Reflections on entering the second half of life by Keesha Jean-Baptiste

On the outside, my life may look picture perfect. I am married with two children and two dogs. My husband is a Global CIO of a reputable creative agency, and I am a Global People Director for an international luxury goods company. We have lived in the NYC metropolitan area, Portland Oregon and have owned several homes over the years. In February 2021, we decided to move to Geneva Switzerland. Life has been good!

I know the view from the outside looking in,  people say: “Wow, look at them”, “That’s nothing but Black excellence”, “They’re a power couple”. I am grateful for the acknowledgements.

While professional achievements used to drive me, I have had a renewed sense of purpose that was prompted by the pandemic. This is now cliché to say but I was among the many who reevaluated life and purpose during the pandemic years.

As I reflected, I became inspired by my teenage self. During those years, I recall being highly creative writing poetry, exploring photography and dreaming. This reflection made me wonder what happens to us as we age. During my teenage years, I was in a self-discovery mode. In my adult years, I unconsciously traded that for everything on the outside: education, career and family. I went from undergraduate school to graduate school. I was anxious to get to NYC to start my career in advertising. I was then anxious to start a family. I then focused on being a reputable leader in my field.

It is common to lose yourself by being in service to others. I have learned that this is also a trauma response— pushing attention away in order to avoid anyone noticing what scars you. In an attempt to maintain that picture perfect view.

As I approach my 49th birthday and enter the second next half, I have made an intentional decision to choose Keesha. Why? Because it’s time. Because I like the girl, now woman, I was then and who I have become. It was because of this revelation that I made the decision to move abroad. The questions were  Why not?, Why do people feel the need to stay rooted in one place? Why can’t I live abroad? What’s the worst that can happen if we took the leap? Would I only consider this if I was younger? 

If you are blessed to see the second half of your life, I have realized that you can keep dreaming and create new paths for your life. I was living in the opposite way which was not natural to me. But, I accepted this societal notion that life after 50 is just about surviving and not thriving. 

Here’s a quote that encapsulates my renewed purpose:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman

Taking the leap to move abroad meant we had to leave things behind us that will not serve us in the future. It meant simplifying life down to what really matters and removing the stuff. 

Here are three lessons I learned and will take with me into the next chapter:

  1. Never Stop Dreaming
  2. Do What Makes You Come Alive
  3. Regift Your Talents

My name is Keesha Jean-Baptiste and I am Broken Open.

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