DEAR CAROLYN: How do you figure out whether moving back “home” and blowing up your career in order to do so is the right thing to do? I realize you can’t answer this, but my husband and I are despondent living away from family lately and feel like we’re depriving our 2-year-old from being near aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents etc.
DEAR MOVING HOME?: Your life expectancy, broadly speaking (and according to a Social Security Administration calculator), is roughly another 50 years.
If you both agree you’re not up for the hassle of a career change right now, then, so be it. Stay where you are until sufficient motivation strikes. But if you sincerely believe you’ve reached an age bracket (or adult-responsibility level) that automatically precludes dramatic change, then your main problem is a lack of imagination.
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Unless it’s a money thing. If there’s one obstacle blocking everything else, it’s usually cash, though a two-specialized-careers couple I’m guessing could overcome it with tactical planning and time.
So. Is “home” what you both really want? Then brainstorm it, research it, price it, map it, save for it, retrain for it, apply for it, and move it. You can accomplish seven of those eight steps while continuing to live, work and earn right where you are, putting you in control of when you leave and on what terms.
DEAR CAROLYN: How do I tell people to stop giving? I’ve had a sudden, serious cancer diagnosis. With all the medical, financial, and emotional changes I am constantly tired. Loved ones have been patient with my seeing them less, but instead they send me stuff I don’t need (e.g., seven blankets in two months). I am absolutely grateful for my amazing support system! But overwhelmed by all the thank-you notes I must write, and too exhausted to handle all the clutter building up around my sick bed.
Exhausted with Gratitude
DEAR EXHAUSTED: I’m sorry things took a rough turn for you.
If there’s anything good about it, though, it’s this: You have a Get Out of Ingratitude Free card. Seriously. If I were in the blanket-sending mob, I can promise you I would not be expecting a note.
Being overwhelmed by small tasks amid a big illness is common. It’s not only OK for you to delegate, it’s also necessary. Don’t squander energy on stuff-management that your health-management so desperately needs. Pick your most functional friend or relative and ask him or her to assume the stuff-management role — be it decluttering, thanking, scheduling, or announcing what you do and don’t need and can and can’t do.
It is, for most people, a relief to be able to do something useful when the alternative is to look on helplessly while you struggle. Specifying what helps might seem like an imposition but, more often than not, it’s a gift. Take care.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.