Two Formals & A Retirement Party


As if Super Bowl 50 wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend, try two high-school winter formals and a retirement party on one super Saturday night.

All of these events interwoven with seemingly unrelated threads got me thinking. Mainly about the similarities among life’s transitions. And how we have more in common with each other than we think we do.

Whether you’re just starting high school, as my son is. Or finishing high school and contemplating college, as my daughter is. Or celebrating 35 years of service with a company, as a former boss of mine is.

As one phase of life ends, there are misty-eyed memories and fond farewells. Peering into the next phase, there’s the excitement – and trepidation – about what the future holds. And there’s a reminder that the present is precious.

The misty-eyed moment at the retirement party was a heartfelt speech by the honoree, Paul James. True to Maya Angelou, I remember the feeling more than the actual words. But they were about how we’re all shaped and influenced by the special people we choose to surround ourselves with.

Looking around that room in the company of my husband, I saw many wonderful colleagues, past and present. I thought about how much I’ve learned from them and others I’m privileged to work with.

I thought about my daughter gathering earlier in the day for photos with her dressed-up friends by the Malaga Cove Library, laughing and enjoying the moment.

They – and their fellow high-school seniors – have worked so hard. They’ve studied, taken test after test, stepped up to leadership roles, given back to their communities and applied to colleges.

This is their moment to savor their hard work and their friendships. With luck and good grace, there will be a lifetime of moments ahead for them.

And I thought about my son, attending his first formal. The red carpet at the entrance to Wendy and Jason Moskowitz’s home where the ninth graders gathered in advance took on special meaning. It reminded me of these students’ upcoming transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The common thread? There is so much ahead, no matter what stage of life you find yourself in.

As Marina Keegan wrote in her widely read Yale Daily News essay, The Opposite of Loneliness – “we have to remember that we can still do anything.”

There is much to be grateful for today. And much to look forward to tomorrow.

This is shaping up to be an historic year. In our family, our oldest child is heading off to college. Of course, we don’t yet know where that will be. But all will be revealed soon enough. Isn’t that the same for everything in life?

In sports, the Super Bowl turns 50 today and the Olympics are coming this summer. In politics, the citizens of the United States will choose a new president this fall.

In science and technology, we’re seeing accelerating change with driverless cars, drones, artificial intelligence, the connections of everything, and so much more.

As I was thinking about transitions and passages this sunny Sunday, I returned to the site of an earlier transition. It was my daughter’s bridging ceremony from Brownies to Girl Scouts in grade school.

Speaking of special people, she and several of her classmates were led by two incredible troop leaders, Gina Ann and Allyson Rener.

They took the girls on a decade full of amazing outings, from ropes courses and horseback riding to behind-the-scenes tours at storied companies and nonprofits.

The bridging ceremony was no exception. We spent a beautiful day at the South Coast Botanic Garden. As each girl walked over the bridge (pictured above), with a rose in hand, she moved from one phase of Girl Scouts into the next.

And as they near high-school graduation, I’m especially thankful for the wonderful experiences that Gina and Allyson offered these girls who have grown into accomplished young women.

What I feel this weekend is the elusive yet powerful “opposite of loneliness.” It’s what Marina Keegan profoundly articulated before her tragic death a few days after her essay was published.

As uncertain as life can be, I’m exceedingly grateful for the people who touch my life. I’m exceptionally aware of how precious the present is. And I’m happy to be reminded that we’re all linked to each other through generations, years, transitions and passages.

May you find much joy this day and every day, wherever you are on your journey.

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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