I counted them up, and it’s been seven months since my last post.  Oops.  Let me try to explain my electronic/literary absence.  At first I didn’t write because I was a miserable insurance agent, and no one wants to read the blog of a miserable insurance agent.  Then, I didn’t write because I had news! But I had already shared that news so many times that I didn’t feel like writing it down.  And then I didn’t write because I wasn’t in the habit of writing.  But today is Saturday, and the morning is quiet, and I’m in a different place than I was seven months ago, and it seems like a good time to write.

So let me provide seven months of re-cap in a few bullets:

  • In spite of the results I got from my blog-readers poll, I decided to apply for teaching jobs in March.  Although what I said out-loud was that I was “keeping my options open,” I had pretty much made up my mind to head back into the world of education.
  • Over the course of a couple of weeks, I received a phone call in response to an application, had an informal interview, a school visit, a formal interview, and conducted a sample teach. 
  • And then I had a job offer.

At the same time:

  • I had been put on a “growth plan” at USBB (this is true).
  • I had been “talked to” about taking 21 minutes on my breaks instead of 20 and about my phone being in “AUX 5” (translation: “bathroom time”) more than average (this is also true).
  • I had calculated how long I could live off of my savings account.
  • And finally it was time.  I tried to put in two weeks notice; my boss countered with two days, and we called it a deal. 

For the last month and a half, I’ve been working in a school again.  And it’s a beautiful, wonderful place to be.  I’m back in my professional element, which is good for my soul and my ego (I’m pretty sure I’m safe from growth plans in this field).  I can afford to buy new shoes and take trips and go to yoga.  Everyday I get to laugh with kids, create opportunities for them to learn, and have important, difficult, complicated conversations with adults about how best to improve their school experience, enhance their learning, and empower their futures.  I haven’t missed talking about the difference between comprehensive and collision auto coverage even once.  It’s good to be home.

 

Give me answers!

February 20, 2012

I’d like to start by announcing that I have completed 14 days of my 60 day yoga challenge.  Tomorrow I’ll be half-way to half-way there!  And I’m learning important things from this experience already.  I’ll come back to that thought.

As you may have picked up on, I’m not super in-love with my current employment (this is an understatement, but I’m trying to stay positive).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely, intensely grateful for it.  It’s allowing me to live out this year of new-ness and change without residing in a cardboard box or giving up my iPhone.  However, the question, “Can I do this for a few years?” has been ringing loudly in my head.  The other night Nick asked me, “Can you see yourself working at USBB for just one more year?”  And I said, “No.” Without even the slightest hesitation.  So, I know the answer to that question at least, even if I don’t know what to do with that answer yet.

The other question that keeps nagging me is whether I am game to be a student for the next 6.5 years (at least).  In order to get a better sense of this question, I’ve been observing myself as a student of late, and I’m not impressed.  I do enough to get by.  I get my homework done, I try my best to read before class (ok, not my best, but sometimes I do try), I pass my quizzes and tests.  But, I’m not really engaged and only barely self-motivated enough to make all of those things I just mentioned happen.  I even check facebook during class!  I’m so ashamed!  I realize that I’m in the worst part of the pre-med curriculum, the part where almost nothing you’re learning is actually relevant to your future career and where they are intentionally trying to make things as miserable as possible so that only the strongest/most stubborn survive (i.e. I’m in weed-out classes).  I still believe I would enjoy medical school, but I’m beginning to question whether I enjoy being a student enough to sign up for that many more years of it.

To bring things back to my opening, my last two weeks of yoga has provided me a new, useful metaphor.  After my first week or so, my mom asked me if I felt tired.  I said yes, but explained that it’s a good kind of tired.  I feel tired yet satisfied because I worked hard to be that tired (and I am spoiled with getting to take a post-lunch nap).  There have been many, many, many days of my adult life when I’ve felt tired for no apparent reason.  Eight hours of sleep, coffee, and still tired.  So, I like the feeling of having earned that fatigue.  Right now, I feel stress in my life, but strangely, I HAVE NO REASON TO BE STRESSED.  Professionally speaking, I am not doing to equivalent of a yoga challenge.  Professionally speaking, I’ve realized that teaching is the equivalent of a yoga challenge.  It is increadibly stressful, but there’s a reason for that   Because it matters. Because you’re doing important work.  Because people expect a tremendous amount from you.  I can’t really say I miss the stress, but I do miss that sense of purpose.  That reason to face the craziness of another day.

