Here is a link to a recent article I wrote for Catalyst, the magazine of the National Council for Continuing Education and Training. http://sdrv.ms/12SOkEc
My latest article from Outlook by the Bay magazine.
Here is a column I wrote for Outlook by the Bay magazine on surviving a midlife crisis: https://www.aacc.edu/lifestages/file/OutlookArticlePortisWin2013.pdf
This excellent quote from Tim Keller on Tolkien:
“Tolkien has helped my imagination. He was a devout Catholic — and I am not. However, because he brought his faith to bear into narrative, fiction, and literature, his Christianity — which was pretty ‘mere Christianity’ (understanding of human sin, need for grace, need for redemption) — fleshed out in fiction, has been an inspiration to me.
What I mean by inspiration is this: he gives me a way of grasping glory that would otherwise be hard for me to appreciate. Glory, weightiness, beauty, excellence, brilliance, virtue — he shows them to you in some of his characters.
When people ask me how often I have read The Lord of the Rings, the answer is, I actually never stop. I’m always in it.”
New legislation or new policies that support people with disabilities come around too infrequently. When they do happen, you will see calls to action that basically say “If you care about people with disabilities support this. Email your elected officials, and send us a donation to help us get this passed.”
The problem is that most people never read the legislation or policy they are asked to support. Not every piece of pro-disability legislation is a good piece of legislation. The latest rallying point is the CRPD, a UN Treaty that President Obama has signed and the Senate is considering for ratification. I will not be writing my congressman, posting on Twitter, or sending anyone a donation to support this.
Two serious problems.
The first issue has to do with the definition “disability.” There isn’t one in the CRPD. We already struggle with limited resources for those who are in the most need of them, and this type of dilution of the idea of disability will not help the situation. Some think it is a good idea to greatly broaden the concept of disability. This may sound good philosophically, but the practical applications will result in reduced services and support for those who could most benefit from them.
The second issue is the idea of the enforcement of disability protections and policies moving to an international body. Today we have the right to hold our elected officials accountable for how they support people with disabilities and their families. Imagine a congressman being able to say that this issue is not something he can influence, you need to call the enforcement office in Switzerland. CRPD heads us in that direction.
Why so much support in the disability community?
Why are so many organizations in support of the CRPD? There are many good aspects of the CRPD, especially related to human dignity and the rights of people with disabilities. It is a large, sweeping worldwide document that attracts support and helps fundraising. Once a few major disability organizations jump on the bandwagon, other groups don’t want to be left out.
It is easy to understand the attraction of the CRPD. I think that too often people with disabilities feel forgotten or pushed to the margins of society. A sweeping international treaty seems like a good way to bring disabilities to the forefront.
In the end good people can disagree about the merits of the CRPD and whether it should be ratified. Some may read and fully understand it and its shortcomings, and decide to advocate for it anyway. The important thing is to carefully consider the merits and drawbacks before making an informed decision.
Did you (or will you) have mixed emotions about becoming a grandparent? Sure, you cannot wait to hold the baby, but taking on the title of “grandma” is just not all that exciting for you. For some people, the word “grandparent” conjures up an image of a frail, silver haired person in a rocking chair. You could sit on their knee and listen to a story, and they probably had a piece of candy for you. It is time to put that image away, because grandparents of today are quite different!
More Grandparents than Ever Before?
It is quite possible that we have more grandparents than ever before in our country. 73 million people, or one in four adults, are grandparents. By the year 2020 one in three people will be a grandparent. The rate of people becoming grandparents is growing at twice the rate of the overall population. According to Grand magazine, more than 75% of the people over the age of 50 are grandparents. These are staggering statistics.
Active and involved
Grandparents today are not sitting on the front porch waiting for the end to come. They are active, many are still working, and they often have leadership roles in their community. Most are involved in their grandchildren’s lives, seeing them once every week or two.
Let us also not forget that people over 50 control 70% of this nation’s wealth. Grandparents are making or influencing many of the daily spending decisions in our country. MetLife’s Grandparents poll has found that grandparents provide $370 billion annually in financial assistance to grandchildren.
If policymakers overlook grandparents as a vital economic force they are making a huge mistake!
