A group of celebrities on a recent TV program seemed to clearly know their vocation. One of them said, “I saw someone do ‘stand-up’ comedy and at that moment I knew that it was for me”. Another one always knew they would be a journalist and yet another, an actor. It got me reflecting on my choices and if there had been any sense of vocation from a young age. The short answer is NO! I did have some false starts though, or trial runs…
- In high school I took all the right subjects to enable me to become a nurse. I nearly went down that path as I was accepted into two training hospitals in Melbourne. I am so pleased I didn’t go through with it. I think nursing is a very worthy and noble profession but I believe I wasn’t cut out for it. One of the main reasons I didn’t accept the offers was the idea of doing shift work. That had no appeal.
- Retail – this was more about paying the bills and enabling me to stay in the City and not return home to Mum and Dad and admit failure at achieving independence. I was reasonably good at sales but dealing with the public day in and day out was pretty challenging.
- Teaching English as a Second Language – now this was something that I really enjoyed. I had no training but used my knowledge of language plus some intuition and had some good outcomes.
- Office work – again I was self-taught as I didn’t do any commercial subjects at school. Administration is much more attractive with the advance of computers and the latest software but it doesn’t really excite me at all!
- A good government job came along in 1993. My skills and knowledge were a good match with the job description but it was really the pay and conditions that kept me in that job for 17 years. I worked in the employment and training field in regional areas of Western Australia.
- That brings me up to 2010 when I resigned from the State Government and commenced a journey of self-employment. My work today requires good writing skills, good computer literacy and good customer relations.
Perhaps the idea of a job for life or a vocation is not as relevant today. We need to be flexible and keep learning and adapting to support our relevance and our skills. When I was working in employment and training we used to tell people that most of the jobs of the future have not been invented yet due to the pace of change due to technology and globalisation. I still think that is true today.
So, did you have an “aha!” moment when you realised what you wanted to do, or has it just evolved over the years?
PS I get a lot of pleasure out of my blog – not just the writing but the technology in putting it all together. I probably enjoy that more than I have ever enjoyed the workplace!
I had a good year in 2012!
Below are some of the special moments captured on film.
Flowers from Jeanne and Lee for my wedding in June.
Joel reached his destination at Katahdin.
We met Joel on his return from the Trail in September.
My garden in April and the plant that keeps growing.
Our wedding day in June
Edith Cowan University where I worked until July this year.
On the look out for whales in Geographe Bay in October
The sunlight brightens the Christmas tree.
Whale watching in October
Joel on the Appalachian Trail.
A brief stay near Albany in June.
Storm clouds gathering in April.
First semester studies
If you hold the cursor over the photo it will tell you more about the event.
Wishing everyone health, happiness and lots of fun blogging in 2013!
going with the flow
Today I cleaned up my computer! You would not find my desk if my office filing was anything like my computer filing. You would not get in the door! It is easy hide electronic mess. I had folders labeled random docs, random excel docs, random PowerPoint docs!
I had a My Documents folder that had a My Documents folder, that had My Other Documents folder….get the picture! Well, there are random pictures too! I decided not to go there today!
I got more ruthless the longer I was at it. I kept information for years, that I MAY NEED ONE DAY! Work stuff from several employers ago. There were job applications, work projects, samples of work I have done. I couldn’t even bring myself to read most of them.
A moment of enlightenment arose among this frenzied clean up! Much of the information was EVIDENCE. It was to prove that I could do something, or that I didn’t do something, or evidence of ability for job applications etc. And so much of it was not really ME. I believed I needed this stuff to be who I thought I ought to be.
I don’t need to do that anymore and I feel so grateful for that. I worked for Government for a long time and for a long time I found it really tough going. Not because the government was bad, mean or corrupt. I found it to be soul destroying. I wanted to make a difference through what I did at work – at times it was possible to do that. A lot of the time it was just really dysfunctional and incredibly frustrating. I stayed because it gave me security – it was a trade-off. Not uncommon – I guess most people do that at work and in life generally to some degree – we have to do that to survive in our society.
