On Choosing a College, Career Path…

tealtreeframed1Friend: I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and my life is half over.

I knew there was a reason we are friends.

Then it hit me. We’re guiding offspring toward college, careers and futures. (Gasp!) Our children are making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. As adults, we’re guiding them.

Take a look around.

Does it LOOK like we adults know what we’re doing?

My Career (or lack thereof…)

After graduating college, I married, had children, and stayed home to raise them. Divorce changed my plan. The word ‘divorce’ has negative connotations. But really, it’s like getting off one bus and taking a different bus to a new destination. Just a change in path.

My résumé is a crazy mix of full-time jobs and freelance projects. It’s impossible to chronicle where one job ends and another begins, such is the chaotic overlap. I’ve been lucky to have worked for/with wonderful people, have appreciated each opportunity—but I’m not 100% sure where I’m headed.

And now it’s my job to guide two young adults?  God help us…

True Story:

A job presented itself a couple of weeks ago. It intrigued me, so I applied; agreed to an interview to see if the job, company, and I were suited for each other.

Interviewer: If you could go back to the beginning of your career, what might you do differently?

My (Brilliant?) Response: Nothing.

Interviewer: So, No regrets?

Me: No regrets.

I did elaborate. Gave solid reasons for having no regrets; that my choices led to my current place, tied that to my suitability for the position. I refrained from admitting that I loved every walk in the woods with my children, gathering rocks and leaves outdoors, biking to get ice cream, all the moments and memories. Perhaps they wouldn’t have seen the value in those years?

Common Advice from the Adult Contingent…

Go to college, but don’t overspend: Don’t go heavily into debt for a major/degree that offers only a slim chance of a job, or a job that won’t pay enough to satisfy college loans. What if that nixes a students’ chosen career, the thing they dream of doing? What if pursuing a major in a high paying field is highly competitive, stressful, and miserable? And that’s before even getting out of college. What about those pressured into college who would prefer a trade, or another path?

Do something you love: We often encourage our children to do something they’re good at, that they enjoy. (See above) Sometimes our best skills are difficult to monetize, or for the workplace to value. For example, I’m good at creating art with items (i.e. rocks, sticks, rusty metal) found outdoors and stringing words together in a pleasing fashion. My kids have ridden that bus with me; watched me wrestle that into making sense. It’s challenging that my talents are better suited to hobbies, than a career.

Use sports to pay for college:  College sports require the same dedication as academics. It can be difficult to schedule co-ops/internships, or manage more rigorous courses of study. My son is working this out now; he needs a college major that works with a track schedule, yet provides a future career. In college, they fly to meets—he cannot be in class and in another state at the same time. Injury is also a consideration.

What if there is no right way to choose a college, career path? What if the path is ever evolving over a lifetime?

On Aiming Low

pole vault

Per NCAA statistics, there are over 1 million high school football players. Only 6.5% will play in college, with 1.5% of those ever being drafted into the NFL. Even then, chances of NFL success are ridiculously small, but isn’t that the case with so many things in life?

Do we really want to teach our children to think small? That taking chances, or chasing dreams is a waste of time? If everybody played the odds, made choices based solely on logic and common sense– discounted as options ALL things with minimal possibility of success, what would happen?

We’d still be riding horses instead of driving cars. There would be no Apple Computer. Or brilliant structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry. Imagine the books never written? Songs, movies, art never created. The businesses never started. The lack of medical advancements, diseases without cure.  Forget about Olympic medals…

I’d love for my children to have easy paths, to never experience failure, or obstacles—yet I know that those things will shape them, pave the way for future success. I want them to take some chances, chase dreams.

What comforts me? Eases the pressure?

My children aren’t listening to my advice anyway.

They nod their heads when I speak, then go about things their way. And really, that’s fine. Who am I to choose their path, or tell them which bus to take? Can’t do it. Can only love them, support their choices.

Many thanks to my friend for sending my brain down this path. I needed a few more things to think about…

Snowstorms, Calamity Days…and Weather Reports

snowflakeI don’t understand weather reports anymore.

Used to be Dick Goddard, a Cleveland meteorologist, clad in his green sport coat and snazzy brown polyester pants, gave us an evening weather report on Channel 8 news.

