Friday, October 27, 2006

Doing what makes you happy?

My first job was babysitting. My motivation was a pair of Levis. I didn't enjoy babysitting but I did what I had to do. At 14 I started working as a waitress at the Asbury Methodist Home. Quite an initiation serving the old folks. I was a gift wrapper one Christmas at Montgomery Wards which was interesting. The long, long, long line snaked through the store and ended at little ole me and bolts of wrapping paper. On weekends another girl was there to help. My gifts to the family looked especially nice that year. Once the mall was built I worked at various stores eventually working my way up to Asst. Manager. After High School the store I worked in went out of business and I got a job at camera store. I really enjoyed this job because National Geographic was around the corner and the professional photographers would come in and get their supplies from us. Very interesting. I learned a lot and slowly built a wonderful Nikon system for myself.

But being young and dumb I got pregnant and got married to someone I should have known better than to be with. On the up side the partnership created my two oldest children. It was over as soon as Michael was born and once again I joined the workforce. I waitressed again as that allowed me to be w/the kids all day. Next I took a job as a store manager. That didn't last too long because it was just too many hours for a mother of very young children. My next job was for an employment agency in DC. Not having a college education I never really had any value in the workforce and certainly not enough to support my babies. Scary times.

Just when things were bleakest John came into my life and I relocated to the Eastern Shore glad to get away from the expensive metropolitan area. Over the years I have worked off and on. I started out working for a builder. I've waitresssed and I even had my real estate license for a while. At some point I was lamenting my lack of career to a friend. She introduced me to a potter who was looking for help. I had no knowledge or experience in this area but my friend was very confident that I was creative and would be perfect. I learned a lot at this job but finally parted ways after 3 years. I began slowly setting up my own studio but never really thought I'd have jobs. I just wanted to do it.

It's been a long road. It certainly has taken me long enough. I am 43 and I am finally doing something I love. Yesterday I got yet another big job. I really never thought this would take off this way. To make yesterday even more unbelievable for me I also had an offer to put my work in one of my favorite shops. Go figure.

So I wonder. Are you doing what you love?


Blogger carbunclefrank said...

hi Mary
Except for the scary times where you probably had to work to survive, it seems like you followed your heart to where you are now. Loving what you do is much more important than even getting paid to do it. That is just a bonus. Some of us just do something to get paid. You create something for someone....very different situation. That you love what you do is probably everyones desire. You're living ahead of the curve. And by looking at your results, you're quite good at it. congratulations.
To answer your question....yeah, I always wanted to drive and I have driven professionally for almost my entire life. I am retired now and I envy the journey you are on. Enjoy the ride

10/27/2006 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

I'm happy doing what I'm doing because this is what I chose.

I was a babysitter almost all my school life. Probably one of the reasons I never wanted children of my own. I had raised too many other people's kids.

Have a great weekend!

10/27/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Ole Blue The Heretic said...

I am not doing what I like. Time for a change. ;-)

10/27/2006 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger dawn said...

Mary, I really do want to be you when I grow up, haha. Seriously if I get down to DC I'm going to look you up. I've held many jobs also without a degree, I had those babys young too. I'm waiting to be come Martha Stuart without the TV and I'm more like Rachael RAy. Does that maake sense to you, Anyway have a great weekend, I'm going to decorate for Halloween, my favorite time of the year

10/27/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

I was doing what I loved up until two years ago when the West End Dinner Theatre closed. When I first started there, I was just bussing tables and had no interest in theater. After a year or so, I ended up with a few backstage jobs. Eventually, I became the assistant stage manager, performed onstage for a few shows, and composed the scores for a few of the childrens' musicals performed there.

10/27/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

But being young and dumb....
There's pretty much no other way to be young, is there?:) I was a farmboy. My first job was shoveling cow poop for $0.25 an hour. Soon I got a raise to $0.50 an hour. I was so proud of me! Those close to me say that was my natural calling; that I've achieved professionism in shoveling bullshit!:) I spent 32 long, boring, intellectually smothering years in a factory. I didn't go to college until I was 42. By then, I had too much time in to walk away: retirement loomed around the corner in ten years. Yes, I made very good money, and I have a very good retirement package. But I paid for it with my very soul. To read a story like's heartwarming beyond belief. My wife's been working 16 and 18 hour days on her new job. One day, out of the blue, she says: "I can't believe they pay me to do this!!" She has the job of her dreams, and I am envious of both you and her beyond words.