I’ve often wished that the universe would speak more clearly to me.  So, I’ve concocted a poll to facilitate that wish.  You get to play the part of the universe.  I’m excited for you to tell me what to do!

59 Days

February 7, 2012

As I was lying in bed Saturday night, contemplating my life and happiness level before drifting off to sleep, I thought, “I want to do the 60-day Challenge.”  What’s that, you ask?  It’s an invitation from Bikram Yoga to attend 60 yoga classes in 60 days in exchange for a healthier body and spirit.  For those of you not familiar, Bikram Yoga is a little bit different from other varieties of yoga: all of the classes are 90-minutes long, repeat the exact same set of 26 postures, and take place in a room that’s around 105 degrees.  One class is a bit intense, so 60 in a row seems somewhat insane.  But, I want little more in this life than a healthy body and spirit, and I’m feeling otherwise unfulfilled by my day-to-day routine, so why not try?  The biggest reason why not is that I will have to get up at 5:00 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to make it to the 5:45 a.m. class which will finish just in time for me to speed shower and be in biology by 8:00 a.m.  But I need a goal, a goal whose completion I can see more immediately than my seven-ish year goal of becoming a doctor.  So I signed up and did class number one this morning.  The best thing that can come of it is that I will be happier and healthier at the end of 60 days.  The worst thing that can happen is that I laugh when my alarm goes off tomorrow morning, roll over and go back to sleep.   Descending from a long line of morning people, though, I have hope.  Wish me luck.

Working for The Man

February 3, 2012

When I decided to take the plunge into the life of a second-time college student, I knew I would need to support my lifestyle somehow.  I remember thinking to myself, “It’s just a couple of years. I can do anything for a couple of years.”  And now corporate America is testing my resolve.   I actually have a pretty great job as far as part-time jobs go, but I definitely don’t love it (hence why I didn’t enter college thinking, ‘Now, if I could do something related to insurance, I think I’d be really happy…’)  Let me back up and tell you a little bit more about my gainful employment.  I work for an insurance and financial services company that serves the military and their families.  We’ll call that company USBB. (Funny, I never once worried about getting sued by North East Independent School District for saying something slightly negative, but I feel like USBB might be watching. And they have A LOT more money.)  When I go to work every day, I log onto my computer (which loads up on TWO monitors! Fancy!), put on my headset, and spend the next five hours saying, “Thank you for calling USBB. This is Adele. How can I help you?”  I make adjustments to people’s auto policies, answer questions about their bills, help them log onto the website, tell them we can’t insure their motorcycle, and engage in a variety of other equally exciting transactions.  

When I was a teacher, I frequently played the game, “What really easy job could I be doing instead of this really hard one?” I think we played this game as a group in the teacher lunch room a few times a year, actually.  My most frequent fantasy jobs were ice cream scooper and running shoe store sales-person.  Neither of those options panned out, but I now actually do have a job that is WAY easier than teaching.  And it was o.k. for a few weeks, but now that I’ve passed the six month mark, I feel like it might be driving me crazy.  Just yesterday, I had this conversation:

Co-worker: So, you were a teacher before? For how long?

Me: Five years.

Co-worker: And…why are you here?

Me: I DON’T KNOW!!!

I didn’t actually scream at her, but it is a question I ask myself multiple times a day.  Although I have much less work-related stress in my life since leaving teaching, I think my existential stress may have actually increased.  I think I can best explain how I feel about my job through a pro/con list (I actually wanted to make a chart, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that on this pseudo-word-processor).

Pros:

  • It really is pretty easy. There is zero expectation that I will take home any work, which is nothing short of awesome.
  • The pay and benefits are beyond generous for a part-time position. I am about to get a bonus, in fact. The second one I’ve gotten since starting there in July. A bonus for a part time employee? Pretty dang generous.
  • It is easy to work a schedule that does not conflict at all with my classes.
  • I get paid time off (part of the benefits, but worth mentioning separately: paid time off for part time employees!?!)
  • USBB really is a good company and I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that goes against my personal morals or values.
  • The bathrooms are always clean when you work in a corporate office. Teachers, you’ll understand why this is such a big pro.

