How Midlife Made Me Lose My Mind and Find My Purpose


I’m a level-headed, responsible person. At least I was before I hit midlife – or midlife hit me, I’m not sure which.

I figured out in my early 20s after a series of dead-end, crummy-paying jobs that I’d be happier – and ultimately make more money – working for myself than for someone else.

This inspired me to transform a love of grant writing, research and non-profits into a business when I was 25 years old. I’d just moved from San Francisco to Austin, Texas. I didn’t have a car or a computer. And, since it was 1990, there was no internet. (Remember those days?)

It was slow going, but over several years I built a successful business that allowed me to get out of an unhappy marriage, support my daughter, travel, put aside money for retirement, and buy a house in Austin before the market went berserk.

I spent most of those years feeling like I had life by the horns. But all that confidence seemed to evaporate when I hit my late 40s.

Suddenly, it was as if my life had taken on a life of its own.

This waywardness led me to make a series of midlife decisions that would horrify any sensible person, but that would also end up changing my life for the better in totally unexpected ways.

Down the rabbit hole

The shit really started hitting the fan in 2012.

That’s when my daughter left home for college and my then-husband suddenly accepted a job 400 miles away in a tiny, depressing town in West Texas.

Although I wasn’t wild about the idea of moving from a bustling city to a crypt-like town, I was restless. So, I sold my house in central Austin and moved to the middle of nowhere. (I’m not exaggerating, we’re talking tumbleweeds here.)

Is it any wonder the move was an utter disaster?

I felt lonely and isolated on the High Plains. My marriage was unraveling. I had some remote work, but I underestimated the impact moving away from my clients would have on my business.

Two years later, I filed for divorce and fled to the nearest city. Had common sense prevailed, I would have rented. But it didn’t, and instead I bought a house and burned through a ridiculous sum of money on renovations.

Midwest madness

Lubbock, Texas turned out to be just a larger version of the dumpy farming town I’d left behind. But I met my current husband there, and together we hatched an escape plan. If only our plan, and our judgment, had been sound!

The problem? We had developed an ill-advised infatuation with Iowa.

Oblivious to the red flags – and the irony – we bought an old, drafty farmhouse and moved to a remote Iowa town that differs from the dumpy West Texas town only in that it’s surrounded by cornfields and pig farms instead of cotton fields and fracking sites.

Once the reality of what we’d done had sunk in, it was too late. We didn’t have the money to move again and even if we did, we had no idea where we’d go.

Autopsy of a midlife moving mistake

Fueled by despair, fury and disbelief, I conducted an “autopsy” to try to attempt to understand how, and why, our search had gone so completely off the rails and to figure out what we should, or could, have done differently.

What I discovered is that, while impulsivity and poor judgment were partially to blame – we had made a huge, life-altering decision when our midlife brains were clearly not firing on all cylinders – there was more to it than that.

Retracing my online search, all I found were hare-brained best places to live lists and people bitching or raving about this or that city. I could not find any bona fide guidance or support to help people in midlife, or any age for that matter, figure out where they’ll be happiest living.

From the ashes

And there, out of the rubble, the idea for Your Place Finder was born.

First, I wanted to design a way to help people tune out the online noise and instead focus their search on places that are  most compatible with who they are and how they want to live. So, I created the Spark System by adapting a signature method I’d developed over 30 years to find and match like-minded funders with nonprofits.

Second, I wanted to focus on helping retirees and almost retirees find and navigate the move to their perfect retirement location. That’s because I strongly believe (and know from painful experience) that these years should be spent enjoying the fruits of our labors and exploring new interests, not scrambling to recover from a costly and humiliating moving mistake.

Let Your Place Finder be your guide!

Are you ready to embark on your retirement in a new location? Why go it alone? Get your very own Custom Place Prospects Report, along with planning tools and one on one consulting/coaching support to help you find your perfect retirement location – without losing your nest egg! Click here to learn more about the PlaceFinder Program.

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About the Author

I founded Your Place Finder in 2017 to help retirees and almost retirees like you anticipate and overcome the pitfalls and challenges – and reap the rich rewards – of finding the perfect location to move for retirement.

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