Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ode to My Glade Candle

I wrote this for my "Creative Writing" class assignment - Light a candle and write about how it makes you feel.  ~

It's early morning as I light the Glade candle on my computer desk.  It has previously burned halfway down and the flame flickers inside the milky glass, not quite reaching the top. The scent is apple cinnamon and that wonderful sweet smell suddenly transports me in my mind to a large apple orchard nearby.  How I would love to be there right now picking apples in the cool autumn air.  My favorite season!  A kaleidoscope of colors on the trees gently falling to the ground, hot apple cider and chilly nights.  Thinking of fall reminds me that I have to buy a gift for Mom's birthday in a few days.  The apple scent reminds me there's grocery shopping to be done and the sooty match is telling me there is a ton of housework waiting.  Suddenly those blissful thoughts of apple gathering are gone and reality jolts me back to the present.  So goodbye for now my lovely fruity friend, and perhaps we can meet again when the busy day is through.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Not Too Late

This post may be therapeutic in a sense as I feel I have to put some thoughts down on paper (so to speak) about disappointments in my life and trying to overcome them.  When I was a young teenager and thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life I had some big ideas as most kids do.  In the mid to late 60's a large majority of women did not go to college.  They finished high school, got married and had children, and that was a decision that many women made.  A lot of women who did work had part-time low paying jobs at the local grocery or drug stores.  But it was also the beginning of the so called "women's liberation" movement when women were exploring beyond traditional roles and finding out they could survive and thrive in corporate worlds and actually make a living doing so, becoming independent and looking at marriage as a choice and not a necessity.  I really didn't know what I wanted yet, but even at a young age I knew I didn't want to be a housewife and I admired women who had goals beyond the home and wanted a career. Continuing your education after high school was the first step to getting there.

In those mid 60's years, I started to dream about going to college.  As I always loved English and taking photos, I would daydream about what it would be like to be a photojournalist.  I loved looking through Life magazine and thinking how great it would be to travel the world reporting and bringing the news to life with pictures.  Things were a little different back then and student loans really weren't something that was available.  Most kids who went to college worked part-time jobs while their parents paid the majority of the bills because they had saved up for years so their kids would be the first in their family to get a degree.  Many parents re-mortgaged their homes in order to obtain college money for their kids.  My step-dad would never, never, ever approve any loans being taken out in my parents' names or mine.  I was told there was no college money for me and since my older sister had taken some secretarial classes in school, Mom advised me to go that path also as I could get a respectable job with those skills and if I wanted to take some college courses later I could pay for them myself.

So I took what was called the "secretarial course" in high school which included typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, key-punch operating and very little math, no language or science and a very limited choice of electives.  In hind-sight, this was a really bad path to take as far as getting a decent education as all I really learned was how to do manual labor in a sense.  However, I actually did enjoy my secretarial classes and even got to take the civil service exam in the high school cafeteria and got a fairly high score on it.  When I graduated I got a letter from from the Federal Government to come in for an interview and at that time wasn't at all sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to work but Mom told me I had to make a decision so I went for the interview and, as they say, the rest is history.  I started my job with the Federal Government in September 1970 at the tender age of 17 as a clerk/stenographer and proceeded on a 40-year career for which I am very grateful.  So, the deficient secretarial course got me in the door of the Federal Government and from there it was up to me to decide how ambitious I wanted to be.  With all the opportunities for training that the government offers for a wide variety of jobs it is really one's ambition or lack thereof that determines how far one can go.  After spending 12 years as a secretary, I branched out to being a claims examiner, a job which I really enjoyed, and after 40 years was able to retire happily in 2010 at the age of 58 with an annuity I can live on and have enough money to travel and pursue my hobbies.  Not bad. 

So you'd think that my "sadly lacking education" should be long forgotten, however, it is such a part of me that it's hard to forget.  In my early 20's and not long out of high school, I decided to read a lot of the "classic" novels like the Ernest Hemingways and John Steinbecks and Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald and after that Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton novels and mysteries and spy novels about World War II and the Cold War and on and on.  Since I had never even studied World History in school, these novels amazed me with their wealth of information about things way beyond my little scope of knowledge.  (Who could not love A Farewell to Arms or For Whom the Bell Tolls or East of Eden?)  I have always been an avid reader which is what keeps my interest in learning going.  I started learning things that I had not learned in school through reading and educating myself.  I've even learned how an autopsy is performed, thanks to Patricia Cornwell (although math still lags way behind, LOL).

During my early working years, I had a feeling a low self esteem which had persisted since high school.  However, as I spent more time around fellow workers, I realized I really was not a "dummy."  A little encouragement from different people in both my work and personal life helped move me along to having a much better opinion of myself and what I thought I could accomplish.  In those 40+ years since high school, what I have accomplished is "self-education" through reading, continuing education courses and just life in general.  Somewhere along the road, I could have decided to go to college and pursue that dream of a degree (and I much admire people who do this while holding down a full-time job) but life got in the way and it didn't happen.

My little blog has become my place to journal and post photos so I am finally fulfilling my teenage dream.  Perhaps in a much smaller way than what could have been but at this point in my life, it's something that makes me happy.  I am learning all I can about photography and plan on taking continuing education courses to help me become a better writer.  If I had not taken the lousy secretarial course I would not have gotten my government job.  If I had not gotten my government job and remained there for 40 years, I most likely would not have been able to retire at the young age that I did (as far as retirements go) and be able to do what I am doing now.  As far as some great moral of the story, I really don't know what that would be except that you have to do for yourself, no one else is going to do it for you.  If there is something that you want, you have try to go for it.  If you want to "have it all" then that is what you should do.

I never had "it all" but I do feel what I have had has been pretty good and hopefully will keep on being that way.   I gave up my dream of going to college but not about my own continuing education - I never want to stop learning.