You know, it’s wonderful when, as we age, we realize we know so little. I have book learning – lots of it. My mind loves to travel and unravel, discover and learn, on lots of subjects. I am reminded of this saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” That’s me. I learn enough of something to feel satisfied but certainly not all-knowing or expert. But I like that I know a little about a lot of different areas. It has helped me grow as a person. And I love reading. It is one of my favorite pastimes. One of my favorite places is a library or bookstore.
Someone asked me recently how many jobs I have had. Dozens. Maybe more. But only 1 or 2 career jobs. The others were paychecks and time fillers. Places where I was learning – I would learn a skill and move on. So let me see: In high school, I did ROP. That acronym means Regional Occupational Program and what it allowed you to do was work in positions to expose you to careers. Like candy stripers to see if you want to be a nurse. Well, I worked in the ER as a nursing assistant and that was incredible. I was allowed to massage a beating heart in a patient who was dying. It ended up being incredible because he was actually saved! (Not by me). I was a physical therapy assistant. That was the best. We gave each other hot packs, ultrasounds, and massages after shifts. Even sat in the hot tubs. Loved that. My most memorable assignment was to do range of motion exercises on a guy who was 2-3 years older than me, and who attended the neighboring high school, who had been in a car accident and was comatose. It was surreal. They kept his room quiet and dimly lit, with the same temperature, which was warmer than the hospital in general. I was then assigned to a professional football team. I did that job off and on through college. I would tape ankles, help with therapies, wrap sore muscles, and the like. It was pretty fun. Then I also was a hostess and waitress at the local diner (Fiddler’s Three Restaurant). I worked at a floral/gift shop. I then signed up with a temporary agency and began my careers in business. I trained to type and file and answer phones. I was taught accounting and became a certified cost accountant. I was a certified receptionist on those ancient cord-boards for telephone systems (dating myself a little here). I also worked for my dad off and on until my mid-twenties doing office work and sales. I did professional presentations with slide shows and material demonstrations at hospitals all up and down the coast of CA, OR, and WA. I worked as an intern for the county coroner’s office, learning my Forensic Anthropology skills and practicum. I worked on anthropological digs in CA, NM, Arizona, and Mexico (Teotihucan was one site). I became a customer service rep for American Express, working with the businesses who accepted the card. Even going on sales blitzes in CA, AZ, and NV. I then worked for TGI Fridays as a management trainee. I learned the kitchen, the office, and all the details on the sales floor. My favorite thing was bartending. I think that job fit me probably the best. I could gab all night and get paid for it. LOL. I used to make more than $300/night in tips alone. I then went to work for Beckman Instruments as one of their pool cost accountants. I then promoted into the manufacturing side and was the secretary to the production manager. But the best was in the chemistry division. I loved it so much. And by this time I was married with one son. We decided I should stay home. So I quit and became a full time, homeschooling, stay-at-home mom. I did that until our middle son started high school, and our youngest son began kindergarten. Then I went to work for a county in our state, in the Recorder’s office. I worked with anything you could record – lots of titles and deeds and even was deputized to perform marriages. I did only a couple of them and hated it so much, they allowed me to not do that rotation. I then transferred to the welfare department, where I was the supervisor of an entire building of clerical staff, as well as the people who kept it clean, our security staff, and a day care center. I only lasted about 2 years because it was killing me. The time it took with all the personnel and their paperwork, as well as working with the public, required me to work on my days off. I had to get out and applied for a salaried position. I then promoted into the Human Resources department and there I oversaw all the EEO cases handled by the HROs. I assisted in record keeping and scheduling. I attended meetings upon meetings. I recorded and prepared union contracts and forms for state and national EEO programs. I sat on two County Commissions as staff. It was fun but exhausting. It was a salaried position, so the benefits were good. The company I kept was great, and I loved my boss. I finally quit to stay home with our youngest son to homeschool him, and am still here, at home. He is now 21 years old, and has embarked on a career as a welder. He is a 2nd year apprentice and doing very well.
So I guess I have done a lot. I am sure there are jobs here and there that I have forgotten. None of them meant much to me, when compared to schooling our boys and being a mom. And the ability to be me at home, coffee cup in hand! My father was annoyed I did not complete my degree (although I have enough credits for a master’s degree, but not enough in one area – which is hilarious to me) and become a doctor. He told me I was wasting my time, raising my kids, when I could be saving lives as a physician (his dream for me; not mine). And you know what? I think he missed the mark completely. The most fulfilled I have ever felt is when one of my kids learned to read. Or when we could discuss some point of history or science and I could see light bulbs going off in their heads, and I witnessed actual learning. It is like seeing your baby take his first steps. I got to do that every day with my three sons. I feel fulfilled and blessed as I watch the men they have become and the families they are raising. It is a blessing from God. Truly.
So yes. I have had lots of jobs. I have followed my intellect where it has taken me. And it has been varied, to be sure. Sometimes it has been drudgery. Sometimes it has been exciting and I have looked forward for my work day. But nothing, absolutely nothing, beats being at home with my boys. As I look back in my mind, I smile. So many funny memories. The boys tell me their favorite year was the one when we did a unit study for the entire year on the medieval era. Even as adults, married with kids of their own, they fondly recall that year and tell me it was their favorite. Everything we did was about knights and castles. About battles and the growth of technology. We made castles out of sugar cubes. We crafted trebuchets out of popsicle sticks and glue. We made swords. We went to museums. Our math was oriented towards life in a castle. They dressed as knights to sit around the table and learn. It was glorious.
I may know a lot of fun facts. Sometimes my family uses my brain like google or something. But I love how varied what I know is. Now I am learning new things. So many new things. And I am having to unlearn things that were fed to me, that I now know to be false. “History belongs to the victor,” as they say! Science marches on and some of the “facts” I was taught are now found to be erroneous. I sometimes think I am owed a return for all the stupidity I was forced to memorize in high school and college. It’s often hard to reconcile it all. And sadly, I passed some of this false history on to my boys, thinking I was sharing facts and authentic history. Some of it is good and will stand the test of time. Some, not so much. But it is okay. We become set in our ways and rigid when we cease to embrace the new, and to learn new factoids. I do not want to be caught in a rut. Many things will pass me by. Technology is one of the things that is racing by me. Labs and such I once knew no longer have some of the machinery I was used to. I am out of date about so much. And I am uncovering so much. It’s good to be fluid!
I think above and through all of this, I have tried to follow that small voice inside my heart, the nous, or center of where God and I chat and commune; where He speaks to me. And I do feel that I have done what jobs I have had, worked with who I was given to work with, and gained the skill set I have gained because God led me to where I am now. He allowed me time with my sons. He has graced me with a husband who let me do all these things. And I know I am blessed beyond blessed. And am still learning. God is good. We are all on a journey from dark to light. We can allow it to happen daily, and not wait until we are facing our mortality. Keep learning. Keep walking, from dark to light. Do not be afraid of the light.