cartoon cow writing at a desk

25 Steps to Independence (1.24.17)

I struggled my entire life trying to get a “good job.” I could never get my foot in the right door of any company. I’ve worked in non-profits, county government, small businesses, retail settings, hospital settings, fast food, after-school care, long-term care, higher education, corporate America, etc. I could never, ever get a full time job with benefits. It felt like the never attainable goal. Once I earned my college degree, I thought I was guaranteed a good job and would become a young independent woman – in other words, move away from home and take care of myself. I’ll never forget opening the newspaper every Sunday, circling job opportunities in the “Want Ads,” and applying for jobs that I was qualified for. All I would receive was rejection letters. I kept every rejection letter that I received, I guess, to prove that I was trying. I had file folders in my filing cabinet for years filled with rejection letters. One day, I finally got an interview for a full time job at the Valentine Museum in Richmond. I thought that the interview went great. I was excited about the opportunity, I liked the young woman that interviewed me, and felt like this was my chance. They selected someone else. When I called to get feedback about my interview, the young woman said, “You need to lighten up. You’re too serious.” Are you fucking kidding me? I’m too serious? I didn’t realize I was supposed to be a comedian during the interview. Needless to say, I felt rejected and like I was continuing to miss the boat.

I never got the full time job with benefits. I never fit in anywhere long-term. I’m a good person, I’m a hard worker, I’m highly responsible, and I’m an excellent employee. I wanted a job that I enjoyed, where people valued me as an employee, and where I was contributing something valuable to a bigger cause.

At one point in my “career,” it became crystal clear to me that I was not supposed to get a good job, because I was going to create my own job. I had no clue what my occupation would be, but I felt like I was acquiring skills to benefit me somehow, someway in the future.

Fortunately, I met my husband, partner, and soulmate Nathan in 1990. Nathan came from a long line of entrepreneurs who didn’t go to college and earn a degree to get a job. His relatives were Greek and Italian. In other words, they were immigrants and immigrants work to survive in a new culture. I needed Nathan to teach me to think outside of the box. I also needed Nathan to teach me to take risks which is an important skill to execute as a business owner.

During the 1990’s, I launched a business called Successful Aging Consulting Services and marketed my husband’s business called Odd Job Services. My business was sputtering and I eventually pulled the plug on it, however my husband’s business was thriving because of our husband and wife, yin and yang team effort. His business became our business and we have been self-employed for 26 years as a result of our partnership. Now I see that I am very independent, very strong willed, and I know what I want to do in life, therefore self-employment is the best fit for me.

Below is my resume, my vitae, my career path, my work history. And trust me, I did not receive the pats on the back for a job well done or experience a sense of community that I was longing for in any of these jobs. For example, I was in a car accident in 1986 where I was rear-ended at a stoplight. I was out of work indefinitely. Not one person that I worked with for 3 full months, 40 hours per week, called to ask me if I was okay. I was devastated. I was in pain, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t make money, and no one seemed to care about me. I felt like I was dispensable. But that’s another story. So here are my 25 steps to independence. I am grateful for these painful, boring jobs where no one really cared about me which ultimately helped me to get to where I am now. I am an unschooling mama, an artist, an author, an independent publisher, and an activist. Thank God!

  • Babysat (age 12+).
  • Cut grass (1975 – 1978).
  • Sales, Avon (Summer, 1979).
  • Retail Sales Associate, Lerner’s (Summer, 1979).
  • Waitress, Shoney’s Restaurant (3 weeks, fall 1980).
  • Cashier, Burger Chef (Summer, 1981).
  • Merchandising, Kings Dominion (Summer, 1982).
  • Receptionist/Invoicing, David L. Hall Heating & Air Conditioning (Summer, 1983).
  • Intern, Public Relations, Science Museum of Virginia (Summer, 1984).
  • Intern, Public Relations, St. Luke’s Hospital (Summer, 1984).
  • Library Associate, E. Lee Trinkle Library, Mary Washington College (Senior year, 1985).
  • Photographer/Instructor, After School Care, YMCA (Summer, 1985).
  • Sales Associate, Thalhimers Department Store (Sept. 1985 – May 1986).
  • Receptionist, Richmond on the James (June 1986-Sept. 1986).
  • Recreation Instructor, Henrico County Recreation and Parks (1987-1993).
  • Mental Health Worker, Children’s Unit, Westbrook Psychiatric Hospital (1988-1989).
  • Instructor, CPR & First Aid, American Red Cross (1988-1989).
  • Activities Director, St. Mary’s Woods Retirement Community (Sept. 1989 – July 1990).
  • Graduate Student Intern, Senior Services, St. Mary’s Hospital (6 months, 1992).
  • Graduate Student Intern, School of Pharmacy, Medical College of Virginia (6 months, 1992).
  • Marketing Consultant, Mature Options: Care Management for the Elderly (1992).
  • Marketing/Co-Owner, Nathan’s Roofing, Windows & Siding (June 1991 – present).
  • President/Owner, Successful Aging Consulting Services (1993-1995).
  • Consultant, Video & Training, Reynolds Aluminum Supply Company (1995-1996).
  • Administrator, Virginia Associate of Mortgage Brokers (1996-1998).
  • President/Owner/Creator, Mommy Moo Moo and Damara Publishing (2010-present).