Sophie’s Dream

Just a couple of quick thoughts for this rainy, wet first Sunday of 2009.

In Relief Society this morning, someone asked why we feel that we have to wait until the beginning of a new year to start something new or to resolve to do better. Good question. Why indeed? Every single day is a fresh slate, one that gives us the opportunity to begin afresh, to change things, to start a long overdue project, or make that phone call. I think the reason Cookie’s comment resounded within me so much is because when reading last night I came across the thought that every breath you take is a second chance.

 Then there’s young Sophie’s song, “I Have a Dream,” from Mamma Mia. It’s a great song, and one that I’ve listened to several times since hearing her beautiful voice on Broadway. Sophie has grown up on this remote island and has never really been away to see any of this great big beautiful world. On the threshold of marriage, she’s pondering her life and states, “When I know the time is right for me, I’ll cross the stream. I have a dream.”

What’s your dream? Are you ready to cross the proverbial stream? Will you know when the time is right for you? Is it now? If not now, then when? Kudos to Hayden and all others with the chutzpah enough to turn dreams into reality.

 

Mamma Mia Afternoon

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Nice picture, huh? Yes, I know it’s a bit fuzzy and that Joan Ella is partially cut off, but I like it because it symbolizes the fruition of several months of planning to go to the Big Apple. We were standing under the marquee of Mamma Mia where we had just picked up our tickets for the evening’s performance,  tickets that Joan Ella had ordered weeks in advance. Wanting to capture the moment, I snagged a passerby and asked her to take our picture. An elderly lady who looked ultra trustworthy, she began to slowly back up more and more as she tried to bring us into focus, and Judy had just commented that it looked like the sweet looking photographer was about to disappear with my camera. That’s why we were all sort of half-smiling.

All of us turned the big 60 this past year, and as we reflected on the rapidity of how of lives were speeding along, we decided to DO IT, to go to New York City during the Christmas season sans our husbands. That way we could do what “girls” like to do:  shop and sightsee and go to plays that the men folk in our lives might not enjoy.  I should mention that all of us went to high school together and had managed to keep in touch throughout the decades, some of us more so than others. What made the trip and our time together even more meaningful and fun is that we all knew each other’s “back stories,” a term I read about in Southern Living that refers to a person’s history.  And what a shared history we have! But then, that’s a story for another day.

This morning, I just wanted to comment on the fact that we didn’t just TALK about “one of these days;” we DID IT. Joan Ella, planner and organizer extraordinaire, put the trip together for us…even getting our airline and theatre tickets. She also arranged for a limo to pick us up and take us to the hotel once we had landed at LaGuardia. All we had to do was show up at Judy’s house at 7:30 a.m. to pack the car and head out for Charlotte.

But I digress. After settling into our tiny rooms, we headed out to the Winter Garden Theatre to pick up our tickets, and along the way we were surely the epitome of tourists who were agog at the sights and sounds of this incredible city. Energy all around us, we fell right into the beat as the exuberance of the atmosphere infected us. So many people…such diversity…such BIGNESS of everything. 

Although this might seem incredulous, before dressing for our evening at the theatre we ate at the Olive Garden. Yep, we did. We came all the way from SC to dine at one of the most ubiquitous restaurants in the United States. But hey, we like pasta and soup and salad, so why not? Besides, this particular Olive Garden is different from any other that I’ve ever visited in that it overlooks Broadway. As we munched on our breadsticks, we saw life teeming in the streets and enjoyed watching the lit-up numbers from the stock exchange circle around the building across the street. Oh, and I LOVE the M & M billboard, and I was able to watch it reflected in the window. We enjoyed our pre-theatre experience so much that we came back for a post-theatre dessert, a decadent black tie mousse.

The production of Mamma Mia was one that I’ll never forget. The immense talent of all of the performers was/is astounding. Just to make sure that I don’t forget any of it, I quickly downloaded the soundtrack onto my iPod and now I get to listen to “Voulez-Vous” and all of the other numbers any time I want to. Seeing the diversity of people in the theatre was a treat too. It was so cool (?) to think of how so many different types of people had all come together at this special season of the year to enjoy a night on Broadway.

There’s plenty more I can and will write about. For now, what I’d like for any readers out there to realize that this is no dress rehearsal. This is life, real life, and it’s very brief. If there’s something you want to do or say or be, what you are waiting for? If not now, then when???? Yesterday, Judy, Jeanita, Patty, Joan Ella, and Jayne were little girls learning to read with Dick and Jane books. Today we’re grandmothers.

Here’s a quote from The Music Man that President Monson recently used in a conference address: “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”  President Monson continued, “There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today.” I feel assured that the grandmothers in the picture will have a lot of yesterdays to remember. What about you?

Working

When I was about 25 or 26, a couple of my co-workers were moaning and groaning about their jobs, how unfair the dean was, how unreasonable the job expectations were, how “needy” the students were, and on  and on and on. Finally, I blurted out, “If you hate working here so much, why don’t you quit?” 

One of them glared at me in disgust and disbelief (I was the new kid on the block) and demanded, “Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life????”

