Holly’s Story: Part 2

When you are starting over, one question everyone asks is, “What do you want to do?”

“Well,” you say,“I don’t know.”

The response is usually silence, and then a change in topic or some advice about what you should be doing that you quickly tune out, because how could they know what you want to do?

When I was going through a divorce after 25 years of marriage, trying to determine how I wanted to support myself and figuring out what I wanted to do was a big challenge for me. I had recently joined a church, and they were asking for volunteers for their programs. I decided to keep busy, and volunteered for everything. I sorted donated cans, made sandwiches and fed the homeless, delivered flowers to people who couldn’t leave their homes, parked cars, wrapped raffle items, and served lunch at a church in Watts. An interesting thing happened when I was serving lunch in Watts. My job was to squirt mustard on hamburgers. I was good at it, it was fun, and the kids laughed at the squirt noise because it sounds like a certain bodily function. I stood squirting mustard onto those hamburgers and then realized that yes, I could do all these things, but it was not using my leadership and project management experience. I learned what I could do, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. And I learned that my skills were very useful in some things, and of little use in others. That day I realized which skills I wanted to use. When you are in high school you are not expected to know what you want to do with your life, so you are encouraged to try everything. My advice? When you are an adult and need to start over, take the same path as high school and do everything. Meet some new people, try new things, and learn more about what you like and don’t like to do. And most important, take the time to enjoy the process. Enjoy everything, have fun, and begin to see yourself as someone new!

Following a personal jolt in her life, Holly Richards surrounded herself with a team of mentors and supporters, dusted herself off and decided to focus on helping others. In 2012 she and her team founded the Gals Starting Over to change how we, as a community, empower women to build their skills and confidence to achieve self-sufficiency.  She brings to the organization over 35 years of executive experience in the fields of Information Technology and IT consulting.  Holly was a consulting partner with KPMG and has held leadership positions at leading software and consulting companies. Her background and personal commitment drive her to empower women to find their own “starting over” path.