What do you want to be when you grow up?

I am going to start working on scanning old pictures so that we have all of our pictures saved digitally. I cam across these gems. These are a couple of my senior pictures. Oh how I wish we could all share old pictures together, because nothing brings a laugh like awkward old pictures.What, it isn’t cool to take a picture with a rose hand picked from your garden?Another super natural shot:)

When I was 13 years old, I really wanted to be a Marine Biologist. I wore a dolphin necklace that matched my turquoise silk shirt and studied up to learn tons of facts about whales. I probably watched “Free Willy” 100 times, and I loved singing along to the Michael Jackson song , “Hold me.. like the River Jordan…”. Does anyone else remember that song? Good times. Well, the other day I was chatting with a mom who has a daughter at Lincoln who was telling me about her job as a Marine Biologist. She said that before she had kids, she would drive boats on the ocean in search of whales to tag for research. I of course asked her more about the process, and how exactly a person tags a whale. It was fascinating. It made me feel all nostalgic and excited hearing about her living my 13 year old dream.

If we move forward a few  years, I had my heart set on being a Child Psychologist. I think that I even wrote that in the graduation insert where we all had to write our plans for after high school. Well friends, it is getting close to 20 years from the time I dreamed of being a Marine Biologist, and I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up. I am not in a huge hurry to figure out career plans, but as Miriam gains more and more independence, it definitely has been filling my thoughts more. Here are some of my random thoughts:

  • I love teaching the Live and Learn with your Baby classes at LBCC. I have been doing it for almost 6 years, and I get so much fulfillment out of this little very part time job of mine. I also just went to a 2 day training for a new curriculum, and it was so fun. I felt like I was with “my people” at the training. So you may be wondering why I don’t just continue to do what I love? I certainly would like to, but with my current job situation, there is probably not very much potential to add very many more hours. With the part time faculty in our department, I’m pretty sure that they would never give someone enough fte to receive benefits because of lack of funding. I would love if this job could turn into more, and maybe it can a tiny bit more, but not a lot. Bummer… I really like this job. Any ideas from anyone of how I can stay in Parent Education but build more hours?
  • Chris suggested a while back that I consider teaching. I have taught preschool briefly, but I honestly have never had that much interest in becoming an elementary teacher. This year, I have been able to lead a couple of lengthy art/writing project in Sofia’s class, and I have loved it. Way more than I thought I would actually. First graders are so adorable and so excited about life and learning. My good experiences in Sofia’s class have made me reconsider my doubts about whether or not I could handle the stresses of teaching. I even contacted WOU to find out which classes I would have to take for my certification. If I really think about how much a teacher has to work and all  of the demands of parents and standardized testing, I can start to talk myself out of considering teaching as an option, but when I think of my love for kids and the idea of having the same schedule as my kids, I can’t help but reconsider.
  • Last year I went to a training on Filial Play Therapy, and I loved it. The whole concept of Play Therapy (and specifically Filial) really clicked with me. In order to do this job, I would have to go to Grad school to become a counselor of some sort and then work on a lengthy play therapy certification on top of that. The idea of grad school excites me in a lot of ways and definitely scares me too. How will be pay for it? How will I find the time to study? When would the right time for me to start be? Which program would I want to do? Lots of questions. I really need to talk to some play therapists and get the lowdown about the pros and cons that come with the job. I also need to look into what I could eventually end up making and what the pros and cons are with either working for an agency or working independently. This idea is definitely one that I feel excited about when I talk about it, so that definitely counts for something?
  • My sister Kris is a certified “Music Together” teacher in Eugene. I have considered becoming certified to teach in Corvallis and then to try to build something here in Corvallis. I’m not sure it is something that would make very much money and be consistent, but it sure would be fun.
  • I have also thought about writing children’s music. Come on friends… who can I count on to buy a cd :)?
  • I think that there are a lot of fields that I haven’t really considered working in that maybe I would like. Nutrition, public health??? I once dreamed up this idea that maybe I could go into home and give health makeovers. Help with diet, picky eating etc… Not sure if there would be a market for anything like this, but we are becoming a pretty darn unhealthy country, so maybe there would be?
  • It is very important for me to be there for my kids as much as possible. In my dream world, I would work a job every day from 8-12 and then be home with my kids the rest of the time. I’m not sure how realistic that idea is, but it would definitely be awesome. I love love my job as a mother, but I definitely always saw myself having some sort of career, even if it just be something that is very part-time.
  • I am actually pretty  much where I thought I would be at this stage in my life right now. Sometimes I wish that I would have gotten grad school out of the way before I had kids when it would have been so much easier, but I actually think that I would be a much wiser student now.

