Truthful Tuesday: Work to Live or Live to Work?

I have strong feelings about this week’s topic for Truthful Tuesday by PCGuyIV, so I have a lot to say to answer these questions, based on my own experience!

The old adage says, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Today’s questions stem from this bromide. Don’t worry if you aren’t currently working. The questions can easily be answered, and are likely better answered from a reflective standpoint.

  • Do you now or have you ever been employed doing what you love?
    The first 20 years of my working life, I worked in clerical positions, primarily in export shipping and freight forwarding. I didn’t love these jobs, but some were better than others. I enjoyed being able to use my skills, such as being able to use one of the two foreign languages I speak, and there were some other things I enjoyed, but usually I was somewhat bored and I felt I wasn’t really contributing anything meaningful to myself or society. That’s why I decided to change careers and become a teacher.

    I would say that I actually loved my job for about three years out of my entire working career. These lovely three years occurred primarily when I was teaching and I had the ideal working environment: my principal liked and supported me, I got along with co-workers and they respected my opinions, I was working with small groups of students that came to my classroom, and I was doing what I best at. Sometimes I would be at school preparing for the day, and as I wrote on the whiteboard the schedule for the day, I would have a feeling of exhilaration: there I was, writing the date in Spanish and English, something simple like that, because I was good at what I did and I loved using Spanish in my job as well as teaching English to Spanish speakers. This feeling of exhilaration would sometimes wash over me when I was sitting at a table working with three or four kids on reading. I felt like I was really making a difference, I was doing something to help those kids by teaching them to read! When I saw a child make progress in an area difficult to him or her, teaching was the best job in the world!

    During my three best years, I did projects with my students that were really enjoyable, and as long as I taught the curriculum and my lesson plans fit the standards, I could expand on it as I wished. I was great help and a good resource for the classroom teachers that my students were in. The kids felt comfortable with me because most of their day was spent in a classroom with native English speakers and that could be intimidating, even when they were competent in spoken, non-academic English. Although I did encourage them to do their work in the language of instruction, with me it was okay if they preferred writing in Spanish at first instead of English. I also tried to make connections between the two languages and we drew on their native culture whenever possible. I told all my students to be proud to be bilingual and not to give up their native language even if their academic work was mostly in English. I told them that being bilingual would help them get a better job in the future. (If I had not been what is considered bilingual, I doubt I would have ever gotten a teaching position in a public school system.) It was clear that I loved and respected their culture, and knew something about it.

    These feelings of contentment sometimes happened outside of those three years in which I was truly happy, but three years out of 12+ years of teaching is only 25% of the time – the teaching profession is brutal these days! The other years either I had a principal that didn’t support me or didn’t care, I had either too much to manage or too little control over what I did, and/or I felt that I wasn’t appreciated or respected by the administration or my colleagues. I was only a mediocre classroom teacher – there were too many things pulling on me, I had to keep track of more tasks and more kids than I could manage well. With small groups, especially when they came to me in my classroom that was set up for their needs and mine, I was a better teacher and happier too.

    But I have to say, when I was able to leave the profession and retire, I was very relieved and grateful. I hardly ever miss teaching.
  • Do you agree with this saying (If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life) or is it a bunch of poppycock, and why?
    Doing what you love is still work. Even those three ideal teaching years, I worked very hard – late nights planning and grading papers, early mornings preparing for the day, and I only allowed myself one day on the weekend to completely get away from my work. Ask the health care workers on the front line taking care of Covid-19 patients if they don’t consider what they are doing as work! Most people are not lucky enough to spend their working life doing what they love, and even when they do, it’s still a lot of responsibility. You can’t just take the day off because you want to. Sometimes you will be doing that part of your job that you love, when something you don’t enjoy so much imposes itself on you and you have to take care of it because that’s part of your job too. I don’t believe there is anyone on Earth who loves every minute of every day of their work – not even workaholics!