Cons:

  • My schedule. Although it’s lovely on paper, I hate the way it feels. I work from 4-9 p.m. Monday-Friday. What this means is that I go to work while everyone else I know is about to leave. It also means I can never have dinner with another human being during the week, unless it’s at 10:00 p.m., and I’m just not European enough to pull that off.  So basically, I miss my friends.
  • It’s boring. When I was a teacher, I craved boring, and now I (almost) crave for someone to put a few more demands on my time. My whole job consists of doing things people can do themselves on the website, which doesn’t make me feel very useful.
  • I’m actually pretty bad at it.  The worst part of my job, by the longest of long shots, is that I’m expected to be a salesperson.  All of our phone calls are tracked based on how many products and services we offer to the people calling in and how many of them accept our offers.  Turns out, I’m a terrible sales person.  And no matter how many times the powers that be try to tell us, “It’s not about the numbers,” I’m smart enough to have figured out that it’s totally about the numbers. My numbers are awful, and seeing them in the weekly email is one of the most discouraging experiences I’ve had of late.  My job is painfully easy, and I’m terrible at it.  It’s a harsh, paradoxical blow to the ego.

Can I do anything for a couple of years?  Do I want to?  I still don’t know the answers to these questions, but as my wise mother has reminded me at many crucial moments in my life: It’s not my job to know.  

 

It’s time to introduce you to a new, cooler side of myself: Adele the snowboarder (snowboarders are inherently cool…at least in their own minds).

Image

This is me, looking cool, but trying desperately not to fall off what we’ll call the junior ski lift in Ithaca, NY last weekend. To explain how I got into this predicament, I should introduce you to Nick, my very special someone.

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Here is Nick, looking just about as cool as every snowboarder imagines himself to be.  To say that Nick loves snowboarding would be a gross understatement.  And I, a warm weather loving girl, may be signing up for a lifetime of cold vacations.  Nick has gone to visit his dear friends, Mike and Susan, in Ithaca for the past several winters.  On his trips to Ithaca, he has experienced delayed flights, lost luggage, and a girlfriend stuck in Newark (more on that later), but he keeps going.  And then, Mike and Susan came to visit us in San Antonio.  In June.  At the beginning of the hottest, driest summer Texas has had. Ever.  When you’re dealing with people who use this travel logic (Hey, let’s go to the place where we’ll be the least comfortable!), reason doesn’t apply, so there’s nothing to do but strap on a snowboard and join the fun.

Last year was my first opportunity to be a good sport.  Thinking skiing might be an easier challenge for me to conquer, Nick set up a private skiing lesson.  I think it was about four hours long, which was about three hours too many.  By the end, I was nearly in tears and still completely convinced that beach vacations are the way to go.  During my lesson, I did manage to knock my instructor, Bill, off the lift, while he was in the middle of telling me about his 40 years of skiing experience.  Ooops.  Since my venture with skiing didn’t go so well, I figured I didn’t have much to lose trying out snowboarding this year.  Nick spent the entire fall making sure I had every piece of warmth-maintaining and injury-preventing gear available on the market.  So, last Friday morning before the crack of dawn, I ventured to the airport with my suitcase full of wrist guards, padded shorts, knee pads, and layers upon layers of clothing.

To make a long story short, the weather had caused my flight from Newark to Ithaca to be cancelled (because I was flying to ITHACA in JANUARY).  And I spent half the day in the Newark airport, the other half of the day in the Philadelphia airport, and then half the night driving in a rental car from Philly to Ithaca, where I waited another 18 hours for my suitcase to arrive.

I’m proud to say that during this whole ordeal, I did not cry or yell at anyone (I may have whined a few times, but I’m only human.)

