When and how to pivot? Valley residents garner newfound happiness after switching jobs
Editor’s note: This is the second of the series The Longevity Project, a collaboration between The Aspen Times and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
Switching professions in today’s demanding financial climate can be a magnificent task — especially in the infamously inflated Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys.
There are high bills to pay, groceries to buy, mouths to feed. This may seem like a never-ending cycle, which can be a nightmare if someone is ready to explore another profession.
As a former single mother before later getting married, longtime Valley View Hospital medical assistant Maureen “Mo” Hanson was working in the oncology department when she started to feel the need for change. COVID-19-induced layoffs in May 2020 put her out of work. She admitted, however, this downtime turned into the best summer of her life, when she got “the best tan.”
When she was later rehired seven months later, like so many professions and companies during and following the pandemic, she was required to hustle harder than ever.
“All my friends were still at the hospital working their butts off after that mass layoff, and they were having to do more with less,” she said. “When I got hired back, that’s what I was doing.”
Hanson loved her job, and former patients still stop her in places like City Market for free medical advice.
“It’s not a job I’m doing anymore, but the passion is there, the love is there, and the relationship is there,” she said.
Daily exposure to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Tuberculosis (TB), COVID-19, the flu and the common cold while constantly and thoroughly cleaning every piece of equipment in every hospital room left Hanson wondering if she could do the job anymore.
“That’s not what I signed up for,” she said. “I love my patients, I love what I did, and I wanted to give them quality care. And I feel like because of the demands put on me as a medical assistant or my peers that I was working with, we could not give that quality of care and do the other things that were being demanded of us for $16 an hour.”
In comes the crossroads.
Hanson said she would come home from work unable to turn off the physical and mental exhaustion, and in turn, she would sometimes become short with her family.
Faced with the challenging dilemma of changing professions while on the brink of age 50, she took a leap of faith. She was so determined that she started applying for restaurants and service jobs. She finally landed a desk job working for a Roaring Fork law firm.
“What I was doing before, I love. I’m just doing what I’m doing now because it’s a job paying the bills,” she said. “It’s definitely not what I was made to do. I miss the patients, for sure.”
Local peer support coach Vanessa Lane says since everything is so expensive in the valley, many locals must work two or three jobs to make ends meet. This is why she feels a lot of people in the region end up moving.
“I think that’s almost everybody here in the valley, depending on the type of work they do,” she said. “I’ve lived in the valley, and I’ve always had two or three jobs.”
But Lane has stuck with this hectic regimen of multiple jobs, and she has now gained enough experience and is beginning to start her own nonprofit.
“I’m trying to get my nonprofit up and going to where it winds up being sustainable,” she said. “But my whole life was that way as a single mother.”
For Hanson, her days are filled with answering phone calls and helping with probate estate planning. But she values working more of an “8-to-5” job, which has opened up new windows for her.
One, she said, she gets to spend more time with her family. Two, she used the extra time to start her own business. Called Mo Jam, Hanson sells homemade jelly at local farmer’s markets.
But looking back at her days at Valley View — the hospital has since raised salaries for many of its employees — Hanson thinks about her former colleagues.
She said perhaps they don’t want to rock the boat, and they simply need to stay the course. These are people who have children and families who are relying on their full-time wages and insurance, she said. They feel obligated, and there’s perhaps no way out.
But Hanson maintains that they, too — especially single mothers — should take the leap of faith toward change.
“You can do anything you set your mind to — anything,” she said. “It is expensive to live here, for sure, but there are so many resources. You just have to tap into them.
“You have to know what you’re looking for and what you want, and you just have to follow it, pursue it and be assertive and get it done.”
Presented by The Aspen Times and Glenwood Springs Post Independent in partnership with Renew Senior Communities and TACAW, the Longevity Project is a bi-annual campaign to help educate our readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. The June event will look at how to navigate big life transitions, while maintaining, or regaining, purpose.
When: Tuesday, June 6.
Where: TACAW, The Arts Campus at Willits
Time: 5 p.m., Meet-and-Greet; 5:30-7, panel discussion
Tickets: Can be purchased online at events.cmnm.org/e/longevity2023.
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