Bouncing is Hard

Wi am a writeroke up this morning with an insatiable urge to write! Haven’t felt this way in a longgg time! Thoughts are swarming like a bee hive. Thoughts about retirement, options (i.e., what to do with my time), noise, routine/ruts, relationships, etc, etc. Blog title is indicative of my minds activity this morning. But why today?

Last night I meditated for the first time in months. Two days ago I reduced one of my medications by half. cut a pllYesterday I took a very strenuous muscle building class that sucked out some of the stored fat.  Moved back home. Began taking Vitamin B12 in hopes of restoring my memory cells. Any or all of these things could have triggered this mental energy. But… why ask why? Because, all of my thoughts are connected but each idea deserves its own space.

Speaking of space…. I’m trying to find a creative space in which to work similar to when I used to write at our condo in Ocean City. When looking back at previous blogs, it’s easy to point out the ones written at the beach, because they were so fluent and more importantly…. they were interesting. Makes me want to build a “she shed”, which is one of the latest trends. It’s akin to a “man cave”, but softer, lighter, cleaner, and smells better.

But I digress and considering this mornings’ state of mind with ideas popping, I suspect I will have to continuously pull myself back from my beehive mind. I even find myself editing as I write which is a major no-no­­­­­­­ for writers.

dad deathBouncing began when Dad died and escalated with semi-retirement. Psychiatrists always consider the relationship between childhood life events and ones’ development. Since our childhoods revolve around our parents or other caregivers, it follows that losing a parent is a traumatic event. It’s also interesting that the type of relationship one has with a caregiver doesn’t matter…. their loss still affects us.

Since Dad was my rock and the last parent to “transition”, my immediate experience was a feeling of release. Because, not only was he my rock but my tether. Like a hotair balloon ride… I was able to float off into the world and wow did I float. First stop was Dubai where I taught for a year followed by a four-year sojourn in San Diego to take my dream job that turned into a nightmare which I’m finally ready to talk about in another blog.

Dubai was never a dream. Was not on my radar and I barely knew anything about it. As part of my untethering, I was looking for an opportunity to work in a country where Spanish was the primary language. So, I posted my resume on an education website, and up popped the United Arab Emirates, Ras al Khaimah (aka UAE, RAK, which is like a suburb of Dubai). So, without any other offers, and lots of encouragement from Hubby who had also recently been untethered…. off we went.

San Diego resulted from a surprising rejection. While doing volunteer work at a business development office, I learned about a paid opportunity that completely matched my background and interest. Having been told that I was a shoe-in for the job, I submitted my resume but didn’t even get a call to interview. Not that I am egotistical, but…. I know what I know and I knew I was the best candidate so I was flabbergasted when they hired someone else.

Recognizing how much I wanted that job made me realize that I was ready to work plusnew job my ego was significantly bruised. So I had to “show them” and myself that I could get an even better job. I launched on a deliberate search for what I assumed would be my last paid employment. Won’t go into the details of the job search, suffice to say that I got hired in San Diego.

Funny thing is that Hubby and I previously took two separate trips down south in search of a place to retire on/near the water; in an urban setting; with good weather year-round; walkable; purchase price below $300k; and, with a low cost of living. After two visits to the Carolinas (Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Asheville), Savannah, GA, Charlotte, and Orlando) we decided that what we wanted, did not exist and gave up our quest. Shockingly, our dream was fulfilled in San Diego… except for the part about the cost of living.

The last 4 glorious years were spent between the Washington DC area (home) and onBouncing

San Diego’s Coronado Island “where the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high….” As I sit at our dining room table (home) amongst boxes to be unpacked from our latest bounce across country, I am reflecting on the difficulty of bouncing as one gets older. Like most of the things done in my early years… everything is more difficult now. But that’s another story.

Stay Tuned

Muckety Mucks

Aleta bio pic - standing - white backgroundSpending most of my life in DC means that I am used to being surrounded by muckety mucks. Every one is a VP of this, Director of that, Presidential Appointee, or the like. So, when having the “girls” over for brunch, I don’t think about them by their titles. They are just “the girls”. When the brunch was over and I walked them to the door, I was looking out at their parked cars, and I didn’t give any thought to the fact that each of their cars had a minimum value of $50k, and everyone’s salary was six figures, because everyone in DC is a  highly paid muckety muck.

So, when I was told that I was being “introduced” to the San Diego community at a reception in my honor, I was flabbergasted. Why, I asked, would anyone come to a reception for me? This was actually the second indication that something was different here. The first was when I wanted to reach out and have lunch with a business associate, but I was told I had to be properly introduced. What? This is California! The land of informality! Unbeknownst to me, it appears I have become an MM. Apparently they don’t have enough of them here.

So, today I am writing my MM speech, and I had my MM picture taken.

Stay tuned… I could get used to being a MM.



Following My Passion – Part 1 of Many

After jumping in, I remembered most people consider me short at 5’4″, and I was used to normal pools starting at 3′. Real pools and real swimmers start in 4′ of water, which means the shallow end is up to my chin. This turned out to be just one of many mistakes I made on my triathlon journey. As it turns out, the triathlon has become a metaphor for my life.

I just jumped into the deep-shallow end again. Let me explain… last year I had an “a ha” moment and decided that I was wasting my time doing things I knew how to do in my sleep. It took being fired by a client for me to realize this. This was a client who paid well and the work was right in line with my expertise. Unfortunately, she absolutely refused to follow my suggestions and consequently I was failing at completing her tasks. So, one day I decided to do it my way and had immediate success. But, successfully completing the task was not enough. It was more important to do it her way. Therefore, we parted ways. As with many things in life… it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It awakened me from a five-year sleep. I’m now wide awake, 3,000 miles away from home and beginning a new adventure… following my passion.

