So I went west! I had my list of destinations, a departure and return date set, a convertible loaded up with my stuff and an incredible feeling of excitement and anticipation at the possibilities of three weeks on the road. I wanted to have new experiences and see new places. Bucket list stuff. Being a food lover and a person getting more interested in farm to table eating I thought it would be a great experience to work on a farm at some point on my trip. Maybe I could find a place where they would let me stay for a few days and work with them. You know, because everyone just lets strangers who are interested in what they do come stay with them. The whole trip came up quickly and I didn’t really know how to go about it so I dropped the idea.
From St. Louis I drove through Kansas City up in to and across Nebraska to eastern Wyoming. The only time bound destination on the trip was The Taste Of The Tetons in Jackson, Wyoming so I was working my way there. The event was in the famous Town Square and was a great time. Jackson is a fun city with great people, lots of shops and plenty of places to eat and drink. It was easy to get stuck there for a few days as I laid out a plan for camping Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. One day in Jackson I was grabbing lunch at New York City Sub Shop based on a recommendation from a local. Always a good strategy when on the road. They were right. Not only was it a good sandwich but a very fortuitous stop. I was going to start camping in the next couple of days and wanted to load up on some fresh produce for some good camp meals. I noticed a flyer on their bulletin board for The People’s Market promoting building the community through food, art, music and family while celebrating products produced locally. That sounds great to me. It was the Slow Food logo that caught my eye. I had been attending Slow Food St. Louis events so I was familiar with the organization and happy to support the local chapter, Slow Food In The Tetons. It would be a great place to have a fun night and get supplies. It was also where I would meet Erika and lead to an experience I’ll never forget. Read more
Eleven months ago I lost my job. Like many people over the past handful of years I was consolidated. I saw it happen to many people I know but that day it was my turn. In that moment I was initially surprised and hurt. Oh my god! This is it. It’s really happening to me. For a few seconds I was numb while my boss’s words hung there and then sped past me in a blur as I quickly flashed on that journey I had started 16 years earlier and was now coming to an end in less than a minute. After the initial shock I quickly found myself feeling strangely at ease. I realized I was no longer responsible for the long list of things I had been working on and it felt as if a huge weight was literally lifted off of my shoulders. It also started to occur to me that since I was a manager who had been with them for 16 years the HR Director was hopefully going to be giving me details on a nice exit package and that indeed was the case. I loved my job and didn’t want to leave the company but I was ready to take my career in another direction and now that opportunity was handed to me. I never want to have that experience again and it stung but I can honestly say they did it as respectfully as possible. I was allowed to say some goodbyes through the building at my own pace without an escort which meant a lot and they enabled me to take plenty of time to figure out my next move. So there I was going on 40 and unemployed in a terrible economy without a solid idea of what I was going to do. I knew that I wanted to take some time to figure out ways to take life after 40, “The Second Half” as I’ve been calling it, in a different direction…with more direction. Learn new things. Have more experiences. Go places I’ve never been. See what I’ve always wanted to see. Make more plans. Take more chances. Reach for my dreams. It was time to go west! Read more