My luggage got there just in time for me to have a 2-hour snowboarding lesson before it was time for Nick and I to head to NYC by bus to visit some other friends.  What you are about to see is going to completely counteract the cool image you have of Nick based on the picture above.  Nick loves his snowboarding trips so much that he spends the entire year either counting down to days to the next trip, or making videos to commemorate the last one.  And he totally nerds it up.  He and Mike have assigned all participants in the annual trip “hip” nicknames, which I suppose will be great when the endorsements start rolling in.  Here it is, folks (the other star of the video is Susan, who is trying out snowboarding this year after a lifetime of skiing.  We’re both really good.): Boarding School.

All in all, the trip was really fun despite the way it started off.  Here are a few more images for your enjoyment.

I thought everything was bigger in Texas

Mike and Susan were the most gracious hosts and took us on the waterfall tour of Ithaca while we waited for my bag to arrive

Another waterfall

Swimming

I’m in college! (again)

January 10, 2012

Here is what I’ve learned in my one semester back in college:

  1. There’s a reason I was a English major the first time around.
  2. Some trends in college change; some stay the same.
  3. Being a student after you’ve been a teacher makes you a tough customer.
  4. In order to determine the number of shared electrons in a molecule, you need to subtract the number available from the number needed to complete all octets for said molecule.

Let’s break it down:

1. I started off college as an English major planning to become an English teacher.  I finished college with an English degree and then became an English teacher.  On this unwavering path, I managed to take exactly zero math classes and fulfilled my science requirement by taking one course actually taught in the anthropology department and a geology course that I completed between trying out surfing and traveling to volcanoes while I was studying abroad in Costa Rica.  In other words, I took my liberal arts education very seriously.  When I decided to return to undergraduate-level courses to complete the pre-med track, I figured I’d breeze through my studies just like I did back at Trinity.  Turns out, there’s a reason I was an English major.  I won’t say, “I’m not good at science,” because I’ve spent the last six years preaching to the children that learning isn’t about being good or bad at something, but about working hard and improving from where ever you are at the moment.  I will just say that if there were more essays in chemistry and fewer “problems,” it would have been a little easier for me.  This venture is good for me, though, if for no other reason than I’m confronting what I was afraid of during all of my college career: taking a class I couldn’t get an A in.  And one semester in, I’ve done it! I got a B in biology (and an A in chemistry that I really didn’t deserve), and it didn’t kill me.  Bring on semester two!

2. When I was in college, we walked to class.  Except for this one kid who rode his bike everywhere on a campus that was 75% stairs and the rest narrow walkways (all my fellow Trinity alums will remember the terrifying near-death experiences between Mabee dining hall and the South dorm).  Now a-days, the kids ride long boards to class. It could be just a UTSA thing, but there at least, it’s totally a phenomenon.  For those of you not as in-touch with the culture of today’s youth as I am, a long board is a skate board, but more in the shape of a mini surf board.  My fellow Roadrunners at UTSA ride these things everywhere.  And then bring them into packed 300-person lecture halls and attempt to sit in a middle seat cramped shoulder-to-shoulder-to-long board with their peers.  So that’s one difference between college back in my day and college now.  One thing that’s the same is that the library is full of people “studying”, accompanied by a few people with annoyed looks on their faces who are actually studying.  In my youth, I was the former, now I’m the latter.

3. Not to brag or anything, but I have a master’s degree in teaching, and I taught, for five years, at what is surely one of the best high schools in Texas, if not the country, with some of the smartest education professionals you could hope to meet.  I like to think that in that time, I have learned at least a couple of things about how to construct effective curriculum, how to best deliver it to students, and how to assess those students thoughtfully and constructively.  The vast majority of college professors (outside of education departments) don’t know poop about these things.  And that makes me one of the whiniest back-in-college students imaginable.  I’m going to work on being less critical of my “teachers” this semester.

4. Lewis structures were the only part of General Chemistry I that I liked and understood.  I hope all of General Chemistry II focuses on them.  Class starts for the new semester next week, so I’ll soon find out.

 

2012 and 29

January 6, 2012

Dear America,

I’m back. Actually, I haven’t been any where else, just less present on the world wide web.  But I got a couple of nudges recently from family members who said they missed the blog, and today seemed like as good a day as any to bring it back.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t written since I announced to the world that I was going to be quitting my teaching job and pursuing my pre-medical studies, so that one day, in the distant future, I could go to medical school and then, in the even more distant future, actually become a doctor. 

