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Are you old enough — as I am — to be counted as a senior citizen? If so, my question for you is as a teenager or perhaps earlier, did you decide — and perhaps announce — what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did it work?

I’ve decided that asking questions produces amazing results — definitions, best dictionaries, etc. My last column about crones produced lots of interesting and valuable information. This question, rather than meanings of a word is more a matter of opinion — my opinion. Even before you were a teenager, did you know what you wanted to be as a grownup? A doctor, an all-star athlete, a famous musician, an astronaut or maybe President of the United States? Did you have a strong answer for that question?

I had none of those aspirations. Even before I was a teenager I decided and often announced, not what I wanted to be but what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be a teacher. Why I don’t know, but without a predetermined goal I was open to any choice, and now I’m amazed by where I am. I’m a published author and newspaper columnist.

As a freshman at the University of Illinois I took the required Rhetoric 101 class and much to my surprise one of the themes I’d written turned up in the U of I annual literary publication. I was a journalism major, mostly as my way of escaping science classes like chemistry, and I enjoyed classes focused on marketing. After college, finding a job in journalism was a challenge. The best I could do was as the assistant to the advertising manager of a manufacturing company. I pretended to myself that it was a journalism job but it was a clerk, not even up to being a secretary. Through the years, jobs with the Oregon State University Extension service and with Multnomah and Clackamas County journalism kept creeping into the work — newsletters, published reports on various topics, even a published book on regional government.

Volunteer efforts with the League of Women Voters and the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center provided more opportunities to write — reports, news releases and this column. That turned into my published book “Facing Age Finding Answers” and, since 2004, this column.

I’m so glad that I avoided setting a goal when I was a kid. Without any predetermined result in mind I could do what I enjoyed the most. The result is more delight and pride in my new book, “Dusty’s War” now available as a print edition. I hope you’ll read it (and buy it!) and see it as an example of the benefits of avoiding predetermined results.

Stories for Positive Aging is a semi-monthly column on senior issues written by Lake Oswego author of “ Facing Age, Finding Answers” Ardis Stevenson. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.

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