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* Act 3 – but what is it?

August 11, 2019

So let’s just assume Act 1 was my life from birth till I finished undergrad at of the U of Minnesota. About 22 years, 2/3rds of them as a baby to a high school kid. It was a time of growing up. Given I went from a kid to a young adult in the last few years, a lot happened the last third of Act 1. An intensive time where learning prevailed over most everything else. Where I almost entirely lived with my family, primarily while growing up in Madagascar.

Act 2 then began when I married Becky and then started grad school. It lasted till 2010, age 53, when my time at my last full-time job ended–30 years. A time of moving from young adult to middle aged to just into my 50s. A time where work predominated, full-time jobs all of them. The first 15 years with the clarity of my work overseas and the 10 years of grad school preparation I put into that. Since then, the last 15 years of this Act, it was much more confusing. A series of jobs that have each ended with disappointment. At least some of this especially now in retrospect at least in part due to the late onset bipolar I’ve ended up with. Lacking in anything near the clarity of the first 15 years.

But most certainly not just work. From newlyweds we fairly quickly became new parents, blessed with a daughter and two sons. Moving multiple times across the oceans and back. A time of several major health scares. A time of successful doctoral studies. Years of a great deal of time spent watching one or more of our kids engaged in sports which they all loved. Working hard to raise our little family. And then seeing each of them graduate not once, but twice. And move out on their own.

That was till 2010. At which point many things had changed. I was not well. In spite of 4 years of therapy and meds I was not improving as much as any of us had hoped. Still some crushing times of depression. And unexplained times of thinking too positively to be realistic. Or wise.

And so the start of Act 3 in 2010. Fortunately, before I got too deep into it I was diagnosed as someone living with bipolar 2. This provided new insights on a decade or so that hadn’t made sense as my being someone “just” living with depression. And got me connected to the meds and wise people I needed for the treatment of bipolar instead of what I had been doing when we thought it was “just” depression.

Now, in Act 3, like when we came home from Madagascar, I don’t know where I’m headed? I spent much of from 2010 to 2016 looking for work. I was able to teach in higher ed part time so that helped. Then a part-time job with a nonprofit I enjoyed but which only lasted 2 years. I’m now over 60 so no longer so much young. Also living with Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT), a form of neuropathy, which, while not that serious, is life-changing as it’s slowly taking away my mobility.

In terms of work, in an age that looks for specialization, I’ve been a generalist. I’d still like to work for some time in an area which makes use of the concern and compassion I have for those who are struggling in this world. But what to do? What to do indeed?

Part of it’s where to look? I don’t appear to have been looking in the right places. But where are those places? Who will still have me? Who can help me figure this out? Higher ed? Nonprofits? Something else?

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