Take opportunities that come your way

Life is full of opportunities. We must learn to recognize them and take advantage of them. Often we see things come our way, but reject them. We need to learn to be more open.

The old saying says “when one door closes another opens”. That is so true. When I graduated from high school I was fearless. I wanted to do it all. I worked in a small family-owned store for the last two years of school. What a fantastic opportunity that was for me. I was granted a store discount and I had spending money. I used that opportunity to supplement my wardrobe. My mother worked every day and did the best she could, but there were many things we were unable to afford. My pay check was a valuable tool.

My first job yielded just under a dollar an hour, but that was adequate at that time. People are advocating to raise the minimum wage. Of course, everyone hopes to earn more money, but there is a price to pay as well. When the minimum wage goes up so do the costs of things. Will people really be able to do more or purchase more? Businesses are going to react to any increase in cost of production or wages to be able to retain the level of profit. The whole economic system is based on a balance.

When I began working for another retailer in the area the employees voted to join a union. That was a major annoyance for me. Although I earned more, I also had to pay union dues on a regular basis. My pay check did not increase significantly.

My second job yielded the opportunity to model for the store. They planned an outfit for the photo shoot and I reported to the newspaper to become part of a fashion supplement. I also had the opportunity to participate in community fashion shows. It was fun. I was working but I was out and about.

One summer a friend of the people I babysat for connected me with a company to demonstrate food products in grocery stores. I was in college by that time. That job was great. I only had to work weekends and I made a very good salary. When I say weekends, I mean Fridays and Saturdays. The stores were not open Sundays in those days.

I met so many nice people as I went into all of the local grocery stores. I cooked up the products and gave out samples all day trying to persuade the patrons to purchase some of the products that the store had in their meat case.

When I was taking my classes to earn my Masters of Arts degree another opportunity came my way. My student got the chicken pox and was unable to come to class. My instructor asked me to help one of the ladies that I traveled to class with. That turned out to be a good thing. It gave me extra practice in my area of concentration. It also yielded a gift certificate to take my mother and my daughter out for a meal.

In my personal life I was thrilled when I became a mother. With two little ones I was able to teach every day. It was not easy, but it was very rewarding. As I watched my children grow I garnered more information about child development than I ever learned in college. I made the most of my days at home. I spent time with the children teaching not how to read, but about life.

In my working days I had many wonderful opportunities. I have to say that in my days of substituting I learned a great deal. Many of the things that I did on a regular basis when I had my own classroom were learned when I was a sub. I took a basic idea and made it my own.

I loved my job. Although I looked with envy at other professions where salaries were larger, in the end I attended the local college and earned my teaching degree. It was what I was meant to do. I loved the children. I loved being able to teach them. It was exciting personally when a light bulb went on for one of my students.

My husband was one of those people who had to see results daily. It is a good thing that I was not so inclined. Many times I waited for results. Some children did not show signs of maturing and learning until we were well into the grading year.

No, I did not do everything perfectly. No one can and no one does. If you are to make the most of the opportunities that come your way you must accept the fact that no one can be perfect. There will be bumps along the way. Life is what happens while you are striving to reach your goals. It is by your life that you will be measured.

Now that I am retired I have another chance at life. I have gone a completely different direction. I do not volunteer in the field of education. I volunteer in the health care sector and enjoy it very much. My volunteer time is filled with opportunities as I serve others. I can be myself as I perform at the desk or as a friend to someone in need.

“We have a God of the second chance. He not only restores us but recycles our failures, using them for his purposes. .. Failure can be the best preparation for this type of success, if we submit ourselves to its lessons while we wait for another chance.” Elisa Morgan, I’m Tired of Waiting

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net