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The Gift of My 'Bonus' Career

Within a week of leaving Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario at the end of 2017, I registered Kaleidoscope Consulting with the tag line ‘changing the way we view aging’. After a career of working as a team member, I was about to fly solo, whatever that would look like. All I really knew, at that time, was that I wanted to continue to work and I was committed to work that would positively contribute to the quality of life of older adults.

And so………here I am, five years later and having just renewed my business license for another five years. Optimistic, right?!

What a learning experience this has been. Three of my five years as a consultant has been during the pandemic which means most of my work has been online. I am slowly being drawn in to some in-person activity but, for the most part, continue to work remotely.

The transition from working in a college with supportive infrastructure (no more going to the help desk or my more technologically savvy colleagues for my tech problems!) and being part of what I often called the ‘dream team’ at the Centre for Elder Research to sitting alone in my home office, was more daunting than I might have anticipated. How I longed to be able to easily consult with my colleagues, ask them to review a document or to listen to an idea I had or to listen to their ideas. Yes, I could have called them but there was a clear voice inside me that knew I had to let go, freeing them to move the research centre forward with their own vision.

Was it hard? Absolutely. I had lived and breathed that centre for so many years and valued the other team members more than I can express. After so may years of working on teams, I initially found the solo life of a consultant quite lonely and isolating.

Did I adapt? Also, yes. In the last five years, I have embraced the opportunity of taking what I had learned and experienced up to the point of leaving Sheridan to continue that work in the community.

Since leaving, I have worked with so many inspiring and dedicated people in the community. I slowly discovered that I could still work as part of a team; the difference is that these teams are time limited, anchored by specific projects. What I have also learned is that, when I immerse myself in a project or community, I come to care very much about the people I am working with and leaving them at the close of a project is still hard, a bit like when I left Sheridan. I feel like I leave a little bit of my heart behind at the close of each project, whether it is a longer project or a one-off workshop or presentation. Is it worth it? Yes!

Thank you to the committed, resilient, creative staff, volunteers and older adults whose paths I have crossed over the past five years. You have enriched my life beyond measure and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.


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