 

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I haven’t really thought about it.” And that was the truth. I hadn’t really thought about it that much at all. I was in a DINK (Double Income No Kids) marriage. We were saving money for a down payment on a house and planned someday to have children, but my career goals were hazy.

 

One of those gals stayed the course and retired from teaching after 30 years; I’m not sure what happened to the one who was doing most of the whining. I’m still in the classroom, and what I’ve learned from reading, observation, and personal experience is that the right vocation can be the difference between happiness and misery, fulfillment and disappointment, and employment and unemployment.

 

In no particular order, here are a few ways that a career choice can affect a person:

  • It can determine how much money you make and consequently your lifestyle. A lifestyle comprises a person’ whole way of life, from the food eaten and the clothes worn to the trips taken and interests pursued. Will you vacation with distant relatives and travel in the family car, or will you vacation at a resort and travel by air? Speaking of the family car, will it be luxury automobile, a gas guzzling SUV, a more practical model, or a clunker?
  • It can determine the neighborhood you live in and the type of dwelling you inhabit. Will you live in a McMansion, an apartment in an upscale neighborhood, or a nice modest home in the suburbs? There are lots of in-between options; naturally I can’t list them all. DH would love a little cabin in the woods, while I’d like nothing better than a bungalow by the sea. Can we afford three homes? HaHa.
  • For those of you who are in the child bearing years, your neighborhood can determine where your children go to school and consequently the education they receive. Throw their friends and teachers into the mix, and you can see that those interactions could impact their future.
  • A job can influence your physical and mental health. Work related stress can play havoc with a person’s overall feeling of health and well-being, especially if insomnia creeps into the picture. Some jobs are physically more demanding that others, and there are some that are downright dangerous.
  • Since the workplace puts us into such close proximity with others, it can be the ideal setting for the development of friendship. Just think about the 168 hours we’re each granted per week. How many of those hours do you spend with your work mates and how many with your family and friends?
  • A job can affect your self esteem. How a person views himself is tied in with what he does for a living since his job as programmer, electrician, or accountant is one of his primary life roles. I’m still amazed that one of the first questions I get asked is, “What do you do?” Plus, doing well or poorly, being a success or failure can easily evolve into a sense of personal worthiness…or not.
  • It can determine whether or not you’re employed. As an example, the medical field is exploding with job opportunities, and many people choose careers in nursing because of future potential earnings. And let’s don’t forget computers. Computer technology affects almost every job and every aspect of work.
  • A job can influence what you do with your time, how your day is structured. When you’re off for a few days, it soon becomes evident that work can help create the regularity of life, its basic rhythms and cyclical patterns of the day, week, month, and even year. More times that I can count, I’ve heard someone say something like, “I can’t remember what day it is,” when on vacation.
  • Work can also determine the quality of your retirement years. Will they be bleak or beautiful? Although I couldn’t see it at 25, it wasn’t long beforfe I saw the ultra importance of a good benefits package, including healthcare and retirement.
  • I keep thinking that I’m forgetting something, and I just realized what it was, the most important reason of all:  A job can give you the opportunity to use some of your God-given gifts and live a more fulfilling life. More on this one later.

I can’t remember who said that most people die with their music still in them (Oliver Wendell Holmes maybe??), but I hope you’re not going to be one of them  Think long and hard about your career choice and save yourself a lot of grief.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off to Work We Go

Hayden’s posts about work choices and following one’s dreams have got me thinking about the impact that one’s career choice has on his or her life. For most people, the day dawns when they realize that there are indeed no free lunches.  Sooner or later, we enter the workforce, and according to individual circumstances, we stay there for years…perhaps decades.

We spend more of our 168 hours a week at work than we do in any other activity, except perhaps sleeping, and I know some people whose slumber is impaired because of something work related. It could be stress that causes insomnia, or it could be the necessity of actually being on the job both early and late to earn a buck. At the moment I’m thinking of an individual who awoke with a bout of insomnia at 4:00 a.m. on a recent Saturday and finally decided to go into work and try to resolve the problem that was robbing him of much needed sleep. I know another individual who, until he recently made a huge change in his life, said that every night in his “old life” felt like a Sunday night before a big exam on Monday. Yes, work was that crushing.

I don’t mean to paint a negative picture. I’m just trying to point out that how one makes a living eventually turns into how one makes a life. I also feel that there are tens of thousands of people (maybe more…I’m not too good with numbers) who like Thoreau indicated, are leading lives of quiet desperation. Why do so many people make such poor career choices? Do they even think of the importance of a good P/E (Person/Environment) fit, or are they mainly thinking of how much money they’ll make? Some people go into vocations because of family pressure or influence, while others go to work at XYZ Widgets because it’s the biggest employer in town.

Time is too short to get started on this too much today so I’ll just leave you with a couple of thoughts, the primary one being THINK ABOUT IT. And while you’re thinking, please know that there are dozens of interest inventories, personality tests, and aptitude tests out there to help you in your quest. Many of them are online. Plus, there’s a wealth of information in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Not that he knew it all, but Sigmund Freud reportedly said that love and work were the cornerstones to a full, healthy life. Don’t you think it’d be a good idea to put some serious thought into both of those so that you could make the best possible choices??