Tag Archives: careers

When I grow up I want to be a… Dreamer?

When I was a kid I wanted to be an archeologist…

I spent about ten hours over two days this past weekend shoveling, raking and roto-tilling the area where our garden will be. I could barely move Sunday evening. This will be the second year we have had our garden in this area, but we expanded it by about 1/3 this year and we are working on putting up decent fencing that will keep the goats out. It’s now about 15’ wide x 35’ long, not a huge space, but enough for us to grow some fresh food.

We live on an old property. Our house was built sometime around 1890. Our three small barns are newer but I’m guessing were built in maybe the 1940’s or 1950’s. There has been A LOT of people that have lived on this property and I have learned, in the twenty years that we have been here, that if you dig a hole, you will inevitably find something.

We’ve never discovered anything valuable or terribly noteworthy. It’s usually just pieces of rusty metal, nails and small pieces of farm equipment, but we are always joking about finding “artifacts.” There are, seemingly, pieces of pottery and porcelain all over the place, buried a few inches under the ground, hidden history of the one hundred plus years of home owners that came before us. For awhile I was collecting small pieces of what seemed to be a brown pottery bowl, thinking I could glue it all back together, but eventually gave up.

This is what I found while digging around in our garden this year:

archeology

My imagination runs wild when I find something, so I think we’ve obviously either uncovered an old civil war camp or the site of an alien spaceship landing… or maybe just a place where previous residents used to throw some trash. Yes, that is Naughty’s (one of our goats) name tag you see there in the center, probably lost within the last few weeks. When I looked down and saw that shiny circle, about 1/3 of it peeking out from underneath the freshly tilled soil, I thought “this is it, I’ve finally found the Holy Grail, a valuable 19th century coin!”

Alas, just Naughty’s name tag… oh well, maybe next time.

What is it about boys and digging up stuff? Yes, even at 45 years old, give me a shovel and let me dig a hole and in my mind there is sure to be buried treasure if I dig deep enough.  In fifth grade, a friend of mine lived in a very old house, much older than mine, near Smithtown, Long Island, New York, where I grew up. It was a sprawling 18th century home, sitting up on a small bluff next to a marsh of the Long Island Sound.  Deep in the woods on their property they had discovered an old trash burial site where we would go dig up cool old things, mostly chunks of glass and pottery and rusted metal that was unidentifiable as to its purpose in a previous life. We never found anything terribly noteworthy then either, but I do remember one day digging up an old rusty can labeled “tooth powder” and figured that was what people used to brush their teeth with back in the day.

I never became an archeologist…

Like most people, there were lots of things I wanted to be as a kid that I never pursued.  When I was in elementary school I wanted to draw cartoons for the newspaper. My claim to fame, as a cartoonist, was a six frame cartoon that in the first frame showed a house with a Garage Sale sign in front.  I don’t remember all the details, but as the frames progressed, a Giant shows up to the sale, apparently does some intense negotiating and ends up carrying away the actual garage.

Get it… garage sale? Hilarious!

So I never became a cartoonist either…

After that, for a period of time, I wanted to be a Writer. I didn’t really know anything about writing and I rarely wrote, but my grandmother, who wrote poetry and, over the years, columns for local newspapers and magazines, put that thought in my mind so I went with it. I never really wrote anything consistently until I started The Brown Road Chronicles, but now it’s become a pretty regular part of my day to day life so perhaps I shouldn’t cross this one off the list yet.

When I was in high school I wanted to be a Park Ranger.  In my high school yearbook I was voted something like “most likely to go off into the woods and live like a hermit” or maybe it was “most likely to become a Park Ranger.” Or maybe it was some combination of the two. I can’t remember the exact quote and I don’t know where my yearbook is to look it up.

But I never became a Park Ranger… or a hermit…

The list goes on and on. I never became a Professional Cellist or a Ford Fashion Model or a Graphic Artist or a Custom Furniture Maker or an Antiques Dealer either and I can say, to this day, I still really haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Professional writer, homesteader, goat farmer is probably the latest on the list…

Kids have that amazing ability to dream about wanting to pursue “careers” that seem unique and glamorous and fun. Then we become adults and realize that the odds aren’t very good to make a living as musicians or artists or authors… or archeologists… or homesteader, goat farmers. There’s a limited number of “slots” for every career and some of us have to fill the other slots and sometimes those slots aren’t as interesting or glamorous or fun.

But the point is to never stop dreaming about it whether those dreams are realistic or totally unobtainable.  Because if you stop dreaming, you stop living and of all the things I’ve taught my children, some good, some not so good, some still to come… the one thing I hope I’ll be most proud of when I send them off, wings spread, into the world of adult hood…  is that they’ll be dreamers too.

Now,  I think I’ll go dig a hole. I’m sure that coin is out there somewhere.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

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Stories with Mr. Steve

This is a new children’s vlog series I am developing, kind of a Mr. Rogers type character, where “Mr. Steve” reads stories to kids. I thought I could promote some of my kids writing this way.  This first episode focuses on my classic story about careers; Daddy Daddy What Do You Do? which I wrote back in April. Please let me know what you think.

You can read Mommy Mommy here.

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Mr. Mom

I have not worked since November 3rd, 2011. To give any new readers a little background, the family business where I had worked the past eighteen years was sold and I chose to move on to a new opportunity that starts… well… now. But I have been off for about two months, and during those two months I have acted as a “Mr. Mom”, or a “stay-at-home Dad”, or whatever other term people choose to call it. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not sure I would have survived being home with the kids when they were toddlers.  I read stories about stay-at-home parents on a daily basis via several of my blog subscriptions and it is a much different situation than being home with a pre-teen and a teenager who are in school part of the day. But I have enjoyed every last-minute of these two months.

I have been happier than I have been in a long time. My stress levels have returned back to what I would consider normal. I sleep better and I have had a brief opportunity to pursue some creative outlets.  I have had time to breathe and think and philosophize and reflect. More importantly, I have connected with my kids in ways that I had not had the opportunity to at any other time in their lives. My wife has been working full-time while she has a staff member on leave and I have temporarily become the primary care-giver in many ways, cooking them meals, driving them to and from school and their myriad activities, being home with them during the holiday breaks and basically seeing a part of their lives that occurs during “normal working hours” that I, for the most part, had never really seen.  We have sat together in coffee shops and Subway restaurants and other places and had conversations about school and life and family and friends.  I have experienced what it is like to be a family that is more than just four people indiscriminately passing each other on the way to wherever we all need to be next.  Unfortunately, while I have reconnected, my wife has admitted to feeling somewhat disconnected from them. I guess that is the ebb and flow of life in a two parent household.

If I could do this forever, I would, but financially, although we could continue to survive for a while longer, it is not realistic to do so.  So, I move onto the next chapter. I will be self-employed and will keep a home office but will also be on the road for a portion of time.  I mourn the loss of this freedom but understand that the challenge is to find a balance between a rewarding home-life and a consistent work schedule. I don’t know if I have that capability and I worry about which direction the scales will tip.

On the other hand, I will always remember these days, so relaxed and peaceful and contemplative… an opportunity I may not have again for a long time.

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