FOR NOW I JUST BASK IN THE SWEAT EQUITY OF THIS LEGACY. A STRONG WORK ETHIC ROLE-MODEL FOR MY FAMILY.
I began working on weekends and summers before I was in elementary school. Not steadily, but whenever we would drive the 8 miles from my hometown of Okmulgee, Oklahoma to stay with family. I remember being shorter than counter height in the café owned by my grandparents. I also remember being placed on an apple crate to help with dish washing duties in my grandparent’s small cafe in Morris, Oklahoma. I was rewarded not with money but with all my favorite mashed potatoes and gravy I could eat, and one Grapette pop per work experience.
I seemed destined to always be needing money and was determined to earn my own, even at a young age. This holiday motivated me to reflect on just a few of the jobs I did before the “real ” careers of my life came along. As an adult I always worked more than one job, so I held many part time jobs along the way. (I wouldn’t want you to think I kept being fired and thus had so many jobs to account for.
This story covers a work history of 66 years of uninterrupted employment. As the numbers grow, just remember these are covering 66 years and as a Type A? multitasker, and somehow I lived through it. Some jobs were full time, some part time and some contracted projects with time limits. From 1948-2015 and not all in order, as every time I thought I was through documenting these jobs, another one popped into my mind. (Not professional to not go back and edit it, but at 72, My Rules, My Story)
- Dishwasher (child, teen and adult)
- Baby Sitter Extraordinaire’
- Lifeguard-College I graduated from high school early (17)
- Recreation Director at an orphanage (college summer job)
During my life guarding gig, but this was at the sand pits in Buffalo Iowa on a day off. Swimming had been my saving grace from age six through high school and freshman year of college.
- Retail women’s clothing salesperson at 16. (First time was Klein’s at the Village Shopping Center, Davenport, Iowa. I used all my pay to buy clothes. Ugh)
- Hearing Aid salesperson (I was good but no cigar.)
- Telemarketer (while in 9th grade on weekends. Hated it and learned some words from boss thatI used before I fully knew what they meant; shocked my parents when I reeled off some of it.)
- Food Sample Demonstrator in Grocery Store in high school on weekends.
- Sold Tupperware in home parties after marriage as stay at home mom. (Probably still have some of it, I know my folks did and they never threw away anything.
- Managed Community Dance/bar facility, for Non Profit Organization
- Waitress (over and over from childhood, to college, to adult).
- Receptionist (Again, several different kinds of office settings in 3 states for dentist and doctors).
- Secretary Chiropractic office.
- Property Management (Passed Real Estate Agent tests in Iowa on the first try)
- Also worked at re-habbing and property maintenance for non-profits.
- Non-Profit founder for housing special need people (Project FINISH- the acronym for Furnishing Independent Needs in Special Housing.): ie. Mentally ill, homeless, judicially compromised, and those in need of a guardian. The project started with three houses ( A men’s, women’s and Co-ed house) and ended up with 104 apartments within the first year in two states.
- Advocate Counselor for Domestic Violence and Rape Sexual Assault
- Crisis Line worker covering two states.
- Advocate for the Homeless and working with housing.
- Domestic Violence Shelter Worker/counselor in Confidential Shelter
- Nurse’s aide ( at nursing homes as a 14 year old teen and adult, before doing home care before becoming a nurse)
- Nurse (hospital, office, and psychiatric facilities for adults (Davenport IA) and for children (Des Moines, IA).
- Also for 16 years I took care of last stage terminally ill patients as a part time job in addition to my full time jobs. It was such an honor to serve as one of the forerunners to hospice care before it was officially established.)
- Established the first ♪♪♫singing telegram business♫♫♪♫ in our area with a friend; We catered and planned special parties and events. Known as VIP VIP it stood for Visiting In Person, Very Important People.
- Stop Smoking Facilitator for the American Cancer Society and developed a teen smoking cessation program at my workplace at a children’s’ psychiatric facility. Of course it also meant I quit smoking after my “on and off habit” which I would quit during pregnancies and “good behavior” tee hee.
- Massage Therapist and owner of my own “Wellness Complex” business with a beauty shop, gift shop, light therapy room and a doctor who practiced Biofeedback.) Five Points Wellness Complex, Moline, IL. Happiest years of my life.
- Volunteer Coordinator for bi-state non-profit domestic violence organization training, and doing certification qualifications.
