Archive for the ‘Employment’ Category

I feel very lucky that I still have my part-time job as an online tutor for college students.  It’s absolutely never boring – and, as Anna said in the musical The King and I, “When you become a teacher, by your students you are taught.” I learn so much through their essays. If we have a live session, I learn so much through their questions and concerns. What a privilege to work with them.

I applied for for this job last May with the original intention of beating any chemo brain out of my system.  I wasn’t sure I had much chemo brain, but I wasn’t taking any chances, either.  I was also looking for a new sense of purpose.

But for the first time, I am feeling a sense of guilt over the fact that I’ve had a cancer diagnosis and treatment within the past two years. It puts me in the high at-risk category, especially combined with my age. I am not able to get out and help other people through this. I’m not someone who can go out and pack meals for schoolkids who need it so badly. I have a sewing machine, but it’s risky for me to go out and get material to sew face masks for our health care workers – and it would be risky for me to go and deliver them someplace.

The best way I can help is to stay at home. I have a renewed sense of gratitude for my home, which is fulfilling its original intent to serve as an office as well as a home (I have both taught and worked online of and off for many years.). I have a huge sense of gratitude for my neighbors and our agreement to check in on each other. I have always been a fan of technology, but these days I am even more so – it’s so lovely to feel really connected with friends and family members.

I think the other way I can help is to provided reasoned commentary on some issues, and to lift people up on others.  I have a dear, long-time friend and colleague who just lost her daughter in a car accident, and that puts another perspective on this. Just because we are in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t mean that other things in life will stop happening. Some of us will have more than we can bear. The rest of us can help lift them up until they are able to bear it.

It’s no cliche to say we will move through this together. If we don’t, then we will simply crash separately. Let’s not let that happen.


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The psychologists and psychiatrists among us must be busy these days, because it’s very difficult to escape falling into a wide-ranging and deep depression over the current barage of news.

James Bovard quoteIt’s been difficult for the past three years. But now, with this “tit-for-tat” set of violent exchanges with Iran, we are so close to war – and to a possible nuclear war at that – that it seems nearly impososible to keep a positive attitude.  Any my New Year’s resolution this year was to increase my gratitude.

I am still, as always, grateful for such seemingly simple things as hot running water; for electric lights; for appliances that work; for a warm house (winter zone here) and enough food. I am grateful for friends and family.

However, I would like to be grateful for a Congress that took up its rightful leadership role of being the only institution which can declare war; for a government that truly understood the checks and balances built into the system; for members of Congress who understood that the art of governance is the art of compromise, not the art of obstruction. I would like to be grateful for a government and for federal and district judges who were aligned in declaring that no person is above the law – not one; who understood that rolling back environmental regulations only leads us down the same kind of path that Australia is so tragically facing right now; who understood that there is no such thing as “trickle-down” economics, because having too much has a weird psychological effect of many people – they end up feeling like they never have enough.

Meantime, in my very small corner of the world, I am grateful for my life. I’m also mindful of those who have not nearly as much, right here in our own country. We need to keep speaking out; to keep telling the stories; to keep promoting the awareness – to recreate the reasons to be grateful for the founding of this country.



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There are many reports out there telling older workers that no one wants them, or that they will have a lot of difficulty finding a job. One such report in U.S. News two years ago listed misconceptions about older workers, such as short terms on the job if they planned to retire soon; higher salary expectations; and reluctance to report to younger bosses (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2012/05/18/why-older-workers-cant-get-hired). Fortunately, a number of articles since then have refuted the myths (http://www.recruiter.com/i/truth-and-lies-about-hiring-older-workers/), detailing why hiring older workers is a very good idea.

Brian Solis, an expert in social media public relations whose work I use in my classes at Marylhurst University quite a lot, reminds us that one of the things Baby Boomers bring to the office is a “raw work ethic.” He gives an excellent guide to Millennials navigating the workplace in this article: http://www.briansolis.com/2014/04/millennials-guide-surviving-corporate-america/ – and advocates for mutual respect between the generations.

Group of business people sitting around a table compressed
I teach a lot of older workers, and I’m one myself. Let me weigh in for a moment on some of the great, practical attributes older workers bring to their jobs – and by “older,” I mean more than Baby Boomers. I also mean workers aged, say, 35 to 70 or so, encompassing at least a couple of generations:

• This isn’t their first rodeo; nearly all older workers have either held a job recently, or are holding one now while they’re going to school. I’ve always said that when I tell my adult students to turn left, they turn left; when I tell them to march straight ahead, they do; if I say it’s time to jump, they jump as high as they can. This comes from knowing what it takes to hold down a job; they know how to follow instructions. They will readily ask for clarification and the rationale for those instructions, which I always appreciate; they want the whole picture.
• Older workers have learned to take criticism – constructive or not. They’ve developed fairly thick skins over the years, and if they need to hear something negative in order to improve their performance, then so be it. They’ve learned not to take everything personally, and often that comes with plain old experience.
• No, older workers are not as enamored with social media, but they know how to use those social media outlets in a very important way – as an implementation of sound business strategy, not just as a forum for chatting. Moreover, older workers are keenly aware that social media tools are just that – tools for communicating. Actual communication depends upon content, response, and a two-way conversation. It doesn’t depend on the latest online innovation.
• Older workers know that what is fast is not always better.
• Older workers tend to be loyal to their employers. For the most part, they aren’t job-hopping, looking for the next, exciting opportunity somewhere across the country. They work because they need to work, even up to and often beyond the age of 70, and because they like to work and value the feeling of being needed. They are often content with part-time jobs and flexible schedules. We live in a society that does not value us as we age. What a waste. We have vast repositories of information and experience to pass along. We are the storytellers.
• As much as older workers know that fast is not always better, they can be extremely fast at the jobs they’re assigned – because they’ve done all this before. They know the drill. If a senior public relations practitioner takes three sheets of information and writes a press release from that information in about half an hour, it’s because she knows how to cull out the information that isn’t really relevant, isn’t all that important, and doesn’t help make the point. That ability to cut to the chase comes from years of experience, and from years of developing a mind that thinks strategically and is capable of seeing the consequences of decisions.
• Older workers make great mentors and teachers to the younger generations coming up through the ranks. Having a huge amount of energy is great for any business, yes; but so is having someone with a steadying hand on the tiller, who can help steer a ship that might start to careen off course. That larger perspective is a valuable and steadying influence.
????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? • Finally, older workers know how the world works. They don’t tend to be so singularly focused that the changes in society and the world around them are surprising or a mystery to them. They’ve been out there dealing with people and situations and circumstances for a long time, and the result is that they understand the needs of their employers and of other people.

Hire an older worker. You’ll get great value for the dollar.



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