I don’t feel that old

Age is a funny thing.  As a child, I could not wait to be an “Adult”.  I have been a legal adult for 26 years.  Something completely new to me is having people be uncomfortable with my age, and actually have them look at me negatively for it.  The expectation of what a 44 year old woman looks like and acts like vary greatly from person to person.  The stories we tell ourselves about others and their age are interesting.

I don't feel that oldGrowing up I was ALWAYS the youngest.  On both parent’s side I am the baby girl by a long shot.  I was always behind in comparison to them. My siblings are 10 and 12 years older than me.  My closest cousin is 4 years older.  As a young girl, I thought the lives of my cousins and brothers looked amazing. I wanted to hurry up and meet them where they were.  Time can’t be rushed or slowed. Eventually, I did grow up, but they will forever be ahead of me.  Now that distance in age is pretty good.  They obtained grey hair and smile lines before me, which can be advantages in being the youngest.

When I started my career I was the youngest on the team.  I looked even younger than my 22 years old.  I wore no make up with flowing dresses and Doc Martin shoes.  I walked to work with my backpack and was frequently asked about my high school classes in the elevators.  As I aged and ascended in my career, my colleagues were close in age.  We all went through marriage, pregnancy, parenthood and divorce together.  Everywhere I looked my circle of friends and coworkers were all in a similar adult “phase” as I was.

With choosing to quit life as I knew it, I exited the rat race about a year ago.  That offered a wonderful experience, but with it presents something I did not expect.  As I connected more with myself during my break, I found my youthful giddy self again.  I like me more today than yesterday and definitely more than I did when I started adulthood.  Now in the present moment,   I feel great physically, emotionally and spiritually!  My body is strong and flexible.  I am running again without pain and yoga feeds my soul.  My spirit and heart soar with joy in my new practice of balance while I feel better than I did when I was 25 years old.

Returning to work at the bottom, I look around the room automatically thinking everyone is my age or older.  That feels correct until they start talking about their children.  They are dealing with pregnancy, daycare while some are planning their first wedding.  My mind registers confusion, and then I remember my life back then.  I giggle with delight as I loved my time where they are, but I embrace my current life as well.  In my youthful feeling and state of mind, I would of course I attract a younger man into my life.  What is most interesting is how wonderfully compatible this relationship is.  We share common interests and life flows with ease.  Yet this provides challenges for important people in his life.  For they have stories of what life should look like for him.  I understand on all sides of that equation, as I am a mother of an adult child, and I am a daughter.  My compassion expands for others as I experience into this learning opportunity.

Now that I am on the older end of the equation, I have a choice.  Lean in or run away.  I chose to lean in. Let me see what the universe has to teach me at this stage of life and in this situation.  I must say that the discomfort in others based on my age confuses me.  They don’t know me as a person, they just know my birthday.  Have an open mind and heart to get to know me first and then you may find plenty of other reasons to love me or not.  Interestingly it felt the similar when I was disregarded because I was too young.

Life lessons continue to show up until they integrate fully.  So, what does that mean?  We are good enough just as we are regardless of age, height, weight, house, car, or bank account.  That is true for me too…..



bottom to top back to the bottom


bottom to top and backI started at the bottom ascended to my top and now I am back to the bottom again. Surprisingly, I discovered that I love it at the bottom more than ever before!

Careers for the driven are much like riding a freight train.  They are alarmingly fast, to the point that you miss the details when you look out the window as everything is a blur.  The goal is to get to the finish line, yet the ending changes as the ride can go on for eternity.  There is always another level to achieve.

As a new professional on the health care scene 22 years ago, I imagined one day I would have an office to myself.  In that office I would have important meetings, make tough decisions, and make the lives of people I worked with better.  My professional ascension provided exactly that, it just looked a little different than I imagined.  Oh, and I forgot to pay attention to the important details of my leaders while blasting forward on the freight train to the top of a corporate ladder.