    In an ideal world, we would all work less hours, have more leisure time, and the work we did would be fulfilling and a contribution to society. We would be respected for our labors. However, living in a country which values work so much that there isn’t even a law requiring employers to give their workers vacation time, this adage has even less chance of ever becoming reality!
Teachers 2' Art Print - Kimberly Allen | Art.com | Teacher appreciation  quotes, Teacher quotes inspirational, Teacher appreciation week quotes

12 Bloggerz August 2020: On the State of Our World, Our Nation and Ourselves

Rory at A Guy Called Bloke has a monthly 12 question challenge, called 12 Bloggerz August 2020.

Meet the Bloggerz Directory

We live in a questioning world so it’s hardly surprising that there are so many questions that are asked by people every day, week and month is it? This feature will ask you all sorts of questions – but will only ever ask you 12 questions per month. You can answer them in the comments section below or create a post on your own blog should you wish to – that’s your choice.

In many ways this feature will be a no holds barred styled questions arena – covering many topical areas, controversial, opinionated – taboo orientated and just general and light hearted – just questions about people and things from all walks of life!

Additionally should any of the readership wish to pose a question to be featured within 12 Bloggerz in the future episodes – please drop me an email to aguycalledbloke63@gmail.com

Cheers Rory

Your answers to these questions are down to your individual interpretation of each question.

So here goes:

As a society are we really that social anymore – like it used to be?
We are social in a different way – today it’s all about social media, online meetings, Zooming, etc. But I don’t think we are as likely to take a nice leisurely lunch with a friend, for the pleasure of simply chatting. Do we really care about the person we’re socializing with? A lot of social media seem to be a forum for people to tell their own story and hope that other people will read their posts. And I find that it’s easier to just scroll and hit “like” when I feel I should. But I’m not knocking social media – nowadays it’s the way to keep in touch with people I care about but rarely get to see. I’ve blogged about this before, such as here.

If only l was twenty years younger l would … ?
Twenty years ago, when I was in my 40s, I was antsy to find a more meaningful profession. If I were to go back with 20/20 hindsight, I would not have chosen teaching. I was preoccupied (although somewhat justifiably) with the wrong things. I should have been asking, Will I be happy doing this? Can I really be good at it? Do I want it just for salary and benefits (because believe it or not, teaching had better pay and benefits than what I was doing before)? If I could, I would have done more research on professions that would suit me better.

Is society ruder more now than it used to be back in the day?
Yes, most definitely. People put themselves first. They talk about their “rights” but rarely about the responsibilities that go with those rights. Our current federal government (USA) has encouraged, aided and abetted this attitude. We do not have good role models in leadership roles.

Emperor Trump: Tattoo'd, rude and in an impeachable mood - al.com
Trump: Leader of lies, rudeness and hype

Is our world hyper-focusing progression on the wrong things or in the wrong direction?
If you mean, do I think humanity is trending toward the wrong direction, I would say yes, but not everybody and not everywhere. I think our planet and our ability to continue living on it and respecting other creatures we share it with should be top priority for everyone right now. There are so many other problems connected with climate change – the biggest polluters are not the ones who will suffer most from the results. Greta Thunberg has the right priorities!

Do you think there is any truth what so ever to any current conspiracy theories?
No, and I don’t think it deserves any more of an answer than this.

Are you more confused about the shape of our world today more so than when younger? 
Confused, no – I think I understand our world a whole lot better than I did when I was young(er). Concerned, yes, as everyone should be.

Do we as a society simply have too many labels and too many label hunters?
Yes, but at the same time, sometimes “labels” are helpful – not to stereotype, but to provide help to those who need it. So if a kid is diagnosed with ADHD, don’t just dismiss it by saying, “It’s just a label.” It’s not, and neither are a myriad of other disorders and disabilities. “Being depressed” isn’t just being sad. It’s a very serious, and debilitating mental illness that can lead to addiction or worse.