It was fairly straightforward. Dick stood in front of a big map of Ohio. A giant cloud of green moving towards our area meant rain. A cloud of turquoise meant snow. This was followed by a large picture with potential snowfall amounts for local cities; 1-2 inches in one color, 3-6  in another color and so on.

There were red funnels for tornadoes and yellow sunshine graphics for sunny skies. Being Clevelander’s we knew “Alberta Clipper” and “Lake Effect Snow” meant potential school cancellations.

My father often joked that “Dick didn’t know di@k” about the weather headed our way, but we understood that Mr. Goddard did his best. Sometimes he was right on, sometimes not even close…

Enter better technology.

We have satellite views, fancy radars, more classifications and risk categories and very technical weather terminology in our weather reports, which is why I rarely watch them.

snow

I don’t understand. I try, but when the weather people start talking, their lips are moving—and I have no idea what they are saying. I would need a glossary of terms from the weather channel to get it.

Dick Goddard is older and has long since retired, but he occasionally comes on TV… and rambles–He STILL makes more sense than the younger, more tech savvy meteorologists, who follow him with the ‘real’ weather report.

Because I don’t understand television weather forecasts, I’ve tried online reports and weather apps for my iPhone. Still no clarity.

And it might just be me. I might not be too bright.

After all, I’m the girl who is perpetually BEHIND the salt truck and IN FRONT of the plow.

While I don’t mind my children’s school being cancelled for a Snow Day—or what they now call a Calamity Day—the family vacation to Hilton Head, S.C. is booked for July. Given the amount of Calamity Days this year, I’m hoping my children aren’t STILL in school mid-summer.

I’m not well-informed on weather conditions in our area, but here’s what I know:

It’s been a snowy, cold winter. I didn’t leave the house yesterday, because when I looked out the windows, I could see a blizzard and the road did not appear plowed. Today isn’t great. Still cold. I don’t currently see a blizzard outside. So I’m going out to get some groceries, because I hear rumblings of more snow days this week. That means I need extra food in the house to keep the bottomless pit (my almost 6’2” teenager who is pushing 200lbs) fed. I haven’t watched the weather today—but cold temperatures produce ice, so I can ascertain the roads are slippery. I will drive slow. And I will take the bottomless pit to the store with me, so I get the right stuff.

Blizzard outside. Rocky dog is happy on the couch inside.

Blizzard outside. Rocky Dog is happy inside.

I also know not to let the dogs outside longer than it takes to do their business. We stand and wait, to make sure they are only out for a minute. No worries, they don’t hang around outside long.

Am I the only one who doesn’t understand? Or am I alone in this?

If anybody can recommend a weather app, website or TV station with a weather report I might be able understand, please comment on this blog.

Optimism …

It’s been of those weeks. The ones where nothing goes as planned.

And then I came across this on Pinterest…

elephant-monkey.jpg

I’m probably the elephant in this scenario. And I said as much to daughters boyfriend.

Daughters Boyfriend: It’s not looking so good for the monkey, either…

Which one are you? And why? 

High School Graduation…no time for reflection

“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

~Paulo  Coelho

Today: Darling Daughter graduates high school. She does so with style, in a pretty white dress, white cap and gown and being that she’s a ‘shoe person’ … sparkly silver shoes. She’ll be wearing bling on her feet and on her person, as she graduates with honors and distinction at the top of her class.

Tomorrow: We leave home at 5:45 a.m. for orientation at Daughter’s chosen college. She’ll enroll in her first semester of college classes and later in the day, we turn around and drive three hours back home.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: I’ll work. (Probably a lot given my abbreviated week.)

(Also on Tuesday: An appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Toss fixing my banged up right hand into the mix…)

Friday: Daughter and I (and maybe the family?) will be up again at the crack of dawn, to drive to Columbus. We’ll arrive at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, on the campus of The Ohio State University,  by 9 am. Son competes in the state track tournament. As of a few months ago, he pole vaults? He’s only a freshmen.

color runSaturday: Up early again. For The Color Run. Our group will run (and walk) a few miles in white shirts, and have paint thrown on us all through the ‘race.’ Team name? The Misfits. “Fit teenage boys, a fat old lady (me) and some teenage girls somewhere in between.” Thankfully, my good friend (and fellow 40 something) is joining me. I won’t be the only ‘old lady’ in our group.