My upward trajectory includes four significant rungs:  staff therapist, lead therapist, center manager and regional manager.  I did have a big office at my career top.  It was my home, as I worked there when I was not traveling to the buildings I was responsible for.  I did have important meetings at company head quarters.  That was one of the best parts of the climb.  It was where I could spend time with my coworkers on the same rung as well as visiting the ones above me.  I made plenty of tough decisions.  Hiring, firing, reworking systems, implementation of unpopular practices graced a lot of time while at my career top. The making lives of people better that I worked with part, I do feel  I did some of the time.  My goal was to make the shitty stuff more fun.  I wanted to connect with people in order to remember that we are all on the same side even though some of the key players and practices may change along the way.

I stopped my upward trajectory there, as a Regional Manager.  Looking around at the positions above me, I recognized the exchange required for further that level ascension was not for me.  The expectations for rank, hours and dollars did not add up for me in a way that made sense.  While at the top for me, I basically burned out and jumped off the train.  The next career train that I wanted to get on did not show up for seven months.

Actually it was not a freight train at all.  It is more like a leisurely and joyful visit to a state park.  You know, that park where there are places designed for you to stop and do something.  Maybe it is an exercise station or a park bench to sit and talk.  It’s a calm environment where people move at their own pace.  This place is known as the bottom for me, a staff therapist.  You know what?  I love it.  This time I pay attention to the details I missed the first time I was here.

My focus is on the patient or team I am working with at the moment.  My office is huge this time around.  It is in a facility, a home, and in the hearts of those I spend my time with.  I do have important meetings.  They are now directly with the person  I am working with, and sometimes the people who love them, to reach their personal goal.  I make tough decisions.  This time those decisions are identifying what areas to push people to work harder on.  I continue to believe I make lives better for people I work with.  Sometimes that is in the form of a smile, holding a hand, a suggestion to push through something scary, or honoring their choice to stop therapy.

Because I have been at a version of the top, I bring something different to the bottom rung; compassion, trust and understanding.  I understand the struggles of my managers and leaders.  I trust their efforts.  I realize there is more to the story than they are allowed to share.  I remember with compassion, the challenge of being friendly but not friends, being honest but not blabbing, being firm but not an asshole, and being available but not a doormat.  I am grateful they are at the top and I am at the bottom.  What I love most is having the privilege of clocking out.  At the bottom there are no crisis to solve, no fires to put out and no one to fire in the morning!  I get to hold myself accountable for a work balance.

Kristin Springfield



The end of an era

20160521_112337The past few months have been a whirlwind.  Hell, the past year has been filled with big changes in my life, but this time it is in the lives of my parents.  They have moved to a retirement community, Trinity Oaks, that is close to family in Salisbury NC.  That may sound simple enough, yet it has taken an army of people to help with this transition.  Overall, this experience has reminded me of how loving my family is and how friends (new and old) will show up just when needed.

My dad has Parkinson’s disease as a result of his tours in Vietnam during the 1960’s.  He is a proud Veteran of this amazing country and served for 20 years active service for the Army Corp of Engineers.  He then went on to serve in the private sector for another 15+ years.  My mom and dad have enjoyed over 20 years of active retirement.  His expression of Parkinson’s robs him of energy to do the things he loves.  Mom still has enough energy for the two of them, yet it was time to downsize and have close by  support.  This year they both turn 80.  It is beyond time to give up caring for a large home and lawn alone.  They finally listened, and took the plunge!

My brothers and I divided up the tasks in order to make this move as simple as possible for my parents.  Letting go of a home filled with items you collected at the height of your independent life proved to be hard on every level for them.  My brother and sister-in-law (Brian and Pearl) helped at the home front with holding their hand through weeding out what items to bring and what ones to leave behind.  I learned that patience and a firm reminder of square feet are necessary for a downsize to be successful.  Their new home would be approximately 1/3 of the size of their home with no additional storage.

