What’s in a milestone? That depends on who you ask and when you ask them.

Getting older is not optional, but reaching milestones does offer opportunity for reflection.

Author: Jeanne Foster/Thursday, January 18, 2018/Categories: Lifelong learning, National

As 2017 drew to a close, I found myself doing what I always do at that time of the year: wondering where the time had gone and reflecting on the year just past.

Yes, the year went by quickly as the years always do, seemingly more so as I’ve gotten older. But for reflection, last year I had an extra reason to reflect – a milestone birthday.  I’m now version 7.0.

As someone who grew up as the youngest in my extended family, often the youngest in my class and frequently the youngest of my colleagues, finding myself as the oldest is, quite frankly, weird.

So what did I reflect on for 2017? I’m grateful for my family and friends of a lifetime. I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful that I work in a program that excites me. And I’m grateful I’m part of an organization that amazes me every day with the ideas that are generated, the work that is accomplished.

What is it I so appreciate about what I’m doing now? Oasis Tutoring is an intergenerational program – but the intergenerational focus doesn’t stop there. It extends to our team and the work we engage in every day.

I love being able to share a lifetime of experience in the non-profit world with my colleagues. I love being energized by new ideas and infectious enthusiasm. And most of all I’m thankful for the opportunity to work as part of a fabulous intergenerational team.

Six of our Oasis decade birthday buddies, left to right: Jeanne Foster, Sarah Lovegreen, Anne Heinrich, Janice Branham, Dawn Anderson, Kim Berndt

 

In just the Oasis Institute office, we range in age from 26 on up – yes, to me at 70. It was a milestone year for me. But I’m not the only one celebrating a new decade. One of my teammates turned 40, four turned 50, another turned 60.

In talking with them, they shared a few of their thoughts about milestones and what being part of an intergenerational team means to them:

Paul Weiss, Oasis Institute President, 50

“Turning 50 this year was surprisingly refreshing.  The high-level summary of my emotional/intellectual response was ’finally, adulthood!’  I think there was a feeling of both gravitas at being at this arbitrary mid-centennial milestone, and also the sense that I was pretty happy in general with all the stuff I’d been doing with my life that filled those 50 years. (I suppose not feeling that way would have been a bummer, and thankfully my reflection was an affirming experience.)  It also feels right to be focusing on older adults as social change/improvement engines, successful aging, and program development for grown-ups.  I don’t think I would have the right perspective for our work at Oasis, as the President (I don’t want to take anything away from my younger colleagues!) if I was much younger than 50.  It feels like kismet that I am with Oasis, at this age, during this precise chronological inflection point in my life.”

Dawn Anderson, Director of Finance and Administration, 50

“It is interesting how milestone birthdays do seem to inspire a deeper reflection on life, health, mortality, career, self-worth.  I decided that turning 50 was an exciting milestone.  And yes…it was a conscious decision to view it as such.  As I age, I have noticed a deeper commitment to choosing to view the good in each person I encounter and each challenging situation I am faced with.  There is a peace that comes with assuming the best of our fellow human beings and approaching each new challenge as an exciting new opportunity for growth.  As I reflect upon my time here at Oasis, one of my greatest blessings is the time I spend with my colleagues.  I realize what a privilege it is to work with such a multi-generational and diverse group of individuals.  They have taught me that age knows no boundaries.   We teach and challenge each other and enrich each other’s lives every day, no matter the age.”

Anne Heinrich, National Marketing and Communications Manager, 50

“I’ve landed! Being 50 feels good. I remember helping plan a surprise birthday party for my father when he turned 50. Not long ago, I ran across some photos of that event. It had been a long time since I’d seen them.  I looked very young because I was—fresh out of college and newly married, launching my career with lots of life and learning ahead.  But it was the images of Dad that took my breath away. He looked young too. Very much so. Now I can see that he was at the top of his game, with lots of achievement, joy and challenges still to come his way. I find myself in this space now and it’s pretty exciting to think about how the next decade will unfold.”

Sarah Lovegreen, National Health Director, 40

“Forty is certainly a milestone birthday, but working at Oasis, where I have the joy of interacting with adults of all ages, I still feel like a kid. Personally, 40 is amazing. I’m out of the fog of raising very young children – their increasing independence allows me to find time for hobbies, dates with my husband and more family adventures. I’m established in my career, but at the end of the day I know I have decades left of adventure, productivity and contribution in all forms, as demonstrated by my beloved colleagues.”

Janice Branham, Communications and Technology Director, 60

Two years ago I decided that 60 would be the year I would retire from Oasis and start a new chapter. My 60th birthday came and went just over month ago, and honestly, it feels like stepping off a cliff. For 26 years, I have loved coming to work at Oasis. I was the youngest one around when I started in 1992 and spent most of my career here. I am grateful to be part of a movement to help people create more connected, satisfying and healthier lives for themselves. I work with people I admire and enjoy who are deeply committed to this mission. And every day, the fact that I’m leaving all this very soon gets a little more real.

But I am ready to take the leap. My time at Oasis has offered much perspective on how to think creatively about who we are and what we can do next. Like all my milestone birthdays so far, I feel sure that I’ll look back on this one fondly.

 

 

 

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