I have always been (and still am!) a ‘working woman’ – by choice! This is of course a ‘luxury situation’. Privileged to have had a good education and to have married the ‘man of my dreams’ with whom I had two sons, and who was totally supportive of my ambitions, it was then up to me to build a career alongside his, and later to find a job in whatever new country to which he was transferred.
My jobs varied from being a Personal Assistant to a team of executives in Egypt (before I was married) to working for the United Nations in the Congo, to teaching the first generation of girls ever allowed to go out to work at the Sudan Technical Institute, to becoming Personnel Director of a renowned management training organisation in Brussels, to ultimately setting up and running my own company for 18 years (with a staff of 18, being 17 women and one man!) in the recruitment business in the Netherlands. Somewhat idealistically, I hoped to promote women up the career ladder. Today I am supporting an organization (with donations and by giving the occasional English lesson) in the south of Morocco (www.efamorocco.org) which has as its credo ‘an educated girl educates the next generation’.
My husband retired; I sold my business. My husband died and my answer to potential loneliness and boredom was to build and manage a Guest House (www.darcilla.com) together with a super team in Tarifa, in the southernmost point of Andalusia, Spain.
That is what I am still doing today as another birthday (the sort most of us start to dread as it ends with a zero) looms next year.
Running a guest house is stuff for a ‘stand-alone’ blog which I shall get round to writing on another occasion. All I want to say now is that it is no sinecure, it has to remain fun otherwise why should I bother to do it now I am ‘seriously’ retired? We laugh a lot but also shed the odd tear (of frustration).
I started philosophizing on being ‘a working woman at a ripe, ‘elderly’ age (we have none of us yet decided at what age you actually use the world ‘old’!). It is true that if your health is good you are as old as you feel and I have the sheer good luck not to feel old!
I really wanted to describe my present office and the offices of my colleagues and collaborators. These days of computers, i-phones etc. anyone can more or less work from anywhere, but I think we have a particularly unique set-up. I am at this moment working in my ‘sun-top’ on my private roof terrace (my guesthouse has its own roof terrace) with one of the worlds’ most unique views. I look across the Strait of Gibraltar to the mountains beyond the Moroccan shoreline (14 kms away). I can count 13 passing ships, including a gigantic cruise ship, an oil platform being towed, several container ships, fishing boats and yachts. Fabulous. It is beautiful weather as it usually is in this corner of Spain but (to the delight of the windusrfers) a strong wind is forecast in the coming days. My ‘office’ is protected by a windbreak.
My General Manager is working from home on her free Saturday, the telephone in one hand, taking bookings, and a wooden spoon in the other (with a glass of wine nearby) as she prepares an evening meal to take to the family camper van in which her husband has his ‘weekend office’. She is always on call and juggles her life with two young children and her demanding job by working wherever she is (I’ve seen her taking bookings when we were together in the middle of the desert in Morocco and found a free-standing ‘pole’ which to our amazement provided WIFI).
Her husband, who actually works together with my son (www.pablos-europe.com) dedicates any free moment to helping us build a new website for Dar Cilla. As I write he is putting the finishing touches to this in his office in his camper van at the beach where his son (10 yrs) is preparing to be the future Olympic surf champion!
And so we are communicating from our various ‘offices’:- from roof-terrace to kitchen to camper van, each of us with a glass of wine in our hand; this way we can optimize our time and the beauty of the place where we have chosen to live and work.
ENVIOUS? You should be!