In 2011 I was at a crossroads. After 25 years in administrative work, primarily with non-profits there seemed to be no end in sight to the long hours, the grant writing and the personnel issues that are the stuff of any administrative position. I cared about all of the causes I worked for and I gave my heart and soul to each position, but I was getting a bit tired. In 2010 I learned that I was to become a grandmother for the first time. I was thrilled. While awaiting this baby, who I just knew would be a red-headed boy, I thought about what it would be like to have that special relationship. I wanted to be able to have time with him, to have the energy to play, and to share as many of his growing up moments as possible. He was born in February 2011 and it was love at first sight. For the next several months I wore out the rode between his house and mine, visiting as often as I could. His mom and dad eventually moved to Chicago, making it a little more challenging to see him as often, but I still went as often as I could.
Then in November of 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cancer is a scary word for most of us - and having been a caregiver for a friend who eventually died of the disease, it was especially scary for me.
I under went surgery and radiation treatment and continued to work at my administrative position for the next several months. I was even more exhausted of course, but as most people do, I carried on. My oldest son and his partner were traveling the world it seemed, finding ever more adventures, more things to do and places to see. Another son (father to the grandson) completed his bachelor's degree, another was working on his degree and very active in a leadership role with a statewide organization. My youngest was getting ready to graduate from high school and making pans to spend a year abroad. It was all going so fast.
It some point that I knew I had to make a change, and even though I did not know what that change would bring, I left my fast paced high pressure administrative position.
I spent that summer more relaxed that I had been in years. I traveled a bit, spent time with friends and family and tried to not give too much thought to the future. One day I was downtown near Panara Imports, which had been my favorite store n town since they had opened in 1991. I knew the owners so I went in to see how things were going. Partly as a joke, I asked if they were hiring. "No", I was told, but it is for sale.
My first reaction was that it would be impossible for me to take on this kind of venture. I took my last scheduled trip of the summer - to a small cabin on the shore of Lake Michigan. I sat there staring at the lake. I tried to imagine what it would be like to own a store. I wondered if doing so was just trading one kind of stress for another. I thought about how I could do it. I came home and talked to my husband. With his support I made the call. With the support of my family and so many others I made it happen and I think I can honestly say that it's the best career move I ever made.