What are you going to be?

When I fist moved to Cambridge, I took a number of temporary jobs just to have some income. One of the more challenging was substitute teaching. At that time, in NY state, you didn’t need to be certified or even have a teaching background, you just needed a bachelor’s degree to substitute teach. We were required to fill out forms that asked which schools, grades and classes we were available for, and having never done it before, I checked every category from boys high school physical education to kindergarten. Back in my own high school days, I thought that I might want to be an art teacher and I’m very grateful that I didn’t pursue that path. I found out quickly that public school teaching was not my calling. What I really wanted to do with the kids was play, draw, color, nap and let them go a little too wild!

I really had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up”, and that dreadful question was asked on a pretty regular basis, always with the intimation that I should somehow know the answer (which could be found on a piece of paper containing boxes to be checked; teacher, nurse, doctor, engineer….). “Have fun, laugh, play and day-dream were not on the list. We were supposed to pick a career path and stay on it until we retired with a pension and benefits.

The questions, “What do you love doing?”, “If you could just sit and think about an ideal day, what would that feel like?”, “Have you ever considered that who you are, and the mission that you came here to fill, will be revealed and may change?”…these were not the ideas that were presented to many of us, and that is just the way it was, but what about now? Why not ask ourselves these questions now? Why not broaden the meaning of “career” to cover who we want to be as people sharing this very short life experience with billions of others, all trying to find our individual ways.

What do I want to be? I want to be an open-hearted, loving woman. Ready every day to be delighted and surprised by the wonder of this life. I want to be kind and fun and warm and focused. I think that is a good start.

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” Harry S. Truman

(I think that this advise is equally applicable to us adults!)

One of my favorite songs by the Beatles (I’m only sleeping) is below

21 thoughts on “What are you going to be?

  1. Well Mary, I would say that you have succeeded beautifully! You are kind, warm, focused, open-hearted and have all of the other wonderful qualities you hoped to have acquired. And, you go on to share them with us on a daily basis

    I loved the quote for children! I’m going to make that my mantra with my now grown children as well as with my grandchildren. Most of us spend too much time trying to meet expectations set by others even though they are just not right for us.

    And as for what do I want to be when I grow up? I figure I’m still working on that and love having retirement time to explore more possibilities.

    Thank you as always,
    Love from Fran

  2. Thank you, Mary! I went all the way through college not knowing what I wanted to do or whom I wanted to become. I was so busy trying to please others and do what I felt people expected, that I didn’t stop to figure out what I really wanted. I’ve done the substitute teaching too – Lol! So much time and water under the bridge, but at 52 years of age, I am realizing my potential as an artist and surprising people who have known me. I am happy now, not frustrated and feeling like I’m missing my life’s calling:-) It’s like I woke up from a long nap and refreshed, started the business of MY life. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Good Morning Mary, i have worn many hats over the years and i truly believe they were all leading me to what i do today which is my artwork and facilitating art classes for the elderly and disabled adults. Although i dislike that classification because most of the “disabled” adults i work with humble and amaze me each time with their creativity.

  4. Back awhile, during my working days, I attended a leadership program where we were asked to answer one of these two questions: What would you like to have people say about you at your 90th birthday party or if you could write your own eulogy what would it say? Because in order for ‘it’ to be said, you
    gotta start living it/being it now. It was intended to help us think about what kind of leaders we wanted to be and the impact of our actions on others. But for me, the context didn’t really matter. I feel the same way now that I felt back then. I chose the 90th birthday scenario! “She loves life and life loves her back! We know how much she loves us and she knows how much we love her back.” For me it has always been about the heart…and that the people in my life know how much I care about them and how much they mean to me. Beyond that, like Fran, I am still working on it!

  5. WOW!!!!!!!!!!! I’m getting all kinds of messages from the universe today……!!!!
    I’ve been grappling with what do I want to do next with my life (I taught literacy until 2 years ago, and then quit to look after health issues and some emotional ones) and have emerged better but kinda just floating around thinking, ‘What now?’
    Finding your blog in my e-box this morning has helped bring it to the surface again so I can dig around for some answers.
    Good morning, btw! Hope your day is full of wonderful!

  6. I love this post! It put me on flashback to my 30 year career as a high school teacher of literature and writing. Yes, I stayed the course, sometimes with regrets but more satisfaction in my students and our experiences together. “A teacher is always teaching what she/he needs to learn most”.

    And, to answer your question, “What do you love doing?” – I love doing what I am doing now – writing- and reading: your Blog & Jon’s Blog. Reading all the books Connie Brooks suggests at the Battenkill Book Club. Books I never had the time to read while I was a full time teacher and mother of 2 very bright active children.

