What was I born to do?

First, a bit of a refresher from my last post.  I'm looking for the career of my dreams which gives me joy, money and flow in working conditions that I love.  

Let's test some things out under this matrix.

Law Librarian:

Joy - there are parts of being a Law Librarian that I love.  I love helping people one on one and really connecting with them.  I also love being part of a learned profession which uses the education that I have.  

Money - This is the only career that thus far I've been able to make a successful living in.  

Flow - I sometimes feel academic flow - like, my education has led me to be good at legal research. 

Working Conditions - I hate the working conditions of being a law librarian.  I hate going to an office every day and springing into action when someone needs me.  I hate not being able to work from home and I hate not being able to chaperone my daughter's field trips.  I hate hate hate commuting, and I don't like eating lunch out every day (and, yes, I've thought of packing my lunch, but that really never happens.)  

Spin Instructor:

Joy: I love being a spin instructor.  I love making playlists before my classes and being in front of the room motivating my group.  I love exercising and getting paid for it.  I love connecting with my students in groups and individually.  

Money: I make about $4,000 per year being a spin instructor.  It definitely won't support the expensive Bay Area life, but it's a nice little extra bit.  I also get access to the health club I teach at for free.  I should take advantage of this more.  

Flow: Complete flow.  I lose all sense of time when I'm planning a playlist and when I'm teaching in front of a class.  

Working Conditions - Health clubs are kind of weird places with people sweating, and somewhat odd people as authority figures.  But, for the few hours a week that I am there, I don't mind the oddities.  

Helping people in crisis / transition

Joy:  I love helping people in crisis.  I can point to many instances of this over the past 20+ years.  

  • Helping domestic violence victims escape their violent homes
  • Visiting women in prison who killed their abusers
  • Working as a doula helping women give birth
  • One day, while on a walk with Scott and Star, we saw a woman on a bike come down the hill.  She swerved to avoid hitting a squirrel.  She fell and was injured.  I stayed with her and supported her until the paramedics arrived.  She and her family have since become friends of ours.  
  • A similar situation to the one above.  After work one day, I was walking to bart in downtown San Francisco, and saw a man on his bike fall off and start having seizures.  I stayed with him, and directed people in the crowd to call 911 and move his bike.  I let him use my coat as a pillow and wiped sweat from his head.  I was his support person until emergency personnel arrived.  
  • Last week, I witnessed another accident and was able to help.  A woman in a car hit a woman on a motorcycle.  I supported the woman who was hit until the paramedics arrived. 
  • In August, I started as a volunteer for the Crisis Text Line.  For at least 4 hours per week, I support people going through crises.  These crises include: homework stress, eating disorders, election grief, suicide, self-harm and more.  

Money:  I have never made any money doing this kind of work.  

Flow:  I am completely in flow when I help people in crisis/trauma.  I feel competent, steady and useful.  

Working Conditions:  My "working conditions" have been quite varied and I've never minded any of them.  


Joy:  I love creating things.  I am a maker at heart.  Currently, I'm obsessed with quilting, but in the past, I've become enamored with jewelry making, knitting, crochet, sewing clothes, mosaics, and making jewelry.  I love working with colors and textures.  I love subverting the consumer culture.  

Money:  I've never made money through my crafting.  Recently, I was talking to a local kids' store owner and she said that she would be interested in selling my things.  So, I made a baby quilt for her store to sell.  She loved it and offered to sell it at $60.  Honestly, this felt insulting to me.  With the hours of work and the cost of materials, $60 barely would cover my costs and my time.  I asked her to price it at $150 which she happily did, but it's been in the store for over a month now and hasn't sold.    

Flow:  From envisioning my designs to picking my materials to doing the actual crafting, I am in complete flow when working on my craft projects.  

Working Conditions: I love working quietly at home in my craft area that my husband carved out for me in our living room.  

Working with moms

Joy:  I love working with and being with moms.  These are "my people".  I understand moms and feel like we speak the same language.  

Money:  I started a little company called KinderCycle.  It didn't make much money, but I enjoyed helping families getting rid of stuff they were done with and letting them get stuff they want.  

Flow:  I could spend most of my time just with moms.  Not the kids; just the moms.  

Working Conditions:  Not really applicable here.  

I'm not sure where this all leads me, but it was interesting to go through this approach.  

jennifer pesetsky