In 1974 at the age of 15, I started working for 75 cents an hour grading papers for a high school teacher.
“Be a secretary, you’ll always have something to fall back on,” my father told me. His advice bit me in the butt a few years later when as an Army Reservist 1976, I applied to be in the first class of women to be admitted to West Point. I missed the age cut-off by one year because I needed a year of prep school.
I’ve lost track of the number of jobs I’ve had over the years: medical clerk typist, pharmacy tech, “Officer Friendly” in military police community relations, C-130 cargo plane loader, publishing manager, small business owner, production control analyst, realtor…and secretary.
Sometimes I felt sentenced to being a secretary because I’d boomerang back yet again. Now, after all these years and perspective, it was an awesome way to get my foot in the door of some solid, well-respected companies. I’ve made the most of that opportunity the last 11 years and am grateful to have been able to bookend my career with the Army, first as a 19-year-old reservist and now as a retired civil servant.
I retired from my day job today. It’s going to take some time for that reality to sink in…but it definitely feels good.
I’ve been intending to write a post for the past month and a half, but I’ve been busy preparing to leave my home base to travel back to Michigan to work my final days in the office. It’s been a whirlwind.
As of today, I’m down to three days and a wake-up which seems surreal…but it’s finally here. Although my shoulder surgery delayed and changed my plans, if life has taught me nothing else it’s how to be resilient.
I’m grateful to be blessed with friends who have opened their homes to me during this interim period. I plan to hit the road and be a nomad for time, meandering where the spirit moves me, then winter in Tucson.
It’s hard to believe there is only one month left in this decade. My wife tried to tell me 2020 belongs with the 20teens, but I’m not buying it. Remember the chaos of the pre-Y2K days and the impending doom of the new millenium? Again, hard to believe it’s been 20 years because it’s been largely forgotten, overshadowed by what happened 1 year, 9 months, and 11 days later.
At The Rally of Writers conference I attended in April, Jan Shoemaker, the workshop facilitator, gave us prompts and we had about 5-10 minutes to write our response. The topic was: Waiting for it to explode. We also had to include the following words “wherever there is life, there is a twist and mess.” In response, I wrote this:
Y2K, New Year’s Eve. We escaped to our off the grid cabin unsure whether the world we left would survive. We each wrote letters to our future selves imagining what our lives would be like in a couple of decades; I wrote of my writerly dreams. With a circa 1999 cell phone, we buried a time capsule, sure that we nailed the future. But wherever there is life, there is a twist and a mess.
I’d forgotten about the time capsule, a 18″ x 12″, 6″ deep plastic tote sealed with duct tape. We had unearthed it from it’s hiding place in the California Central Coast when we sold the cabin. We hauled it to Michigan and from one place to another, then I got custody in the divorce.
The tote is heavy and it rattles. My daughter and ex remember what’s in the time capsule. I only remember the three letters we wrote, and the cell phone.
Our lives today look nothing like we could have imagined. And what did we think we would need to preserve to show what life was like at the dawn of the new millenium? I look forward to finding out soon.
“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good” launched six weeks ago. It was a total fluke that I learned of the chance to submit my story so I was thrilled “Semper Fi, Sister” was included. The one hour Twitter virtual launch with the other authors and the publisher was like downing a triple espresso chased with Redbull.
Then came the let down.
I was now a published author, but I couldn’t coordinate a local launch to save my soul. I had filled out the publisher publicity paperwork, but no one seemed interested. Then I lost interest…and it didn’t seem like such a big deal after all.
But it is a big deal.
I’ve never been published. I work a challenging full-time job and write in stolen moments of time. It’s second nature for me to minimize my accomplishments. I compare myself to others then feel inadequate in their wake. But I have to remind myself that this is my journey alone.
Even if I never have another word published, the story of my magical Marathon journey will live on in the pages of Chicken Soup for the Soul. For that, I’m grateful.
What does the future hold? Who knows, but I’ll keep putting my butt in the chair, doing the work, and let the Universe handle the outcome.
“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good” will be released in two days on Tuesday, June 4th.
I’m excited that “Semper Fi, Sister”, the story of my 2015 Marine Corps Marathon journey will be among the 101 stories in the book. It’s my first published story and hopefully this is only the beginning.
It’s official…Semper Fi, Sister, the story of my 2015 Marine Corps Marathon journey to celebrate my 60th birthdayis included in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running For Good” being released on June 4th!
Title IX granting equity in women’s sports didn’t pass until 1972, the year before I graduated high school. Any running I did was a short sprint to the phone or a shuttle run in PE class.
I first ran a half mile during my two week Army Reserve basic training. Upon enlisting in the Marine Corps, we were issued heavy, baggy baby blue blouses, skorts, and sneakers to run in. I asked my father to send me some new-fangled Adidas hoping it would somehow how make running more tolerable. They didn’t, and just for perspective sports bras didn’t enter the scene until the late 1970s. As the photo below of my bootcamp bunkie and I shows, 1976 Marine recruit running anything but fashionable.
Throughout my active duty years, we took periodic physical fitness tests (or PFTs) running a mile and a half with the shorter the time, the higher the score. Added to our run time was the flexed arm hang and sit-ups for a total PFT score.
I ran in the Marine Corps because I had to, and I gladly hung up my running shoes when my enlistment was over. If you had told that 21-year-old recruit I’d take up running nearly four decades later, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share memories from the training trail leading up to that magical marathon day in 2015. It will be a fun run down memory lane…and I may just inspire myself to hit the trail again.
Four years ago today I posted this picture on Facebook with the following announcement:
Running the Marine Corps Marathon has always been a dream of mine and I’m not getting any younger so it’s now or never Baby!! I’ve been training since January, have already paid my entry fee for my bib, and will be paying all my own expenses in DC the weekend of the race (25 Oct 15)…now to earn my bib by raising money for the Semper Fi Fund, an A+ charity that provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Every penny I raise will go to the SFF. Please support our Warriors and the Semper Fi Fund.
Today, I’m happy to announce that the story of my magical 2015 Marine Corps Marathon journey will soon be published in an anthology. I’ll share more details when I can, but seeing this picture reminded me to keep dreaming big, because you never know where your dreams will take you.