It is more like being a painter. We continue to dab at the canvas of our lives, making little changes here and there. But those big decade birthdays — like 30, 40, 50 and 60 — feel like the chance to paint over much of the canvas and partially re-invent ourselves, keeping the parts we’ve learned to love and embracing and discarding those parts of our lives that we can do without.
Of course, by the time 50 rolls around, I think we as women have really started to figure out what’s truly important in life and perhaps have learned greater acceptance of ourselves and appreciation for what we bring to the table.
And sometimes we opt to change courses. I started taking stock after I turned 49 last April 16, musing on how I’d like to spend my 50s and 60s. One thing that became obvious is that I wanted to stay in Rome. It’s home. I was born here and fortunate to return as editor of the Rome News-Tribune eight years ago. As I started my mid-life musings, I was not contemplating a career change.
But a series of divine connections led me to Cancer Navigators, first as a board member and now as its executive director. Sometimes in life when such drastic shifts occur, it’s not about leaving something. Rather it’s about being drawn to a new purpose. I believe we each have a divine destiny. I know being the RNT’s first woman editor in 160 years was my divine destiny. Being editor of our hometown newspaper will always be one of my proudest accomplishments. Now I have a new divine destiny — helping cancer patients on their journey.
Both my old and new careers were the reason I was asked to be a part of the four-week Women’s Leadership Academy at the Rome Area History Museum as part of Women’s History Month in March. Participants heard from area leaders including Evie McNiece, Elaine Snow, Leigh Patterson, Leeta McDougald, Tracy Hawkins, Annie Cowan, Terri Mayes, Angie Lewis, Marti Walstad, Leigh Barba, Susan Harvey, Mary Sib Banks, Nancy Smith, Tami Colston and Janet Byington. I was honored to be among such an esteemed group of women. It was wonderful looking out at the audience of women of all ages there to be inspired and motivated. The event was organized by Janet Byington and Leigh Barba, who’s one of our showcase portraits celebrating leadership in this edition. In fact, a good number of those speakers have been celebrated in Magnolia over the years.
A message touted by several of the speakers was the importance of women supporting and lifting up one another in our endeavors each day. A network of strong, smart, kind, innovative and motivated women can work wonders in a community. I think that’s one of the reasons Rome-Floyd County is a shining example in the South. I like to think of it as Magnolia Power!
The best part is that even with the mid-life changes of late, I remain as editor of Magnolia to continue this journey of celebrating our lives as women. I am so excited about that as we start our sixth year of the magazine. I can’t wait to see what my 50s hold in store ... and I can’t wait to see how our Magnolia connection continues to bloom.
Charlotte Atkins, editor