Winter 2008

Current Issue     ||    Book Listings  ~  Book Reviews

News from Second Journey

In this issue

Upcoming Spring Seminar

 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Saturday, February 23


A
n increasing number
of us are living decades longer than our parents or grandparents. How do we make best use of this dividend of extra years... so that our longer lives become deeper, wider, richer and more satisfying lives?


Join Second Journey founder Bolton Anthony, philosopher John Sullivan, and ElderSpirit founder Dene Peterson for a morning of exploration, followed by an afternoon of World Café conversation.
 

For further information and to register, click here

 
 
 
 

Funding from the Körber Foundation
Supports May 2008 Council in Hamburg

The Körber Foundation has invited Second Journey to conduct a "mini" Visioning Council next May in Hamburg, Germany. Second Journey will bring up to eight U.S. delegates to join 60 of their German colleagues for this two-and-one-half day program, scheduled for May 22-24. Anyone with a special interest in this project should contact Bolton Anthony.

 

Meaningful Work...
Paid or Unpaid,
Through the Last Breath

Guest editor Janet Hively, founder of Minnesota's Vital Aging Network,  previews the articles and offers a rationale for this special issue of Itineraries exploring work in later life. More...

by Meg Newhouse

by Julie Lopp

by Jim Scheibel

by Phyllis Segal

by Emily Kimball

by John G. Sullivan

 

Barbara Kammerlohr reviews
a trio of books on work in later life


 
 
In this issue

Meaningful Work...

Paid or Unpaid, Through the Last Breath...

Guest editor, Janet M. Hively, Ph.D., founded the Minnesota Vital Aging Network and is the co-founder of a new organization, SHiFT, “empowering midlife moves to meaning in life and work.”  Her career has also included school and community planning, administration, and outreach for public and non-profit organizations.  What all of her efforts have in common is that they are based on the philosophy that communities and systems need to look at life through a new paradigm consistent with planning for personal growth all the way through life.

In this consumer society, we think about “work” as what people are paid for that generates goods and services for the marketplace. So “retirement” brings an end to “work.” The unpaid contributions of activities such as parenting, volunteering, and caregiving are not counted or appreciated.  This bias favoring paid work negates the value of homemakers and students, and most of all, older adults.

It’s time for us to create a new paradigm for the second journey that fosters personal growth through meaningful work all the way through life. We’ve all heard a retiree say, “Work was my life, and now I have no life.” Recent research shows that negative perceptions about aging like this actually reduce longevity (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 83, No. 2). Older adults involved in meaningful work are healthier and more satisfied with life than others.

What is “meaningful work”? Whether paid or unpaid, “work” is your productivity that benefits you and/or your family and/or your employer and/or your community. You tend to see your work as “meaningful” when you are applying your skills in a focused effort to produce what you perceive to be beneficial results. What taps your special passion will be most meaningful. What stimulates new learning, for example, is most meaningful to me. For all of us, as David Whyte writes, “work provides an opportunity for discovering and shaping a place where the self meets the world.”


Why is this so important? In recent years, the primary motivation for paid work in retirement has been to find challenge and fulfillment rather than income. Changing economic conditions, however, are encouraging continued employment. The responsibility for funding retirement savings has shifted from the employer to the employee. This shift plus increased employee mobility due to downsizing and dislocation, having families later in life, and market pressures to spend more have resulted in a drop in the rate and percent of retirement savings. Uncertainty about the future of health care and Social Security benefits, added to their lack of savings, lead many mid-career adults to say that they expect to work for pay all their lives! Overall, more than two-thirds of Boomers told an AARP survey in 2003 that they plan to work for pay “beyond traditional retirement age.”

Community vitality will require more older adult productivity, whether paid or unpaid. The generational shift caused by 76 million baby boomers coming into retirement age this decade and next, with only 45 million younger adults in the pipeline to take their places, will create a talent shortage in the workplace. More volunteers will be needed by non-profit and public agencies strapped for resources. More advocates and caregivers for the elderly will be needed with the increased push for “aging in place” along with the dropping percentage of older adults with children to care for them.

