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48 Days to the Work You Love: Chapter 1 Questions

Chapter 1: What Is Work?

1. Who gave you your first job? What kind of job was it? How much money did you make? I started babysitting for children of my parent's friends as soon as I could be left alone with children. I especially liked the night time jobs with families who expected their children to go to bed early. There was this one family---I can't remember the kids' names, but they had a German shepherd called Shaka---whose kids went to bed at 8:00. After I put the kids to bed, Shaka and I would crash on the living room floor and watch The Sound of Music on VHS. This was back in the day when few of us had a VCR, cable was in its infancy, and you waited a whole year for one of the networks to air The Sound of Music (and The Wizard of Oz, and that trippy animated The Hobbit). I loved having my own money to spend on Duran Duran tapes, Bop magazine, and white lace fingerless gloves.
The summer between freshmen and sophomore years my parents moved us to Illinois, from Tucson to the small town (pop. 1800) where my dad grew up. I was 14 when we moved and turned 15 soon after, but still too young to work. Sometime during that first year my parents consented to a work permit and I took a job at the local library: shelving, checking out, organizing, and performing other clerical duties. I loved that job. I loved how quiet it was in the library; I loved reading picture books as I organized the children's section; I loved that the ladies who worked there didn't think I was a dork (in retrospect, I realize they were something of town outcasts themselves). But I didn't work there long, even though I loved it. As soon as I turned 16 I got a job waiting tables at a restaurant on the square, uptown. And I loved that, too.

2. From looking at your work life so far, what has been of the greatest value or worth? I'd say most significantly my work life has been characterized by a suppression of ego. I've always worked in the service industry: librarian, server, electronic prepress/graphic designer, teacher. In those industries the needs of the provider are always subsumed by the needs of the client. I've learned to be good at what I do and still retain a fairly positive self-image.

3. If your job changes, does your purpose change? No.

4. Do you think your current job will exist five years from now?
Yes. There will still be preschool teachers, just maybe not gigging at my current venue.
5. What would be the key characteristics of an ideal job or career? Early childhood educators are woefully undercompensated. An ideal career, for me, still involves service. Helping others reach their full potential is necessary for me to reach mine. An ideal career would compensate me adequately for the work I do, with other necessities (insurance; mental health/wellness) considered.

6. When you daydream, what do you see yourself doing? I see myself smiling and reacting warmly to others. Often I see myself alone, but I think that's in my leisure hours. I see animals and children and I'm almost always outdoors.

7. What have been the happiest, most fulfilling moments in your life? I get a real sense of satisfaction guiding trepidatious children through their first days of preschool. Some kids come in and immediately own the playground. Other kids come in and they're completely overwhelmed. I love helping those kids acknowledge their fear (acknowledge, not deny), find something they enjoy, like digging in the sand or coloring a picture or examining tiny rocks, and engaging them in that activity. I like working in partnership. That's how I approach my work with kids, even my son. That makes me happy.

8. If nothing changed in your life in the next 5 years, would that be OK? No.

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