Awards, Designations and Miscellaneous

(This begins a series of posts in the “Relics of the Past” which will hopefully allow me to rid myself of more “stuff”.)

I loved my job. Yet retiring wasn’t hard for me.  I’ve enjoyed  my life since I fired my clients and cancelled my office phone number.  But it took a lot of mental and emotional energy to make that decision.

I was saying goodbye to what I thought (at that time) was my personal power. I had become my business…or at the least, my business persona.

Gary Larson Cockroach Cartoon
I tried to keep myself grounded with this Gary Larson cartoon hanging in my office. “I used to be somebody…big executive…my own company, and then one day someone yelled, “Hey, he’s just a big cockroach.”

I had arrived professionally.  When I moved from residential real estate into commercial/industrial, I didn’t imagine that the men my age could ever forget that I was a woman.  I didn’t see myself standing among the pick-up trucks, kicking the tires, spitting, and discussing the tilt-up walls of the warehouse and whether the loading dock was at the right height for the incoming freight.

But it happened.  Sitting in economic development meetings even I forgot that I was the only woman in the group. I blended into the industrial scene in my own area and became comfortable in teams of owners, attorneys and accountants.

It was harder on the state and national scene.  My counterparts in the larger areas had that professional look of well-cut suits and brisk movements.  On my way to attending a meeting of industrial brokers in a nearby city, I remember telling a friend, “My face gets tired from looking smart.”

I had defined myself in a new way.

After years of being a stay-at-home Mom, I emerged on the scene ready to take on the world.  My college son sat in my office during my phone conversation with a client, “It’s like superman.  You went into a booth and came out someone different.”

Although I still closed my office door and spent hours talking on the phone with my kids and my parents when they needed or wanted my attention, I was a business woman in public.

What I didn’t have was a life outside of my career.  When I did a time analysis which included my business, having a relationship, enjoying my grandchildren and caring for aging parents; I knew what was expendable.

Let’s see!

What I miss about those days:

My clients.  I really liked them.  Some are dead and gone, the others aren’t a part of my life now.

My hair color.  (In business women didn’t have white hair so I dyed it after my forties.  Social workers, artists and teachers  and did I mention men? can age naturally.)  Once in awhile I’d like to have dark hair and not be assumed to be elderly and frail.

And maybe I miss being a contender.

What I don’t miss:

Being detailed.  I’m really a big-picture kind of gal.

Having to be totally current.  I’d rather read what I want to read; from newspaper articles to magazines to books.  And I don’t have to know what is being built on every corner.

Being so overbooked that the underlying stress was killing me in ways I didn’t recognize.

The outcome?

Kevin Pope Live animals as Hats.
My daughter and her husband painted this sign for my home office at the end of my business career. (Original design copyrighted by Kevin Pope)



  1. You are very lucky. Although I retired from working for others, I have not been able to shed my own agency which I am obliged to run to satisfy a few old business contacts and an adopted son who insists that I don’t retire fully. Since it does not take too much time anyway, I still run it and the jam and marmalade on the buttered toast is also quite welcome!


  2. You want to know something? I kept that same cartoon for a long time, even though I have a drastic aversion to bugs of any kind, even in drawings, as a reminder that when one allows someone else to define me, then I’ve lost.

    I’ve worked for myself 11 years and I have to say that I thought it would be so much different than what it’s turned out to be. However, when things are going well, the freedom, even though I’m still working, is amazing. And even though I’m a guy, as a consultant and speaker, I thought I needed to color my hair for the most part as well for the public for awhile; that stopped in 2007 as I finally came to grips with just being me, period. Thanks for your post.


    • Mitch, that is so fun that someone else loves that cartoon. That’s my definition of art…that it speaks to me about something in my lives.
      My take on it was that I should not get too impressed with myself or my successes. I like your idea better, I think.

      I was immensely happy working for myself. I still believe that it is the best way to earn what we deserve for the work we do. (Or maybe I’m unemployable.) I love making my own decisions, right or wrong.


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