Monday, March 16, 2009

Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

One of my favorite sources for inspiration is the Sierra Club's Daily Ray of Hope email, which led me to the Nelson Mandela quote which inspired this blog, and the Japanese proverb that titles this entry.

Today's quote reminds me about my life in general. I am not quite sure how many projects and careers I have started in my life, all of which have been exciting, interesting, challenging. But they have all either lost their charm or petered out or actually failed. So is math teaching what will keep me on my feet?

My first major career desire was in advanced physics, but I now think I should have become an engineer, like most of the men in my family, back to my grandfathers and up to my son. I think I had two reasons, besides loving physics and math in high school: I wanted to "show" my father that I could do something more esoteric than he did (even though all my genes and inspiration for math and science came from him!) and women just didn't become engineers back then, at least none that I knew. But I got hung up on the theoretical math, and my secondary interest in languages took over, so I switched to German, and did graduate work in linguistics, which at least is a logical science. I remember at the time thinking that majoring in German was just learning a language, but I was cutting myself off from a career I was passionate about.

So my next goal was a university career in linguistics, but during my studies I spent a year in Denmark, married a Dane, brought him back for 3 years to finish my degree, had a child, and then moved to Denmark. Then it became impossible to work with my advisors, so I ended up doing a Danish MA and became a high school teacher in English and German. After about 3 years I became bored, because this was not at all my passion. Linguistics was, science was, and the environment then became my passion.

I left teaching, except for subbing to pay the bills, and tried getting a job in business, which was not as successful as I had hoped. So I started an environmentally-friendly diaper service, which was popular among my customers, but never turned a profit.

Then I studied things like environmental management and graphic design, mostly subsidized by the Danish welfare system, which was convenient. But never found a really appropriate job with that either.

In 2000 I moved back to the States, to California (that's another story!) and ended up a technical writer, which I worked at for about 7 years, until it just petered out last year.

So this time I'm back with one of my passions, math, and hope that I can stay standing up this time!

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