Are you more or less family orientated?
Yes, I am family oriented, because my family is my greatest blessing. I grew up in a mostly loving home and I love getting together with my siblings’ families. Family is my top priority. I think it is the source of most people’s happiness.

Do you dress up ‘smart’ to go out or is your style more casual all day every day?
I like casual, but I also like to dress up a little. Right now, I lament the fact that I bought a lot of new clothes to wear at our senior community’s dining room and events, and now none of those things are taking place so I’m not wearing all the new clothes I bought.

But in general, I wear what is comfortable and what best hides my aging bulges!

With the current ‘pandemic’ do you miss ‘Yesterday’s way of life or not?
Of course, doesn’t everyone? But I am so angry with selfish people who won’t do what medical professionals are telling us and as a result, the pandemic and its restrictions are dragging on longer than necessary. No one really likes to wear a mask, but if that is what we need to do to protect others as well as ourselves, I am willing to do so. If everyone were willing to be on board with this, we would be able to get back to “yesterday’s” way of life again.

What I miss most is being able to travel.

What do you class as adventurous?
Anything that takes guts or involves taking risks. That said, I am not particularly adventurous, but I do like “adventures” – as in “travel adventures. “

Are you more conventional brick and mortar shopper or online and Internet buyer styled?   
I do both, because it depends on what I’m buying. I won’t buy shoes online, for example – I have to try them on to see if they are comfortable. In one style, I may wear a size 8, whereas in another style, I wear 8 1/2. Shoes are too important to take chances.

But right now, I love buying things online, because then I get packages in the mail – something to look forward to! I’ve been buying a lot of books, getting them cheap on Amazon. Also art supplies, and a variety of other miscellaneous things.

Amazon Smile logo - Ferrum College
Sorry for Amazon plug. That’s a whole other subject for discussion!

Journey to Egypt, Part 18: The Crate Maker of Fares Island

December 31, 2018

Our dahabeya Aida docked this morning at the island of Fares. We were going to see a local craftsman, the last crate maker in Upper (southern) Egypt. Transportation to the crate maker’s home was via “tuk-tuk,” two passengers per vehicle!
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We bumped and jostled along the dusty roads of Fares village, observing our surroundings through fringed open sides.
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We could peek at our driver through a heart-shaped cut in the material in front of us.
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Our little caravan of tuk-tuks finally arrived at the crate maker’s home and were taken around to the back of the house.DSC_0416
We saw piles of date palm reeds, the raw material of the hand-made crates, which were stacked up behind the craftsman’s work space.
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The crate maker’s work space

Mohammed (the crate maker – not to be confused with our guide of the same name!) has his reeds shipped to him from elsewhere, from mature date palms (at least a year old). The reeds have to be dried but no longer than 20 days. The dried reeds are strong, yet pliable for splitting and cutting holes in them.

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One of the crate maker’s assistants

Mohammed could not stop his work as he talked to us – he was working on an order for 20,000 crates to hold mangoes, which are grown in this area. These will be shipped to Cairo, and some of them exported. The crates can be different sizes and last 7-10 years.

Mohammed himself is 58 and has been doing this work for over 40 years.  We asked if his children are learning this craft. He told us his children are in school – he doesn’t want them to learn the craft, which taxes the body and presumably doesn’t pay very well.

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First, he cuts the reeds into the lengths needed.

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Mohammed uses pieces that have already been cut at the correct length to measure other pieces.

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He then cuts the section of reed lengthwise with a scythe, which requires great precision.

Mohammed uses both his hands and his feet to make the crates. Machines cannot do this job with the same precision. People who practice this craft don’t stay in it long, due to the position of their body, sitting on the ground for long periods, which is why it is a dying craft.

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Mohammed steadies the section of reed while he uses a large nail and makeshift hammer to cut holes along its length.

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As  he works, he answers our questions which are translated by our guide Mohamed.

