My Third Act

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Education, Mary, Uncategorized, Wellness

by Mary Yoke ~

It’s hard not to ponder the strange path my life has taken. Both personally and professionally, I’ve had so many unexpected twists and turns. Career-wise, I’ve definitely had what can be divided into at least three acts — something I would have never imagined in my 20s, 40s or even in my 50s. And who knows? Maybe there are more acts to come. Life, for me, has been so unpredictable.

In my 20s, I thought I had it all mapped out. I was certain I was destined to be a famous opera singer. Every indication led directly to that conclusion.

I earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in voice performance, won every vocal contest I entered, and won two large cash prizes at the culmination of the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program in 1978.

Me singing Mimi in La Boheme at an outside performance in San Francisco, 1978.
Singing Mimi in La Boheme at an outside performance in San Francisco, 1978.

Famous impressarios, conductors, voice teachers and opera coaches all were convinced I had a magnificent career ahead of me. I lived — diva-like — for music and art. This was Act One, and, like any act in a theatrical play, it came to an end — and an unfortunate end at that.

Suddenly, in my late 20s, I was beset with unexplained hoarseness. I tried everything: a month of complete vocal silence; 100 shots in my back to see if I had allergies; and a tonsillectomy, which was followed a year later with an adenoidectomy. I changed voice teachers and voice coaches; I moved to different climates. I studied the Alexander Technique. When experts said it must be psychosomatic, I entered therapy. All to no avail.

During the subsequent and devastating entr’acte, I unhappily supported myself with a number of different jobs: waitress, bartender, line cook, pastry chef, legal aide, bookkeeper, receptionist in a large car dealership, salesperson in music and clothing stores, and as a church organist.

Eventually, I chanced into the world of fitness. And so the Second Act began.

Luckily, after teaching group exercise for a couple of years (back then, we called it aerobics), I met an influential person who recommended I return to school for a Master’s degree in exercise physiology, which I achieved in 1988.

Fitness has been good to me. Not only were jobs available, but I was able fairly easily to juggle the demands of new motherhood and maintain a flexible and accommodating work schedule. Plus, a great side benefit of a career in fitness is that staying in shape is actually part of the job.

I worked first in cardiac rehab and as a physical therapist assistant, then in corporate fitness, and then in commercial fitness, all the while teaching one academic class per semester as an adjunct professor.

In 1986 I became involved with a major international fitness certifying organization, and for 30 years this company has provided me with amazing opportunities for teaching, writing, and traveling around the world to present a wide variety of fitness workshops and certifications.

I’ve also presented at hundreds of conferences and have made several online videos on a Hollywood sound stage. I’ve been so very fortunate and I’m tremendously grateful to all those who’ve helped me and inspired me. The fitness world is full of people who motivate others for a living — they’re an enthusiastic and passionate bunch!

The bizarre thing is, I never could have predicted this entire career back in my 20s. Who’d have thought I’d become a fitness presenter, educator and writer? This was SO not on my radar during Act One!

Teaching at Indiana University.
Teaching at Indiana University.

And now, surprise!, I’m in Act Three. My fitness credentials helped me land a Visiting Lecturer position in kinesiology at Indiana University. I entered academia full-time and found that I loved it.

After decades of cobbling together a full-time income from multiple fitness jobs, I’ve now decided it’s good to stay more-or-less in one place and have some job security. I’ve found that I love developing longer-term relationships with students over the course of several semesters. I am inspired by my students, other faculty, and partners within the community. I love the vitality of a college town, the vibrant action on campus, the idealism and questing of students, and the golden bubble of learning, which is the academic world.

I have a strong sense that this is where I now belong. When the Visiting Lecturer position ended, I found I was finally at a point in my life where a PhD could become a reality, and so I’ve moved into health behavior research and will receive my doctorate by the end of 2016.

I hope to stay in academia, do research, inspire students, collaborate with inspiring colleagues, and continue with my writing and presenting. I am filled with purpose and feel as if I’m on fire!

Seriously, every single day is exciting and amazing for me. I’m being challenged in new ways I couldn’t have imagined ten years ago. Even though I’m at the age where some of my friends are already retiring, I feel as if I’m just getting started on a new and amazing path.

