I hate it when my students ask me that. “Did I get it right?” Did you follow the directions? Every step? Then why are you worried? But here I am, wondering, did I do it right? I did the decision-making process but I’m not sure it makes sense because I am not sure I feel any greater sense of clarity about the decision…
Best decision I made last year: To move out of my Miami Beach apartment into a more affordable place closer to my job where the windows work and that has parking and laundry.
Change Agent: I learned that we do not get annual cost of living adjustments at Barry (how did I miss this???? I have no recollection of this being disclosed during the salary negotiation in 2017!) AND I will not be eligible for a promotion (which is the only way to get a pay raise) until 2023 because I will not be allowed to “count” my previous teaching experience and will not have the option to go for my first long-term contract with the university until I have taught there full-time for six years. Welcome to Florida!
Sunk Costs: It took me six years to complete my PhD and it was expensive and emotionally taxing to move to Miami, so I am reluctant to leave an academic job and reluctant to leave Miami after this major move in 2017. Perhaps part of this process of decision-making is unframing? Letting go of these sunk costs and the expectation among my colleagues of institutional loyalty?
What problem(s) am I trying to solve? / What are my priorities?: These have been a work in progress as my professional landscape has shifted…
Research: establishing a research agenda that focuses on restorative practices and programs (e.g. how they work; why they work; best practices; needs of marginalized communities and how restorative justice can help…) to increase communication, connection, community and to reduce violence (especially sexual violence).
Practice: partnering with RJ practitioners to build economic prosperity for youth of color who are leaders in RJ practice in Florida; this also translates to broader commitments to building economic prosperity for my students at Barry and the youth I am encountering in the RJ world here. Co-op models, CPA and others, seem to be the most promising approach to foster wealth-building in these communities that combines economic, racial, and environmental justice…
Personal: establishing greater economic stability and freedom without having to work my full-time job + teach online for Rutgers + lead RJ trainings.
|Goal: Finding an (academic) job that pays me fairly.|
| Outcomes: |
-Ability to buy a home
-Ability to save for retirementAbility to provide enriching experiences to my 4 nieces (such as travel, help with costs associated with schooling, etc.)
-Ability to offer support for my aging parents (such as being able to live part of the year here in FL)
-Being able to have only one job (instead of multiple side gigs to make ends meet)
-Letting go of resentment toward my employer as a result of the mission/practice gap
|Go back on the academic job market||Availability of academic jobs in MiamiAvailability of academic jobs in any geographically appealing locationHow competitive I am based on publications and likelihood of securing external funding (not easy to do at Barry)Generally, these jobs are only posted in the fall, so I need to apply NOW for next year or wait another full cycle|
|Go back into higher ed administration||Willingness to give up job flexibility for higher payAvailability of jobs in MiamiWillingness to move to another geographic location for the job|
|Leave higher ed and seek full employment in another sector||Would need to sync departure with my current contract, which is active until May 2020Would need to determine which sector to focus on (gov’t; independent contracting; think tank; building coops, etc.)Assumption that I could earn a living from only one jobAvailability of jobs in MiamiWillingness to move to another geographic location|
|Quit and go home to NH and sit on my parents’ couch (waiting for winter to end and writing?)||Ability to withstand winter coldWillingness to live with almost no income|
|Look for seasonal work (something I could do in the summer that is well-paying)||Availability of jobs in MiamiWillingness to temporarily relocate to a different geographic location|
|Join/open a clinical social work/therapy practice||Still a part-time option!Requires a client baseCould be time-consuming if emergency coverage is requiredPay could be unstable/limited depending on number of clients and practice agreements about cost sharing|
Has anyone seen “Modern Love”, the miniseries on Amazon based on the New York Times column of the same name? I don’t often watch TV, but I stumbled on this the other night and enjoyed it. More to the point, in one of the episodes, there is a woman who is pregnant and homeless who decides to give her baby up for adoption. What ensues is a culture clash between her and the gay couple (financially successful Manhattanites) who adopt the baby. At one point, she is debriefing after an argument with one of the men in the couple and says to him how she couldn’t stand seeing so much suffering around her and so she gave up a “normal” life and has been an unhoused nomad ever since.
Now, I’m not saying I want to be homeless, which is indeed a volatile and wearying life. I don’t even like to sleep outdoors (glamping, anyone?!). However, I do deeply resonate with what Alessandra called a “multi-vocation life”, Juan Francisco’s urging to be more creative, and Felipe’s mention of intentional communities.
Carrie, thank you for asking about decision-making. In the past, when I’ve made decisions, it has often been on intuition/an internal sense of knowing, like what Jonathan described about going to HKS. When I came to Barry, it was because I had several academic interviews (day-long events where you have to present your research and get grilled by faculty, many with very poor social skills and hidden political agendas. It’s quite unpleasant…) for a job that I wouldn’t be able to start until the following fall, because we like to take our time in higher ed. Anyway, the faculty at Barry shared a story about how welcoming Barry was to LGBTQ folks because of their Dominican Catholic heritage, not in spite of it. (I consider myself an ally and part of how I left the Catholic Church of my childhood was hearing my church spew homophobic slurs from the pulpit while my great-uncle, gay and closeted, was simultaneously being shunned by many of our “devoted” Catholic family members because he was dying of AIDS-related complications.) So, I was moved by their spirit of inclusion. And now I’m here, and it feels unsustainable, mostly because of the high demands and very poor compensation. While I do not regret the decision to move here, I wonder what the purpose is?
And, as I write this, it occurs to me that it probably doesn’t matter. I’m here (and yes, I do LOVE the salsa dancing! J )
When I think of Location (Miami has sunshine and it’s only a 3-hour plane ride home); Job sector (higher education???); and job role (social worker/ teacher/ writer/ administrator/ minister, etc.), it feels incomplete. Brene Brown’s words rise in my mind: “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” If I tell all of my heart, I have to say that my deepest longing is for a more integrated life. I do want to live in community; share collective benefits of shelter, food (a garden?!), environmental sustainability, and even support for childrearing. I literally cannot do this alone, and it occurs to me, thanks to the comments from each of you, that maybe I don’t have to do so.
I think I have sold myself short on possibilities and perhaps this surprises me most (Yessica and Juan Francisco, thank you for asking about this!). For example, I had spoken to a friend of our former intentional community in Brookline, Massachusetts, Grey Lee, and he was leading/living in a cooperative housing project in nearby Cambridge. Based on our conversation, it seemed that the model was suitable mostly for folks with a lot of disposable income and/or those who weren’t concerned about building equity for retirement. He seemed to find it difficult to make it all work, and that was with the backing of his wealthy family. So, I gave up on the idea. But here it is again! Is it possible that some sort of affordable housing co-op model is possible here? Can I make the leap to not just thinking about but actually building a co-op for affordable housing? Or maybe I should join Jessica’s community (although I’m not sure another “1” on the Enneagram is in her housing plan?! Hehehe…)
I did have a conference call with Ron from tilde (http://tilde.coop/) on Friday (thank you, Felipe!) to learn more about the model for this worker-owned language justice cooperative. If I understand it correctly, I believe it is a possible mode for RJ/NVC practitioners throughout Florida, and could provide the necessary support for youth, particularly youth of color from low-income communities who are trained in RJ/NVC to be paid for their work as circle keepers. I emailed the chair of FRJA, the statewide RJ organization in Florida, who agreed that we could find a time during the upcoming conference to do a circle where people could discuss the possible benefits of building a co-op. So, Carrie, maybe I can tell you more about restorative justice in the form of a pitch and you can tell me if it makes any sense at all?
Much gratitude and love to you all! Thank you!!!