Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Following your heart, or not November 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:25 PM
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Me and my camera, a tool in the writing profession I love.

ARE YOU FOLLOWING your life’s passion in your chosen profession?

That topic came up for discussion at a weekend gathering with extended family.

I was surprised to learn that my uncle always wanted to be a college history professor dressed in a tweed jacket with elbow patches. I looked at him through fresh eyes, wondering why I never knew this about a man who recently retired after decades of driving a delivery truck.

He wasn’t discontent in his job, simply wished that he could have pursued his love of history as his life’s work.

It wasn’t all that long ago when I learned that my maternal grandfather, my uncle’s father, wanted to be a lawyer, not the farmer his father expected him, and pushed him, to become. Today his grandson, my youngest brother, is an attorney.

A sister who always wanted to teach initially chose another profession because a high school counselor told her she wouldn’t find a teaching job. She listened to his advice and attended technical college to become a travel agent. When that didn’t work out, she found herself working at a bank. Later she would enroll in a four-year college and today teaches special education. She still regrets those wasted years of failing to follow her heart.

Likewise, the father of a friend advised her to choose a practical career as a nurse rather than pursue her dream of a career in art. Today she’s still a nurse, pursuing her artistic interests on the side.

My father, upon returning to his southwestern Minnesota farm from a tour of duty as a foot soldier/infantryman during the Korean War, desired a job as a highway patrolman. With only an eighth grade education and likely because it was expected of him, he stayed on the farm to milk cows and work the fields.

I have to applaud my parents for never once pushing any of their six children into a career. Today my siblings are engaged in diverse occupations as a parts manager at a southwestern Minnesota implement dealership, a floral designer, the CEO/GM of an ethanol plant, a special education teacher and an attorney.

I’m the writer, following my passion for language and the written word. In all honesty, though, my husband’s job as an automotive machinist pays the bills and keeps the roof over our heads. My spouse enjoys his work, but he always wanted to be a rural mail carrier and even took a U.S. Postal Service exam some 20-plus years ago to try and break into the postal ranks. That never happened.

I cite all of the above examples because I suspect the majority of us are working at jobs that are not true to our passions in life.

Perhaps it’s circumstances or money or geographical location or a parent who pushed or a counselor who misguided—whatever the reasons, something has kept most of us from working at jobs in which we are truly content, that make our hearts sing.

TELL ME. Are you working at a job that follows your passion? If you aren’t, why not, and what job would allow you to follow your heart?

Let’s hear what you have to say.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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10 Responses to “Following your heart, or not”

  1. ceciliag Says:

    i was a teacher and loved it stage director- loved that, artistic director love loved that, photographer loved it, directors assistant loved it, waitress loved that, model loved that a bit, script developer really loved that, and now a farmer/writer really love it but it is a bit lonely after all the aforementioned jobs.which often i did all at once.. .I am generally a lucky person .. good question.. c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Sounds more like an individual who chose to follow her heart than “luck.” I can tell from reading your blog that you truly are content where you are at in your life and have mostly always felt that way.

  2. Neil Says:

    During a visit with the high school career counselor, she suggested that I’d be well suited to do clinical laboratory work.  When she described the job, it didn’t sound very appealling (without some major spin doctoring, the job description for this career still doesn’t sound very appealling…).  As a teen, I was pretty clueless as to what career field to pursue… too many choices… of course, the ones that interested me most required a good deal of schooling to even get your foot in the door.  Long story short, it was roughly 12 years later before I finally began working in the clinical lab.  The thought occasionally passed though my mind, “how’d that woman know I would like this?”  I always thought that she had just looked at my classes, grades & interests and matched them up to a career field.  I found out years later that there was likely more to it than that.I happened across her obituary while looking at the hometown paper one day.  Turns out that she had a degree in clinical laboratory science and had worked in the field for a number of years before becoming a high school career counselor!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Now that’s interesting. The counselor’s career switch seems quite dramatic. Makes you wonder if someone advised her to pursue a degree in clinical lab science rather than follow her heart and become a counselor.

  3. Milo Larson Says:

    While working for a vending company and amusement company and playing drums in a band which I really enjoyed for 20 years I fell into owning a print shop.

    Knowing nothing about printing, paper, or computing I was fortunate to find something that I look forward to going to every day for the past 22 years. All though we are only open 5 days a week I love to go down on weekends to clean, organize, paint, take care of 6 apartments upstairs and just be present.

    This also has afforded me to be involved with many organizations the past 22 years and to help many unfortunate people. I have also been able to dabble in blogs which I hope to do more of in the future. I have been very fortunate in my lifetime to work by myself and to own my own business.

    There are two things I want to do in the future is write human interest stories, and take more pictures with a good camera.

    Great story Audrey, thanks for making us all think.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I so enjoy reading stories like yours, Milo, that show me there are individuals out there who truly love their jobs. I’ve seen first-hand all you’ve done in the Faribault community to help others. Your approach to life and to giving is something we should all aim to emulate.

      Please keep me posted on your future writing and photographic endeavors. I’ve found that my talents in writing and photography can be used, too, to help others, or in the case of this post, make us all think.

  4. Jana Bouma Says:

    After college teaching and then 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, I just started a new job as an academic advisor for students who need some extra support to succeed in college–and discovered this is my passion! Who knew?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      This simply goes to prove that it’s never too late to try something new. I’m so happy you found your passion in advising students. They sense your passion, of that I’m certain.

      I also chose to be a stay-at-home mom once my first daughter was born. Eventually I eased back into writing after the third child grew older.

  5. Donna Says:

    Oh my, I don’t remember ever being encouraged to be anything but a wife and mother by my Dad, my mother never said a word! In 1957 I quit high school, worked as a waittress for about three months and knew I didn’t care for that type of work – went to a Business College in Seattle, Worked for one year at an Insurance Company – left there for a better paying job at $200.00 a month at SmYth The Smoother Mover, also in Seattle. Married, divorced, married, divorced, married now 38 years, 4 grown children. When my son enlisted in the Navy right out of high school my life was my own, with an ambition all for me. I went to college, was hired at the local library and continued with my passion for books. I have since retired but am still surrounded by books as a volunteer in our church library. I absolutely love being around books, talking about books, buying books, and of course I read a lot!


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