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Pursuing several careers leaves one open to explore

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 me@ardisstevenson.com or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.

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