Friday, May 23, 2014

My Midlife Career Change

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach? The one that tells you the idea you have is a really great one - if only you were bold enough to go for it? I've got that feeling.

Here's the backstory. My family and I were just cruising along in our busy, happy life where my husband worked and I ran the house, homeschooled the kids and made sure life ran smoothly. And then, two and a half years ago, my husband lost his job without warning. We didn't panic - he's a smart guy and we could get by on unemployment and our savings until he found a new job.

The months stretched on and unemployment eventually ran out. We started dipping into our 401(k) money. Surely we had plenty there, right? Time marched on and the 401(k) balances kept shrinking.

I needed a job of my own. if only to stave off the complete depletion of our retirement funds. In order to continue staying at home, I started to do freelance work - mostly editing, but I would take on almost any job from ghostwritng to transcription to long-distance motivational coaching.

Ends met and I loved the success I was having, but the 16 to 18 hour days were tough. After two years my husband found a great job and I stopped working. I loved the break, but after just a few months I was really itching to get back to something. The kids are not young and they really don't need my hourly supervision and it would be great if we could bulk up our savings again.

I spent some time thinking about what what I would like to do and the one thing that makes my pulse race and makes me grin like an idiot is...Physics. Specifically, Astrophysics.

M31 (Andromeda) Galaxy - star formation happening right now! Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL

Yup, I'm a big ol' nerd, and I love science. My BS is in Chemistry, so it's not really that much of a stretch, at least not in my mind.

I have a history of making big decisions and then somehow making them work. In this light, going to grad school doesn't seem like such a hurdle. Granted, I'm not free to relocate, so I will have to limit myself to schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. But really, if you had to limit yourself, Massachusetts is a very good one to pick.

Right now I'm spending a lot of my time studying. I graduated from college a long time ago (1989!) and even with homeschooling the kids, I'm fairly rusty. I've been working my way through the MIT OpenCourseware lectures in freshman Physics and Calculus.

I'm almost done with the freshman classes and I have a plan that I think is a viable one. I'm going to start taking some courses at UNH before I even apply to grad school. As effusive and excited as I am (every other day I come up with another excitng area to research), I'm not very confident about my skills. I think this is realistic for my progress - I really don't know enough to get into grad school yet.

The biggest hurdle I have is paying for classes. Even with the NH in-state, continuing education rate for classes, my Astronomy class this summer is going to cost me about $1700. To help defray the cost and keep the financial impact on the rest of the family at a minimum, I have started picking up some freelance editing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's been a long time since I've written about what my kids are up to, so I thought I'd update you.

Zach and Ben
Ben is 18 now, and he will be graduating from high school soon. There's no actual date set because he's homeschooled, so whenever he takes his last final exam, he is done He's taking a gap year because he thinks he's been working very hard and deserves a break. He completed his Eagle Scout project earlier this year, is the President of our Temple Youth Group and is a teacher's assistant at Hebrew School. So he was busy, but he doesn't believe me when I tell him it's only going to get worse.

Zach, my 16-year-old king of angst has been at the Palace Theatre and UNH summer camp for the last couple of years. He loves musical theater and has been in:Pocahontas, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Annie, Shrek, Oliver, Xanadu Seussical and is now rehearsing for Fiddler on the Roof. His taste in musicals runs more toward the dark side - Repo: The Genetic Opera, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, The Devil's Carnival and Next to Normal, but there don't seem to be any children's productions of these available.

Josh as a gargoyle

Josh is studying for his Bar Mitzvah, which will be in November. Our cantor says he's doing well and she is going to have him lead more of the service along with the usual Bar Mitzvah responsibilities. My husband promised Josh that if he led the entire service, he could make my husband shave or style his beard any way he wanted. I'm a little afraid of what might happen, but I'm going along with it.

Tirzah has just turned 11 and is as goofy as ever. The pink hair is permanent, but the tattoo mustache is temporary. She reads like nobody's business and even though she has to go to her bedroom at 8:00, she's often still up reading at 11:00. She claims she can't fall asleep, but it's surprising how quickly she does once the lights are out. It goes against my nature to tell a kid to stop reading, but she gets very crabby when she doesn't get enough sleep.

They're all fine - happy and healthy and on their own paths to adulthood. I'm proud of each of them and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think how lucky I am to be their mom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Holy Smokes! It's Been Five Years?

Wow, has it been a long time since I've been here! So much has happened in the past five years that I couldn't possibly catch you up on it all. In some ways life has gone on the way you would expect - kids get taller and older, jobs come and go and waistlines shrink and expand (mostly expand in my case). The worst thing that happened was that my husband was unemployed for two years. Generally speaking, we weathered that storm well, but we don't have any retirement savings left. This has caused me to go back to work and I'll fill you in on that soon, because it's really exciting. My exciting news for today is that I wrote and published my first novel, The Shattered Door, in September, 2012. It was a great experience: fun, tough, rewarding, frustrating - I went through just about every emotion there is in the process of writing, editing and publishing my novel. I've written the second book and have to edit it, and the third book in the series is half-written. The kids are all much more self-sufficient now, so I have more time or working and writing, and I've been trying to make the most of it. More on this on soon.