10/27/2006 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger msliberty said...

This post is like a hug for your heart.

Awesome, just awesome!

10/27/2006 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

I love this post, Mary. It fascinates me how young people overseas go out and do tons and tons of different things and [hopefully] they end up doing what they love.

Here, most parents groom their children into deciding what they want to do, be a lawyer, be a doctor, be an accountant, be something that others will look up to. They go from high school to university, never get a chance to explore, to just BE.

No wonder creativity doesn't bubble here.

Oh, as for what I love doing...writing. I went to Jamaica to study, ended up staying there, writing for a living. What a living!!!

Here, writers are not paid well, so I write my books, my blog. And sew for income.

10/28/2006 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger No said...

I love your work, Mary...when can I purchase one of your mosaics? Please let me know.

10/28/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger The_Dizzy_Diva said...

I feel like I'm intruding because I read your blog almost every day, yet I never post comments. But, this post intrigued me because I am going through a similar transformation in my life (I'll try to keep this short *wink*).

I host karaoke. For the past three years I was paid by someone else to use their equipment and play hostess at the venues they sent me to. Now I have my own equipment and I get to choose my own venues. It's a lot of work (a lot of heavy lifting), but I LOVE my job!

I have always loved working around people, never did too well at jobs where I was stuck in an office off by myself. I am the epitome of "people person". I loved working in retail, but my children and the typical retail schedule were not compatible.

I had always loved going to karaoke with my girlfriends, once a week. One day, the karaoke host at the time approached me and asked me if I wanted a job. The rest, as they say, is history.

I get a great deal of pleasure because of the uniqueness of my audience. I am married to a soldier currently stationed in Iraq (due home in two weeks *woo hoo*). I work on a military post as the premiere karaoke host and DJ --for free--(due to DoD budget constraints). I recieve tips (about 20 bucks a night) and I make my "real" money from doing private parties. My pleasure comes from the soldiers telling me that I have made their night/week/their time away from home worth remembering. Some of them have come back from Iraq and told me that they thought of how much fun they had at home; that helped them get through some of the rough times overseas. It breaks me up every time.

I can't imagine doing anything else. It's the perfect job because I have been a singer/entertainer since I was born. As the oldest of three, I was a born diplomat. I get to stay home during the day with my kids. I am my own boss. And, I get paid to party with my friends *wink*

Thanks for letting me share.

10/28/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Hi Mary,
I've just read your cv
and you've got the job, as the merriest bubbly golden mermaid!

Famous Quotes
"Success is getting what you want.
Happiness is wanting what you get"
Dale Carnegie

Best wishes & warm smiles - Q.

10/29/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger spadoman said...

Great story Mary..... Happy for you that you have satisfaction.

10/29/2006 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Frank- I think the first part of my life I was really just going where the day took me. Once I had children...I went where ever I could make the most. Once they were all in school I really put some effort into who I was and what would make me happy and then it all fell into place. I feel lucky. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your ride. Of course that is reflected in your posts.

Hey Pop! I just wish I could have come to it earlier as you seem to have.

Poor Ole Blue. I'm rooting for you. You will find the change you need.

Dawn- I think we are all more like Rachel Ray. Martha has HELP and lots of it. Besides something tells me Rachel is having more fun! Come visit anytime Dawn and take pictures of your Halloween decorating. I'd love to see it.

Antonio- Don't give up. Get back
to it.

TUA- Hey I think it is very admirable that you went to college in your 40's. I thought about it but just couldn't get myself to do it. I do wish you could have spent 32 years doing something you loved but sometimes life just gives you something else. I am glad to hear your wife is loving the job. I'm sure that has some bonus for you...

msliberty- You are too sweet. Thank you.

GG- Hopefully is the key word here. I know you are doing what you love because it shows in your work. I can honestly say I don't care about the money if I am happy.

No- I promise I will. John just told me he would make up my frames for mosaics that are sellable and shipable. And thank you.

Dizzy- We have a lot in common I see. Sometimes it just falls in your lap when you are doing something you love. You deserve it I can tell.

Quasar- Fitting quote!

Spadoman! A joy to have your comment. Thank you.

It looks like something is wrong again as my comments are not coming to my email. Arrghh.