And now, I’m one semester in to my three-ish year plan of taking science classes and working part-time as an insurance agent in good ole’ corporate America.  It’s a new year, and I have very freshly turned 29, and I’m ready to reflect. 

My first few months away from teaching and in this new style of life have produced a mixture of emotions in me, from relief to frustration to excitement to confusion. Above all, I’m striving to be grateful for all of the opportunities in front of me and to learn each day what is mine to learn, which is usually not about science at all.

Because it’s been months since I last wrote and I can’t figure out how to organize all of my thoughts and experiences into one easy-to-read post, I thought I’d present some previews of up-coming post topics that will guide my dedicated readership through my new, right now life.  Here’s what you have to look forward to…

  • Reflections of work in corporate America
  • What it’s like to be the “old lady” in college/how college has changed since the early 2000’s.
  • Updates in Wilbur
  • What’s next for me (perhaps there will be an interactive poll on this one)?
  • My life as a snowboarder (this experience is coming up next weekend, so even I don’t know what’s going to be in this post)

Some good stuff.  More soon!

 

And so it’s decided.

April 8, 2011

Since sometime in November in the year of 2009, I have been reconsidering what I want to be doing with my life.  I’ve written about this reconsideration on several occasions, and looking back, I see that writing as part of a somewhat lengthy and very important process of figuring out what I really want and being in the right place (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) to go after it.  And here I am.  I’ve made some pretty meaningful actions and decisions in the past few weeks, so let me give you an update in summary form.

1. I quit my job (effective after graduation on June 10).

2. I was accepted into two graduate programs–a PhD in curriculum and instruction and a Maters in public health.

3. I decided to go to neither graduate school because really what I want to do is be a doctor (the medical, not the philosophical kind), and neither of those programs was going to get me to that goal.

4. I applied to the University of Texas at San Antonio, an application that took all of 20 minutes and required no essay.  Should I be accepted (fingers crossed!), I’ll be taking intro science classes with 19-year-olds come the fall semester and then applying to med school in about two years.

5. I told my students I would not be coming back to dear old ISA next year, so now I feel like I can tell the internet.

So there you have it.  It might be the biggest life update I’ve had since it was decided I was moving to South Africa, but since I was an infant at that time, I wasn’t quite as aware of just how big it was.  Because I like lists, I’ll create another one for you.  Here are some of the strange/cool things I’ve experienced/learned/felt, etc. since making my decision.

1. I have not felt a single twinge of regret since turning in my resignation notice about a month ago (a couple of weeks before I even decided what was next).  Even when I was telling my students on Monday, which was certainly an emotional moment, I didn’t think for one millisecond that I should change my mind and stay.  There have been few decisions in my life I’ve felt this confident in, and it’s a pretty good feeling.

2.  I don’t know how I’ll make money after I get my last paycheck from North East Independent School District (on July 27th, 2011), but I’m not worried.  I know the exact right thing is going to present itself to me (with a little effort on my part).  Last Sunday’s sermon at church was titled “Stepping out in Faith.”  Right on.  Just this afternoon I got a call about a potential job I’d made an inquiry about.  Keep it coming, Universe.

3. I had been saying to people over the last year things like, “If I could do anything in the world, I’d be a doctor.”  And I think it’s kind of funny that it took me this long to realize that I pretty much can do anything in the world.  We invent our own limitations, people.

4.  The weather has gotten warm.  This has nothing to do with my decision, but I really like walking Wilbur in the morning in shorts and flip flops, so it’s worth celebrating.

There are still some big unanswered questions (in addition to the one about my next line of employment), such as…

1. Where will I live, since I won’t be able to afford this swank apartment without my lush, public-school-teacher paycheck?

2. Will I still be able to send Wilbur to daycare next year? (He really likes daycare.)

3. Will I have any classes at UTSA with my former students?  I think it would be cool if I did.  I’d make them study with me.

4. Will I actually get into medical school? (small detail).

Although I have my moments of anxiety, I feel good knowing all these questions will work themselves out.  One of the favorite lessons I’ve learned from my parents (which I’m sure they learned from someone else really wise) is that it’s not my job to know how.  That is legitimately awesome news.

