Do you like my new template? I know it was knitting-themed for awhile and I apologize. I loved the look and feel of the knitting template and it took me quite a while to make it not knitting. Oh the trials of working behind a firewall…
So a few fun things going on right now. Last week, caught in a bit of career confusion, I put a request into the Universe for some signs. Make it clear, I said, and I will do as I should. It’s just that I’ve got these four options I’ve been working with for a year now, and I’m not sure which one is the right path. None of them would steer me wrong, but I’d like to invest my energy into something that I will love for a lifetime. Or at least the next decade.
I started a scoreboard. I informed the Universe that the first path to score 3 positive points would be the one to follow. If a path scored 3 negative points, it was disqualified. And the signs started rolling in.
The most fun part of this sort of undertaking is trying to decide what, exactly, is a sign. Because you could pretty much read into anything if you try hard enough. (I swear that the soymilk in my tea poured in the shape of a white dove — that means peace, right? So I’m supposed to be a peace activist!) But I figured I’d stick to big signs. The undeniable ones.
I should also say at this point that it has become VERY clear to me that I cannot, will not and shall not work in an office of any type, kind, or flavor. Period. No fluorescent lights, no recycled air, no 9 hour work days while the rare Northwest sun is shining. No sensible shoes, no corporate policy. Ideally, I’d like to work for myself. Run my own show. I’m good at it. Just read the results of my career survey in the previous entry.
So the four paths down which I could skip at this point in time are as follows:
1. Piano Tuning. Last winter I bought a piano and hired this kid to tune it. When he came to work on it, I started talking to him about tuning. I’ve always been fascinated by piano tuners, and it seems to be one of those professions surrounded by a cloud of mystery and awe. He had a little wooden tool box. He was there an hour and I paid him almost $100. I was wondering what he did that was so darn special.
So I started studying piano tuning. What a perfect job, right? Make your own hours, don’t have to deal with anybody, play with an instrument, tinker, collect tools. Make $100 an hour. And it turns out there’s not that much to it. I bought all the tools and opened up my piano and started turning pins. It’s a little tedious, but I’m sure once you’re good at it there’s a Zen-like rhythm to it.
I learn better in a classroom environment than from books, so although the manuals were well-designed and I had illustrated guides, I started looking around for piano technician schools. There’s not many. Piano tech is still kind of an “apprenticeship” type trade. But the best school in the country, with this truly comprehensive program, is in Boston. That’s right, the city I moved 3,000 miles from. (-1)
I toyed with some ideas about how I would do school. It’s a fulltime day program, which means either not working while doing the $15,000 program for a year and a half — or waiting tables (-2). Oh, and relocating across the country. Oh, and paying Boston rents again (-3). Oh, and, no.
2. Freelance Writing. This one should be pretty self-explanatory. I started reading about freelancing, and how it’s actually done, because I don’t remember what I learned in college. Thank god for my $120,000 education. I bought some books, several of which were inspiring, and saw that it was absolutely doable. It was flexible. It was something I loved. But I kept coming back to the fact that whenever I am “forced” to write, I get anxious, neurotic, paranoid and blocked. I thought about having to live like that every day of my life (-1). And then also it takes a year sometimes to get paid for an article (-2). And I would have to interview people I don’t know. Regularly (-3).
3. Animal Welfare. This topic is a given, and one I have been engaged in since I was about five years old and discovered that my bunny was winning blue ribbons at the Durham Fair not because he was pretty, but because he was potentially good eatin’. I’ve been volunteering at PAWS for a year and a half, and it has often been the highlight of my week. I’m getting involved outside of PAWS, in a few different arenas, and learning how to live a compassionate lifestyle. Even if this passion of mine never developed into a paid, self-supporting position, I will be involved with it for the rest of my life to some degree. I have started a website, which is not live yet, and I would at least like to spend some time on that. I’ve been doing letter-writing campaigns for spay & neuter laws and anti-fur laws. I’d like to take on the puppy mills. This would be fulfilling work for me. The only problem is that it doesn’t often pay. Money, I mean.