It is amazing what can be stored in an attic!  My family moved to their home in Woodbridge 34 years ago.  I was 10 years old.  In those 34 years, all of my siblings and myself moved out, married, had children and created our own lives.  Returning to this home to help my folks leave it for a better life seemed somehow surreal.  It is our turn, their children, to help them move on and receive help.

Countless hours were spent in the home with my folks.  Brian and Pearl guided the folks through as much as possible in order to take only what they loved.  It turns out, they loved damn near everything they owned.  That is wonderful, yet now it was time to get picky.  We all agreed that we wanted to gift our parents with the level of support they have given us over the years.  The folks left their home a week before the movers showed up and stayed with my aunt and uncle.  This allowed them to leave their home with it still feeling like theirs.

Movers show up to pack and move everything to the new cottage in NC.  This was where I came in.  I had every piece of furniture planned precisely where it would be placed.  My spreadsheets and plans were preapproved by all involved.  I arrive a day early to the cottage to be sure it is ready.  Of course, it was!  My part of the gift was to set up their home for them without them being there.  I wanted them to come “home” with everything set up before hand.  Reluctantly, they agreed.  Mom was only allowed to come long enough to sign off the trucks arrival, look at the empty house and return to my aunt and uncle’s home.  I could feel her anxiety.  It made sense to me, I would be too if I were in her shoes.  They both trusted me to do my best, the pressure to perform was on!

The Salisbury moving company was fantastic and highly recommended!  They appreciated my plans and attention to detail.  When an unapproved piece of furniture or box showed up, I remember just staring at the movers.  Jokingly, I said, “Put that back on the truck.”  Now it was my turn to be anxious, where in the world would I put the”extras”.  My help showed up just in time.  Chaos to Calm proved to be my perfect companion and coworker for the next two days.

Home life I am known for moving into a new place and having it set up within 4 days. This time,  I only had from 6 AM Friday until 6 PM Saturday to get this done.  I had 14 hours of scheduled help, a house full of boxes, and a goal to set up home for my parents before Saturday 6 PM dinner.  My cousin and his lovely wife showed up for about 4 hours on Friday night to help out.  This is the work that makes my soul feel good even as my body wants to drop from exhaustion.

Dad's surprise!The look on my parent’s face as they walked into their new home was worth it all!  My helping crew and I succeeded on our mission.  Every box was empty, items were put away, and the boxes were gone.  Every picture was hung.  Every clock was marked as to where the maintenance man of the community would hang them later on that week.  All clothes were hung up and put away.  Every photo album had a home and was in chronological order.  Every figurine was lovingly place, and most were on display. Their beds were made and ready to be slept in. They did not have to do anything except take a seat with a glass of wine to celebrate.  That is exactly what we did!

The next few weeks were taken up with Mom and Dad calling to find out where I put everything.  Fortunately, I remembered! They have been there a month now and are settling in with new friends, a new routine, time with my aunt and uncle, and the enjoying the helpful support from living at Trinity Oaks.

Family love!Brian and Pearl are now working on getting the home in Woodbridge ready to sell before they move out of town on their own adventure.  We will be handing the baton over to Robb, the oldest brother, to get the home actually sold.

Just this past weekend we celebrated in the new Salisbury cottage home with extended family.  The space may very well be smaller, yet it flowed perfectly for over 20 people to reunite.  Cousins we had not seen in 20 years showed up with their kids.  It was wonderful and fun at the same time.

Earlier this month, I visited my childhood home in Wooodbridge for most likely, the last time to pick a few pieces of my past.  A bed and a crib along with Mom’s wedding dress are now at my home in Danville.  I wondered if it would be sad.  Much to my surprise it was not.  All the items and people that made this house home, no longer lived there.  It was just a house, a shell.  Now it is now ready for the next family to fill with memories.  It reminded me of the feeling I had when I moved in December of 2014.  I took home with me in the heart of my beloved favorite items, just like my parents did.

goodbye NOVAThe era of my family living in NOVA is over.  It is sweet, bitter and wonderful at the same time.


Kristin Springfield
Home Kreator Extraordinaire