For the past many weeks, I have been blogging about the midlife and menopause journey, all the while, knowing that I only have one small perspective on this journey. As a divorced, white, college educated, middle class American woman, I can only speak from this perspective. I have been very much aware that what is missing in this discussion is the masculine voice. As such, I have invited my dear friend and mentor, Ted Balser to share his insights on the midlife journey (and beyond) from the male perspective.
See Ted’s current bio below, but let me tell you a little bit about Ted from my perspective. What I have learned about Ted Balser is that he is 1 part Albert Einstein, 1 part Thomas Edison and 1 part Tommy Chong. Ted is a creative and intellectual genius with a heart as wide as the sun who generously shares his time and resources with women, children, the jobless and anyone else who needs a listening ear, a compassionate heart and a helping hand. At the ripe, young age of 72, Ted has seen his fair share of challenges and tragedies and has learned and grown through them. I am grateful for the day that Ted showed up in my life with his pile of binders, career search files, spiritual hand-outs and laminated inspirational quotes and saved me from succumbing to the pressure of finding a “real job.” Ted made a commitment to me on that day which he has enthusiastically upheld, “Lauri, we will leave no stone unturned until you are able to do what you love and make a living doing it.” We’re still working on the “making a living part,” and I am forever grateful for Ted’s enduring love and support! Thank you Ted! I love you!
So….without further ado…..I introduce you to Ted Balser, his words and his wisdom:
Ted and His Friends – We must suspend our disbelief
Who am I? I am a slow white male, the easy definition for which is “the buck stops here.” Because, for the rest of the world, the 78 cents stops here. This fact begs the question, why can’t we all make the same amount of pay for the same job? (See AAUW research on this social injustice!)
Allow me to continue to introduce myself. I have several causes that I quite literally wear on my sleeve: Live United, Suicide Prevention, Live Strong, Cancer Survivors, Prevention of Childhood Abuse, Breast Cancer Awareness, Mental Health Awareness, and Alzheimer Awareness. And there is one cause that I wear in my heart – a cause which is really three-in-one. It goes like this: Every Woman Counts, Every Mother Counts, and Every Child Counts. I feel it is my responsibility as a slow white male to assist with their lives on a daily basis.
I have developed a mantra to help me with the how part of my responsibilities, both to myself and to my chosen causes. As a slow white male, my mantra goes like this and takes the form of a mathematical formula:
V+ M+ G 1 + G 2 + C to the third power = J over the number 168
V = vision – the vision to provide an environment where people can be successful. This vision requires a listening attitude.
M = mission – my personal mission in this life is to have fun. Fun is a common theme for me, and I feel that none of us can be successful without having fun. Unfortunately, this is something many, if not most have forgotten. Can you name, for example, the 7 dwarfs? If you forgot one, I bet it is Happy. He is the one we too often forget.
G1= My first goal, which is to share. Sharing is not hard to do. Didn’t John the Evangelist say that if we have two coats that we should share one with someone who doesn’t?
G2 = Learning, my second goal. I make it a point to learn something new every day. It is simple. If you haven’t learned something new today, get out a map out a find out the population of Omro. As of the 2010 census it was 3517! And of course, if you have a bible on your bed stand, open it, read any page, and learn something new.
C = Caring. Caring to the third power. Caring first for myself. If you are in an airplane and you need the oxygen mask, you are always instructed to put yours on first before assisting others with theirs. The second type of caring is to care for the person(s) who listens and does not judge. These are your true friends. Take care of them by listening and not judging them as well. Caring to third power is to care for the group you are with at the time. People need to know they are cared for before they will care about you or your causes.
A life driven by commitment to a vision, mission and goals that in some way reflect caring for self and others results is J/168. J = JOY and 168 is the number of hours in a week. And who would not want that – a fulfilling life with meaning and purpose that gives you joy 168 hours a week? This is what I strive to attain in my own life and my hope and challenge for you!
If you don’t yet have a cause you care about, you are welcome to join one of mine, or find what it is that gives you passion and keep on keeping on.
May peace be our journey!
Ted and his friends.
Ted Balser: Explorer, Strategist, and Problem-Solver.
Ted claims he’s never worked a day in his life, but his resume will tell you otherwise. Ted was named Alumni Relationship Specialist for the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh in July of 2007. Prior to that, he was the director of Career Services for eleven years, and the assistant director of Residence Life in charge of Operations and Facilities Management for twelve years.
His professional experiences and educational background are diverse: He managed his own family business, was the director of Auxiliary Services and Student Union at St. Norbert College, and was the program advisor and University Center Supervisor at Northern Illinois University.
Ted’s most significant job has been Sunday School teacher for twenty years, including ten years teaching high school students. Through working in this role, he has learned about the conflicts that people, especially young people, encounter in their journeys of discovering identity and preparing for college.