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DECEMBER 12, 2013
Introduction Have Passion. Dream. Work for the Joy, Not the Check.
The Mountain Do I really think everyone can work at a job they truly enjoy? Why not? If you are working at a job you really dislike, read on. If your life has been a series of menial jobs with no chance for growth or satisfaction, read on. If you are unemployed and think there is no hope for you to ever find meaningful employment, read on. If you are not having fun at what you do... This website is all about attitude, compromise, self-examination, dedication, and hard work. It’s about taking risks, falling flat on your face and getting back up, again and again. It’s about humility, compassion, and caring for others. But most of all, it’s about never giving up on a dream and achieving things you thought impossible.   People have called me out of touch, unrealistic, a romantic. Some teenagers I have known considered me too detail-oriented; a person who does more than necessary - a perfectionist. Generally, both the young and the old tell me that things aren’t like they use to be. That what happened to me in my career was a fluke; a series of lucky happenstances. Such opportunities are things of the past - never to occur again. Maybe they are right. Maybe I was just lucky and the stars in my celestial universe came into a unique alignment that will never be seen again. Maybe the opportunities and advantages I encountered can never be realized by anyone else. Maybe. I currently live in Staunton, Virginia; in the beautiful Shenandoah valley. I retired to this quiet city after spending more that 20 years in northern Virginia working and helping raise a family. One way to get to Staunton from northern Virginia is to take Route 64 which brings you over Afton mountain, just a few miles East of Staunton. The view from the top of Afton is worth taking in as rolling hills and farmlands fill the green valley below and stretch to the horizon, only to be interrupted by the old Blue Ridge mountains in the hazy distance. I had traveled over Afton mountain at least once a week for several years, and it never meant anything more to me than a pleasant view -until I started to teach school.  I was meeting and making friends with students whose ages ranged from seven to 70 years old, and beyond. I was teaching adults in evening courses, pre-teens in summer camp, and teenagers in our middle school. Many of these students were native to the Shenandoah area and I began to notice how too many of them had low self esteem and limited expectations of themselves and their futures.   Some Staunton students were expecting nothing more than to live, work and die in the Valley; doing the same their parents had done before them. Incredibly, their parents often had the same limited expectations of their children. Too few students talked about going to college or acquiring a trade, but too many were expecting to make it big without having an inkling of what they might do to help shape their future. A few talked about getting into the big money as professional athletes, but none that I knew showed the willingness to practice hard and aim high in their chosen sport. Their mega-million dollar careers were just supposed to happen. Listening to so many young people with these low or unrealistic expectations created, in my mind, a kind of cultural barrier they were unwilling to break. Afton mountain became my metaphor for that barrier. Often I would say to these young people, “Have you ever tried to see what lies beyond the mountain.
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