50-48 – Jane of All Trades

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When I was just out of college I got a job with the US Navy’s MWR** department as a child development associate. In order to be considered for this entry level, teaching assistant, minimum wage job, I needed to fill out a Department of Defense job application. I needed to provide ALL of my jobs and ALL of my addresses for the past ten years. As a newly minted college grad, the amount of jobs and addresses I had (a new one every semester and every summer, sometimes two) led to an application that was well over forty pages long.

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to look back on this application – yes, I have a copy in my files in the basement – in order to fill out other applications and write resumes, and in looking over I saw the plethora of different things I’d done. Upon leaving the work force to stay home with my kids, I did a number of other things that added to my job list and my skill set.

I often feel like the second half of my title’s proverb – jack/jane of all trades, master of none.

I feel less than instead of focusing on the first half of the proverb – jane of all trades – expressing my vast experiences and using the culmination of everything I’ve learned continually in my life daily.

I didn’t work until my first year in college. I lived a privileged life. I don’t believe most of my friends had jobs in high school. I didn’t have an allowance, but I had everything I needed. I didn’t take advantage and ask for crazy things, like spring break in Cancun or a European adventure. I went to the movies and the diner, and I didn’t do that every day. I did work a disastrous weekend at a delicatessen, which still haunts my dreams.

My first “job” was an unpaid high school internship in a law firm. I did all the usual secretarial/receptionist work, and got to go to court with one of the lawyers to observe. The other women in the office were very kind to me and I did learn a lot before I went to college to a pre-law/political science major.

When I changed majors two years later to elementary education, I did other unpaid internships in schools as a student teacher. I even got paid three times to substitute locally before I graduated.

At college, I worked as a Bio Research Assistant, which consisted of cleaning petri dishes and putting equipment in cupboards. I was also “campus security” for my dorm. I sat at the door overnight with another student and signed residents and guests in and out after the doors were locked for the night.

In the summers, I had an extraordinarily long list of retail and receptionist positions: Alexander’s* for inventory, Gimbel’s*, Kids R Us, Curtain Country*, Herman’s Sporting Goods*, JoAnn Fabrics,  as a temp for several offices. I also made and sold jewelry as a member of the SCA***.

In teaching, I taught for the US Navy program, a cooperative nursery school, day care at a college, Head Start as well as volunteering at my kids’ schools. As part of my teaching positions, I published parent resource newsletters.

I proctored the NYS Teachers’ Exams for several years.

I became a direct sales consultant for Creative Memories, a company that taught the techniques and sold products for scrapbooking.

I taught a tax class for other direct sales consultants.

I babysat.

I published a Travel Organizer chapbook.

I’ve been crafting this website and I think I’ve finally found a rhythm.

I’ve volunteered in ministries with my church in their adult enrichment, adult initiation rites, and day of service groups.

I wrote for a parenting newspaper, and then began to seriously freelance write. I’m currently working on two books: one on our home buying experience (horrible) and one on my travel/pilgrimage to North Wales (amazing). I’m also considering a book on my spiritual journey since I’ve begun attending church services and my conversion.

I have article submissions in process for The Sun Magazine and Vox.

So many things and most of them come back to writing.

Jane of all trades. I can use that.

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*since closed or out of business

**Morale, Welfare and Recreation

***Society for Creative Anachronism

Advent Reflection – Nov. 30

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​How “immediate” is your response to God’s morning call to follow in his way? Who are the individuals, whose feet are beautiful as Isaiah says, who have brought to you the good news?

– From Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Bishop Robert F. Morneau

When I was first encouraged through signs to visit my current church, it was simply for a quiet place to think and to ask for G-d’s help. I didn’t know Jesus, but I figured He wouldn’t mind my using His house to speak to G-d.

There was no intention to hear a call or seek out something other than guidance, and even then I was really looking for a place to find my own guidance away from the everyday.

I sat.

I thought.

I randomly opened a missal and read a passage. When that passage was exactly what I needed to read, I cried.

It wasn’t until days later that I heard the call. Something in me had changed, and I was ready. I didn’t know it until after, but I was ready to hear it, and when it came, in bright light and deafening silence, it was astonishing.

I continued to come more often, and for anyone who reads this page regularly, it is clear where that calling has brought me.

In those early days, there were two individuals who encouraged me through their prayers and music, and through them I was able to let myself be open to the call. Ben provided the music and in his own prescient way only reiterated what I was already thinking and feeling. Tim, who is now in seminary for the Lutheran Church prayed for me and encouraged me to take that first step and attend a Mass. Things changed quite suddenly after that.

They were led to me by Jesus and He allowed me to be open to their guidance, whether any of us consciously knew it or not.

In all its struggle, that year was a blessing that brought so many more blessings.

This Advent it is good to look back at how we’ve gotten where we are, and to draw the map on our hearts to where we’re heading in the next few weeks and months.