Grandparents to the rescue
Family expert Amy Goyer suggests that grandparents have become a safety net. As adult children struggle with economic and employment issues, grandparents may step in to help with errands, to pay for health insurance, or just to be there to provide a sense of stability during difficult times.
More grandparents than ever before are becoming primary caregivers for their grandchildren. According to latest census information, 5.8 million children now live with their grandparents. In these households the parent may be present, but often is not.
There are costs for caregivers
Raising children the second time around can have financial, physical and social consequences. According to AARP, 19% of the grandparents raising grandchildren are at or below the poverty line. The risk of heart disease in women increases, and caring for a child may isolate the person from others their age.
The good news is that there are resources now to help grandparents who find themselves. AARP has an excellent grandparents resource site. Their site includes GrandFacts, which gives state specific information for grandparents who have become caregivers for their grandchildren.
This article was originally published in Outlook by the Bay: outlookbythebay.com
Published in Outlook by the Bay magazine, January/February issue. http://www.outlookbythebay.com/
Sometimes people forget that a key word in the term “middle-aged” is the word middle, as in “stuck in the middle.” We find ourselves in the middle of various other generations, sometimes living and working with up to four different age groups. On the positive side, this gives us a unique perspective, on the negative side we can be frustrated at how people view themselves and the world.
I find that people in their 20’s are an increasingly important part of my life and work. Those in their 20’s are part of a generation known as the Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000. The Millennial and Baby Boomer generations are equal in size, and will be the dominant adult group as this century moves forward.
If we understand some of the broad characteristics of the Millennials, it can help us get along with them better, and perhaps reduce our frustration level. We can either balk at these characteristics, or we can use what we know to build better relationships. Building better relationships ultimately allows us to share our experiences and help them take over after we have moved on.
The need for continuous feedback
More than any other group, those in their 20’s want ongoing feedback on how they are doing in work and life. One supervisor sent a newly hired young adult into the archives of a company to pull files that were needed for reference. The person quit because they had worked for four hours straight and no one had checked to let them know how they were doing. The middle-aged supervisor never dreamed this would happen.
They feel a need to be constantly connected
Millennials have grown up constantly connected, especially by cell phones and social media sites like Facebook. Connection to people can be and often is achieved within seconds at anytime day or night. While many of us like to disconnect, disconnection for a millennial can cause feelings of anxiety, if not outright panic. If you doubt this, ask to borrow their cell phone for two or three days and see what kind of reaction you get!
Life and work should be flexible and mobile
A recent study by Cisco found that 56% of recent college graduates would not take a job that did not allow them to access Facebook during work hours. This same study found that 70% of today’s college students think that being in an office on a regular basis is unnecessary. In other words, relating to people, accessing information, and being productive does not require being tied to a desk at work or home. Technology allows communication and work to be done anywhere and any place.
Learning and Hoping
A good characteristic of many Millennials is that they are more hopeful than other generations. Those who are more cynical may suggest that this is because they have not had a lot of life experience yet! Still, staying hopeful despite world conditions is not a bad place to be.
Another characteristic is that Millennials have a love of learning. They already consider themselves lifelong learners. They go into a job expecting it to be a place where they can learn.
We might ask ourselves if Millennials are that different from us, or if the realities of the world they grew up in are different. If we grew up knowing nothing but rapidly improving and easily accessible technology would we not want to have it with us at all times? If we grew up in a world where you know about every news story within minutes of it happening, would we be satisfied with a printed paper that had news that was 24 hours old?
In his book “The Millennials” authors Thom and Jess Rainer write: “For certain we are convinced this generation will make its mark. How will we receive them? How will we channel their ambitions and impatience? How will we work with them in greater service and healthy reconciliation? We better be ready.”
While I often find Jason Whitlock annoying, he is right on the money in his editorial (linked below) today about the Penn State scandal.
No matter what the exact facts are, this appears to have been mishandled… badly. How can educated, experienced professionals mishandle child abuse? I think there is a paralyzing fear in many institutions and organizations about the corporate brand and finances. Harming the corporate brand means less money from donors, sales of books, etc., thus creating great financial harm.