The Journey Begins

LeBron James Decision

Woke up this morning to the news that Lebron James is going to the Heat, which helped put my decision in perspective. Apparently, his Cleveland fans are up in arms about his abandonment and someone actually burned a jersey bearing his number. The Cav’s Coach Gilbert, said that James had made a “cowardly decision”.

This kinda makes my “go/no go decision” regarding a job in the UAE a lot simpler. The only people who will be disappointed are those who made the offer to me, and I don’t think they will burn me in effigy. In fact, they will just make an offer to the next person on the list. A few friends and family will be disappointed and some will be happy, but like LeBron, at the end of the day, I’m the one who has to live with the decision.

The out-of-country move was already a tough decision, because I was going to go alone and hope that Clay would get a job and follow in a few months. As fate would have it, last week he received a job notice that was perfect for him, and he is already in training. So, the last week has been filled with angst (seldom get to use that word, but is totally appropriate now.)

Being the perfect husband (most of the time), he made it clear that he did not like the idea of a long term separation, but that the decision had to be mine because he did not want me to blame him for a missed opportunity. Had a younger person asked me what to do in a similar situation, I would have expounded on “opportunities”, and how they can come again but probably in a different form, but… ponder long and hard before turning it down.

Last night, we came in from a late night movie, and I saw my neighbor sitting on her porch resting after making funeral arrangements for her husband of thirty-plus years. Not to sound maudlin, but this kind of stuff gets your attention. It’s part of what makes us cry at funerals (especially when the person is part of your peer group). We are faced with the reality that one day our friends and families will gather at our funerals. So after much long and hard pondering, I realized that, unlike a young person, my biggest opportunity is the precious time that I have with the love of my life.

Unlike LeBron, I will not walk away with a large paycheck, but I will have something infinitely more important…a good life and a perfect man to share it with for as long as we have.

A new adventure begins.

Leaving Home

When I dreamed about working overseas, I never really thought about what that meant. It was an esoteric idea that seemed really cool in the abstract. I’d just go somewhere and work for awhile. I didn’t think about what it meant to leave family. I didn’t think about what it meant to leave the area I had called home all of my life. I never considered the impact on others.

My daughter-in-law commented that her son had recently experienced upheaval due to the breakup of his parents and now he would be confronted with the loss of his grandparents. I never thought about that. My daughter said she has never lived far from her mother. I never thought about that. My brother flat out said I should not go.

 It reminded me of my upbringing. My parents lived in the same house until they went to a retirement community. I remember how comforting it was to go home and know that Mom and Dad were there. I took that for granted, but hoped to provide the same for my children and grandchildren. I saw the effect of this move in my grandson’s eyes when he went to his toy closet and discovered it was empty. I told him G’dad and I are moving to another house. It was too soon and too complicated to explain that we’d be thousands of miles away and wouldn’t see him for another year.

 My friends and acquaintances are so excited and rave about the opportunity we have. I see the wishfulness in their eyes. One friend laughed and said she is so jealous. It is as if they are living vicariously through us. One grandson said he has told all of his friends that his grandparents are going to the UAE and they all think it is a great adventure.

 Times like this remind me that we are all so connected.

Academia:The Poster Child for Organizations Needing Change

Two anchors removed…Campus closed and dad died. Each event was life changing in its own way, and each has its own associated stories, but here I’ll focus on the campus closing, which provided an opportunity to learn about academic job searches. Having spent a majority of my career in private sector did nothing to prepare me for the world of academia. Even after seven years as a faculty member, I’m not sure if I want to be labeled an “academic.” Like the word “liberal”, it has both positive and negative connotations. On the positive side, it ascribes a degree of intellect onto the person with a Ph.D, and I take pride in listing myself as a Professor. On the other hand, seven years of trudging through the morass of beauracratic academia is enough to make one wonder how our institutions of higher learning have survived for so long. It is no wonder that the “for profits” have been eating the lunch of more traditional institutions.

There is no more perfect example of inefficiency than the process for hiring faculty. If you want to hire faculty to teach for the 2010-2011 school year, then you advertise during the 2009-2010 school year.  Job notices get published anytime between September 2009 and and March 2010. During that period, CV’s are received but not reviewed until faculty return after Christmas/holiday break.

CV’s are reviewed by a “search committee” composed of one interested party (I.E., someone who cares) and two or three relatively interested parties. (Note that searches for muckety-mucks like Deans, Presidents and Provosts may have very large committees.) As expected, the committee members have other duties they perform like research and teaching, so the search is low on their priority list, but eventually they “get ‘er done”. If you are paying attention to the timeline, you have noted that a prospective candidate could submit their CV as early as September 2009, but not get any response from the Committee until March of 2010. That presumes they are shortlisted (in academic parlance that means “advanced to candidacy”). To the private sector world, this type of hiring would appear as lunacy, but it is the accepted way of doing business in academe.

Each faculty job announcement clearly states that candidates will not be notified unless they are shortlisted. Again, for those not paying attention, a candidate could submit their CV in September and if they are not shortlisted, they may never receive a response. Not even a notice that their CV was received. It is as if academia needs a refresher course in one of the first things we teach our children “treat others as you want to be treated”.

As my son-in-law says, “it is what it is”. Here I sit awaiting “no responses”, lots of rejections, some interviews, and one success.

Ciao till next time.