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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Steps in Life

As I prepared to graduate from college with a Bachelor of General Studies (arts and letters) degree, I was frequently asked, "What is your degree in?" and "What are you going to do with it?"

I felt kind of silly not to be able to answer those questions clearly, and to be honest, I never intended to graduate to move toward a career. I know in this world we live in that's a very strange thing to hear a responsible adult say. So...maybe I'm not a responsible adult, or maybe it's just that my motive in graduating wasn't to end up in a job. My biggest goal was to continue doing what I've been doing--being a mom. I just felt that going to school was important at that point in time. That impression wouldn't leave me.

I went into this most recent part of my schooling with the idea that if something were to happen to my husband, what would I do? How would I support my family? The degree was for emergency purposes only. I wasn't sure what I would do, but I knew I'd be much better off if I could at least prove that I had the stick-to-it-iveness to get a college degree--even if it took me five times longer than the normal person (so, maybe I'm not normal--do we really have to ask that one?). I just knew that a degree would make me a little more employable.

I guess, along with all of these thoughts--holding off on getting a real degree--was the hope that somehow I'd end up falling into doing the thing I loved to do the most. I just hoped something would land in my lap and direct me into what I should be doing that would bring me fulfillment. I knew that chances were slim that this would ever happen, and that I should probably just be decisive for once.  I should just pick something and hope that it would be wonderful and right.  How do people do this? How did the Warden know that he wanted to go into education? How did he know this from such a young age? Why didn't I know what I wanted to do? Was there something wrong with me? Am I just lousy at committing? Was I just deficient? I mean, if I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd never really grow up, right?

When I was in my early 20s, I met a man who taught Japanese at a local high school. He taught writing to his students. When he met me, and I was so newly returned from Japan, he invited me to come in and teach conversation to his students. He was fascinated at how quickly missionaries learn to speak a language and felt that I could help his students do the same.

After my first day in class, he approached me and said, "You should be a teacher. You're a natural."  I considered his words and thought, "Hmm....Maybe this is the thing I should do." I enjoyed it. It was fun. Relating to students was a BLAST! I pursued it for awhile, but finally concluded that it was too confining.  I guess I'm a bit of a free spirit. I want my freedom. I want to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. Does that sound bad? I'm a bit too antsy to be stuck in a classroom everyday doing the same routine day in and day out.  Again, is something wrong with me?

This morning, the Warden and I met with a CPA. She consulted us on what direction I should be taking with this new opportunity in writing. It was all very exciting. I'm definitely learning some new things here, and there's no doubt I have much, much more to figure out.

As we talked, I kept looking over at the Warden. I would turn to him and say, "You'll remind me of this, won't you? You've got this figured out, right?" He would nod reassuringly and tell me that he would help me.

We had a good laugh over this as I confessed that with all of the tax stuff I'm like "a deer in the headlights." "Sure," the CPA responded. I was a little surprised by this that's-to-be-expected kind of answer. "You're a creative."

Now, I'd never heard of "creative" being used as a noun--always as an adjective. "A creative," now that sounds wonderful. Artists are "creatives," photographers are "creatives," but me? Wow! I like the sound of that. Before this, I wouldn't even have used the adjective "creative" to describe myself.

I continued to share the fact that I don't play Monopoly with the Warden, and he won't play Scrabble with me. I'm grateful for someone who complements me so well. My brain doesn't think in numbers; it thinks in words. It thinks in stories. That's how I learn, and that's how I share what goes on in my brain.

So, here I am....I've had handed me what I love to do. I love to create through words. I'm loving the work I've done so far. I love the freedom it gives me.

The most remarkable thing about all of this is the timing of it all.  I'm thinking back to jumping out of bed the other day and how the next step (grabbing the sock) didn't come until I had made the first step (getting out of bed). I'm thinking back to how the trip to Japan all fell into place (earning the money, creating the cookbook, getting the tickets and the passports and how I didn't know what would come next until I had finished the previous task)....I had to take each step to know, in my heart and mind, what the next step should be.

Maybe this is the same. Is it possible that, in order to know what should come next in my life, I had to take certain steps in order to get to this point--go back to school, start a blog, reconnect with people through Facebook, and finally graduate from college? Maybe that's how all of life is. Maybe.

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