Sunday, March 21, 2010


© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

One of the hardest things we ever do is to leave some place or someone we love. When I was honored for 25 years on my job, I got my first inkling that retirement might not be that easy for me. Even though I had written most of it myself, my contribution to the organization impressed me when I heard someone else read it aloud. I hadn’t realized I was having so much fun and making so much family. (I envisioned the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, inching in an ensemble hug to the nearest box of tissues, shuffling and sniffling ourselves toward door. I had a hard time imagining closing it and shutting off the lights for the last time.)

Rarely is it the best time to leave anything or anyone in anger. The best time is when it’s time.

Whether it’s a gold watch, wedding rings, or the keys to a house you have long called home, these are symbols of the most enduring aspects of our lives. They are hard to let go.

We live in times that demand us to live—and let go—at a breakneck pace. This is coupled with an interesting demographic. A huge portion of human beings living today are baby boomers, born after World War II between 1946 and 1964. Those of us on the earlier end of that time span have experienced a schizophrenic exposure to life. First, we’re the only generation with baby in our name, which speaks of our resistance toward maturity. Second, talk about change; our lives have spanned some wild fluctuations in society’s values.

We grew up with Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver. Many Moms stayed at home and baked cookies. They wore dresses and pumps to vacuum. We were always Making Room for Daddy. Fathers were “it,” down to our mothers being called Mrs. His First and Last Name. We were respectful, and we didn’t talk back.

As we became teenagers and young adults, everyone we ever believed in was murdered in our living rooms on prime time, as we watched helplessly on our still relatively new color TVs--first President Kennedy, then Martin Luther King. By the time Bobby Kennedy was killed, disillusionment was a national disease and what’s this world coming to was our mantra.

But we hadn’t seen nothin’ yet. We came of age in the ‘70s and some of us became the counterculture. We went to Woodstock, wore flowers in our hair, protested a war we thought was senseless, and envisioned a peaceful new world.

Ten years later, most of us were steeped in materiality and another pendulum swing. The ‘80s were about money and prestige, a sojourn to a place many of us had never yet been—those of us who spent most of our earlier lives focusing on very different kinds of values besides the price of property or BMWs.

As each decade turned, then a millennium, we found ourselves leaving behind old visions of the future we pictured as children. Technology changed everything. Now our community consists of our Facebook and email pals who may live across the globe. (Try borrowing a cup of sugar from that neighbor!) Often we barely know the folks next door, but we know intimately people we have never met in person.

Inside us, we still picture Donna Reid and Danny Thomas as our marriage models. In reality, staying married is a crapshoot—no better than a 50/50 proposition. We endured cultural revolutions, military wars, and wars of values within ourselves; and if we grew, by now we have arrived at some semblance of a happy medium.

Here’s an exercise: Write down all the major changes that have occurred in your lifetime, just off the top of your head. No matter how young or old you are, you will be amazed. To evolve that quickly, you can’t keep hanging on.

Life, from our first breath, is about surrendering the current moment for the next moment and all the promise and potential each one holds. Paradoxical as it is, you only get more by giving up what you’ve got.

In the most personal and painful losses, it is comforting to know:

Love never dies; it only changes form like anything in nature, including us.

No matter how sad the ending, there is always a new beginning that calls us from the ashes of what must die to make room for new life. This is how we begin and end, and with practice in-between, we can make this chunk of our own evolution a little slice of heaven on earth before we shoot back to the stars.


Photo credit: TANGO COUPLE © Elultimode...

For more on this topic, visit this thoughtful post on Joy Frequencies, What Needs to Be Done.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview: Mary Eileen Williams Writes the Book on Landing the Job You Love Past 50

Joyce: I’m part of the well-over-50 generation, and I love doing occasional features aimed at fellow baby boomers. Eileen, I love your new book so much—Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50—I could not resist sharing with my Hot Flashbacks readers the wealth of your experience for “cool saging” job hunters. In today’s economy, I can’t imagine a book that’s more practical. You have many years of experience helping others as a job placement professional; and your blog, The Feisty Side of Fifty, helps people develop the attitude that will keep them in the work force for as long as they want.

What’s your approach to finding that dream job—and what makes your book unique?

Eileen: There are only a very few books aimed at jobseekers over fifty and many of them are focused on retirement options or reinventing yourself. To my knowledge, Land the Job You Love is the only book that provides step-by-step strategies to guide older applicants to turn their age into their advantage during the actual job search process.

