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  • Writer's pictureLoraine Griffiths

The hardest thing in life is change


courtesy photo

Everyone talks about a midlife crisis but never does anyone think they will go through one.

Last May, I started feeling like something was missing from my life. I couldn’t gauge it I just knew I wanted more. I didn’t know what area of my life needed to change so I took a deep look at everything I had going on. It was a deep assessment of my day-to-day life. The thought process started like this:


1. I work 8-10 hours a day.


2. I drive two solid hours three days a week to get to work.


3. After work, I come home and run around my three children to dance, hockey, basketball, whatever sport they are playing at that time.


4. I cook dinner, clean up and make lunches. Somewhere in between, I try to check homework.


5. I get the kids ready for bed and baths.


6. Picking out clothes for the next day.


7. My husband John gets home at 8 p.m. (since he works in Philly too) and he eats dinner that I left in the microwave.


8. We all sit down together and watch “Bluey or Big City Greens” and read a book if we remember and then head to bed at 9:30 p.m.


9. If I haven’t finished my work for the day, I get the littles to bed and I hop back on my computer to work for an hour or two. In that time, I go through meeting notes, make sure my designers and I are solid in work planning and then I close up shop for the night.


Just reading my daily recap from last May is exhausting. I was at the peak of my NFL career as a graphic designer for the Philadelphia Eagles. I had just been promoted to be a lead designer and was running a department. But something was missing, I had everything but I felt nothing. As a woman in sports, I felt like I worked hard to be where I was. I fought so hard for my promotion, and I was showing my kids that I was a super hero killing it, but that was a lie.


Inside, I was barely keeping it together. The load of stress and daily anxiety I felt was immeasurable. I had the world on my shoulders and I felt completely and utterly alone. So I decided to Wo”MAN” up and tell myself I was not okay. I needed to find a therapist; I needed to find solutions to my feelings and I needed to really face the inner demons of why I was a people pleaser, and why I didn’t take time for myself.


Long story short, the NFL has amazing resources. I jumped onto TEVA Health and I found a therapist who I connected with immediately. Over a three month span, we were able to diagnose what childhood traumas and behaviors made me feel less than. Here’s a synopsis, my father thought he was always inspiring me by saying you can do better. What I heard was that’s not good enough so I just put my nose down and worked myself to the bone and thought that was normal. My mom was a single parent and watching her, I saw her constant need for help, so I’m my adult life, I decided I didn’t need help and I did everything alone. Did my parents want to inflict these behaviors on me? Absolutely not, but the way I reacted was a coping mechanism that I’m still learning how to break away from.


So, furthermore I had to think about what “Loraine” needed to succeed and feel loved. And I’m going to tell you right now that it was very hard to dig deep and I’m still trying to figure out if I made the right choices.


I had an honest conversation with John and I told him I missed him. I told him family dinners were important and I needed him home earlier.


So after two months of him doing some searching, he was able to renegotiate his hours with his employer. So now, he gets home at 6-6:30 p.m. and helps with lunches, chores around the house and most importantly dinner with me and the kids.


I knew that my career was my everything. I knew that I worked hard to be where I was. I worked with players, an amazing staff and I thought I had it all. I thought that feeling mentally drained was OK, pushing through to meet every deadline with a smile was normal, I had the job a million people wanted, but I was exhausted. My family came second and I knew I needed to change that.


So, I decided to look into education. At 22, I wanted to teach but now I had a awesome skill set in design with real life experience so I took an unpredictable dive into a very cold pool and I applied for a high school graphic design teaching job. I was hired in June, I gave two month notice to the Eagles and I finished out my NFL career at a high. Now, I work 15 minutes from home, I get done work around 3:30 p.m. and I come home to my family first.


I’m not going to sugar coat it though, talking classes for the alternate route program, teaching and learning my role is not what I had at the Eagles. Education is very much independent study. Yes, there are resources but when you’re feeling tired, you’re not in an office with a team of peers telling you ‘Keep going. You’re going to crush it.’ So luckily, I found my person “Lee”, she started the same time as me and had an incredible career in healthcare and is also going through the alternate route program. She is my cheerleader and we get through the tough stuff together. I have much more time at home, but I have a lot to learn, so this year is going to be more complex than next.


Bottom line, my family needed to come first. I needed to stop feeling guilty for things out of my control. I also needed to see that I was more than just a job and I was capable of giving my kids more. The biggest thing I need to still learn is that “I am enough” and I am doing my best.


The final day at the NovaCare complex was one of the hardest days of my life. The last time I walked out those doors, I walked halfway to my car and looked back at the doors that I walked in 10 years ago at 30 years old. I walked in there confident and knew I was going to make something of myself and I sure as heck did. I cried my eyes out walking to my car. Once I got into my car, I told myself I did it! I won a Super Bowl, I attended two. I designed the inside and the outside graphics to Lincoln Financial Field and no one can ever take that away from me.


I am more than a job, I am not replaceable, I can make a change, I can empower the next generation, and I can be a great teacher. I am enough and at 40, you are not dead so if you want to change something or try another career, you still can.

Loraine Griffiths is a fifth-generation Hammontonian, graphic designer, wife and mother of three. She can be reached through email at LifeWithLoraine@gmail.com.

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