Meg’s Story - Wasn’t it John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans?” That’s what happened to Meg. She was a good student and graduated with a degree in anthropology and was set to join the Peace Corps. Meg had been dating Josh but the relationship was not serious as had incompatible plans for their future. Josh wanted to continue school and get a master’s in accounting. Meg was thrilled to have her adventure in the Peace Corp. But oops life got in the way because Meg got pregnant accidentally. Under a lot of family pressure from both families Meg and Josh married. Meg became a mom and Josh got a job and went to school at night. Not exactly what either had planned.
All things considered they had an OK marriage but thirty years later, their children were grown and they decided to divorce. It was an amicable divorce with little animosity so Meg didn’t need to spend time grieving over a failed marriage. She did some soul searching to determine how she could re-invent herself. The results: She decided to re-apply to the Peace Corp.
Her grown sons were supportive as were her now elderly parents. When I spoke with Meg she was waiting to be assigned to an Eastern European country where she’ll teach English. She was looking forward to starting a whole new chapter of her life. (In her application process she learned that 6% of Peace Corp volunteers are over the age of 50. These volunteers are wanted for their valuable life experience as well as whatever particular skills they have. There have been Peace Corp volunteers in their 70’s and 80’s.)
Pam’s Story - Pam also had an interesting and inspiring story. She had been one of those women who had lots of energy and was able to juggle 4 kids and a serious career. Once her youngest was in school fulltime she got a job as a trainee insurance actuary. Pam had always been excellent with numbers and she was quickly promoted to a full fledged actuary. After 22 years on the job her husband Ben became terminally ill and Pam quit her job to care for him. They had been happily married for over 35 years. His death was a heavy blow and Pam missed him and their life together terribly. She became seriously depressed.
Her youngest child Marlene had just graduated college and came home to stay with her Mom during this soul wrenching time. Pam and Marlene had always been close and now Marlene was able to help her mom sort out a new life. Pam realized that she suffered from empty nest syndrome as well as the loss of Ben. She loved raising her kids especially as tots. With Marlene’s support Pam could see she had to do something to make her life tolerable.
Between them they came up with a plan to get Pam into a new life that would lift her depression. Pam decided to get a job at a pre-school. Pre-schools don’t pay much, but Pam had a lucrative retirement income so she was able to do something she loved and still be financially stable. She worked in a government subsidized pre-school and was able to provide special treats for the children that their families could never afford. The work turned out to be her life saver. When we spoke she was working fulltime with the children and had fallen in love with many of them. She often spent her weekends taking a couple of kids to the zoo, museums, libraries and theme parks. The kids benefited, but not as much as Pam.