Big day in the OK corral

I’ll start right off by admitting that I’m not sure why I chose the title for this posting but it somehow fits with how I’m feeling.  I’m writing this sitting in a cafe on the outskirts of Toronto where the Family Supports Institute of Ontario (FSIO) is holding it’s 2008 conference “The Communities We Grow; The People Who Make it Happen.”    This is a wonderful conference for all professionals who support families and children.  That’s a lot of people.  I’m sitting here writing because in all of the confusion of closing down my work-office and trying to set up my working space at home – and therein lies a topic for another day – I keep on losing things and overlooking things.  So, when I got up this morning I knew that I’d be presenting this afternoon, but I couldn’t remember at what time in the afternoon and couldn’t locate a conference brochure.  My solution?  I drove out to the conference centre around 11 a.m. so I could deliver my handouts, have a look at the room I’d be presenting in, and find out – without giving myself away – what time I’m “on”.  It’s about 11:30 now and I’ll be speaking at 2, so I’ve got lots of time to sit and write.  Great plan!!

I’m here because this afternoon I’m presenting a workshop entitled “Our children aren’t born to hate, they’re taught to hate.”  There’s just so much to say and the exercise of trying to fit so much into a short period of time always reminds me of one of my favorite videoclips:  ;”>Mom’s Song. It’s a big day for me because this is the first conference presentation that I’ve made in a long time that is absolutely about what I care about; how we raise/teach/socialize children to live in peace and harmony.  Yes, I know, that sounds a bit idealistic, but as Rabbi Tarfon  said: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

I’m speaking here at this  today and I’m doing a keynote address in March and then I have no other presentations or workshops pencilled in.  That too is scary.  What if this is it?  What if I have just these last two times to speak and then that’s really it?  It circles back to anxiety that being out of the loop comes with some very real ramifications I don’t necessarily do well under extreme pressure, but part of me is feeling that I have these two opportunities to prove – perhaps most important of all to prove to myself – that I really do have something to say and that I can say it in a way that’s worth listening to.

POST SCRIPT:  It’s 6 p.m. and I’m home now.  I’m adding these last words after the conference.  There were a lot of us crowded into a small room and pretty much all of the tech-nightmares I’ve had played themselves out; the powerpoint presentation wouldn’t run properly, I had to switch back and forth between the powerpoint and some videoclips and every time I switched the ppt would go back to Slide 1 and the video would choose randomly where to begin.  Argh!! 


That said, one of the participants came up to me after the session and told me that she hoped that when I retired my voice would  not be lost; that she hoped I’d keep on speaking and using my voice to encourage others to find ways to live together in peace.  I don’t remember her name, but her words lifted my spirit immeasurably.  Here’s hoping.


4 responses to “Big day in the OK corral

  1. It seems to me a big leap of faith to put out to the universe that opportunities will present themselves after we “retire” from our formal workplace. I believe that they will – we just have to be open to them. It’s hard to let go when you have been the one to organize things all along. Who knows where this supportive lead will take you? More and more I also believe that there are no coincidences.

  2. My life has come full circle.

    I started out as a young married (teacher) who gave up her career to raise 4 beautiful boys. Got back into the workforce fulltime at 35 – thought Oh My God – How will I compete? Worked from 35 to 55 in very different careers – training, business, then ultimately computer sales management. At 55 I retired as a quite successful, senior exec in the computer sales business, who had fortunately had the good luck (and savings bug) to pass the mantle of extreme stress and long, long workdays to others younger and more ambitious.

    And, now, it is so fitting that I can be where I am – with the time I need to devote to my family . I have a mother ill with non-Hodgins lympoma, with whom I share care with my oh-so-giving brother, and a wonderful daughter-in-law who is very ill with a potentially fatal liver disease if she does not get a transplant – who I can at least drive to her doctor’s appointments, spend specious time with her and my son’s children/my beautiful grandchildren, and if nothing else, cook and take over a meal (but it doesn’t mean I never get to go to Mexico in the dead of winter for a respite).

    We never know when we retire what life will bring, but it is sure nice not to have the pressures of a day-to-day job to complicate our priorities.

  3. Goodness gracious! I have to say something here. I’ve been reading and reading and , inherent in all I have read seems to be a notion that “retirement” is like a huge ending, that somehow one’s workplace is central to defining one’s self concept and opportunities and that leaving one’s employment situation and moving on from that is somehow like falling off a cliff…yikes!

    …..and while I appreciate that one might worry that that could be even a bit true, it is also true that many folks experience the ending of full-time employment as a shift – the rebalancing of the strands of one’s life – the winding down of one, the emergence and/or broadening of other strands of one’s life. Not a cliff, but a transition (change, for sure).

    Sylvia, you know you wll never stop speakng, and speaking eloquently, about those things and issues that you care deeply about – and people will continue to invite you to speak your thoughtful insights and perspectives because of that….they may have initially learned of you because of your work position, but people only get chosen to speak because folks like hearing what they say. You have a critical mass of exposure and connection in multiple communities….you have lots of ways of having your voice heard……

    ….the reality is that moving on from a full-time job can be as discontinuous or continuous as one wants/perceives it to be….it’s an adjustment of the balance amongst the different threads of one’s life…and when one ends a full-time gig, those 35 to 80 hours of full-time worktime get redistributed to other pasttimes….more kayaking, golf, writing, creating, enjoying, reflecting, giggling, gardening, communing, cooking, cooing and making the difference we want to make – or simply hanging out. Rebalancing happens for all, though many of us will need to continue to work to the extent needed to support whatever ongoing income streams are needed, including ongoing benefit coverage….if you look around, you see a lot of retired folks working part time at places like Home Depot, MacDonalds, Tim Hortons Loblaws….we are the generation forwhom it will be common to phase out of the labour market/income streams…the labour market needs that, and many of our generation need that, too (it’s the demographic patterns).

    …the experience of “work till somewhere between 60 and 65 and then retire
    and not have to work at all” appears to be losing its dominance as the norm as more and more “retired” people need some income stream (beyond investment/pension income) to keep hearth and home together.
    ….but even when one needs to work some, the reality is that one gets to have more time that is self-directed….
    ….and so, Sylvia, if your calendar has mostly empty squares after the end of October, then let me ask “what do you see yourself doing? Since you can do what you want to, do you have a (running) list of all the things you have always said you wanted to do/do more of, and you’d get to them when you retired, if not before? And if you don’t have the list, may I suggest you start it right now….and then seeing how you might organize your days so you could do all the things on your list…(because anything’s possible – isn’t it?)”
    I’ll stop now…..

  4. If you really enjoy speaking (and travel), you might look at organizations you belong to that have an international focus and submit proposals for conferences. You have to look at the themes of upcoming conferences and think about how what you might have to say could fit in. For example, I presented at Bangkok TESOL the year their theme was English Teaching around the Pacific Rim. My writing partners and I were just finishing a chapter for a TESOl publication that involved work with Chilean English teachers. So we found a fit.
    Often international terminology is different. Europeans use the acronym CLIL to describe content-based language learning. So it took a little homework to fit material from a book I had co-authored into something that suited TESOL Italy. And if you have a bit of free lance income, conference expenses are write-offs.


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