Sunday, November 23, 2008

All the Pieces Come Together Sometimes

Have you ever felt that your life was composed of many, many different little parts, some of those pieces meshing and coordinating with others, but most of them seemingly unconnected with anything else? I always wondered why I had so many interests and talents but couldn't seem to hang onto a job for more than a couple of years. No, I've never been fired or let go; I quit because I got too bored after learning the ropes and becoming good at the work. I've always wondered how some people could hang in there for twenty or thirty years, then retire with a good pension while I had absolutely no interest or desire to do that.

I skipped from place to place to place, picking up so many little experiences that my "official" resume could be four pages long. I interspersed those jobs with returns to various colleges to get three degrees: a Bachelors in Business Administration, an Associates in Computers, and a Masters in Ministry. As an early baby boomer woman, raised on the cusp between the 1950s and the 1970s, I had that option; up to several years ago, I never had to support myself as two husbands, one after the other, did that for me. While never rich or well-off, we got along pretty well.

But, things change, as they usually have a tendency to do, and for various reasons, most of them caused by me, I found myself without husband, without job, without health insurance, without any kind of pension or retirement benefit, and still too young and healthy to collect anything from the government. So, it looked like the hopping around needed to stop for a while.

But, still I resisted, and have survived for the past few years on a divorce settlement just large enough to pay the bills but nothing else. At age 60, I began noticing it was getting harder and harder to get jobs. I won't go so far as to call it ageism. No, I think prospective employers looked at my dense resume and wondered why I hadn't stuck with anything very long. I wondered that myself--until recently, when the parts started meshing together.

As an RV nomad, living "on the road," I've been able to combine my skills in sewing and quilting with my training as a chaplain and minister; my years of experience cooking and running a household with my interest and training in computers. Put it all together and it spells a well-rounded (in more ways than one, I'm afraid) individual who can work as a waitress, a housekeeper, a public relations coordinator, a front-desk clerk, a facilities manager, a mystery shopper, a pianist, an informal chaplain and minister, and a quilter and seamstress. I no longer have to sit behind a desk eight hours a day doing the same boring work. It requires a little bit of hustle, a willingness to talk to everyone, a sense of adventure, and an ability to see possibilities in every situation and conversation. Best of all, I'm now able to travel from place to place, staying for a season or several months, getting my RV site and hookups provided as well as a salary, seeing parts of this country I've never seen before, meeting so many wonderful people it's almost impossible to keep track of everyone sometimes.

It's called workamping and it has finally helped me get my life in some kind of order. Yes, I still skip around from job to job, place to place. But, now it's expected and welcomed.

And so the pieces have come together, finally, just like all the little individual pieces of this king-sized quilt I recently made for the San Diego Astronomy Association's annual fund-raising auction in February.

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