I am self-employed now – I earn a lot less money but I am a lot happier. I can be true to who I am. I can work hard and be satisfied with my personal effort, knowing that I did the best job that I am capable of. Most of my work involves writing applications for funding for community groups. I get to WRITE and people pay me to do it! The time just flies by when I am on a project – I experience that sense of being “in the flow”. I look at the clock and wonder where the day has gone.
I find the writing I do in my blog actually does help me to write for other purposes. I am not daunted by a new topic (project) and I just start writing (and editing) and after a while it just seems to come together. My experience working with government gives me some insight into the sort of stories they want to hear. Hopefully there will be some positive outcomes for all.
WordPress prompt for today – Think of a time you let something slide, only for it to eat away at you later. Tell us how you’d fix it today.
Hierarchies rule in Government organisations. I put a lot of work into a document to go up the General Manager for approval. I provided a draft to my line manager and she changed it significantly and sent it up-line to the General Manager. I didn’t see the changes she made. Next thing I knew was the General Manager came to my desk and shouted profanities at me for the content of the document. I was dumbfounded – it was in front of all my work colleagues in an open plan office. My manager was in an office close by but did not intervene. I felt like I couldn’t say that the offending content was the work of my manager, not me – but that would have been dobbing her in, so I just sat there and copped it.
At the time I just shrugged it off and got on with my work. I knew an injustice had taken place but hey, that’s what the workplace is like, isn’t it?
No way would I put up with that sort of behaviour today. I would stop him in his tracks by indicating I wasn’t about to take what he wanted to dump on me. I would insist that we go somewhere private to have the conversation. I would not take the actual and body language he used. If he failed to respond to those requests, I would go to my Manager’s office and involve her in the discussion. To be honest, if these things didn’t work, I would leave my desk and either go home or seek help from Human Resources staff. When it comes to fight or flight, I definitely lean towards winging my way out of the situation
OMG – I am so glad I don’t work there anymore!!!
Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the first half of 2012 I commenced university study in a professional writing course. I did two units and I passed both but felt I didn’t want to do any more. It is not cheap and it is a lot of work and pressure.
Mid year break came along and I had some time off to reflect. I decided I WILL do the last two units this semester (which starts today). I am studying online and it requires some discipline to keep at it.
Last semester one of the activities was about grammar. I did a lot of research and thought I had it sorted but I only got 4.5 out of 10 marks! No doubt there is some debate in writing circles about what is right and wrong in grammar. I reviewed my work and I could see the mistakes I made but I still don’t feel confident in it.
I decided that I need to take this more seriously. I NEED TO LEARN! I can see that writing is like any other creative pursuit where skill is developed over time. If I want to be a professional in this field then I will have to put in the effort to lift my standard in writing. Can I keep up the motivation? I hope so – it is up to me.
In December 1982 our family moved from Melbourne, Victoria to Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The photos you see are from around that time. It is situated about 400 km east of Broome and is about 2,524 km from the state capital of Perth. The population was predominantly Indigenous and we came there to work in the community store. My former husband was there to help the manager as storeman. In 2006 the population of the Fitzroy Crossing town-site had grown to around 1,500, with a further 2,000 or so people living in up to 50 Aboriginal communities and out-stations in the region. The main industries in the area are tourism, cattle stations and mining.
Prior to European occupation Fitzroy Crossing and the lands and valleys around it were the home for a number of Aboriginal language groups including the main group, the Bunuba People. Other groups include the Gooniyandi people, the Nyigina and the Walmakarri people.
Many Baobab trees grow in the area
calm before the storm
I discovered I was pregnant not long after arriving from the long car journey from Perth. It was good news and we settled into the community fairly quickly. I assisted the adult Indigenous women with some classes in reading and writing. I had no earlier experience in teaching however I learnt on the job.
The lack of resources tends to make us more creative. We did activities together and then wrote stories about them in their own words. The women already spoke 3-4 different languages and were very capable of taking on one more. They were very keen to learn. Some of the ‘students’ had suffered leprosy in the past and as a result, some of their fingers were missing or disabled. This created a challenge in learning how to use a pen or pencil for the first time however they showed great determination.
