Monthly Archives: June 2010
Flexibility according to Dictionary.com is the ability to be bent, usually without breaking, willing or disposed to yielding, pliability. I think a very good question for us as Americans and more importantly as Americans who must work for a living is how flexible are we? We are a nation of people used to being at the top. Trend and precedent setters. The go-to nation. In the past when America spoke everyone listened. As a result we certainly believed that we were perhaps entitled to whatever we wanted when we wanted it. The line between wants and needs blurred to the point of extinction and now things have changed.
The crash of our economy has caused many of us to take a new look at our status at home and in the eyes of the world. Both important vantage points for a people in the midst of tremendous change. Many feel that this change will permanently alter our position in the world and therefore our economy and ability to make money.
Can we begin to look at different ways to make a living that perhaps take us out of our comfort zone? Could this be the time that you leave corporate America ahead of the inevitable downsize and begin that catering business you always wanted? How many times have you passed that little lunch truck and thought, that’s what I’d really like to be doing. Are there really little dive shops on the beach in Fiji and could you run one? How flexible are we really?
About a week ago I had a conversation with one of my young co-workers, Jenny. Hoping that with age comes wisdom she said “why is it that older people always ask you what your life plan is?” Trying not to sound parental I replied that they are probably just concerned that you don’t waste your education and talent and end unable to take care of yourself. It sounded lame when I said it.
Forty-one years ago (wow!) armed with as much enthusiasm as a 17-year-old can muster I set off to college without much of a plan. My Mom’s parting conversation was that she didn’t care whether or not I attended college just as long as I did things necessary to take care of myself. The caveat was that since I had decided to attend college that she expected me to graduate.She said that I needed a plan.
Started out thinking that nutrition would be a good major. Not for me. Can’t remember my next bright idea but sometime during my second semester freshman year I discovered that I could major in Art History. I was in love. Everything about art caused great excitement. I was after all a frustrated patron of the arts. Having pretty much decided on this path, I mentioned my decision to an academic mentor. She said really and what are you going to do with that degree? I couldn’t answer. By the time I left her office I had decided that although it was my love it was not practical. I had to have a plan and that wasn’t it. A dream deferred.
So back to Jenny’s question. I think that those ahead of us want us to have the best life possible. Somehow that means that we must have a plan, a blueprint to follow. Usually this blueprint is set out for us by those who have much influence over us. Parents, teachers, other elders. I also believe that most of us are afraid not to have or at least say that we have a plan for fear that what “they” say will come true and we will live out our years in Penn Station begging for quarters.
I think that Jenny is smart and articulate and sharp enough to know that she doesn’t have all of the answers to life’s mysteries yet. She also knows that she really doesn’t have to have a plan today! That thing could have a revision a day the way the world is changing.
So after a thirty year plus career in the public sector I have to ask myself whose dream have I been living? I can honestly say not mine. No regrets but I wish I had developed just a little more courage. Fortunately (though some would disagree) I don’t think it’s too late to follow my dreams. Can they support me? Not sure. Can I try? Why not?
Anybody out there care to join me.?
When I first realized that things were probably not going to return to the way they were before this last “recession” I was consumed with how I was going to handle the basics. My first instinct was to attempt to fill the void with normal activities which translates to continuing to live as if nothing had changed. Once reality set in I realized that I needed to find employment ASAP! So what does one do when they have spent a thirty plus year career in the housing/real estate industry? Look for housing/real estate related work! Was I serious? The housing industry had just taken the worst hit in over seventy years and there was no indication that a recovery was on the horizon. So now what?
For me I believe that it was Divine Intervention. While working at Macy’s during the holidays several years ago I ran into someone who offered me a teaching position in a college in New York. I was scared to death but in short order I found myself in a classroom of eager students expecting me to open my mouth and impart wisdom. Well something came out and I realized that I absolutely loved it. After all for those who know me what could be better than my being able to talk non-stop to people who have to listen!
Soon I was teaching at another school and recently I have added my third school. It’s a lot of work and to date the compensation has not been spectacular but seeds have been planted. How can I make this work for me?
I get in from my Census job at about 12:30 am and find it difficult to get to sleep so I think that for the a while this will be a good time to write. I have begun to invite friends to this blog and hope that they will pass it on. I believe that sharing and talking about what is happening today will be cathartic at least for me!
My friend Vickie shares that she has reinvented herself at fifty plus and finds her new work with the homeless population very satisfying. She points out however that if she were thrown into the “market” again that she might be at loose ends. I think not given her serious skill set but I know it is not something that she looks forward to.
I believe that I was born with the heart of an entrepreneur. My Dad has been described as a dreamer and I venture to say that many would say that he and his sisters and brothers allowed themselves to be controlled by their dreaming to their detriment. None of them died leaving a fortune behind. But in my mind they all died trying. If not for them I probably couldn’t rise every day and say a prayer of thanks for my life and wonder what direction I should take next. I am always willing and eager to learn something new. Finished college and graduate school, have several certificates from professional jewelers schools, have a certification in massage therapy, have a certification in aromatherapy and am a licensed real estate agent. So I think that I should be able to reinvent myself. What do you think?
Thirty-seven years ago ( I can’t believe it’s been that long) when I left college I postponed the inevitable and went to graduate school rather than directly into the job market. I believed that this would insure a place for me in the work world and pave the way to the affluent future that I had envisioned. Those were the expectations of many of my generation. Fast forward to 2010! Surprise! the future for us baby boomers is here! Large numbers of us have reached the age where we believed we would ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Instead many of us are facing uncertain economic futures and don’t see retirement any time soon. I now realize that how we got here doesn’t matter WE ARE HERE. I have also realized something else. We “middle-aged” Americans are not the only ones facing this dilemma.
Several weeks ago I was hired to work temporarily for the US Census in one of the offices. Not having had a consistent pay check since 2007, I am very happy to be working. I work along side of people who are there just to supplement their income and many who like me were not working until this came along. I had been thinking that this blog would only appeal to people approaching or past 50 but now I am sure that younger people may be interested.
The traditional roles that we all expected have changed and I believe they have changed forever. Young people are looking at their futures in different ways than many of us did 30 plus years ago. They are realizing that they may have to be flexible and creative to survive. Maybe they will be better prepared than I was.
Anyway, I am hoping to reach out to as many of you as I can and find out how you have made life changes in order to survive. What are you doing to bring dollars into the household? How many people are finally pursuing their dreams and making a go of businesses that you never thought you could make successful?
Perhaps we can inspire and encourage each other and in the course we can begin to redefine the American lifestyle in the 21st Century! More to follow.