June 25, 2008
High school graduation seemed to me like the gift of a toolbox, and the project was to chisel and sculpt a life of my own. So, the first thing I did was chip off my place in my peer group by taking my dad’s advice to work for a year and figure out what I really wanted to do. I stayed home while “everyone” else went away to college.
My first job was as a temporary worker for the phone company, filling out grid sheets for the data entry people. There was an application, an interview, a typing test, and then a job, complete with a commute on the city bus and clocking in at the start of the work day. I was fascinated by things like office dynamics, the way promotions were supposed to work and the way they actually worked, and the amused irritation in a co-worker’s voice when she told me I “had to” take my breaks because of the union’s rules.
Next, I worked as a checker at a grocery store during a strike. This was not a job I wanted to keep – it wasn’t interesting, and worse than that, I hadn’t chosen it for myself. I got that second job because my dad knew the store manager.
So, after the strike ended, I got my own job. I took the bus to
That job was enjoyable, but it ended when my dad decided I needed to make more money than I could as a retail clerk. I, who had never even balanced my own checkbook, got my license as a real estate agent. I was not a success.
By the next fall, I began attending a small college in
I nearly flunked a couple of courses in my freshman year, and so learned first-hand that learning is inextricably linked to emotional stability. I also began to see myself through the eyes of people who knew nothing of my girlhood, and so figured out that I was smarter than I’d thought, mentally tougher than I’d thought, and braver than I’d thought. I auditioned for and got into the advanced choir, and accompanied voice lessons as a pianist. I took part in student leadership, performed recitations at all-school programs, and started to feel my natural abilities to inspire groups of people. During my second year, my home church splintered, and I learned then that such episodes are never really about things as esoteric as “doctrine.” It was then that I began to see the similarities instead of only the differences in religious expressions, and I began to study these things for myself.
After graduation, in July of 1983, I got married. During that first summer together as a married couple, we were the camp counselors for the first through sixth graders of the church’s Family Camp. We lived with, played with, ate with, and taught those kids all week, and went home exhausted. But we hadn’t run out of ideas or enthusiasm for a minute of the camp.
For the next two years, we worked in my dad’s neighborhood coffee store, and I worked as a substitute teacher while my husband took Greek at a local seminary. Our first child was born in September of 1984, at the
In the fall of 1985, we moved to southern
After seminary, I gave birth to our third child, and we moved to
In the summer of 1995, we moved permanently to my husband’s family home in
My personal studies have taken a bent toward an understanding and working knowledge of ancient medical and health traditions, and I have continued to be fascinated by human and societal development, especially in the arenas of family, education, and religion. In my more public life, I am now a past master at organizing programs and gatherings for adults, as well as classes and programs of all kinds for all ages of children.
Because I have had a husband in grad school, have educated my own kids, and have been a personal resource for several adult friends who have been students, I have done a fair amount of research for other people, as well as tutoring, coaching, proofreading and word processing. Along the way, my husband and I also acquired a publishing company, in which we write, print, bind, and sell religious education materials. For this and for other things, I do design and copy work in various kinds of publications.
Little by little, chip by chip, my life has taken shape. Compliance for the sake of compliance or for the sake of rewards has been chipped away. This sculpture of mine is far from finished. Apparently, the materials I work with are: a conscious practice of a traditional religion; service to other people where occasional need arises, as well as in private and classroom teaching; and a personal interest in writing, reading, research, natural medicine and health, human development, group dynamics, graphic design, music, and arts and crafts. It is, I think, enough to be going on with.