Jeri Mersky, Ph.D.
As an Organizational Psychologist and Principal of JLM Management Consultants, I’ve been coaching, consulting and training in the work world for over thirty years.
Now that I have moved just “beyond” mid-life, I’ve noticed so many shifts in my thinking, my feelings, and in my physical, home and social life as an “older” woman (AARP got my name a few years back!). While I don’t usually feel “old,” there are definitely differences in how ambitious I am about my work, how my home-life feels now that both of my children are out of the house, and what I want and need to focus my time on. I believe (and hope) I have many healthy years ahead, but wonder what combination of work, play, volunteering, socializing, caring for others is best for me now and in the future? All these questions, uncertainties and even fears, led to my personal decision to co-create “Women Beyond Mid-life: Creating a Conscious Path” with my friend and colleague, Beate Lohser.
Our workshops have shown me--and the women who’ve spent time with us in these discussions--that being in a “transitional” place is so typical for women between 50 and 70+ years old. We have so many questions and issues to discuss: if we'll find a “passion” to follow after work, if we'll enjoy being with our spouses or partners more or less time, whether we should move to a smaller home, move closer to children, or build that art studio in the garage? I love guiding and learning from the women in our small groups. Everyone finds support, the encouragement to keep seeking, and some powerful “ahas" from the varied experiences of women in these groups.
There aren’t many group experiences like ours in the Bay Area, and I feel privileged to co-lead them with a Psychologist as skilled and insightful as Dr. Beate Lohser. I’m looking forward to many more workshops in which we can shape the deep conversations that women in mid-life and beyond want —and need—to have.
I am a clinical psychologist in private practice in Oakland and teach at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, a graduate psychology program (also my alma mater). I have 30 years of experience working in psychotherapy with a variety of people, and have always had a special interest in women’s issues. Back in graduate school I was impressed by the perspective, generally under-emphasized in the field, that people continue to grow psychologically over the course of their lifespan, all the way into old old age--they don't stop doing so at age 18.
Applying this understanding to women has been especially fascinating to me: How do women come into their own, how do they change over the decades, and what particular challenges do they face internally and externally to create meaningful lives? These questions have perhaps never been more relevant than now, when aging baby boomers are looking for a sense of purpose and fulfillment past the retirement years. Wrestling with answers to these questions in our workshops has been a very a rewarding professional experience for me.