Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 162: An Old Dog CAN Learn New Tricks

When I look at my life since I gave up a career that made me miserable (way back in 1994), as hard as it was, I realize that making the leap and changing something that really, really did not work for me, was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

As I wrote about last week, change is hard and it requires you to give up a lot, sometimes more than you even realize at the time. I had a "secure" job that paid pretty well, with full benefits, and I was using my hard-earned M.P.A., and my research and writing skills. But, I was miserable and saw that it was a dead end. More than that, to keep moving up required me to compromise myself, and that was something I just couldn't do anymore.

So, I left. When I did, it certainly made our lives much harder, especially for the first few years. At first my leaving wasn't intentional. I went part time to help my hubby heal from his first broken hip (that is worthy of its own blog posting) which he broke 21 days before our wedding (and yes, this also merits yet another blog posting).

And, as I was prone to do when I was younger, I made an impulsive decision; once I went part-time, I thought it was working out so well that I just quit without any actual plan or income. Not surprisingly, I saw that it wasn't going quite so well once the reality of the situation was reflected in our checking account.

I floundered for several years until (again) quite accidentally I stumbled on something that I loved to do but alas, did not pay much. So, I took whatever part time work I could find to supplement our income. I was a merchandiser for Hallmark cards, a merchandiser for Burpee Seeds (way before I knew what GMO's were) and I even worked as a tutor for ESL students. And, I wrote for local businesses and non profits and started building up my writing portfolio.

Ah, but again, I am digressing too much. The point of all this is that after hitting on farm and garden writing, I started to write for anyone I could find, whether they paid me or not (yet another painful lesson to learn, don't work for free). But, I loved it. It got me thinking about work in a way I never thought of before: you can actually like what you do for a living.

It also got me to start gardening and to take classes to learn more, until I finally went so far as to apply to the UC Master Garden Program. Much to my surprise, I got accepted and have now been certified for 8 years!

Aside from being a UC Master Gardener, I also volunteered for other groups in my community. I never thought about getting something from my volunteering, but, I not only have met some wonderful people, it has also led me to another thing that I love. That is teaching gardening classes to seniors at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.

Somebody I had volunteered with many years ago, recommended me to become the Editor/Writer for the newsletter for the hospital's 50+ (seniors) newsletter. And, since it fell under the Health Education Department, I was able to ask if I could teach some gardening classes.

I have been doing that for two years now, holding classes only in conference rooms at the hospital. But, my years as a volunteer at the Torrance Farmers' Market (I write the newsletter) have paid off. The Market Manager also happens to be the Community Garden Manager and I asked if there were any open plots. She said there was one that was overgrown, and if I cleaned it up, we could have it. So, now we finally have a place to work in the ground.

Plot before weeding

Plot after weeding
My "boss" at the hospital is ordering these for me and I couldn't be more excited.

This is a screen shot of .pdf of my new business cards

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