Okay friends, those are a few of my many thoughts and ideas. If you could please answer a few questions for me:

  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Is there anyone like me who is still figuring this out?
  • If you are doing what you want to be, how did you arrive to be where you are? What training/education did you have to receive? Was there anyone who inspired you or pushed you into your field?
  • For those of you who know me, do you have any other career ideas for me to throw into the mix? I would love for people to help me think outside of the box a bit.
  • Does anyone else need ideas?


Teesha - March 3, 2013 - 11:18 pm

One little nugget of encouragement that you might find useful at some point in your journey…….when I was considering going to grad school, but was belly-aching about how old I’d be when I finished getting my Masters in Music Therapy, a very wise friend said “so what, so you’ll be 35. You are going to get there in the same amount of time. Do you want to arrive at 35 with or without your degree?” That really helped put things in perspective and I never looked back :)
I don’t have any other creative ideas for you – all of them sound great and I’m sure the right choice will rise up in your heart!

Adrienne W - March 4, 2013 - 6:50 am

Oh, Kara! No wonder we’re such good friends! I often think about what I’m going to be when I grow up. And I also wanted to be a Marine Biologist. I wanted to live in Oregon and either work on a whale watching boat or at the aquarium so I could teach people. ( I live in land locked northern Alberta!) I also looked into Play Therapy when I was in school. Then after I had little kids, I felt like I couldn’t handle it as well. I don’t think I could distance myself like I once could. When I was in school (and roomies with you) I was going to be a Music Therapist, but I felt like it might be too specific and hard to find work. Now I go through a million scenarios in my mind of what I would be -everything from a dolphin trainer to a doctor (I don’t think either of these will plan out ;) ). I’m not sure what I’ll do, but it’s exciting to think about. I could see you being successful and loving anyone of those options! And I’d buy your children’s CD for sure. Hey, maybe we should go in on that together! :)

Katrina - March 4, 2013 - 8:36 am

Recently I’ve become enamored with the idea of becoming a children’s librarian. I have zero interest in cataloging and archiving, and I’m not sure how much of that would be a part of it, but I do love the idea of developing programs to promote literacy and I’d love to be an expert in children’s literature. It would require grad school, and I don’t think there are a lot of jobs available, but how awesome would it be to be in charge of story hour every week?

Kelly - March 4, 2013 - 9:00 am

I’m pretty sure I know which marine biologist mom you’re talking about. Living in a small town is so great. Anyway, I’m a firm believer in following your passion. If you do what you love, it will never feel like work and you will excel and the money will follow. This experience will be a great model for your kids.

Leah - March 4, 2013 - 10:02 am


I wanted to be a Marine Biologist too! I think I was about 10… I had a dolphin ring, dolphin Christmas ornaments, and even planned to get a dolphin tatoo when I got older (thankfully didn’t happen though). I wanted to be the trainer at Marine World and teach people about conservation. My parents even ok’d me going to Oregon State since they offered the program, even though they both went to U of O haha

You would be amazing at any of the jobs you’ve listed! Trust your instincts, keep your eyes and heart open, and let God lead you on your journey. How exciting to consider the possibilities!


