1. When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I used to tell my mother that when I grew up I was going to be “rich and famous,” and buy her a mansion. I wanted to be a professional musician and began college as a music and theater major. For many reasons, not the least of which was pressure from my parents to pick a major that would lead me to a financially secure job, I segued into the Business Administration Department. Initially, I pursued a major in Marketing, but eventually earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.
I never stopped making music, though. I put myself through law school, in large part, by playing organ and piano professionally, serving as the Organist/Pianist/Choir Accompanist for a large Lutheran congregation. In 2004, I purchased my first flute and fulfilled my lifelong dream of being a flutist. That culminated in my performing with The Delta Winds at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March 2007, and am currently preparing to return to Carnegie Hall with that group. We will be performing on April 20, 2010 and this time, I will not only be playing the flute, I will also be playing the piano!
I am living proof that dreams come true and there is no need to ever give up entirely on a dream. Just because I did not end up earning my daily bread as a professional musician does not mean that I have to ever stop making music! And there can still be “mountain top” experiences, like playing Carnegie Hall, along the way that are exciting, fulfilling, and memorable.
2. Did you ever pursue that career?
When I began studying music at the local community college, I was discouraged by one teacher in particular who was temperamental, hot-headed, and demeaning. Music Theory was the class that derailed my professional ambitions because I had never really learned theory. I studied piano for many years with William Pisani, a local legend, who taught me to sight-read like a house afire, accompany groups and individuals with confidence, and love to perform. But he did not teach me music theory and I got so flustered and frustrated that, along with the pressure from my parents to find another major, I gave up on the idea of earning a degree in music.
3. If you are not in that field, what changed?
Going to law school had always been an idea I flirted with and rejected. I was fascinated by the law and lawyers, but did not think seriously about law school until I began taking business classes. Business Law was my favorite course and I ended up working for my teacher as a tutor and reader. He encouraged me to go to law school, but it took me a number of years to convince myself. By a few weeks into the first semester, I wondered why it took me so long to realize that was precisely where I belonged.
4. What is your current job?
I am an attorney, practicing employment law.
5. What’s the best part of what you do?
I learn many new things every day, sometimes about the law, sometimes about human nature, sometimes about the industry in which I am employed. I am never bored. My work is fast-paced, deadline-driven, and involves real people’s lives and the consequences that their choices make for them. It’s fascinating.
6. Do you have plans to do something else down the road?
7. How did you get your present job? If you are a stay at home mom, how long did you need to plan that move?
After seven years in private practice, I transitioned to the public sector. I spent another seven years with the largest state-run civil rights enforcement agency in the United States before being recruited to join a different state-run department. It was the one department for which I always swore I would never work, so I jokingly tell folks that I am “the Sean Connery of state government — ‘never say never.'” For the first five months, I was miserable, convinced that I had made a colossal mistake. I hated everything about my work, the location/environment, and the people with whom I was required to interact, but one of my superiors recognized that my talents were being wasted and transferred me to another team of attorneys. Since then, I have been completely content.
8. Did your parents influence your choices of jobs over the years?
They influenced my educational pursuits by pressuring me to select a college major that would lead to secure, Depression-proof employment. They could not help themselves . . . they survived the Great Depression and were forever motivated by their internal fears of financial insolvency.
9. What advice would you give your children on careers?
I encourage my boys to pursue making a living by doing something they love to do. I tell them that they will never be happy just “making a living.” They must have a passion for the work in order to really succeed. I know from experience that you can be completely competent in a particular profession, but thoroughly unhappy and unfulfilled. I was a very good accountant. I could have stayed in that profession, made a comfortable living, and, by all external standards, been deemed a great success. But I would have always been dissatisfied and restless because I had no passion for the subject matter or the work itself. I never want to see my children end up in that circumstance.