However, he does have assistants, so between them they can produce 5 million crates a year. He himself makes 150 crates a week.

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An assistant awaits instructions against a backdrop of date palms.

Mohammed could not stop his work as he talked to us – he was working on an order for 20,000 crates to hold mangoes, which are grown in this area. These will be shipped to Cairo, and some of them exported. The crates can be different sizes and last 7-10 years.

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Sample of one of Mohammed’s more elaborate creations, which was passed around among us.

Mohammed uses both his hands and his feet to make the crates. Machines cannot do this job with the same precision. People who practice this craft don’t stay in it long, due to the position of their body, sitting on the ground for long periods, which is why it is a dying craft.
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As  he works, he answers our questions which are translated by our guide Mohamed.

Mohammed himself is 58 and has been doing this work for over 40 years. We asked if his children are learning this craft. He told us his children are in school – he doesn’t want them to learn the craft, which taxes the body and presumably doesn’t pay very well.

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These piles of reed sections are ready for assembling the crate – the pieces with holes drilled in them will anchor the side pieces (the narrower pieces in the other pile) that fit through the holes.

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An assistant awaits instructions against a backdrop of date palms.

SONY DSCHowever, he does have assistants, so between them they can produce 5 million crates a year. He himself makes 150 crates a week. Because he was kind enough to invite us to see him at work, three women from our group became his temporary assistants!

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Mohammed hands Lizz some materials…

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…and shows her what to do.

Through demonstration and imitation,…
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Assembling the base of the crate

…Lizz, Kathy and Michelle were able to be efficient crate producers, and with their help, Mohammed was able to finish twice as many crates in the time we were there!

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The vertical pieces are fit through the holes on the horizontal pieces.

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12 horizontal pieces and 4 vertical pieces form the frame.
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They’re almost finished as Mohammed fits in the bottom cross pieces.
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Michelle takes over to help make the next crate.

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Michelle slides a horizontal piece through two verticals to construct the frame.

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Photo op! Mohammed will not actually have Michelle make the lengthwise cut!

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Michelle helps finish a frame.

A small crate with a handle was given to Lizz as a gift for being a great assistant! Everyone was given an ankh made of date palm reeds.
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Kathy was the last volunteer.

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Kathy hammers a length of vertical piece into a hole.

Two of the finished crates!
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We thanked the craftsman and his assistants and family and said good-bye, then we headed back to our tuk-tuks for the ride back to where Aida was moored.  As we approached the pier on the river, I saw a snake handler with several cobras! (Fortunately, we were some distance away; I took this photo with my telephoto lens!)
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CFFC: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is “Busy or People Working.”

Every year, the last weekend in April (this weekend!), our church has a huge rummage sale, our biggest fundraiser of the year. We always need a lot of volunteers.
STAS13-IMAG0363.jpgThe sale takes over nearly every room in the church. We have a clothing room (above), housewares (below – the biggest department), Housewares, always a busy, popular department.holiday, antiques, jewelry, toys, baked goods, books/CDs/DVDs, and outside there is a furniture tent and hot food (hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.).20160421_111420Our church also does mission work. One of our missions is feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless. Des Plaines has a local PADS shelter on Fridays at a nearby church, where homeless adults get a hot meal for dinner, breakfast, sack lunches, and a place to sleep for the night. Different churches sign up for the Fridays they prefer and get volunteers from their church to work the shifts and make or bring food.  Some people work in the kitchen, preparing for dinner…20150227_190349
and then serve the food to the guests.
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In the summer, we have at least one church service outside, with special invited musicians and ice cream afterward! This is the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Ensemble.20150705_095043.jpgEmergency workers are important in any community.  The American Red Cross collects supplies for people in disaster areas.IMAG0367-RedCrosshelpTeaching is a lot of work, even during special events when we look like we’re having fun (and sometimes we are)! Here’s a teacher holding up the flag of her alma mater during an annual College Day rally.
Sandy Rywelski holds up WIU flag next to her class.
The music teacher works hard – and so do the kids – with the different age groups to put on an annual show for the different grade levels. Here is the 1st-2nd grade music show.
20150415_134623.jpgA student helps out on the last day of school by cleaning the chalkboards.269
For children, school is their workplace and for very young children, play is their work; it’s how they learn. These kindergartners love building things with blocks.
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And in December, everyone works hard on holiday projects. Here, a teacher’s assistant helps kindergartners make gingerbread houses.
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Sometimes, people work to provide entertainment for others, either as volunteers or for tips, such as at a summer concert in the park.
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While kids are getting their balloons, the band plays.
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People with special talents perform for tourists for tips, such as this young man in Tallinn, Estonia.
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Waiters in Japanese restaurants “perform” for diners, cooking their food right in front of them.
IMAG1924.jpgSome of the hardest working people work on cruise ships, in kitchens…20170324_103302or as stewards, such as this one trying to hold a tray of hot soup steady for the tourists on the windy deck of a ship in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.The steward holds on tight to the tray of soup.
Some athletes and actors make millions entertaining the public. They might even get a trophy, such as when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016!20161103_001137.jpg
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Go Cubs Go! video