The great news is that our society’s expanding need for lifelong learning and productivity is matched by the capacity of older adults! Author Gene Cohen, in his new book, The Mature Mind, highlights exciting new research that shows that brain cells regenerate, in comparison with other body cells. Changes in the brain foster integrative thinking and creative energy in mid-life and beyond. The rate of disability has dropped, and new technologies have extended the capacity for community participation lifelong.

The challenge is to connect capacity with value through vocation. “Vocation is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” said Friedrich Buechner. How can we challenge traditional expectations, eliminate barriers to ongoing productivity, and create new opportunities for meaningful work, paid or unpaid, through the last breath?


The six articles in this issue of Itineraries describe creative approaches to addressing the challenge and expanding older adult engagement with meaningful work.

  •  

    The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work
    By Dave Smith

    Meaningful work comes alive
    With faith in others as well as ourselves.
    And that requires Hope…

    Meaningful work comes alive
    When hope engenders positive change,
    And that requires Justice…

    Meaningful work comes alive
    When justice acts from care and compassion.
    And that requires Temperance…

    Meaningful work comes alive
    When temperance moderates thoughtless greed.
    And that requires Prudence…

    Meaningful work comes alive
    With the prudence of a creative democracy.
    And that requires Courage…

    Meaningful work comes alive
    When purposeful courage fits community needs.
    And that requires Love…

    Meaningful work comes alive
    With love of others as well as ourselves.
    And that requires You and Me.
     

    from To Be of Use (2005)

    The Life Planning Network is a new community of professionals who provide a broad spectrum of life planning services and resources for the Third Age.  Meg Newhouse is the founder of the New England-based network, an experienced career counselor, and co-author of Life Planning for the Third Age:  A Design and Resource Guide and Toolkit.

  • The InternShop provides opportunities for midlife interns to try out vocations that fit their skills and passions through paid or unpaid internships.  Its founder, Julie Lopp, is an entrepreneur and a faculty member at the Fairchild Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.
  • In Making a Public Difference, Jim Scheibel, former mayor of St. Paul, MN, and the director of VISTA and the Senior Corps during the Clinton Administration, argues that the best work of one's life may likely be in one's future. The opportunity to give back, to be involved with an issue about which one is passionate, and to leave a legacy can be filled through service.
  • Opening Doors for Encore Careers describes the challenge taken on by Civic Ventures to inspire non-profit employers to tap the talent pool of Older Americans.  Phyllis Segal, Vice President of Civic Ventures, is directing this effort from Boston, MA.
  • The Aging Adventurer has published a resource guide to help older adults find ways to follow their hearts. Emily Kimball, founder of Make It Happen!, shows how volunteering, education, and travel adventure qualify as meaningful work.
  • Work in the Third Age of Life tells a story about the nature of right livelihood, to encourage those in the Third Age to do everything with more attentiveness, gratitude, and joy.  Now based in North Carolina, John Sullivan is Powell Professor Emeritus at Elon University.
  • Finally, Barbara Kammerlohr, Second Journey's Book Page editor, reviews three books that complement the articles and show how meaningful work exercises all of the dimensions of wellness: physical, mental, social, emotional, vocational, and spiritual.

We’ve embellished the issue with two especially relevant poems — “The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work” by Dave Smith and “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy (below). At the start of most articles, you will also find a brief excerpt from David Whyte's wonderful book on work, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity. Its rare mix of poetry, stories from the workplace front (like the one below), Whyte's own unusual take on the industrial revolution, and his account of his personal search for meaning through work will delight you.

— Janet Hively


“We all have our ground to work. You have yours, too. You just have to find out what it is. But you know what? It is right on the edge of yourself. At the cliff edge of life. That’s the edge you go to. Put yourself in conversation with that edge no matter how frightening it seems. Look down over that edge. It’s a bit terrifying to begin with but then you’ll recognize a bit of territory that you can work, something you can step out onto. It was there all the time for me, when I look back, just on the other side of a too, too familiar window, out of which I had not been looking.”