There are, in fact, many pluses to being a mature worker. We just need to learn how to capitalize on these, present them in the right ways so that we distinguish ourselves from the competition, and create a marketing plan that will move our search forward to make us THE candidate of choice.

Joyce: What do you think is the single most important thing for a person to do to prepare themselves for job hunting as a more experienced worker?

Eileen: Actually there are several. As a successful jobseeker you’ll need to know how to:

• Identify and articulate your skills and back them up with winning examples.

• Network your way into targeted organizations and build key alliances.

• Create a strong and customized résumé that will grab attention and open the door to interviews.

• Prepare for questions that will likely be asked during an interview (including behavioral style questions), so that you build rapport, make a great impression, and get the offer.

• Know how to negotiate a win/win deal.

Boomers: A Cool Saging Conversation

Boom is the sound the baby generation makes when it explodes the old Old. TM

Joyce: We know it’s the résumé that gets a person’s foot in the door. How can we best present ourselves when we’re 50+ and competing with college kids?

Eileen: There is a certain type of résumé  format that I explain in great detail in the book. It’s the #1 way older applicants can present themselves on paper. This format is easy to customize to the position (important in today’s competitive job market). Key skills and accomplishments are clearly listed, and critical information is easy to spot within a 30-second scan. That’s about how long most résumé reviewers spend deciding if they’ll read through your résumé or not.

Joyce: How do you think the job landscape looks for people who want to keep working as long as possible? Is there a place for them in corporate America, in government jobs or the service industries—or should they retire early and use their baseline pensions and early Social Security to build a new, freelance career?

Eileen: I think there are plenty of opportunities out there for jobseekers over fifty. Aside from income needs, personal fulfillment is important at our age. Even though the traditional job market is slow, there are definite strategies you can use that will put you far ahead of the average jobseeker. And, don’t forget, baby boomers are a huge percentage of the working population.

In fact, workers over fifty represent one of the fastest growing segments of the workforce, so we fit right in. Our age truly can be an advantage.

Moreover, as our history demonstrates—we boomers are trailblazers—so we embrace options and opportunities. Some of us may choose to remain in corporate America while others may opt to take this time to live out their dreams and start their own businesses or give back to their communities through non-profit work. Each jobseeker needs to come up with five to ten top values that are important to him/her at this stage of life. Then they can take the next step and decide how they can best live out these values through their work.

Joyce: What have you learned blogging on The Feisty Side of Fifty that has helped you place people in our age group in the jobs of their dreams?

Eileen: I think the main lesson I’ve learned from blogging and interacting with the fifty-plus audience is that we’re still a dynamic, energetic, and forward thinking generation. Baby boomers have retained our zest for life and our positive, “change the world for the better” attitude. With the right techniques and a few insider tips, we can use this energy to land jobs we truly do love and continue to contribute, thrive, and make our mark in the world of work.

Joyce: Eileen, I love your sense of humor that shines through the Feisty Side of Fifty. What can we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously on the job quest? I’d imagine that the ability to laugh at times through the adventure of finding that perfect job over 50 is a great asset.

Eileen: You are so right about taking some time to lighten things up a bit. There’s no doubt about it—the job search can get stressful and you’ll need to expect a number of emotional peaks and valleys. So whatever you can do to recharge your energy and get some emotional distance on your job search will help.

Although most people out of work will be on a budget, there are a number of small and relatively inexpensive treats you can give yourself: spend time with friends, go to a movie, take a walk in the woods, and focus on those parts of your life for which you are grateful. Also, don’t forget about exercise, eating right, getting plenty of R & R, and enjoying a laugh or two. You’ll want to be energetic and positive when you network and, especially, when you interview. Be certain to do what you can to give yourself some extra special TLC—your attitude underscores every aspect of your search!

Joyce: As we wrap up this conversation on Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, do you have any final words of wisdom to add?

Eileen: I want midlife jobseekers to realize that the news is not as bleak as the media makes it out to be. Bad news sells, so that’s exactly what they sell! You can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. So learn the techniques and strategies that highlight your strengths and set you apart from the competition. You’ll save time, money, and frustration, and, before you know it, you just might land that very special job you love!

Joyce: Eileen’s book is for sale on both Create Space and Amazon.  Happy Dream Job Hunting--and Finding!