    As to your second question, all I have to do to envision an ideal day is to look around me. I type this at my little, white kitchen table in my big country kitchen with Maria’s potholders on the walls. I live in a communtiy I love with fun, warm, open-hearted people like you and Nancy and Becky and the Imhofs. I couldn’t be happier and I am so grateful. Mary Rita Scott

  7. I’m hearing another song in my head today Mary – your posts often do that to me! DIana Ross singing “Do you know where you’re going to” from Mahogony. That wistful melody, the same question over and over. . Where are you going to? Do we like the things that life is showing you? – - Maybe asking what we are going to be puts us far into a future that may or may not materialize. It’s living this very day and being who we want to be now, all those lovely attributes you mentioned that are so worth cultivating and showing to others, – kindness, open heartedness, caring, – all the rest will take care of itself. I’m a bit scattered today what with all the carpet upheaval of yesterday. But looks like they’re coming back on Friday with the correct carpet this time. In the meantime, I’m taking these two days as a reprieve from the usual household chores – a beautiful happy April day to all.

  8. Mary, you have more than met your own criteria for what you want to “be” and you have done it so well, as all of the WFF flock can attest to. You bring out the best in each of us every day, posting statements that make us dig down deep into ourselves to find what’s true to us.

    Now that I’m retired, I want to live each day in gratitude that I am now free to take the time to pursue whatever catches my interest…whatever fills me with awe…whatever leads me to being a better person, even if it’s just the inclination to track down some good chocolate or take a nap.

    I have been grist for the mill (as Ram Dass wrote) long enough that I finally realize that everything is a blessing.

  9. Precisely the words I needed to read this morning as I make travel arrangements for our youngest daughter’s graduation from University next month. With a degree and no clear inspiration as to what path will capture her creative spirit (beyond spending a year or two living in Australia) I almost allowed myself to be concerned about her future. This morning’s post put that needless worry energy firmly away.
    She IS kind, fun, warm, and focused so I think she is in great company!!

  10. My Next Life
    (attributed to Woody Allen)

    In my next life I want to live backwards.
    You start out dead and get that out of the way.
    Then you wake up in an old people’s home feeling better every day.You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day.
    You work for 40 years until you’re young enough to enjoy retirement.
    You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school.
    You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities.
    You become a baby until you are born.
    And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then, VOILA!
    You finish off as an orgasm!
    I rest my case.

    Smiles too all….

  11. Cheryl B……You have just given me my game plan for the next time around!
    My day is brighter, already. :)

  12. A very insightful post, Mary. I wrote something similar about this in my new upcoming book. I wondered many the questions you asked in your post and wish we could pose these to highschool students instead of so many insisting they go to college when they are not even sure of what they want to be yet. And to somehow instill in our younger generation that even if they don’t know what they want to be yet, that you are not a failure if you try different things.
    I will never forget years ago my life coach telling me I was not a failure, but an explorer. What a difference that made in my thinking!
    My life coach helped me to answer some of those questions you posed in your post… which led me to writing which led to “Joyful Paws” which is what my website is called. I love it because it represents how I “paused” for a time in my life to think about and discover what it is that brings me joy and much of my joy comes from being with, and what I’ve learned from, animals– hence, play on words with Joyful Paws.

  13. I’m just so shocked. “I’m Only Sleeping” is my absolute favorite Beatles Song! I never heard of it being anyone elses. I love to sing along with it always.(loudly and off key) So sweet! I guess it’s just another one of life’s threads bringing us all together.

  14. What a wonderful post and a welcome one to give one permission to wonder what one has to offer to the world in terms of happiness and service. And then possibly act on it. I have been trying to find my happiness and job and have it be the compatible. I think it is getting close. Thanks for a thought provoking post. It was a great conversation starter at work tonight!

  15. I have had this very thought in the last few days and have been asking myself in the morning, if I could do anything today, what would it look like? I would do yoga, have a leisurely breakfast with my kitty, take a walk and dance through the day. I try to infuse this energy into my existing days, but admittedly it is a challenge. I want to share my time with people in meaningful ways, in ways that I am not doing now. Sometimes I vision living in supportive community where a “job” or
    money is not so important for survival, but cooperation is. I vision this as a life of greater ease, mutual respect, joy and oneness with the Earth and each other. And Mary, you certainly are what you want to be. :)

  16. All good thoughts! “I finally realize that everything is a blessing”–right Suzanne, after all that grist is consumed! Even the bad things teach us & when we get our bearings hopefully we can see that. Someone told me once that life is like a rug, and we’re beneath it, seeing the knots and bumps and wrinkles, but when we pass over, we can see the top of the rug and say “AhHA!–that’s what it was all about!” The pattern of our interactions teaches us perseverence, courage, patience, et al. which we sometimes see decades later. (Some say, lifetimes later…)

    Of course certain events, like my diabetes diagnosis, can be overwhelming, but with support and time, even that (or similar challenges) can have an upside. And when I think of it, I’m so lucky to have made it 6 years into retirement, and hopefully a few decades more to see what I can discover about me & the world!

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