— David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea:
Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity
(Riverhead, 2002)

Life Planning for the Third Age


We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift from a deficit model of aging and retirement to a model of continued growth, contribution, and possibility, which features meaningful work as an essential piece. The time is ripe, and the need is clear...

Meg Newhouse is a nationally known pioneer in Third-Age LifeCrafting and a seasoned and gifted group facilitator, teacher, coach, and program designer.

Open full article in a new window

Return to top


The InternShop

Internships? Aren’t they for students and young people? Not any more! Just as we need new language to describe the Third Age as a new, vital stage of mid and later life, we also need to remodel some of our traditional ways of thinking about working. ...

Julie Lopp is an entrepreneur and a faculty member at the Fairchild Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.

Open full article in a new window

Return to top


Making a Public Difference.

...public work should involve something one feels passionate about... It should be work that connects a person to a larger issue [and] the larger fabric of society; it should be an opportunity to interact with diverse groups of people. ...

Jim Scheibel, the former Mayor of St. Paul, MN and the former national director of VISTA and Senior Corps, has created Vital Force as an offshoot of the Minnesota Vital Aging Network.

Open full article in a new window

Return to top


Opening Doors for Encore Careers

Imagine the power that will be harnessed when older adults seeking a new phase of work are connected with social sector organizations that need talent for solving our communities’ most pressing problems. Encore careers are being invented by [those] who want to work in new ways and on new terms...  The experience dividend this offers our nation should be good news, [but] capturing it presents challenges as well as opportunities...
 

Phyllis Segal, vice president at Civic Ventures, directs the BreakThrough Award program and other initiatives aimed at inspiring and enabling encore careers.

Open full article in a new window

Return to top

 

To be of use
By Marge Piercy

The people I love best

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls.
 

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.
 

I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest

and work in a row and pass the bags along,

who stand in the line and haul in their places,

who are not parlor generals and field deserters

but move in a common rhythm

when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
 

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
 

Greek amorphas for wine or oil,

Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums

but you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.
 

from Circles in the Water (1982)
 


Resources for Following Your Heart

We divided into small groups to discuss a “work” experience we’d had recently that matched our passions and skills and expressed our values. Somewhat sheepishly, I chose to describe a recent Florida bike trip riding from Key Largo to Key West and back... Later I asked Jan, feeling a little guilty about my “work” example, could this really fit under her definition of work...

 “The Aging Adventurer,” Emily Kimball, is a longtime outdoor enthusiast who takes lessons learned from her adventures and applies them to everyday life.

Open full article in a new window

Return to top


Work in the Third Age of Life

“Me?” smiled the elder. “Doing?” The elder roared with laughter. “This ego dissolved into God many years ago. There is no ‘I’ left to ‘do’ anything. God works through this body to help and awaken all people and draw them to Him.”...

 Author-philosopher John G. Sullivan is a member of the Second Journey Board of Directors and author of Living Large: Transformative Work at the Intersection of Ethics and Spirituality.

Open full article in a new window

Return to top


A Trio of Books on the Changing Nature of Work
Book page editor Barbara Kammerlohr reviews three books that focus on the changing nature of work in later life.

Open full article in a new window

Return to top

 


“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected." — Swedish proverb

LATE EDITIONS! Celebrating Creativity in Later Life
July 13-18, 2008 – Toronto, Canada

Classical Pursuits sponsors year-round learning vacations for adults who come together to study and discuss great works of literature, art, and music. The 10th anniversary of its flagship program, Toronto Pursuits, will celebrate creativity in later life. From July 13-18, 2008, more than 200 adults from all over the world will gather on the shady campus of the University of Toronto to consider the crowning achievements of, among others, Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neil, Dostoyevsky, Beethoven, Rembrandt, Monet, and Henry Adams, all produced during the latter years in the artists’ lives. The atmosphere is relaxed, informal, and convivial.

For further information or to register, visit classicalpursuits.com.
 


 

 

Second Journey, Inc.
4 Wellesley Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(919) 403-0432

 

SecondJourney@frontier.net

Second Journey, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation