon before I departed. Things got very complicated. But most everything unfolded exactly as it needed to, or should have, in retrospect, and all is well.
I will have more to say about my Big Pivot as time goes on, and I plan to finish the series I started, as I’ve already interviewed a number of other women about the major shifts in their lives. But this will have to do for the moment. And darn, I can’t include photos because of course my photos are on my computer, not this one, which was graciously loaned to me by a friend until my new one is delivered in about a month. When the new one arrives I trust I will be able to download my data from the Cloud or my backup drive. Wish me luck. Prayers also accepted.
A friend recently shared these wise words, from Federico Fellini (yes, the filmmaker), of all people:
A season of change doe not necessarily mean the collapse of civilization.
Stay well, and be of good spirits. Regardless of what happens this week, life will go on!