- Founder of Underground Domestic Violence Relocation Organization through the Trula Godwin Project. The project was started as a posthumous way to honor Trula who was a victim/survivor of domestic violence, rape/sexual assault, and a die hard supporter of supporting the victims until they became survivors, then victors.
- Organizer and coordinator of the national Underground Mail System for victim/survivors of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault providing nationwide connections. (Part of the Trula Godwin Project)
- Host Site Program Developer for religious nonprofit Food Program (Share Iowa) developing host sites in three states.
- Flood Recovery Organizer in 22 South East counties for the Diocese of Davenport (IA) following the 1993 Iowa floods.
- Constituent responder for Iowa State Representative (my son was elected to the Iowa House and could utilize my general knowledge and experience to serve his constituents.)
- Administrative Assistant full time for General Sales Manager over four divisions at VictoryStore.com, a diversified company with international internet sales.
- I became a “budding author” who at age 60 had decided to seek publication for novels championing victim/survivors and being their voices in a creative fiction style writing that protects their identities, those of the workers who help them, and the true locations of the events. These are real cases given a format of adventures in suspense which tell their stories and help you understand, why they leave, why they go, and why sometimes their lives change the readers lives as you “walk on the wild side” in the Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series.
- I became a freelance photo journalist and won an Editor’s Choice Award in 2009.
- Now at 72 I have had a few years of mentoring “wanna be” authors to avoid the pitfalls of unscrupulous editors, marketing schemers and those who would take advantage of the struggling writers. Advocating for victims via the Facebook connections and continuing to serve as an independent advocate available for consultation and “connections.”
- Some called me “retired” but in truth I am REFIRED and in my internet “work” on social media, I have been able to intervene in suicides, help laymen find the resources they need for a variety of needs including homelessness, abuse, medical and health care resources, and a sharing of more than 40+ years of experience as a hands on advocate.
- I continued to be a content reader (pro-bono) for many authors who are now established and “on their way. I proudly practiced the literary ethic of “paying it forward.”
It is true volumes could be written on the stories evolving from these jobs. Who knows, if time allows ( I am only 72 after all) I may have the opportunity to follow up in other modes of journalism to continue to provide the voices for those who can finally “tell” but need help coherently sharing their story.
For now, I just bask in the sweat equity of this legacy of strong work ethic left for my family.
PS Now in 2016 I am 72 1/2 and a published author of 15 novels, and have written a total of 17 books and an additional two ghost written books as well as a collection of 66 private legacy stories which I have declined to allow for publication. Who said I talk too much?
The “take away” is not how many jobs I had, nor how much work I have as part of my life’s story. The “take away” is that there is never a reason not to be contributing to life and the lives around you. Even a few hours a week or month can be used effectively if you are willing.
It is not about the degrees you have, it is about a willingness to make every minute count for something “more” and for those times when you go to bed too tired to think, and pull the cover up and settle against your pillow, and hear your own faint, un-traceable voice saying, “Well done, well done.” Those are the nights you will not lie awake and toss and turn. Those are the nights my friends, that will make you feel that if you didn’t awaken in the morning to face another day, you could certainly smile and in your own un-traceable inner voice say, “It is well with my soul.”
May Labor Day be a day you recognize the work ethic you have to thrive, and the work ethic you give that others may thrive as well.
IN CLOSING I LEAVE YOU WITH……..
I leave you with the novel I wrote that encompasses parts of my life and heritage secreted into the plot-line of the story. The rail-road picture is actually taken where you crossed the railroad tracks to reach the “wrong side of the tracks” where our family’s three rented houses stood on a dirt road that was a dead end. I lived there in the 1940’s as a child during a time that our town of Okmulgee, Ok. was still segregated and where realizing that, you would understand that the fact we rented from a black (colored) landlord, was an automatic identification in those days that we were poor and on the “wrong side of the tracks”. Our landlord was a successful, black dentist and a wonderful and kind family man, but never-the-less, in that culture and circumstance, we were labeled. This novel created a special outcome to the mystery that helped me make “something beautiful” out of that memory.
IT ALSO GAVE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO REMIND YOU THAT IT IS NOT WHERE YOU COME FROM BUT WHERE YOU TAKE YOURSELF THAT COUNTS. Like it says on the novel cover, “There is a wrong side of the tracks, a wrong side of town, wrong family, culture, religion, circumstances. MAKING IT THE STRONG SIDE IS A CHOICE.