I have a birthday coming next week. I will be 74 years old. How the hell did that happen? I am of the generation who said, “Never trust anyone over 30.” We never thought we would be thirty. But we did, didn’t we? And now it was so long ago.
As I age, I think of what I have done in this life, what I have left that I want to do and how much have I accomplished that I wanted to do. As I review, I sorta like my reviews, biased or not.
Most people, I think, have regrets. I don’t have any major ones that I can think of.
One very important thing to me is that I have never had a job. I have never worked for anyone where I got a W2. I have gotten plenty of 1099s but no W2s. The 1099 is a form you get as an independent contractor and do a certain amount of work for an organization, company or person.
I never had to get to work at a specific time that I didn’t choose. I like that. I always started and finished what I had to do on time, no matter what. It’s something I am proud of.
I was a consultant checking the progress of the Title One schools in New Orleans. It was a short contract, about a year, if I remember right. I had no idea schools were in such bad shape. Teachers couldn't even write a sentence, let alone teach a child how to do it. That was 1969. Schools are no better, perhaps worse, both in New Orleans and all over the country.
I considered being a teacher for a short while but abandoned that idea because it would indeed be restricting J.O.B.
I wrote grants for drug abuse prevention, education, and rehab organizations. LBJ's War on Poverty couldn’t give money away fast enough, so I thought New Orleans should be in that number. After funding, I negotiated all the paperwork the agencies needed to do to stay funded. And got a percentage of each grant. Oh, and we never won that war on poverty.
That could not last forever, so when I saw the money train tracks veering in another direction, I installed myself as director of one of those agencies and did that for several years.
I have to mention that I never let work interfere with my travel plans.
I tried to travel at least four months of the year. The Matterhorn in Zermatt was one of my first mountains. I was instantly addicted to climbing. And in future years, climbed in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California.
I had a goal to see a National Park in every state, so I did. I’m not sure Delaware had any then but cycled through Delaware anyway. Oh, did I mention that I did that particular trip on a motorcycle with a tent, a couple pairs of jean, shirts and sleeping bag. That took a year.
Traveling never stopped. In my traveling life, I got to Western Europe a few times, Canada, Mexico, but most of the travel was in the US.
If you don’t travel, start now.
Soon the federal funding stopped funding my organization, so it was time to change gears. I wanted to do something concrete, (pardon the pun), so became the first female licensed general contractor in Louisiana. That was fun for about 10 years. When it stopped being fun, I sold that business and started another one.
I had always loved gardening and doing exterior design work so started building ornamental garden ponds in people’s yards or commercial spaces. That was probably my favorite thing that I ever did to make a buck. They called me the Pondlady. I liked that.
As I was building businesses, I taught adult basic education, usually in junior colleges or private colleges. Doing that was another most favorite thing so do.
I stopped working on August 27th, 2005, two days before Hurricane Katrina stole our house. I sold my landscaping business shortly after that and aside from a bit of writing, have not worked for money ever since. It’s hard to believe that was 10 years ago.
As I look back, I have done everything I wanted to do. If my life ended tomorrow, I would be satisfied that I have lived just as I wished to.
And I don’t have a bucket list.