Monday, October 29, 2018

First Love

To celebrate my 60th birthday, my two sisters treated me to a baking course at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT. We joined eight other food enthusiasts, many who had traveled across the country, to learn how to make wood-fired flatbreads.

Kim, Laurie and Patrice at King Arthur Flour baking school.
From the moment I walked into the classroom, something awakened in me. The individual cooking stations, bright red KitchenAid mixers, large canisters of flour and sugar on the counter, along with other small bowls of measured ingredients that we'd need for our baking, transported me back to my seventh grade home economics classroom.  I came alive over the next four hours as we measured, stirred, kneaded, and baked the dough into beautiful and delicious flatbreads. 

It's not surprising that I felt so good while baking with others in a classroom setting. As a teenager, I loved cooking classes—so much so that I majored in home economics in college. This was my career path for about seven years before having children. Then, as with so many people, I headed in another direction when I pursued my master and doctorate degrees.

Fortunately, my birthday baking course reminded me how much I enjoy baking with others in a communal setting. It awakened my first love! I’ve decided I want to create more of this in my life. I'm looking for a way to bring baking and people together. Now that I know what I want, I can begin to make it happen.

A woman, who I'll call Susan, came up to me after a pre-retirement seminar to tell me how she stumbled upon her first love. When Susan was younger, she enjoyed playing the violin. As she was thinking ahead to retirement, her plan was to pick up the violin again. But, a request to play at a friend's wedding propelled her plan into action. Susan didn’t want to say no, but she also knew that it had been years since she opened her violin case. Putting her fear aside, Susan said yes. She had four months to prepare. She put herself "on the hook."  

The joy that Susan received from this experience is why she shared her story with me. She said she came alive practicing and preparing for the big event. The wedding was several months ago, but Susan continues to pick up her violin everyday. She's grateful that she didn't wait until after retirement to reconnect with her first love.

Perhaps reconnecting with your first love is a great way to add meaning and enjoyment to your retirement years. Ask yourself, "In what situations do I feel most alive?" and "What did I enjoy doing as a 12-year-old child?" Retirement is a great time to learn new skills and have new adventures, but it's also a perfect time to reignite the spark from your first love.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 15, 2018


I just returned home from a week in London. My husband and I went "across the pond" to see our son present his start-up tech company before an audience of venture capitalists, successful business owners, and supportive mentors. In total, ten founding CEOs delivered a 5-minute "pitch" for funding, all presenting a compelling vision with infectious passion and unrelenting drive. 

Many of these founders previously worked for Google, Amazon, and financial companies. They had great jobs, earning incomes that afforded a comfortable lifestyle in some of the trendiest cities. Still, they left these positions to create something of their own. As one guy said to me, "I decided I wanted to support my own dream, not the dream of my former boss."

I returned home thinking about my own dreams. The allure of being a founder is seductive. How cool it is to have your name attached to something great! And yet, instead of equating founding with success, what if I invest my time, skills, and resources in an existing organization where I can have a meaningful impact? 

This is the advice given by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, in their book A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. The authors remind us that we need people to invest their lives in the existing organizations. When we put our egos aside, we can experience the same benefits as the founders, just by contributing our gifts and knowing that we’re making a difference.

Cheryl Dorsey, the head of Echoing Green, a nonprofit that supports social entrepreneurs says, "The biggest need now is for the 'intrapreneur,' the person who can move into an existing enterprise or institution, shake it up, and boost its productivity." I can do that.

I returned home from London with a renewed sense of purpose and energy—to approach my work with a couple non-profit organizations with an "intrapreneur" mindset. The same passion and drive I experienced from the young people in London, I can bring to my volunteer roles. And when asked, "What do you do?" I can talk about the impact my contributions are having in the lives of people around the world. Now that sounds like a dream worth pursuing.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.