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Reinvention - A Personal Story

May 10, 2012
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Many of us dream of what it would be like to wake up one day and do something entirely different (and…I don’t mean doing the same sort of job with a different logo and address). I’m talking about a role unlike anything you’ve ever done. For some, it’s a mid-life crisis that forces us to think about the true meaning of life. Why are we here? For others, it’s a forced lay-off or downsizing event that forces their hand. But for most, it’s the same role year after year.

I’d like to share a personal story about a healthcare professional I know very well who has been down the reinvention track multiple times and even today -retired - she's still in a state of perpetual reinvention. I’m talking about some pretty big, pretty amazing career swings! I should know –I've watched her in all of her new endeavors for decades. Literally.

This amazing healthcare professional started her career in nursing after graduating from The Medical University of South Carolinahere in Charleston, SC. She married, had eight sons and then transitioned into a (very full time) career as a parent. Eight kids - I can’t even begin to imagine handling that! She continued on her multi-decade, globetrotting nursing career, moving from Columbia, SC to Wurzburg, Germany to Panama City, Panama and later to Baltimore, Maryland, and finally settling in Eastern Tennessee –making many changes along the way, of course. During those years, she decided to fulfill a life-long aspiration to serve and became a Catholic Sister (a whole other story which would take too long to cover).  After traveling all over the world in this role (including multiple visits to Calcutta, India), she established shelters for abused young women across the continental US and Alaska. But was she done? No – not her! It was time for a new career. So, after retirement from nursing and her volunteer work as a Sister, it was time to launch yet another new endeavor.

This brilliant woman - still full of life - embarked on a career that most of us just dream about.  Get this: She cruises all over the world working in ships' infirmaries. In the past year she’s been all over the US and traveled to Eastern Europe, Rome, London, Peru, Florence, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Cairo, Jordan and other places that most of only wish we could cross off our bucket list! I'm amazed at her energy and brilliance! She turns 78 years young this year, and called me a few weeks ago to let me know she would be out of the country on a 32-day European cruise. 32 days?! Pretty cool, huh? What a life she has - she has definitely figured it out. I’m envious.

Most of you would call her an amazing woman, and she is, but I prefer to call her Mom. I am so proud of her and the life she has led. She redefined the term “reinvention”, and I've been fortunate enough to have a front row seat. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Nice Job!  



What a fantastic story and tribute to your Mother Tim Tolan! She must be quite a role model for your family!

Anna Bolen
Wallingford Partners