This experience started me on my journey of writing and involvement in adult education for many years following. The countryside is stunning with its vast contrasts in colour and extremes in temperature and tropical downpours in the rainy season (October to April).
Fitzroy Crossing floods during the rainy season
Living in the region was a really memorable experience. I am sure I will still be telling stories about it when I am in my rocking chair Some life experiences are like that, aren’t they?
Sources: Photos are my own and some of the information I gleaned from Wikipedia.
Today I officially enrolled in my writing course. I didn’t realise I could do it online. I had waited for a letter in the post!
I will be doing four units over twelve months. It is an online course with no face-to-face contact. I didn’t research the course very thoroughly so there is a little apprehension. It is much easier to take on a challenge if it is what I want – so I hope I got it right
The course consists of four units and they are:
- Writing Technical, Scientific and Business Reports
- Writing Applications, Tenders and Proposals
- Production, Editing and Design
- Communication Practices.
They DO sound interesting! I did similar work during my career with the Government so hopefully it won’t be too challenging. A little bit of challenge is ok but not too much!
People ask me why I don’t do a Creative Writing class. There are a few reasons, with the main one being I am not comfortable in that area. To be creative I would have to loosen up a bit, let my imagination flow, get totally absorbed in the process – I find that to be a bit scary. Also, the course I have chosen may offer earning potential down the track, without having to write a novel!
I read more non-fiction books. I like my books to be about real people and real stories. That is why I like to read autobiographies. I sometimes enjoy a good detective novel or mysteries for a change. I am now re-reading “1984” as my son downloaded it onto the Kindle he very kindly gave me for my birthday. I find it interesting (and a bit gloomy) to be looking back at 1984 and not looking toward the future. It was first published in 1949 and written by George Orwell.
Anyway, I can’t wait to get started on my study in February. I only work part-time so it won’t be a problem finding time to do the work.
I actually started a Uni course with this same university in 1985. I withdrew from it due to the demands of being a single-parent of three young sons. I never dreamed that the opportunity would arise again and I am really grateful for the opportunity.
Have a great day!
- Monday’s Creative Writing Prompt Based on 2012 (savvywritingcareers.wordpress.com)
- New Blog Development (kristinbergenewriter.wordpress.com)
- The Want to Write (coffurge.wordpress.com)
Image via Wikipedia
What a loaded question this one is! It is true that we are encouraged to keep on going, no matter what. I said that myself in a recent blog.
Do you remember a woman rower in the Olympics in recent years – she stopped rowing and let the other members of her team down? There was outrage at the time. It spoke to me though because, even though I am not into rowing, I sometimes get to a point where I feel I can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to keeping rowing. I remember being advised that rest was not what I needed when I felt like that, and it wouldn’t do me any good to STOP! Most often I listen to that voice and keep going and most often I feel better for it.
In 2010 I said to my partner, “I really can’t do this anymore”, referring to my full-time, stressful job. The time felt right and still does. It was a good decision for my physical and mental health and general well-being. So what made it ok to stop then?
Well, I think all the ducks lined up – so to speak! These included:
- reaching 55 and being able to access my superannuation
- the property market was just right at the time and I sold my house and had enough to purchase a smaller house
- the job I was doing had changed so much – I was the last one left in our section and big changes were happening
- moving to the country enabled us to down-size and reduce our expenses
- living near the beach had to be a positive influence on our health and well-being
- having time to pursue my writing is really valuable
So, I made the move, and I still need remind myself to keep actively involved in life. I have found some part-time work and will be doing a writing course in the new year. It was a big risk in many ways and I do miss the friends I had in Perth. The risk was minimised though because we gave it lots of thought and looked at the positives and negatives very honestly.
One of my favourite sayings is a good test as well: “Am I moving away from a bad situation or am I moving towards a BETTER situation?”
For me, it is not good to quit if I am only running away – I need to be heading somewhere with a purpose and a positive attitude.