As I close, I’d like to make a shout-out to my Granddaddy, Dr. Park Gerdine.  He doesn’t teach teenagers, so he might not know what a shout-out is, but he’s a pretty smart guy, so I bet he’ll figure it out.  As a doctor himself, my grandpa gives me the hope that I have some genetic potential to succeed in this goal.  More importantly than that, though, he’s taught me that the only perspective on life worth having is an optimistic one and that you’re never too old to learn.  How blessed am I to have those lessons as my inheritence?

 

 

 

Personal Statement

January 24, 2011

Over the last week or so I’ve been working in a rather piecemeal fashion on my personal statement for the Masters in Public Health program I’ve decided to apply for.  The application is due in a week, so I know I need to get my act together on this.  It’s interesting to me that I can sit down and write a blog entry in just a few minutes and declare it fit for the public (my vast reading public) to read, but when I sit down for to write this statement, even though it’s essentially the same genre of writing (that is, all about Adele), I get stuck.  So, I’ve decided to combine the two endeavors.  Below is the text of my personal statement draft.  Any comments about how to make it rock are appreciated.  Yes, I’m using you, all of you, as my peer reviewers.  Yes, there might be a special prize for the best commenter.  And, yes, I need to work on the transitions.  Here it is, folks:

I grew up in a house where white flour, hydrogenated oil, and high fructose corn syrup were uninvited guests and where we made everything from scratch.  The older I get, and the more I learn, the more I realize just how lucky I was to grow up in this type of environment.  I have spent the last six years working in a public high school in San Antonio, and I see first-hand the consequences for children who grow up in very typical American homes, homes where processed food is the only kind that’s known and where health takes a back seat to economy.  It is no secret that obesity, diabetes, attention and behavioral disorders, and teen pregnancy affect our community at alarming rates.  The most important truth about all of these threats to the health and longevity of our population, to the students I teach, is that they are preventable and strongly related to nutrition, lifestyle, and even a simple lack of information.

As a teacher, I’ve been rewarded by the opportunity to work directly with young people and, hopefully, to make a positive impact on their lives.  That kind of work—the kind that is people-centered and contributes to society—is the kind to which I hope to always devote myself.  What I’ve come to realize in my time teaching, however, is that I will never have as compelling and answer to the question: “Why do I have to read The Scarlet Letter”? as I do for “Why is a Monster energy drink so bad for me?”  My inspiration to pursue a Masters in Public Health comes from a desire to be working on those most important questions, the ones that really matter, the ones that are literally matters of life and death.

In many ways, the field of public health seems like an ideal fit for my interests, knowledge, and talents.  Health is already something about which I feel passionate.  I consume whatever media about nutrition and health I can get my hands on–books, articles, documentaries, etc.  I hold a Masters degree in Teaching and have six years of experience (including my Master’s internship) developing and delivering curriculum to a diverse student population.  To be able to combine the promotion of health with my knowledge of education and the ways in which people learn would be rewarding to me personally, and, more importantly, beneficial to the greater good.

In my own life, I have seen how access to information and models of behavior can directly affect ones life choices.  Because my parents taught me by example about healthy eating, my kitchen is stocked with the fresh, whole foods that will support my overall health.  Because my dad started running at age 40, I joined the middle school cross country team and have been a dedicated runner ever since.  Because I read Fast Food Nation as a sophomore in college, I haven’t eaten commercially produced meat in almost ten years.  I see myself, upon the completion of this degree, working directly with the community to ensure that more people have access to the models and information they need to live healthy lives.

I view public health as an issue of social justice.  The positive correlations between poverty and obesity, diabetes, and other health issues are no accident.  People often refer to public education as the “great equalizer” in our society, a position I certainly agree with.  However, I see the promotion of public health as an even more fundamental and important equalizer.  As long and one’s income level determines his or her life expectancy, there is only so much public schools can do.  If students are coming to schools undernourished and over-caloried, and indeed if those very schools are places where children consume, on the government’s dime, even more low-quality, high-calorie, hormone-ridden, nutrient-poor “food”, those schools really can only do so much to create equality.  I want to work toward to goal of having more students enter our public schools ready to learn because they are free from the preventable health problems that could interfere with their schooling and their ability to achieve their full potential.

