A former boss and I periodically catch up via phone calls and Facebook chats. She will post stuff on my wall from time to time "Had crabcakes, but I wanted yours!" and generally indicate that she would like me to move back to the DC area. (With all that snow? No way!)
She recently had surgery, so we caught up a few days ago on how she was doing. Today, she IMed me and we got to talking about that mind shift that happens when your body decides it will throw up the white flag and refuses to be like everyone else's. I told her that for me, it took about two years to find peace with the fact that I would never again be 'the old Suzanne'. The one she worked with, that never rested, worked with migraines and remembered the UPS guy's birthday and brought him cupcakes.
The question is cropping up, the 'what if I can't do this anymore? I'm not tech savvy like you.'
I had an answer, suggesting she go back and get her Master's degree.
We talked about which program should she consider, and I suggested one and what she could do with it that combines her 30 years of experience with a job that isn't so physically demanding. For now, while she's home recuperating, she needs to contemplate what is the first thing about the job that gets her out of bed every day, the thing on that To Do list that she tackles first. Then, find the corporate side equivalent that will let her enjoy it.
After working together five years, I know her strengths, which is why I made the suggestion I did. I also shared that a Master's degree is easier than a Bachelor's, in that you are studying one topic in-depth, and should be passionate about the topic if you're doing an advanced degree. That news surprised her, but it's true. The workload can be tough to handle sometimes, but the coursework isn't impossible.
I know the time is going to come soon when we have a few more serious conversations about the what comes after and is the Master's really the right fit? For her, definitely. I've been down the path she's starting on, and know there are some rough realities in front of her. Putting some trail blazes out for her now may make it a easier journey.
That's my hope, anyway.