“Who are you going to fight with after you leave your job?” a colleague asked me at a board meeting earlier this week. I had been talking about preparations to testify to the NH House Finance Committee, opposing the total loss of state general funds for domestic violence services. This cut is only one of many too many the Committee is considering that would destroy critical service programs that the state’s most vulnerable citizens rely on for basic survival. Tough times these days, which I assume had me talking tough, thus the question.
“I’m going to stay on this board and fight with you,” I answered, but with a laugh, because this colleague is a man I mostly agree with, but who can engage in a good discussion.
“You strike me as an organizer,” he went on. “What will you organize?”
“I just organized a new writing group,” I said, and I have. “I have a lot of identities. Being the Executive Director of the Coalition is not all of who I am.” Very true. Look at my bio here on the blog — you don’t get to my career identification until the end of the list. But this week I’ve been exploring another woman’s life-altering shift in identities, and beginning to understand that as much as I’m embracing the coming change, it’s going to be BIG!
Margaret Roach is a gardener and writer, and until 3 years ago, was a top executive in the Martha Stewart empire. Margaret’s gardening blog, A Way to Garden, is a treasure, and her new book and I shall have some peace there is also a treat. I went to hear her read and speak last Tuesday night, and at one point, in describing her previous, jam-packed and wildly hectic work life, she held up her hands as if warding off demons when she talked about her need for time and space and solitude in order to figure out who she really is and how she wants to be in the world. She left her high level Manhattan career and life to live full-time at her weekend home in the country, to garden and create and write. While I am walking away from a much different kind of career, the pace sounds similar, and so I’m reading with anticipatory curiosity.
In her first months of her new life, slowing down is not easy. Margaret describes still being on the spin cycle in fast and furious language that rings so true. I’m getting a helpful glimpse of what my new life might feel like, when suddenly there isn’t somewhere I have to be and something that has to be done, right now!
The book’s title is from the Yeats poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree. It’s worth keeping the full line close in the coming months: “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.”