Voices of Transition #3: A transition journey….

“From now on you’ll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be,” said a letter addressed to Anne Hathaway in her role as Mia in the Princess Diaries, a 2001 movie that my 8-year-old daughter and I enjoyed over the holidays.   Hathaway went on to read more of the letter by saying, “the key is to allow yourself to make the journey. Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important that fear.”

I frantically jotted down this exchange.   It seemed more profound than the typical Disney “G” rated movie.   Maybe I’d had enough of turkey and relatives?

I was reminded of this excerpt the other day when I interviewed Maria Kieslich, a technology & project management executive and a ‘transition’ veteran.  Maria describes her experience with transition as something that she’s been “in and out” of for more than a decade.  I interviewed her as part of our Voices of Transition column, a series of interviews with women who have navigated transition.

Maria parents a wonderful daughter and works part-time at TeenLife.com,  an online resource for teen learning experiences – regionally, nationally, and internationally.   She holds a MBA from UChicago and has been in IT and Financial Services over the arc of her career.   Her daughter who has special needs has been a substantial focus for her and her husband.. who has an extreme job that requires more than a bit of travel.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Maria when asked to characterize her transition.  “Everything else that I’ve chosen to do plays to my strengths.  This doesn’t.”   By ‘this‘ I interpreted Maria’s comment to mean both learning how to parent as well as defining her new professional-self post-parenthood.

Maria talks about her transitions using the words: intentional and unintentional.  She has been part of transitions that she chose and those thrust upon her.  Her 1st transition occurred when she was expecting and assigned to bedrest.  “I was in total shock, the start-up changed its strategic direction.  That wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.”   Some of the later transitions, while not as traumatic, have proven to be huge wins for Maria.    She offered the following observations:

  1. “At some point along the way, I just decided that things would work out.”  Maria suggested that it was beneficial after cogitating, managing, and planning her transitions…that it was ok to relax  a little.  “I lost control,” said Maria, “and realized sometimes things just work out.” Maria attended an iRelaunch seminar in June 2011.  From it evolved a non-paying internship that led to a paid contracting gig that then led to a more formalized role.  “Sometimes things just work out.”
  2. “You need to continue learning,” said Maria, “even if you are home full-time.”  Maria pursued a project management certification while at home with her daughter.   Like Karen, our food industry executive who championed investments in ourselves during transition, Maria espouses this same goal.
  3. “Keep your eye on the prize,” said Maria.   “Remind yourself daily of YOUR value set and what YOUR goals are.  Try to stay true to those.”  This one caused me to pause.  I can’t tell you the number of days that I seem to swim back into the vortex of other people’s expectations.  The reality is that few, if any, understand the complexities that I am trying to manage while defining my path.  How then could they understand what is right for me?  Or better, why do I let them?
  4. “We always come back to ourselves, only better,” said Maria speaking of her intermittent periods of full-time work in the home.  She was relating stories of accomplished women in her town who run various committees and organizations.  “If you are a hyper-organized do-er you’ll find that path again.  My daughter’s needs required me to step outside my analytical, linear comfort zone and build new skills.  Her needs have really made all the difference.  I’m better for it.  In a professional environment I now understand things in totally new ways — thanks to her.”

Maybe Maria’s journey is similar to that alluded to by Ms. Hathaway: our transitions bring us along a path to closing that gap between who we are and who we think we can become.  The journey – while daunting at times – has brought Maria to a good place, one she wouldn’t have sought out on her own.

Do you have a direction for your journey?   After almost a year (hooray!) of writing about transition  –  I believe the journey is worthwhile and it requires great courage.  The destination is only relevant to you.

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