Retirement for me? No way! I have zero interest in retirement — I feel as if I’m good to go for another 20 or even 30 years. There’s so much I want to learn and accomplish.

I guess the reason I felt compelled to write this post is that I am continually surprised at my own career path (and don’t get me started on all the personal life changes I’ve experienced) and I’d like to put forward the idea that this is possible for others.

I’ve come to believe that, in fact, we can have multiple careers within one lifetime. Perhaps this can be an important way to stay vital, energetic, curious and productive. If you’re floundering in uncertainty or in a dead-end job, take heart that life can hold something better for you that may be beyond imagining.

In my own case, I can assure you that my unorthodox and unexpected journey has nevertheless caused me to thrive in ways I could have never foreseen. Who knows what lies ahead?

by Mary Yoke | email | facebook | linkedin

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Goodbye, LA!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Entertainment, Happiness, Internship, Kate, Success, Uncategorized

After two months of writing, reporting, and ceaseless movie and TV discussions, I’m officially done with my IndieWire internship. I’m incredibly sad to leave the friends I made there behind, but hopefully I’ll find myself back there at some point in my career (sooner versus later, please!).

I ended up with 65 published bylines on the site, with a few more pieces scheduled for publication as the year goes on. I covered and/or attended seven or eight premieres, screenings, or other events for the site, as well as some just for fun.

The cast of “BoJack Horseman” at their Season 3 premiere panel.
The cast of “BoJack Horseman” at their Season 3 premiere panel.

My final week was pretty busy with events and goodbye parties, but my favorite was a premiere screening for “BoJack Horseman” Season 3. For those who don’t know it, it’s an animated comedy on Netflix that satirizes Hollywood and celebrity culture. The premiere had a panel with the show’s stars, including Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. I got the chance to meet most of them at the after party, which was super fun.


The IndieWire television team all set for Emmy nominations to begin.
The IndieWire television team all set for Emmy nominations to begin.

We were also overrun with Emmys coverage during my last few weeks, since nominations were announced a few weeks ago. We gathered in one of the conference rooms early in the morning on that Thursday with our PMC provided “Emmy NomNomNominations” breakfast and got to work! It was sort of a chaotic morning at the office, but thanks to some great organization and extensive prep, it all went smoothly.

The Last Bookstore is half museum, half bookstore, all awesome.
The Last Bookstore is half museum, half bookstore, all awesome.

I also got the chance to do a bit more sightseeing during my last week at work. I tried out the Metro bus system and ventured downtown, visiting The Last Bookstore and other famous spots. I probably could have spent the entire day just at the bookstore, but I forced myself out the door after just an hour or two.

I liked my time in LA due to my awesome job and great coworkers, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of my favorite cities. The lack of a decent public transit system is baffling to me, and I just couldn’t get used to spending hours and hours in traffic every day. I also hated the parking situation — paying to park everywhere from Target to the public library? Come on! That said, I would be happy to live in LA upon graduation if it meant I could return to IndieWire, or even somewhere like it. As long as I get to do this type of work, I’ll be happy!


Don’t make me go!
Don’t make me go!

All in all, I’m so glad I chose IndieWire over my other summer internship choices. I really felt like I was a useful contributor to the site, rather than just another intern used for fact checking and research.

The list of things I learned this summer goes on and on, but I think the most valuable lesson is that confidence and personality go a long way. I’m a pretty good writer, but I think it was my personality that really endeared me to the IndieWire staff. I made some really good friends in the two months that I was there, which has really upped my chances of being rehired in the spring. Sure, being good at my job will also help my chances, but endearing myself to the team has given me an edge over unknown candidates.

And that isn’t to say that I went in with the goal of making friends — I just found my people there. Anyone who knows me will attest that I’m far from an extrovert, but I really hit it off with some of my coworkers and found it easy to go from colleagues to friends. Obviously my work will go under the microscope if I ever get the chance to be rehired there, but I feel comfortable that I have at least two or three people in the LA office who will fight for me!

It feels really strange to have spent a summer working as a professional, doing my dream job … and now going back to school for one more year! Hopefully my last year at IU will prepare me even further for a job in entertainment journalism, thanks to my work at the IDS and my full schedule of film and journalism classes.

Thanks for keeping up with my Hollywood adventure! Here’s to many more.

by Kate Halliwell | email | twitter