I've hesitated to write about this, because once I give it some context, I run the risk of sounding a bit like a flake, which I don't think I am, but since self-delusion is a common human condition, I won't make any empirical statements about my flakiness or lack thereof.
When my kids were in high school, and I was seeing the light at the end of the hands-on, intense child-raising tunnel, I started in earnest trying to figure out what I wanted to be when the kids grew up.
I looked into buying a self-supporting Bed & Breakfast--it would probably have to be officially an inn--but decided I didn't have enough of the hospitality gene to be really good at it. And I like to be really good at what I do.
Next I tried tour directing. I got the training and started working some gigs locally on a very part-time basis, but I wasn't getting the kind of experience that would let me jump into the over-the-road tour directing, which was what I hoped to do. And I might have been able to get the right kind of experience if I quit my day job, but that's a big maybe and an enormous pay cut, and meanwhile other things were happening.
I found out that one of the regional airlines was hiring flight attendants. Now, I love going places, but I've never really enjoyed flying itself--I try to relax and breathe deeply and slowly during takeoffs and landings--but the thought of working for an airline again (I was a computer programmer for a now-defunct airline when my daughter was born, and it was the perfect job for me) was irresistible, even if it meant I had to take off and land for a living. I've been stuck in this unfulfilling job for four years now, and I loved the idea of doing something entirely different, especially if it revolved around travel.
But I didn't get the job. That was in April, and they said I could try again this past October.
Over Memorial Day, I visited my mom and my sister in Texas, and my mom suggested that she and I could travel around the country in an RV (my sister is married, and her husband would probably want her to be home sometimes, or she would have been invited too). It took some time, but eventually I came around to the idea. Which meant the flight attendant job would be out of the question, so I didn't reapply.
So now I'm looking at taking a sabbatical from gainful employment for a year while my mom and I see the country (and my sister comes with us for short excursions).
But it still leaves the question of what I would do when we've seen the good ole USA.
My friend the cardiac nurse (and frequent movie companion) has encouraged me several times to get into nursing. She does this every time my commute comes up (over an hour each way--two hours if I take the train), because nurses work at hospitals or clinics, and they have those CLOSE TO HOME!
I like the close to home part of it, but I don't want a job where the expectation is that people will be bleeding or puking or other unappetizing things around me all day. No, nursing is not for me.
But one Sunday, this same friend and I were having lunch at a restaurant near the movie theater, when someone from the crisis pregnancy center where I used to volunteer stopped at our table. It seems she's going through a college program to become an ultrasound technician. I liked that idea for myself, because it can be CLOSE TO HOME, and the patients are usually NOT bleeding. And it pays pretty well. And there's good demand for it. Seeing her there seemed like such a God thing (atheists, please read "wonderful coincidence"), because it hadn't been on my mind, but it's the answer to a lot of the open questions or concerns I had about the future.
So I looked into it online and found the training program accreditation group and found the schools they approve of, and one of them is near here. They offer several medical programs: Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ultrasound), Cardiac Technology (that's what my cardiac nurse friend wants me to do--echocardiologists make good money), and several others that don't ring my chimes quite as much. And my friend said she'd let me stay in her spare room while I'm going to school. But that would make it almost another two years after I've finished touring the country before I'd be able to settle down somewhere.
I'm getting used to the idea, though--both ideas really. I'm getting used to thinking of myself in a medical career, and I'm (more slowly) getting used to the idea of having to wait for three and a half more years before I can decide where I want to live and work.
But the beauty of the medical work is that it's everywhere. What I do now (mainframe computers) has to be done at corporate headquarters, and they're in major metropolitan areas, and I'm not too crazy about major metropolitan areas. My choices in the IT world are between places like Greater Los Angeles, or Dallas, or New York, or Detroit. Ugh! In the medical world, I could live somewhere appealing. And that thought is appealing.
So that's the plan. I'm starting with a four-week class in February, which is an overview of allied (non-doctor or nurse) medical occupations. Hopefully, I'll be able to decide in that class which of the programs to pursue. And I'm going to try to crash the Anatomy & Physiology class (it's full) and get that out of the way, because it's a prerequisite for all the medical programs, and it's not offered online. Then, when my mom and I are on the road, I can take Medical Terminology (another prerequisite) online and be ready to hit the ground running when we get back. If I can't get into A&P this semester, I'll have to be sure to get back in time for next year's summer semester and take it then.
I hope I can be really good at what I decide to do.