The peer pressure to protect the reputation of the organization can be very strong. A few believe it is more important to protect the integrity of the organization and its people.
The weighty financial interests of any organization can push many well meaning leaders into silence. I have personally seen it happen on more than one occasion. If you hear the phrase “no money, no mission,” you know that person’s ethics card has been put aside.
I have also seen problems handled bravely and with integrity. I have seen leaders who were not worried about reputation or major donors, but about doing the best thing for the people they lead. They determined that any issues with donors or bad press would eventually work themselves out. They also believed that if doing the right thing meant closing the doors of the organization or institution, then so be it.
All of this is very easy to talk about in theory, but very difficult when you are in a room full of people in the midst of what appears to be a crisis. I have personally seen leaders make people-harming decisions for the “good of the organization.” Today, we are seeing out this turns out at Penn State.
Whitlock’s article: http://goo.gl/8O4tu
From Outlook by the Bay, summer 2011
By Terry Portis
I am never quite sure how to respond when someone tells me, “The time for that has passed me by.” If I agree, is that insulting, questioning the person’s abilities? If I disagree, am I questioning whether or not a person knows their own life? Usually, I just sort of nod, but not too enthusiastically. The truth is that sometimes people give up too soon and too easily. Dreams and ideals that flourished in our 20s are crushed by the next 30 or 40 years of working too hard and too long on things we are not that thrilled by. There are two things in particular I want to focus on that are very often pushed aside in the noise and tumult in our lives. Those are broken relationships and daring to do new things.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO REPAIR A RELATIONSHIP
We don’t remember when we stopped talking to our friend or family member. At one point we couldn’t imagine going a week or a day without checking in with them. The relation ship meant something, and life was better because that person was in it. Something happened a disagreement, unkind words, hurt feelings and the relationship seems lost forever.
David McCullough’s excellent book on the life of John Adams gives some fascinating details on the relation ship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Their ability to work closely together and their mutual respect was known throughout the United States and Europe. Differing ideas about the French Revolution would greatly dam age their relationship. Their published writings on the topic were polar oppo sites, and they publicly criticized each other. This dispute and open criticism led to two decades when they did not speak to each other. It appeared the relationship was over.
At the urging of Benjamin Rush, a physician and fellow co signer of the Declaration of Independence, they began to correspond on a regular basis. They continued to write for 14 years before they both died on the same day in 1826. Rush simply remind ed them that they had shared some remarkable hardships and successes together, and that these were more important than the conflict that had driven them apart.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO DO SOMETHING DARING
Three years ago a 76- year- old man decided to fulflll his dream, and climbed Mount Everest. Given the grueling training and the danger involved, this is remarkable. I am sure people told him that the time for climbing Mount Everest had passed him by, and most people would have nodded in agreement.
We have many wonderful examples of people who have done something daring later in life. At 77 an artist by the name of Grandma Moses decided to start painting. At 65 Winston Churchill became prime minister of England and dared to lead his country in a five year fight for its freedom. Albert Schweitzer ran a hospital in Af rica when he was 89, at 82 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe finished writing his famous Faust, and John Glenn became the oldest person to go into space at 77. So, today, the time is ripe to pick up the phone, or a paint brush, because it’s never too late!
Dr. Terry Portis is director of the Center on Aging at Anne Arundel Community College. He holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and can be reached at tdportis.aacc.edu
If you work for a college, government agency, or large corporation, it is likely there is some type of diversity initiative or program. In my own experience, I have seen very little mention of disabilities as a diversity issue. This is a serious oversight.
It is important for those of us who are informed about disability issues either personally or professionally to take steps to correct this. Sometimes we wait for some distant advocacy group to do this, or some professional who manages diversity efforts. Neither of these will be effective in changing things where you work.
So, we all need to take two steps. First of all, you should write an email to your supervisor and politely express how important it is to you to have disabilities represented in diversity initiatives. Secondly, find out who leads the diversity efforts where you work and ask them to include disabilities as part of the diversity program.
In my opinion, this is the best way to raise awareness of disabilities, and ensure it continues to be part of the conversation. Diversity outreach, training and hiring efforts receive a lot of attention and support, all of which could benefit people with disabilities and their families.
Repost from May 20, 2010