Since my mom has always been passionate about her jobs and her hobbies, it’s fitting that she agreed to write a post for my blog’s hobbies and habits series.
When I think of my parents, I see the theater, the symphony, and their love of art from modern to tribal. (There’s a six foot-tall giraffe in my parents’ entryway and scary masks in the family room). I see their many excursions, trips you’d never find me on like observing the polar bear migration in Manitoba. I also think of the many greyhounds they’ve saved. And then there’s the activities they each pursue alone, too many to list here.
Instead of having my mom discuss her many hobbies, however, I asked her to address the issue of knowing what you want to “be when you grow up.” I know parents who want something in addition to raising their kids, or people who want a career change, but won’t make a move unless the PERFECT thing comes along. My mom is an excellent example of not waiting for the exact right moment or the ideal opportunity. Her story is about creating opportunity and making the best of the skills you already have as you feel your way to the next venture. If you’re feeling the need for a change, I hope she’ll inspire you.
What do I Want to be When I Grow up?
by Kathy Sackheim
I used to say I’d be a spy when I grew up. I even majored in Spanish and minored in Russian at Northwestern with that idea in mind. Getting married at twenty, however, and having my first child at twenty-three put a damper on the spy plan. It was clear by then I was not going to have an all-encompassing career, but because my parents had hobbies they were passionate about (my mother was an artist, and my father played the classical clarinet), I knew I had to have something in my life that did not include my husband and children.
I didn’t have a master plan. Opportunities presented themselves, and I pursued them. Having a husband, Ron, who encouraged me or at least didn’t get in the way was helpful. I grew and developed as I stumbled on each new avocation.
As a lark I took classes in handwriting analysis, which I loved. It was visual, and I gained insight into people. After successfully analyzing the script of salespeople in Ron’s company, I decided to market my handwriting analysis service as an additional pre-employment test. I didn’t know what I was doing when I started my business, but I learned on the job, a recurring theme in my life.
I gave speeches to promote my new company, did my own PR (appeared on TV and radio), made cold calls and experienced plenty of rejection. Nevertheless, I kept moving forward. At one point I got a call from a management professor inviting me to address an industrial psychologist’s conference on employment testing. I didn’t think it went well.
Apparently my perceptions were off because the same professor asked if I would co-write an article about handwriting analysis for a professional personnel journal. Shortly after it was published, we got a letter from an academic publishing house asking us to expand the article into a book. The professor didn’t have time and told me to go for it. The book was published in 1990 and even has an Amazon page.
Nina, my youngest, entered high school soon after the book came out, and by then I needed something less solitary and
more creative. I approached the owner of my favorite needlepoint shop and started chatting with her about retirement plans. She was tired and ready to sell, and so I bought the store.
Although I loved working with the colors and textures of the threads, I didn’t know about managing employees, working with suppliers or dealing with an occasional disgruntled customer. Once again I learned on the job. I enjoyed the friendship of my staff and many customers, but by 2005 it didn’t make sense to work six days a week. After thirteen years, I closed the store and yet still needed something else in my life.
It turned out that a close friend was also looking for another activity as well. We decided on a “little” art-to-wear business, which turned into an exciting wearable art show twice a year where we represent about forty clothing, accessory and jewelry artists from across the U.S. This little thing has evolved into a twelve-month project.
I am not tied to any one pursuit. Circumstances change and I have changed. Now that I am a grown-up I give myself permission to try a new venture if an activity has run its course. There is one rule, however. The hobby/business has to be stimulating and challenging enough so that I can immerse myself in an alternate universe-and completely escape from the stress of my daily life. If I don’t feel passionate about it-why bother. That is the valuable lesson I learned from my parents.
Aren’t you inspired? I love my mom’s attitude of just jumping into something, or at least allowing yourself to explore new paths at any point.
Is there a new hobby, job, or activity you’ve been wanting to try? A path you’ve been ignoring because it’s so different from what you’ve done in the past? Let’s discuss!
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