Mondisa - March 4, 2013 - 10:50 am

For the longest time I was determined to be a horse trainer and riding instructor. All I wanted to do was be at the barn and I swore that I would never get married or have kids. I even started out at Oregon State as an Animal Science major and my horse went with me. I had it all planned out.

Fast forward about 15 years – I don’t even have horses anymore. I still love them, but they’re not my focus. Not only am I married, but I have FOUR kids. I did get my degree, but not in Animal Science. I have a BS in Business and my Master’s in Business Administration. I feel like I should have everything planned out now and that I should be walking that path already. I did all that work and spent all that time and instead, all I really want to do is be home with my kids.

I’ve been trying to find a way to do that and still use the education I worked so hard for. Working from home is something new that the company I work for is offering, so I feel very blessed to be home 2x a week now, but I’m still not with the kids as much as I’d like to be. I can feel that something else is coming – I don’t know what and I don’t know how, but I’m going to get that opportunity. I believe that completely.

Kara, you inspire me as a mom. I love seeing and hearing about you and your family and your experiences. My only advice would be to do what feels right and don’t be afraid to try some of the things you mentioned. It might not work out, but sometimes the process of trying is more important than succeeding. :)

Kara - March 4, 2013 - 8:09 pm

I used to think about being a music therapist, but I’m pretty sure we live nowhere near a program? Thanks for the advice. Blessings to you and your family with the near arrival of new baby Teesha!
We should totally make children’s music together. I vote that you do dolphin training so you can live somewhere warm :).
I also have thought about being a children’s librarian. Yes, the issues is that 1)Not sure there is a program in the area and 2) Very limited jobs. It would seriously be the coolest job though!Being around children’s books all day and helping families would be so awesome! I wonder if U of O has a program you could do?
Thanks for the advice. That is what I am trying to figure out… what really is my passion and then how to make it happen. I will probably have to work for at least 20 years, so I definitely want to love it. Also the reason why I don’t want to rush into making the decision of what to do. I don’t want to do extra schooling for something that I’m not excited about! So happy for you to have found something you are so good at and love!
I am noticing a marine biologist passion with a lot of us :). Leah, I’d be curious to hear more about how you decided to do what you are doing? Are you an ultra sound tech? Thanks for the reminder that God WILL lead me on my journey if I keep my heart open.
Thanks so much for your sweet and insightful comment. Fun to hear more about your journey. You are juggling a lot right now, and I bet that you are doing a great job with it! Thanks for the reminder to be okay with failure. I have a hard time with that sometimes, and it is important to remember that it is all part of the journey.

Katrina - March 4, 2013 - 8:14 pm

U of O doesn’t have a library sciences program. They are pretty few and far between. I think the nearest is in Seattle at UW. Anyway, I’m still several years away from committing to anything.

Meaghan - March 4, 2013 - 8:21 pm

When I think of you, I think of a life coach. You are doing that now really…you could education young minds or those young at heart about a number of things: nutrition, fashion, etiquette, morals, exercise…the list goes on.
My grandmother taught illiterate adults how to read. She travelled to Italy and taught night classes. She did this with family in tow. We still use the spaghetti recipe she obtained from a student there.

Kris - March 4, 2013 - 9:02 pm

Katrina-There is a library science program at one of the private Portland colleges…Lewis and Clark maybe and they offer online classes. My friend was taking Masters level classes there.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being noncommittal. A career move every five years or so would be awesome! Our modern focus on intense specialization is crazy making and leaves those of us with many passions and interests feeling compromised. Also, compensation systems can disincentivize stretching into new territory. I am also concerned at the lack of perspective and loss of opportunity to make connections when one focuses on the micro.

I don’t think it is too late to be all of those things Kara.

Kara - March 8, 2013 - 8:20 pm

You are a sweetie. I want to come see the babe some time!!
It’s true. I think it was generations of old who worked the same job for 35 years. It will be interesting to see, though, how retirement works out for all of us, or if we keep on working doing something that we love!