When I turned 52, my world turned upside down. I had not thought much about my age as I was too busy with work and life to even consider it. My stress level was off the roof. There was little time to think about anything, frankly. I was happy with the work I was doing in TV journalism, but had (over time) disliked where I was doing it. Then the unexpected happened. I was laid off. In fact, they laid off anyone who was over 50 years old. I guess the local PBS station where I worked didn’t want to have to pay us for our experience and wisdom. Besides being in “shock and awe,” I was scared. I had been diagnosed with cancer only three years before that, and in America when you lose your job you lose your insurance. Cobra covered me for a while, but with no severance pay (yes, Texas allows that too) all the money from unemployment went to pay for my insurance. As a journalist I realized very quickly that what I knew about my profession was that I knew nothing! My Columbia graduate school classmates were also getting laid off along with thousands of journalists around the country. What I knew about journalism was obsolete.
But here is how I became an ageless provocateur. First of all, I realized that I could not make a living freelancing as a journalist. There was not enough money – so I had to transform myself into several different persons.
The first year after losing my job I was very depressed. Not only had I lost my job, but my parents became extremely ill and I had to have a very expensive ankle surgery. Then I kept hearing that I would never get a job in television because I was too old. But what people don’t know about me is that if you tell me I can’t do something I like to prove you wrong. I decided to become an entrepreneur. One reason is that if there is age discrimination, which I had obviously experienced, the only way I could beat it was to have my own company and create my own path. I always say, “If you want a seat at the table, well…buy the table!”
First, I decided to learn to how to edit (which isn’t easy by the way) and improve my shooting skills so that besides being in charge of content or being on camera, I could do almost everything. I had to expand my horizons. I opened my own production company Love Smart Living Media, and was nominated for an Emmy on the first project I shot! Then I decided to teach courses in my area of expertise (which I had done before but not as often). I also began to work as a medical interpreter, continued making music with my old bandmate (Blu International Music duo), started a bilingual podcast with two other journalist friends my age about issues from three women’s perspectives, and at the constant request of my friends began a digital online series called “Passion Time.”
As far as aging is concerned. I am at peace with it for one reason. In my mind, I am still 30-something and always will be…just more mature! I have a lot of joy and laughter in my life. I have a lovely family whom I adore and friends who lift me up at all times. I do what I love and what I am passionate about. I may not have a stable income, but I manage and I know eventually I will live in the abundance I create. And by that I don’t only mean financially, I mean health, love, passion, and work I love! I don’t want to make a living. I want to make a life – and I am doing so.