Friday, June 10, 2011


"Who do you think you are anyway?"

That should be a simple question to answer – but I think back over my life and, as you would expect, the answer keeps changing. In recent years you hear the phrase “ Reinventing yourself” when people retire or change jobs. Sometimes the reinventing or re-identifying is thrust upon us like when we change from children to adolescents

Childhood in NE Kansas ( that's me on the right )

and sometimes it is imposed on us by changes in our vocation, social status, or health. Reinvention implies the development of a new idea that arises from a combination of inspiration and careful work – I think that fits reinventing yourself.

Me at 14, with my Mother and my sister Helen - Visalia CA

My first great reinvention happened when I went away to college – Up to that point, I knew who I was – I lived at home in a middle sized San Joaquin valley town – I liked school – I loved having adventures in the nearby Sierra Mountains - In my summer jobs I sprayed mosquitoes around valley farms…

Me working with the Delta Mosquito Abatement - Visalia

But when I went to San Francisco State College, I was surrounded by people who knew much more of the world than I. I was expected to know what kind of work I wanted to do for the rest of my life – and expected to have social skills I had never encountered before. It was a case of sink or swim – and through it all I struggled to adjust my identity to the new experiences– Those first years, besides learning my college course work, I learned a great deal about people and the wider world..

San Francisco - The college is in the far west of the city - close to the ocean

After graduation from college, I took my summer earnings and set out for a several month hitch-hiking journey across – Scotland – England – Belgium – France – Germany – Austria – Yugoslavia – Greece – Turkey – Syria – Jordan – Italy – Spain …I stayed in youth hostels most of the time – and this was a time of meeting many new people and seeing a wider world than my San Joaquin valley home. I encountered incredible new experiences - but there were, times that were challenging,– and I learned to be resourceful and solve problems as they arose. I had to redefine myself to make sense of all that I was learning.


I returned and completed my teacher training and while still green behind the ears I was hired for my first teaching job as a science teacher. Teaching is hard work but extremely satisfying. To be successful as a teacher it is necessary to be creative and to be willing to work and take risks. To keep the teaching fresh and new it is necessary to challenge yourself with new ideas. Sometimes they work splendidly and sometimes they don’t. A new teacher has to learn to "float with the punches". You learn from the successes and the failures. When an opportunity came along take it and then figure out how to do it before the work begins. I taught every form of Biological sciences. During the school year I was lucky when I could keep one day of the weekend free of school work. But then - there are those grand summer vacations ( when I frequently took advanced classes, seminars, etc. )... but there were also times for great travel adventures...

Me with a horse skull in my laboratory

Meeting Judy and getting married was a huge and positive reinvention of self – Falling in love changes everything - We have been married now for 43 years. Judy and I both keep changing in response to our life experiences and so our challenge has been to be sensitive to the new people that we keep turning into and appreciate anew each stage of our separate and collective development. The secret is to communicate - listening and talking - sharing and being open... We have had many blessings in our lives -sharing good times, common values and interests, guests visiting in our home, raising two sons, travel to beautiful and exotic places, developing our home and garden, satisfying work…and we keep discovering new things to get excited about...

Judy, Andrew and I on a Sierra Lake - Poling a log...

In my so called retirement – (I prefer to call it my encore profession)… I love my work with student teachers. I am currently working with Mills College and the national Teach for America programs – My role is a field supervisor who has the task of observing closely, confirming what is going well, and making constructive suggestions for improvements. I see so much good teaching and have learned so much! I am ready to start my teaching career all over again!
Part of a seminar group - Mills College CA