10/29/2006 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger betmo said...

blogger at its best mary :) i think that at some points in our lives we have to do what we have to do. i think getting to do what you love is a luxury best savored when you are a bit older. you pay your dues so to speak when you are young and dumb :) i almost want to say that we shouldn't regret so much. our lives shape who we are as people and we all make mistakes or look back and wish we would have chosen this or that. we have to celebrate who we are and decide if we like who we are as people. you are in a place to be able to create- and you do so- beautifully. perhaps you wouldn't have been able to do so if you had chosen differently younger.

yes- i am doing what i love at this moment- caring for people i love. thanks for a reality check post.

10/30/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Alice said...

Hey Mary, you're very lucky!

Right now, I'm not able to do what I want. I enjoy my consulting job (editing for a tech company) as it offers a consistent challenge, but it's extremely part-time, and I miss having a reliable paycheck.

My days now are still filled with renovations - we're having a housewarming party next Sunday, so there's still quite a lot to do. Now we're down to the level of spackle and paint, so it's not as bad as when we were doing the infrastructure stuff, but it's still trying. I spackled for hours over the weekend, telling myself "I'm building a stable base...I'm building a stable base..." It's my mantra. When the house is sorted out enough, I'll be able to go back to my art. Stifling inspiration sucks.

I want to be able to seek a regular paycheck, but more than that I want to be a pro artist. I want to have gallery shows. It's what I've always wanted, and I've put it off my whole life! As soon as I've got a space to work in, I'll start in on that again. Wish me luck!

10/30/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Betmo- I agree with you that our lives shape who we are. Had I had success young I am sure it wouldn't appreciate it the way I do today. And I like being so appreciative. I don't want to take any joy for granted.

Lukku- I can not wait to see your painting and I am sure you will find success. I already envy your experience w/the pottery studio in the Bahamas.
Good luck w/the stable base. Your nearing the end and will have that much more satisfaction when you reach the end.

10/30/2006 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to comment a couple of days ago but couldn't. I wasn't going to mention it because it sounded like 'the cheque is in the mail', I was glad to see you mention it. (oh yeah, I've had trouble with getting the email comments too, and I'm using TypePad now).

Anyway, that's some really impressive stuff (the story and the photos of your work). You are quite a talent. If I get the time I'd like to go back through your posts.

10/31/2006 02:39:00 AM  
Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

your own studio--that is so cool. I always thought it would be so much fun, in a tactile sort of way, to dig my fingers into clay and turn it into something beautiful!

I feel incredibly lucky to be making a living at doing what I love--teaching.

10/31/2006 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Hi Willowtree-Thank you for the compliment. You are too kind.

Bluegrrrrl-I wouldn't say I have mastered the throwing clay yet but I do love it. I intended to get a wheel when I was setting up the studio but haven't even had a chance yet. The tiles and mosaics have been keeping me busy. I did buy a slab roller for hand made tiles. My daughter is riding me about the wheel though as she adores throwing. I do have to nuture that don't I?

10/31/2006 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger BBC said...

I have done many things over the years to make a living, or because I was interested in them. The jobs that I didn't like, I just didn't stay with them long. It's always been my experience that there is another job available so it's no big deal if you quit. Or maybe I've just been lucky.

I'm doing some things I love to do, but I would like to get back to more inventing. I don't check your blog very often, but you have some interesting posts. Have a great day hon.

10/31/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Kila said...

Congratulations to you!

No, I still don't know what I want to be "when I grow up". I'm 36. I've had many different jobs (I've lost count, but around 20), and I've been good at most of them, but they weren't too fulfilling. I soon grow bored of them and move on. I wonder about every finding my "niche".

11/03/2006 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Sothis said...

I spent a lot of time in my early 30s trying to "find my bliss" as Joseph Campbell put it. I enjoyed working with computers, writing, sculpting, drawing, cooking. Everyone said "your should find that one thing you love!" Guess what? Sometimes it isn't just one thing. I've finally realized that I enjoy doing them all, and for me, it will never be one niche. I no longer beat myself up about it.

11/04/2006 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Kila- No worries. Your only 36. You have plenty of time!

It's certainly not an easy thing is it. I encourage my college daughter to switch her interests as many times as she needs to. What is the rush?

11/04/2006 08:18:00 AM  

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