From Here to There

Megan BearceYou are always free to change your mind and create a different future for yourself.

This is a mantra that Minnesota State University, Mankato alumna and author Megan Bearce uses on a daily basis. While visiting campus in early April, she told her story of the unexpected journey that led her to where she is today.

Bearce graduated from Minnesota State Mankato in 1996 with a major in accounting. She had a job lined up at a public accounting firm in Minneapolis, where she worked for two years following graduation. However, something didn’t quite fit.

Bearce decided that the cold, snowy Minnesota weather was dampening her spirits, and she started looking for jobs in California. Five interviews and three job offers later, she landed a position as a supervisor in the International Free TV Finance and Accounting Department with 20th Century Fox. Although the glamour of the television industry was fun at times, this was still not what she was searching for.

After a brief stint as a florist—and a visit from her concerned parents—Bearce enrolled in a graduate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles. Her focus? Clinical Psychology. After years of being the “go-to” person for advice in her various offices, everything finally seemed to fit.

“You can always change your mind,” Bearce says. She emphasizes the need to “find your niche”—both in her field of psychology and life in general. In her opinion, the most rewarding aspect of her career is helping people make positive changes in their lives.

Bearce has had to make several changes in her life as well. After graduating from Antioch University, she opened her own practice in California. In 2009, Bearce, her husband, and their two small children moved back to the Minnesota due to a job offer for her husband. A year later, after Bearce had become re-certified in Minnesota and opened a new practice, the family was faced with another difficult decision: Bearce’s husband had been offered his dream job as the head of content for The Mill in New York City. This posed many tough questions that they had to consider: Would he continue working there longer than six months, and should they uproot their family once again?

Having just purchased a home and with the struggling economy posing an issue, the family decided to take an interesting approach to the situation: They became super commuters, which people who travel 90 miles or more to their jobs. For the past three years, Bearce’s husband has traveled between Minnesota and New York weekly for his job.

When Bearce talked about this issue with friends and others in the professional world, she noticed a trend. Either people were curious about how this situation played out, or they knew someone who also participated in a super-commute. Her husband encouraged her to blog about their experiences. When her first entry became 10 pages long, she knew she was onto something.

Bearce decided to write a book on the topic. One year of hard work later, Bearce self-published, “Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When A Job Keeps You Apart.” She interviewed 24 super commuters and their families from around the United States and as far away as Costa Rica and South Africa.

Bearce understood that the issue of super commuting, although not well known, was growing and seriously lacking in research. She wanted to share the information she had researched as soon as possible, instead of depending on a publishing company. So she decided to create her own publishing business to print the book, which is also available in online versions such as eBooks. Her business background from Minnesota State Mankato played a huge part in the publishing process.

Super Commuter Couples Book Cover

“Super Commuter Couples” is a finalist for the Midwest Book Awards in the category of business.

When Bearce visited campus, she discussed this growing issue, which she now holds near and dear to her heart. What many people do not realize, however, is that this trend is becoming increasingly more common. It is estimated that 13 percent of families take part in a super commute. These circumstances are better known in areas such as Huston and Dallas, as well as Phoenix and Tucson.

Bearce discussed the interesting family dynamics presented with super-commuter families. She stressed the importance of not being afraid to ask for help and having a list of people you can call when you need a helping hand.

A typical day for Bearce includes taking her first grade daughter, Katherine, to her bus stop at 9:15 a.m. She then takes her son, Austin, to preschool four days a week. This leaves her approximately four and a half hours per workday to take care of everything from appointments with clients to networking and marketing her book.

“I’m a one person show,” Bearce says. “The hardest part is marketing.” She hopes that her book will be used in class curriculums in the future and as a reference tool for therapists.

Bearce has her own private practice located in Wayzata, Minn., where she specializes in perfectionism, gifted children and teenage girls, super commuter couples and career women.

Follow Megan Bearce on Twitter at @CommuterCouples or @4giftedwomen.