 

Sunday:  Darling Daughter’s graduation party. When are we getting ready for it? I’m not sure. Thankfully we kept it simple. It seemed to me we had two choices. Have a small, casual, gathering (approx. 40-50 people) or it could get big, really quickly, easily 150. (In our small town, we all know each other.) Grateful we went small, given the week’s events…

June 12: Son turns 16 and gets his driver’s license. He’s ready, been taking his classes, etc. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!!

July – August: In a few weeks, we’ll welcome a new baby girl into the family. (Aunt Kate’s first grandchild…) The kids and I will move to a new home this summer (I’ve been packing for months). We’ll get daughter ready, then take her to college in August.

Reflection? No time for that now…

Having just started a new, full-time job six weeks ago, as well as a couple of new freelance side jobs, I’m a little befuddled these days. Seems there’s so much going on. Ceremonies that precede a high school graduation. Awards nights, last day of school, parties…

And Son making a run at state pole vault champion? He picked up a pole barely three months ago, began the season flinging himself up over 9 feet…and is now quickly closing in on 14 feet?

white cupcakeAt some point, I’ll have quiet moments for reflection…

Right now, I’m just hanging on…enjoying the ride!!

Knowing that next weeks graduation party brings a cupcake.

What do you want your obituary to say?

Something I never thought about until a few weeks ago, when I started writing obituaries for The News Herald…

Obits come to me every day by phone, fax, email and sometimes people come into the newspaper and I collaborate with them.

In an odd way, it’s an honor to write (or help write) a summary of the story of a person’s life. Their interests, accomplishments, employers and the loving families that they leave behind–or that have predeceased them.

When I started the job, I was nervous about grammar and punctuation. Readers of this blog will understand! I’m not the ‘punctuation princess’ and I often bend the rules of grammar, sentence structure, etc.

familyMy job might just drive my children crazy.

I’m reminded each day that there are no guarantees. I’ve written notices for infants, teenagers…all the way up to nearly 100 year olds. There’s no hiding from it. Anybody can pass away. At any time.

After a rough day last week, I told my children that I needed them to drive carefully. That I loved them too much, for them to be careless. They knew I was serious. They made me promise to be careful, as well.

My mother passed away when I was 20, after a three-year battle with cancer. And my mother lost her mother early as well. My Aunt had lost both of her parents by the time she was 16. Her husband lost his father when he was only a teenager.

Probably, this is why my family ‘gets’ it. We’ve always gotten along. We don’t argue over petty things. If we’re angry or hurt, we address it with each other quickly, then move on. To the important stuff. Being together. Laughing. Having fun.

I was raised by (and around) people who lost parents young, and I lost my mother young. And I think that’s where I learned my values. Values shared by my family.

I always thank people. (Even if I don’t like them!) Those who do me a kindness will be thanked, like it or not!! I always tell my children I love them. Daily. Still. Even though they are teenagers. I don’t want things to go unsaid. Even if my ways seem silly to others, I sleep better at night.

Which brings me back to my original thought.

What would be written about me?

She was ‘nice.’ (little family joke)

She was a terrible driver. Sang so badly, that even at 18 months old, her daughter begged her to stop. She did NOT let her daughter have a pet snake, but she never said no to dogs…and even a cat, though she took Allegra every day so the kids could keep the cat.

‘Things’ happened to her; torn meniscus while gardening, dislocated (and broken) fingers watching a track meet, heels regularly caught in metal stair grating sent her tripping through door to work, tended to spill diet coke on herself while driving her car, never used oven timer and often ‘forgot’ things were cooking…and cooking. Went from always being early, to NEVER being on time.

COULD NOT complete a white picket fence. Appropriate, as my life is not a ‘white picket fence’ kind of life…

fence

What I would like people to say?

That I was kind, compassionate, that I always did my best. That I never forgot my priorities; children, family, friends, dogs. That I enjoyed each day. (Or most of them.)

Did this get you thinking?

What would you want your obituary to say?

What might it say?