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  • Writer's pictureDana Webster

You Name It ...

When I was a little girl I wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian. No, a police officer and a ballerina. Wait, no, a teacher. But, really, I wanted to be a professional baseball player - on the boys' team. Variously, I also dreamed of being a marine biologist, a writer, a track and field Olympian, and a professional nature-lover.

That blue door leads you downstairs. There is no upstairs.

Today I am closing in on 58 years old and I still haven't grown up into any one profession. I've worked condiments at Harvey's and made sandwiches at a neighbourhood lunch counter. I was a switch board operator. I've sold magazine subscriptions over the phone. I had a paper route. I've been a receptionist/office manager both in a corporate and creative environment. I took home free books from my Lichtmans gig. I worked in a delicatessen on Queen West before Queen West was cool. I cleaned hotel rooms in Banff, AB and was the bartender at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 213 in Blue River, BC., population 150.

(Side note: the only other bar in town burned down under suspicious circumstances sometime before I got to Blue River so everyone, not just Vets, was allowed into the Legion as long as they removed their hat upon entering. The fine for not removing your hat was a good-natured admonishment from the crowd, "Hat!!" and, I think, a dollar in the kitty or, that may have been for swearing which is another thing you cannot do in a Legion).

(Side note 2.0 - I didn't drink alcohol when I worked at the Legion and my only real experience with booze was beer and wine and G & T's in high school. So, when people started ordering fancy drinks in a shot glass where I had to stack 3 types of liquor,

Kinda like this ...

one on top of the other, I got confused and measured out each layer with one full ounce of liquor instead of the right way which was to put a TOTAL of one ounce in the shot glass. I couldn't figure out why the glass was too small to hold it all. So, duh, and much to the delight of the patrons, I simply grabbed a bigger glass. I never was good at math. Live and learn!)

The closest I've come to having a career is spiritual psychotherapy/counselling and life coaching. I mean, I went to school for those things specifically, successfully completed the programs and then I opened a practice! Nothing like where my BA in English Literature with a minor in Religious Studies took me - straight to pregnancy and full-time momming. Which I took to like a fish in water, by the way. It felt like I'd finally stumbled onto the one thing that could keep me challenged and focussed for the long term.

I've built an eclectic repertoire of one thing and another. I'd go mad if I had to do the same thing day in and day out, even if I really enjoyed it. For me, life is all about wide open possibility. Being confined, even figuratively, makes me fidgety in the extreme. It's one reason why I react so violently to hearing the word no.

But, in the very linear, benchmark-focussed society in which I grew up (and I understand still exists), this kind of touching down impermanently is not exactly encouraged nor valued. I've pretty much made my peace with that. I liken my method to that of a butterfly who alights on a wide variety of flowers of differing hues and aromas, mining the pollen gold and moving on to the next garden.

The trick, it seems to me, is to find something that incorporates all the things I like to do and am good at. Let's see -

  1. counselling and working with people

  2. genealogy research

  3. reading and writing

  4. communing with Nature

  5. being a mom

  6. sleeping

  7. banana bread and lasagne

  8. swearing

I think I'll have to sit with this list for awhile.

Why are we so focussed on doing/being one thing at a time? Most people I know are multi-faceted. If we're lucky, we will live a long and healthy life. Plenty of opportunity to be all the things we want to be. When someone asks, "What do you do?", how great would it be to be able to answer, "I am a novelist, firefighter, mom, and Canadian Pick-Up Sticks Champion three years running"?

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