From Board Room to Beach Chair

When I left my job, I was at the very end of my rope. All I knew was that I needed to stop at any cost the workday life that had depleted me over the last 23 years. What was my plan? Go to the one place I knew would bring me peace: the beach at Nantucket.

I knew eventually I would have to get a new job: I was too young (46) to stop working for good and I couldn’t afford it. But I didn’t have the energy to make strategic decisions and create a post-sabbatical career plan.

I also felt guilty that I didn’t understand why I was leaving a job and career to which many people might aspire, but I was just too tired to figure it out. I didn’t really know why I was leaving—I just knew that I needed to go to Nantucket because that was the one place on Earth where I was always happy and peaceful.

Shortly after starting my sabbatical, I began an email exchange with Mike Phelps, the Norton Simon Professor and Chair of the Molecular and Medical Pharmacology Department at UCLA. Mike was a colleague of my husband, Michael. He sent us a book about the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena and invited us to visit it with him. I sent him a thank you email, which turned out to be the first in a summer-long online dialogue.

From the very first exchange, my emails with Mike were intense and focused on what is important if you want to live a life full of purpose and meaning. Mike shared with me nuggets of wisdom that startled me awake; these lessons made me think deeply about what mattered most to me and I rediscovered feelings and desires about work I thought I had lost. How could a complete stranger have such a profound impact on my life? The reader learns, along with me, that we each have our own “Mike Phelps” inside of us who can guide us to what’s important in our own lives.

From Boardroom to Beach Chair is a story of discovery, or more accurately, rediscovery. I rediscovered all the things that I loved about work when I first started working, but somehow had lost after 23 years. Click here to read an excerpt.

Coming in Spring 2012.