Career choices

This journal entry was addressed to my sons.

I hope I’ve done little enough sermonizing that they will be able to read or listen to this with interest.

I woke this morning thinking about the career choosing or phase of transition that each of you is in.  Different stages, but the same process.  It’s a process that continues for life, albeit with different permutations and ranges of choice.  Perhaps you’d enjoy or maybe just benefit from knowing some of the pivotal points in my process of finding a life work.

In the fall of 1976, I was 20 years old and a sophomore at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I’d gone there to learn how to think and talk.  I kinda expected to go into education, because life somehow seemed to be about change (cf: Jefferson Airplane, Kushingura) and learning caused change in people’s behavior.  But I wasn’t sure about education.  Partly it was just where my grandparents and parents had worked.  I knew that St. John’s was waaay too intense a place to make decisions about my future, especially with regard to continuing there.  I’d intended to leave at the end of that school year, not knowing whether I would return.

Some experiences over the summer had awakened my brain to the joy of play and moving my body.  I’d always been somewhat active, but in Jr. High had turned away from sport because I didn’t identify with the jock image.  I’d seen myself as incompetent in that arena and not inclined.  That fall, while making a good move in a soccer practice, I realized that I was a decent athlete and I did love it.  I thought over how I’d not excluded athletics from my life, just channeled myself into non-traditional areas, such as cycling, folk dance and soccer.

I held these realizations and pondered them in my heart.

The following spring at meeting in Santa Fe, Erica, a little girl of about two sat on her mother’s lap.  They may have been playing peek a boo.  Her entire vocal ministry was, “Hi!,” repeated several times.  I was moved by the presence of God, a feeling that I’d known in the previous years, but had missed for several months.  Jane said Psalm 100:

 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
….    Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. ….
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

I spoke about how good it was to come into God’s presence after a long time away and that I felt the way to celebrate it was by saying, “Hi.”

From that point, I knew I was to work on a ministry, a career in helping people come into God’s presence with joy and thanksgiving–to find the Lord with celebration.  My particular role might be to open the door of physical activity for those, like me who’d been turned off by the jock image.

I moved toward physical education rather than recreation, because the recreation discipline didn’t need to be changed.  The New Games and folk dancing that I had found as innovations were already tools of their trade.  I wanted to change physical education.  I’ve not been working alone.  Many other professionals in my vocation are working to expand our activity base, change our image and the cultural expectations and open our own attitudes.

My ministry of opening the doors of activity to nerds has slowly been modified to include more people who might shy away or be turned away from sport: those with disabilities, inabilities, other abilities or any hesitancy.  All deserve the joy of participation.

My specialty in movement and disability came because others thought I was good at doing the work.  The Movement Studies in Disability faculty at OSU offered me a generous scholarship, then saved the grant for me for months while I pursued another option.  One mother of a student I had mentioned that she was glad I was doing this work as I had a gift for it.

I also simply enjoy my students and clients.  Their interest, determination and small triumphs are fun for me to be around.

My life choices continue to evolve.  So do the openings and inklings that reveal them.  Retirement may send me to work in a related field.  If you’d like, I’ll keep you posted.  Feel free to ask me as I continue.