 

 

 

 

WPC: Partners

There are different types of partnerships throughout life. As children, we pair up with a “best friend” or two. In school, we are taught to work with others and often are assigned to work with partners. As adults, we may have partners at work (such as law firms, where the name of the firm consists of the last names of all the partners) and we may find a “life partner” – i.e. a spouse. All sorts of endeavors are accomplished by partnering with others; it’s called “teamwork.”

I have chosen pictures for this challenge that involve two people in different stages of life.

CHILDHOOD: SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS

As a former teacher of bilingual students, I often used Reader’s Theater, which the kids loved, to improve their reading and speaking fluency. Here are two second grade boys who worked on one short play together to perform in front of other classes.

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These boys (cousins) in my class were the only ones to memorize their play! It was such a natural fit for them!

Children do a lot of things quite naturally with a partner. Here are two kindergartners who are proud to show off the scene they made out of blocks. (Another partnership creates their own structures behind them.)

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These bilingual kindergartners were sweet & cute and I loved their buildings!

I was in charge of an ecology club one year, and we had a paper drive competition between the classrooms. The students in the club partnered up to do different tasks during the drive. Here are two boys helping each other with taking the recycling bins full of paper out to the container behind the school.

Chris and Stratos unload the cart.
5th grade boys unload the cart.

CHILDHOOD/ADOLESCENCE: COMPETITION PARTNERING

In my home town, Christmas trees are set up in a downtown plaza, and different groups of school kids decorate a tree with ornaments they’ve made, as a competition between schools.

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YOUNG ADULTHOOD: WORK PARTNERSHIPS

Recently we hired two young men to paint several rooms in our house as well as our front porch. One of them is semi-professional and the other is his apprentice. Their partnership works well and they did a professional job!

 

ADULTHOOD: MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER

At my niece’s wedding, her brother and his father-in-law paired up to play music at the ceremony.

Tom on sax & Alicia's dad on guitar for Amazing Grace
Sax and guitar duet “Amazing Grace”

MIDDLE ADULTHOOD: FINDING LIFE PARTNERS

Friends of mine recently got married, forming a new partnership in mid-life.

Bride & groom gaze at each other with love.
Bride & groom gaze at each other with love.

MOTHERHOOD: PARTNERING COMPETING INTERESTS

Finally, here is a funny picture to illustrate a different sort of partnership: Another niece at a wedding, holding, in one hand, an “adult” cup, which contained an alcoholic beverage, and in the other, the sippy cup of her toddler son, half-filled with milk. It’s an illustration of her life: the competing interests of being an adult and caring for a child.

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Jen says, “This sums up my life – a gin & tonic in one hand and a sippy cup in the other!”