Sandwich, anyone?

Just came back from visiting my grandbabies who live way too far away.  They’re 1 year old twins now and I get to see them about 4-5 times a year.  While I always stay for about a week, it takes 4-5 days for them to warm up to me enough that we can really play and snuggle.  Holding their hands for patty-cake was a biggy this visit.   I understand but it’s still hard.  Our daughter would love us to be closer.  While at times that sounds great to me, most of the time, I know we each need our friends, our activities, our communities and they happen to be 1000 miles apart.

We visited with my local daughter and her husband over the weekend.  She lives an hour away and I probably see her once a month.  I try to be considerate of them, and not demand a lot of their time.  When we were young, our folks were all nearby but we yearned for time with our friends; our parents were obligations, to an extent, even though we had good relationships with them.  Time is tight when you’re 26!

So we each make our way, and try to make our time together happy and rich and emphasize as we did when we were raising them that it’s quality, not quantity that matters.

We bobble along this way  until we can see over the horizon.  My dad is 92 and we’re moving him from his home in FL to a senior community in MD to be closer to us.  He and my stepmom moved there 30 years ago, intent upon living their lives with their friends, in their communitiy focusing on the activities and lifestyle Florida could offer them.  We saw each other once or twice a year.  The kids grew up knowing that Christmas vacation always began with 2 days in the car.  We made memories when we visited.  We talked late into the night.  We also suffered through a lot of Vaughn Monroe records.  It was quality not quantity of time that mattered.

Now he’s alone and I really want Dad back.  His friends have died or moved away.  He has fewer outside interests.  He’s amenable to being here instead of there and  I’m regretting that it’s taken so long to convince him to come.  Now the emphasis is on quantity of time.  Looking back, I realize it all has quality!

How does this track with career transition?  I think relationships hold a bigger place in our heads and hearts as we get older.  So we balance the scales differently than we did when we were younger and the weight of many decisions fell on the side of career advancement. I’ve always read that being the sandwich generation meant being pulled in too many directions, maybe the sides of the sandwich are the buffers that prevent me from taking the inevitable ups and downs of career change too seriously.  Maybe they give me a perspective I wouldn’t have if I only interacted with other seasoned professionals like myself.   I need to remember I was transitioning out of  chaos and busyness that I disliked.  I need to hold onto the value of patty-cake and listening to Vaughn Monroe along the way.

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living in your own little Idaho

I’ve been looking for opportunities to make a difference this morning. Pretending (or not) that there are great opportunites out there and I just need to find them. What I’m struck by is how boring websites and facebook pages for nonprofits truly are–I don’t mean the BigGuys with their direct streaming video and thousands of fans and twitter followers–I mean the local organizations that might really need your or my talents–where they really might make a huge difference! Now don’t get me wrong– they’re perfectly competent; they describe mission and services and opportunities to volunteer and donate,but they’re BORING. There’s nothing that compels me to act. And the bigger problem is they’re written for other nonprofit people, so there’s that capable administrative insider code going on, that frankly, I don’t need to learn for our first “date”. I wonder how many of these groups track who uses their webside and how. I wonder how many track outcomes. Now there’s a task!

Retiring? Reinventing? or Falling off the Edge of the Earth?

I have a vision. It involves the thousands of talented and savvy federal women who are ready to or thinking about or who have recently retired from federal service.  I’ve worked with these women and I’ve been amazed at their skills and perseverance and their ability to accomplish impossible goals for their agencies. As I talk with my friends who fit this description, I find they fall into two camps—those who yearn for the freedom to come and go as they wish, to pursue hobbies and do absolutely nothing if they so choose and those who feel some apprehension about ending their careers—who may feel like they’re about to fall off the edge of the earth.

What I’m not hearing much about are women who have a passion to create real change in their communities—whether through a paying job or through volunteer activity – and could now take the leap and actually make a quantifiable difference without all the limits of federal programming.
The media is full of stories about women executives from the private sector who dive in with both feet to post-retirement work to change the world and I can’t help but wonder where my federal sisters are.

I know from my own experience that it isn’t that we “checked the box.” It’s not work that’s finished! I can’t believe that federal service has stamped out our passions for the many causes that still need champions. Do we feel we have nothing more to offer? Have we become cynical about whether change is really possible? Are we just so burned out that we’re ready to escape to the lifestyle equivalent of white noise?

I’m really curious and I invite you to weigh in! What are you doing to change the world now that you’re out of the bureaucratic box?  What am I missing here? What would it take for you to commit yourself to a cause that’s important to you for a day a week or more? What would you need to make that a worthwhile exchange for your time?