Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What passion, if any, will call you?

As a young woman in college at Penn, majoring in history, Julie Jaffe wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life.
“It was a world where women did what their mothers said,” Julie explained recently.. “My mother said, ‘Be a teacher!’ and I did.”
Later, she rebelled and went to law school – one of 15 women in her class at Temple, of whom only 8, including Julie, survived the year, she says.
“But I found I liked the teaching, and went back to it. ‘If you save one soul, you save the world,’ the Talmud explains,” Julie says.
 She also liked being a ‘showman” and a “story teller,” and so taught children’s literacy in Philadelphia’s public schools for about 40 years.
But having left full time work, Julie has decided that she doesn’t need a passionate, later-in-life mission, unlike some of those people who show up on Oprah.
“It’s ok not to have a passion. I don’t feel I have to have a successful-something at this time of life. I want to enjoy my family and friends and have time to follow a variety of pursuits."
 At first, Julie says, “I became, much to my distress, an organization lady,” serving on various boards. “My mother was an organization person and I swore I’d never do that,” Julie explained.
(How is it that we are always trying to escape being like our mothers?…. )
“I took a course on Ulysses at the Rosenbach, that was fabulous. And I make chocolate-covered pretzels and sell them.  People say, 'Do this as a business,' but I don’t want to.”
She’s helping a friend with cancer, practices yoga, studies meditation, is interested in bringing art into classrooms, and travels with her husband to places like Bhutan and Russia. And she’s found meaning serving on the board of  the Children’s Literacy Initiative.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Forget Florida

Forget moving to Florida or Arizona. It’s not happening that much anymore, said economist Mark Zandi, speaking on National Public Radio today.
Why? People are realizing they need to work longer in their lives and to do that, he said, you need your network of friends and associates.
 “Skills, education, health and your network,” that’s what you need,” said Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s analytics.  
“The biggest investment you can make is nurturing your network where you are today.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ever hear of a "link job?"

Nan Steketee – an avid bicyclist,  fundraiser for MS, knitter, and garden enthusiast, among many other things – feels 10 years younger than her age. No way, she says, is she ready for  “retirement.”
But she is ready for a “link job,” as she calls it.
 “I’m looking for something between being being totally absorbed and exhausted” on the one hand  and “doing hobbies” on the other, Nan explains.
She’s come up with an interesting niche: to be an interim executive director of a non- profit, stepping in temporarily to fill a vacancy created by illness, incompetence or some other leadership void. There are a limited number of people who do this kind of thing, she explains over coffee at Volo in Manyunk.
In such a job, she says, she could use the many leadership skills she's developed over her career in the non-profit world. Nan  launched and for 20 years ran the Center for Responsible Funding in Philadelphia. She and her husband moved to California for six years where Nan was Bay Area Development Manager for Earth Share of California After her return and until recently, she was Development Director for the Women's Law Project. 
She wants to plunge in for the short term, but not for the five-year commitment she feels a permanent leadership role deserves. “I can’t see out that far,” she says.

In the wings, also calling her, are her husband, children, “four wonderful grandchildren,”  riding her bike long miles,  a commitment to city kids (she and her husband, Scott, are a support system for one young man in college).
“At the end of such a temporary job, I might take another one. I might at that point  be ready to retire.  I’m not sure. We’ll see.”

I love the idea of a link job. It could be many links, linking one adventure to the next. Who knows?