Image via Wikipedia
We make decisions about hundreds of things each day. We don’t even think about it, most often. However there are some points in our lives where we make a significant choice to go in a certain direction. Today, I reflect on some of those decisions.
- In my first decade I decided what (Aussie Rules) football teams I supported and the ones I liked least of all.
- In high school I had the choice of a commercial or professional stream of study. Commercial meant typing and short-hand that didn’t appeal to me at all – those big clunky, noisy typewriters were scary!
- I left school before completing my final year due to the fear that I might not do as well as some of my class-mates and that was a fate worse than death! It seemed better not to try than to fail. I still have dreams about that today.
- Due to studying the professional stream, my career options were narrowed considerably (or so it seemed at the time, living in a small rural town). The most obvious options included teaching or nursing. Teaching didn’t appeal to me at all. My Mum was a nurse, so it seemed a good idea to follow in her foot-steps.
- I applied to various hospitals for a place as a student nurse. A hospital in Melbourne invited me to take up a place to train as a nurse.
- After considering the nursing option, I decided I couldn’t handle the strict discipline in a nurses’ home (where I would have to live) and I would be too scared to travel on the trains late at night if I was doing shift work. Logical? I am not sure about that but it was very real then. Today I can see that nursing wouldn’t have been a good career for me.
- My next major decision was to get married at 18. Looking back, I was much too young, however, I had three wonderful sons as a result of that marriage (the marriage lasted 12 years – not a bad effort).
- My three sons were born in my twenties. Some of my friends travelled and did all manner of interesting things like going to University. That decade of my life was dedicated to being a mum and a home-maker and I threw myself into it.
- In my thirtieth year I decided to pick up on my studies once again. I chose to do a Year 12 English class via correspondence. I chose English because it was always my best subject.
- My husband and I chose to leave behind our friends and families and worked in some remote Aboriginal Communities in Northern Australia.
- In these communities I had the opportunity to pass on some of my English language skills to multi-lingual Indigenous women.
- I loved being a student again and really embraced it and achieved university entry. I chose English and Intercultural Studies.
The choices made over the years are a tapestry of my life with the common theme of the English Language important in each decade and it continues to be so. Next year I am enrolled to do a course called “Writing for Professionals”. I hope that is a good choice. It is not about creative writing but it covers aspects to do with publishing and editing and much more. I will attach a link if you are interested in having a look at it: Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing
I have no regrets about the path my life has taken thus far and the decisions I have made. Life is an exciting adventure day by day and one can never expect what lies around the corner!
Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday I picked up a book in my bookcase called “Live the Life you Love – in ten easy step-by-step lessons”. It is written by Barbara Sher and published by Hodder& Stoughton. I only read a few pages and it really opened up my mind about something important to me.
Lesson 1 is “What motivates you?” This exercise asks the reader to look at a time in childhood where we were being creative and sought affirmation from someone, such as a parent or sibling. We are then encouraged to think about what response we got to our need for affirmation or encouragement at that time.
I remember when I was a young girl and I was obsessed with the music I heard on the radio. I decided I wanted to write lyrics for a living when I grew up. I felt I had found my vocation!
So, what happened to this childish wish? I showed a family member the words I had written for a new song and shared my dream with them. They didn’t believe I wrote it. They said I must have copied it from somewhere and that I couldn’t possibly have written it. No further discussion was entered into! I accepted the “fact” that I must be wrong and didn’t ever try to write another song. I didn’t question the response.
So, how could the response have been different? Well, if I was the parent at that time, hopefully I would have given praise and perhaps suggested starting a little book of songs and encouraged further efforts. As an adult now, how do I encourage myself to do well? Do I give up easily if I am not supported? Can I support myself more? Interesting questions worth thinking about.
How do you support your own writing efforts or personal goals? Do you rely on others to praise your work? What sort of encouragement would work well for you – in your writing or other aspects of your life. We are all different and no doubt the environment we grew up in can still impact on us today.
Food for thought
- Aha Moments (cre8tivegang.wordpress.com)