The Journey: Midlife Transformation Begins With Bold Decision

By Janet Kidd Stewart
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “The Transition Network” is a national organization for women over the age of 50 who are going through various types of changes. The group focuses on support and professional development.

Tribune News Service

Midlife can be a minefield. Gray divorce, death of a partner, sudden illness, age discrimination or brutal corporate downsizing, to name a few potential triggers.

For Veronica Buckley, it was a job transfer to Chicago for her husband that uprooted her more than a decade ago from an administrative position she loved in New York. She was 48 and hadn’t finished her college degree.

“That was my disorienting dilemma,” said Buckley, referring to Columbia University professor Jack Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory, which was based on research in the 1970s on factors that made women successful, or not, when they resumed their education at community colleges. As long as our experiences fit in a preset range, we tend not to engage in truly transformational learning, the work suggests.

For her part, Buckley enrolled in college, finishing not only her bachelor’s degree, but a master’s and then a doctorate in adult education. She worked for a private equity firm and now is on the faculty at DePaul University in Chicago.

She’s one of a small group of Chicago professionals launching a downtown Chicago chapter of The Transition Network, a national organization for 50-plus women going through various types of changes. The group focuses on support and professional development (www.thetransitionnetwork.org).

The secret to making these transitions successful? Buckley and other leaders of the organization aren’t quite sure, honestly.

Neither is Mark Miller, author of the just-released book “Jolt: Stories of Trauma and Transformation.”

For the book, Miller interviewed men and women of all ages who had suffered some kind of trauma, loss of a child, illness, natural disaster, and who often transformed that grief into service projects around the globe. He also interviewed experts on traumatic experiences to understand the science behind what was happening to the people he interviewed.

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