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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

TITLE: Finding My Sweet Spot
By Robyn Burke


You’d think by now, I’d have found it. After fifty years, marriage, motherhood and more jobs then I can count; you would think a person would find their sweet spot.

The illusive, mystical sweet spot. My career counselor described it this way: When your gifts & abilities overlap with your passions and your experiences it creates an inside circle of optimum capabilities, otherwise known as your ‘sweet spot.’

Let’s review some of the jobs I have had over the years… does babysitting count? Well, maybe, if putting the kids to bed twenty minutes after the parents left, in order to raid the fridge for coke, counts as a way to point out that child care would NOT be my life calling.

What about waitressing? I worked in a variety of food service positions, from busing tables to busing cars, to leaning out windows taking orders. The pay was lousy, the tips were so-so, and the requirements of dorky uniforms?? The mustard colored shift with the dingy yellow-white apron? Come on! The black slacks and white tailored shirt wasn’t too bad, it was the dress shoes that killed me.

The dress code for the store clerk job was just as restrictive. Made even more so by the addition of a black bow tie. Why could the men wear any color tie they wanted with their white shirt but the women were stuck with the boring black ties? (I got brave one day and wore a colorful tie like my manager. The look on his face was worth the lecture!)

How about the jobs with no dress code? The cows on the dairy where I milked didn’t care what I was wearing. They would splatter me with their manure dipped tails just the same. The position at the laundry was tedious but at least I could wear my jeans and t-shirts.

But it wasn’t only about the dress codes. The snotty attitude about espresso for example. It was just a cup of joe for heaven’s sakes! I mean, I love my coffee but did we have to get so dramatic about it? And yes, I do take pride in my work; a precisely folded towel was something to be proud of, a proper filing system went a long ways to helping me find the right charts and shelves with neatly faced product was actually quite soothing.

There were the short lived adventures in the fields of receptionists, housekeeping and gas station attendant. All involved more headaches then the job was worth. I tried my hand in production/assembly line work and was pretty good at it. Too bad the business lost its contract and had to lay us all off.

Then I stumbled into a career that I can best describe as “organized chaos on six wheels.” I became a school bus driver and all my troubles were behind me. Literally. I loved the feeling of power as I gripped the immense steering wheel and the rambunctious children really charged me up, but it was those three months off every summer that made me swoon. Other than motherhood, it was the job I held the longest.

Then, a light came on. It was clear that working for the man simply wasn’t a good fit. I was too avant-garde for most employers. Ok, fine, I was a rebel. But still, aren’t most of the self employed? Obviously the position for me was of one in charge!

So, with daring and pluck I launched my own business. And for the first couple of years it was great! My gifts and abilities combined with my life experiences to create an almost perfect circle. What was missing, however, was the passion. And while being my own boss sounded wonderful, in reality it was a strain drain. It wasn’t long before I was looking at other fields for greener grass. A “For Sale’ sign was posted in front of the shop.

But, a line from the apostle Paul propels me: I want you to know, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. For you see, my passion is in writing and using my imagination to impact others in positive ways. So I am not at all bitter about any of the paths I have been down. They will serve me well.

So, here I sit, in jeans and t-shirt, at my laptop, hoping to align my work with my capabilities. I think I have found my sweet spot.

(Scripture reference Philippians 1:12)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst06/04/09
I am totally relating to this piece, the variety of jobs & the challenges brought on by rebelling against "the boss". Also in finding writing as my sweet spot. And knowing that all those experiences (bitter and otherwise) will feed into it! Nicely expressed! I can see this as a piece in a regular newspaper column.
Marilyn Schnepp 06/11/09
This writer is the only person that seems to have almost as many jobs as I have had. You made it interesting with the comical phrases thrown in for good measure. I have one up on you, however. I work in my "Night Shirt", (My favorite dress code) and write my memoirs and read fellow writers memoirs..."How Sweet it is!" good job, nicely done.