"What is one piece of advice you want to give to your child?" is the question for the day.
My advice is in the form of a question, and it relates to what Sophia and Olivia do when they are older and are looking at their career choice or a particular job offer: "Is it something that you will enjoy doing?"
I remember this question being asked of me when I was posed with a good job offer when I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and had interviewed for my first "real job" in the field I was choosing to work: the arts in the non-profit sector. More specifically, I wanted to work in the development office of an arts organization.
The opportunity was excellent in terms of responsibility, challenge, and connection to something I believed in. However, the pay was dismal...at best. I didn't know what to do.
I called my Dad and explained the offer and opportunity. His response: "Is it something that you will enjoy doing?"
He said that is the feeling I needed to go with...and that ultimately enjoyment (and making a difference) was more important than the salary.
I have never regretted that decision to this day. That job opened the door to so many more experiences and opportunities in the long-term than I could have even imagined at that moment.
Each step in my career journey built upon itself until I was able to create and direct my own non-profit organization - one that was focused on giving children opportunities to learn how the arts, nature, and agriculture are connected.
For many years, I operated an art and farm camp right at the farm. It was a unique learning environment for 6-11 year children; gave pre-teens (12-14 year olds) ways to volunteer; and provided teens and adults (15 years old+) with employment opportunities as either camp counselors or artist/educators.
When children and teens were not present, I began and oversaw a restorative justice program in which teen and adult offenders could volunteer for court-mandated community service time at the farm. That meant that they had a certain number of hours they had to volunteer in lieu of time in jail.
Inherent with offering an educational program for youth, was creating lesson plans for the activities not led by the artist/educators. This was something I had not done in any prior job. It was something I learned by doing, and seeing the lessons "come to life" during the camp program. I saw what worked and built upon that.
In 2003, I made the decision to no longer do the camp program because of a shift in funding (after 9/11 funding became more difficult to secure since a lot of the organization's major funders had a significant drop in their portfolios). It was a difficult decision to make.
By this time, both Sophia and Olivia were adopted, so my focus shifted to raising both of them. Eventually, I began homeschooling and using many of the same skills that I had acquired while doing the camp program - like creating lesson plans and hands-on activities for children.
Although I didn't interview to be a homeschool educator, I still could ask myself the question: "Is it something that you will enjoy doing?"
My answer is the same one I gave when I was debating about taking my first "real" job: "Absolutely!"
It is a question that bears asking not only with jobs, but with activities that you do throughout life.