Mary Eileen Williams, M.A., NCC, has twenty years of combined experience as a career and life transition counselor, job search specialist, university instructor, and writer. As a Nationally Board Certified Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development, she specializes in working with job seekers in midlife and showing them the latest techniques for landing a job in the 21st Century. Over her career, Mary Eileen has worked with thousands of older applicants and knows the most effective methods to use to overcome the special challenges they face. By following her surefire strategies, you'll turn your age into an advantage and find yourself landing your next job in record time. Mary Eileen also hosts the popular blog and radio show "Feisty Side of Fifty."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Don’t Undervalue Overdo

© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Excess. We all indulge, whether it’s too much make-up, food, drink, drugs or passion. (I have spared you the gross visuals on the other overdo’s. Dripping lipstick is ewww enough!)

In the past few years, I have become intimately acquainted with Too Much in my life. I eat too much; I write too much; I am at the computer too much; and I give too much. To reel me back to reality now and then, I designed a bracelet that says “Enough” in alphabet beads.

I will be the first person to admit; I’m compulsive. It goes with being very mental. If it’s stuck in my head and it’s an idea that intrigues me or a behavior that tickles the senses, it triggers my to-do button, often till it’s stuck on Can’t Stop. Not always, but probably too often. I’m grateful I don’t fall prey to some of the excesses that can lead to addiction, such as alcohol or drugs. I don’t like “substances,” but I sure like food, coffee, and some of the other feel-goodies.

When You Can’t Stop

I’m not sure I know the difference between a compulsion and addiction, but my intuitive take is that a compulsion is a habit that can be turned around with a little work. If someone threw a bucket of cold water on me or I activated some other mechanism to wake me up out of the rut, I would stop. I do stop for considerable periods. But I often start again. Food is the hardest because you can’t completely abstain from it, and I am the daughter of a gourmand with a very refined palette that wants quality yummies!

I feel good in the groove of my compulsions. Compulsions are knee-jerk. On the other hand, it appears that addictions rarely can be stopped without the major intervention of therapy and/or a 12-Step program.

For the differences, here are the definitions compulsion and addiction. The key distinction is that a compulsion is something irresistible and contrary to your will. An addiction is defined more strongly as enslavement with components that are psychological or physiological—and the cessation of the behavior causes severe trauma.

Garden Variety Overdo—A Gift

What I want to talk about today is what I call garden-variety overdo or the occasional binge. I am not addressing true addiction because of its severity, and because I'm not qualified to do so. (If you suspect you have an addiction, please get help. A good place to start is with your doctor or any of the “Anonymous” programs: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, or Sex Addicts Anonymous.)

For those of us who binge periodically but don’t suffer serious withdrawal consequences when we quit, I think a binge is one of nature’s most precious gifts of biofeedback.

How terrible do you feel after you eat or drink too much? Or have too much sex? At minimum, nauseous, hung-over, and possibly sore. This is the body’s way of telling you that excess is not a great idea. You got it out of your system, but there’s enough feel-bad in the aftermath, you’re not going to do the same thing tomorrow night, if you’ve got any sense.

Sometimes a sweets binge for a week can set me straight for months at a time. I don’t understand how it works, but I’m grateful for it. Have you ever eaten 10 times more sugar trying to avoid that craving for a chocolate bar? A friend clued me into this phenomenon. She said that she finally realized that a moderate amount of the best chocolate she could buy satisfied her craving quickly and for a long time. She was burying her chocolate craving under donuts, sugary cereals, and a ton of other crap. She ate more “bad sugar” avoiding a modest amount of “good sugar.” We read more and more about how small amounts of dark chocolate have benefits, if we can work with “binge biofeedback” and keep excess in check.

All Things in Moderation, Including Moderation

Like all modern, cosmopolitan people, I am looking to find balance in my life. My cool insight on this topic isn’t original; it has been said in the well-known expression about “moderation” in the header above this paragraph. This quote, by the way, is attributed to Petronius (c. AD 27-66), a Roman writer and a noted satirist.

If occasional overdo reels you in on your excesses in the long run by its immediate consequences, I say let’s party.

In fact, I'll drink to that!


Photo Credit: © Graça Victoria -

Week #4 Comment Contest Winner is JuliaAna from Shell Knob, MO who commented on the post, Love in Later Life--Spirited Edition. What a lovely irony, since I wrote that particular post at JuliaAna's request.  She has won an autographed copy of Capital Crimes: 15 Stories by Sacramento Area Authors. It includes my story, "Digital."

Thanks to all of you who played! I love an interactive blog, and I hope you had so much fun, you’ll be back often. The real prize is the new people you’ll meet, ideas you’ll share, and tips you’ll find on spirited living.