I am most interested in pursuing the Maternal and Child Health concentration within the school of Public Health.  It seems like a great privilege and like some of the most life-affirming work to help make sure that people come into this world as healthy humans.  Mothers have an innate desire to do the very best for their children, and I would love to pursue the MCH concentration so that I can work with expectant and new mothers to help make sure that the very best is exactly what their babies get.  As a teacher of 10th and 11th-graders I often wonder what it would be like to teach kindergarten, to be there at the very beginning of a child’s education and to help them develop the skills and habits that would make them successful students once they enter high school.  Viewing education as a parallel to public health, I feel so excited at the prospect of working with people at the very beginning, before they are even fully formed.

In a very amateur way, I am already an advocate for the public health.  I am also someone who loves learning and would see it as a thrilling challenge and opportunity to get to develop some true professional expertise in the field of public health.  I have a wise friend who holds the philosophy that we’re all meant to find the place where our energies and the realities of life intersect.  For me, the field of public health seems like exactly that place.

403-B, Baby

January 16, 2011

My first job W-2 level job ever was working at the CVS pharmacy in Derry, New Hampshire.  In short, this job sucked.  I apologize if I’ve written about this before, but the amount that I hated dusting the deodorant aisle as a sixteen-year-old has really stuck with me.  On a positive note, working at CVS did teach me that, as an adult, I did not want to be doing a job that could be done by a sixteen-year-old.  In some ways, I have a my middle-aged CVS colleagues to thank for making me realize that college was important.

Job #2 was at a kitchen store in the mall.  It might have been even worse, and I think it ruined malls for me forever.

My next stint of gainful employment was at a farm stand in Chester, New Hampshire (I’m sure you’ve heard of it).  This was a step up from the CVS for sure.  I got to be outdoors, sell locally grown produce (which I didn’t even fully appreciate at the time), make friends with Jamaican migrant workers, and rinse out giant vegetable bins (that was my favorite part).  But I also, sometimes, had to pull dead leaves off of the plants in the green house.  For hours.  If I had been into meditation at the time, this might have been a pleasurable, solitary task.  But to my teenage self, it just seemed like a tedious and nearly un-endurable task after about five minutes.

While I was a college student, I spent my summers teaching swimming lessons for the city of Austin. (Note to New England readers: Texas cities are full of public swimming pools that are open for several months every year, probably starting before your last snow bank melts.)  This basically seemed like the greatest job of all time.  I got to be outside, play with little kids, stay relatively cool in 100-degree temperatures, get paid to get natural highlights in my hair, etc.  Oh yeah, I would also get to come home for lunch and an afternoon nap and the first part of Oprah everyday because there were no lessons in the hottest part of the evening. For a while, maybe even a year, my job enjoyment increased slightly at each swimming session.  I was getting better as a teacher and my students were blowing bubbles and back stroking like champions.  I knew, though, when I started praying for thunderstorms on my way to the pool each morning, imagining lightening in the typical Texas summer clouds, that even that had lost its luster.  By the end of my third summer, the thought of teaching even one more swimming lesson was unbearable.

Now, at the ripe young age of 28, I find myself contemplating the question: “What’s next?”  As I consider my possibilities, recognizing with great clarity that I’m ready to do something different with my 9-5 hours (or more like 7:30-5 and evening and weekend hours, in my particular case), I feel a little fear rising inside me.  If everything from selling cold medicine to the local weather man (Al Kaprielian really did come into my CVS) to improving the literacy skills of our nations future gets old after a while, am I likely to get tired of anything?  I like the idea of having a calling, something that the universe is guiding me toward, something that matches my passions and energy with what the world needs in such a synergistic way that life just seems right and easy.  But what if I get in the way of my calling?  What if my tendency to get bored with even the least routine kind of vocation interferes with what the universe is guiding me toward?

Some people really love to work.  It’s what gives their life purpose and fulfillment.  I’m not sure I’m one of those people.  I get my fulfillment from relationships, spiritual study, avocados, and long weekends.  I think retirement will suit me just time.  While my nest egg, accumulates, however, I have to trust that the universe is actually bigger and wiser than my fear.