Still, the first positive sign came disguised in the form of two customers on Sunday. I converted both of them to our way of thinking purely by giving them the information they were lacking in a compassionate way that didn’t offend them or put them on the defensive. That can be a very difficult thing to do. People are often quite attached to their beliefs, whether they’re based on accurate information or not. The trick is to inform them without tripping their ego sensor and causing the steel door to slam down in your face.
They were very difficult customers and two very heated topics — indoor/outdoor and declawing. After overhearing the consultations, the toughie shelter manager came over and said, “Wow. That was amazing. You are a natural at this. Good job. That was simply fantastic.” I was glowing afterwards and felt really good about the communication with these people. They left feeling listened to and taken care of, informed, and grateful. They felt like they had options they didn’t have before. I gave them a new way to think about the issues at hand. I wanted to do that every day of my life. (+1)
Enter sign #2. I get an email from the volunteer coordinator saying that there is a paid, seasonal position opening up at Cat City. She said it is a good opportunity for someone who is interested in working at PAWS (and getting paid) to get their foot in the door. Not only do I find the training exciting, it’s free and doesn’t require time off from work. And this particular shift is temporary, so I could test the waters, and it’s Fridays and Saturdays, so I could work a little bit of a flex schedule at my office job and totally pull it off, bringing in some extra summer money, too. (+2) The final sign will be whether or not I get the job, right?
4. Massage Therapy. The final path. One I have been dancing about on for several years. Last year around this time I started looking at schools in the area. I attended an open house at Brian Utting School and fell in love with the place. I took an introductory course there, and left knowing that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I let my guard down and allowed my parents to convince me otherwise. They basically said it was a foolish idea, a ridiculous profession, and taking time off to go to school would be a year of “lost income”. I couldn’t afford it right then anyway, so I shelved the idea.
Then last week, in light of my Quest for Career Truth, I became determined to look into it again. I became convinced that I would never have the money, or the time, and I needed to do it anyway. I felt like if I barreled my way in, the details would sort themselves out. (Jump, and a net will appear.) So I left work Friday and went to the Brian Utting School to pick up an application.
The admissions advisor gave me some bad news. The space I had fallen in love with, an enormous room of hardwood floors, natural light, and Chinese lanterns, was being sold, and the school was relocating to Bellevue. Which is too far away for me to commute to every day. My heart sank. I took the application packet and went to a dark corner to sulk. I felt like I had finally run onto the right path with flying colors, only to get hit by a bus. (-1)
But. Not one to be knocked down, I went online and researched what other options were available here. The respectiable Brenneke School of Massage happens to be less than a mile to my house, and less than a mile to my work. On Friday night, I filled out an online request for a course catalog. On Monday morning, a woman from admissions called to tell me that day just happened to be their open house and could I attend cause she’d love to talk to me? (+1)
I went. The first person to talk to the group was a graduate who, six months after finishing the program, was supporting herself full-time with her own massage practice in downtown Seattle. She was a corporate ladder-climber who was working 60 hours a week while doing the massage therapy program at Brenneke. She said it was doable. I looked at the course catalog, and they have a new session they will begin implementing in the fall. It’s for full-time professionals, those of us who can’t afford to take a year and a half off from work and pay for school, too. Reading the description and requirements, I knew I could fit it into my schedule if I was dedicated. (+2)
I talked to the admissions person some more, and she gave me a tour. It felt like a good space. Not as Zen and organic as Brian Utting, but suitable. Everyone was warm and friendly. Their philosophy is spot-on. And get this. Once you complete their program, you can also take the certification in Small Animal Massage, Equine Massage, and Canine Hydrotherapy. That’s right. The Universe laughed out loud. Can’t decide? Shizam! (+3) I sent them my deposit. Classes start in September.