Do What You Love
Sometimes, out of the swirling chaos of information and ideas and worries and hopes that are our daily lives, a theme emerges. For me, job satisfaction has been like a tune that gets stuck in my head – no matter what I’m doing, at some point I realize I’m thinking about it again.
I work several jobs and I’m preparing to reorganize and make some shifts in an effort to better align what I do with what I want to do. I’ve been inspired by three women.
First, let me tell you about Genya Ravan. She’s a rocker. Literally. As Goldie of Goldie and the Gingerbreads, she was part of one of the first all-woman groups to win a record label contract. That group is credited as a pioneer for women in rock. To see them is to recognize a formula that Berry Gordy at Motown used to propel The Supremes and other "girl" acts to mainstream popularity.
But Genya had a big voice, one that drew comparisons to Janis Joplin (which , she says, annoyed her at the time). And so she jumped to bigger music, fronting Ten Wheel Drive and carving out her niche as a hard-hitting, soulful powerhouse.
The collapse of the record industry hurt her budding solo career, as it did to so many artists. But Genya is feisty, fierce and funny and she’s a survivor. She is singing again, produced a critically acclaimed debut album by punkers the Dead Boys, and she hosts a show featuring indie artists as part of the nationally syndicated Little Steven’s Underground Garage.
But she loves music. Period. Full stop. And so she does it. It doesn’t always pay well, it isn’t always pretty, but it’s her life.
The very next week, I spoke with Lorenza Ponce, a little fireball who makes sparks fly from her violin behind artists like Jon Bon Jovi and Sheryl Crowe. She’s pushing a solo album and despite her global travels on tour, the glamorous life has sometimes left her flat.
"I’ve had to work temp jobs between gigs,"she said. "It’s what you have to do sometimes if you want to be a musician. Especially a rock violinist."
In fact everyone told her she couldn’t BE a rock violinist. There was no such thing.
"But they were wrong!"she laughed.
And finally, let me tell you about Kathy Caldwell. The past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers might seem to have nothing at all in common with two musicians. But what I heard in her voice as she discussed the sorry condition of the nation’s roads, sewers, water systems and dams was passion – the same passion Genya and Lorenza have for music. The ASCE Report Card on the nation’s systems is something that’s more than work – it’s a mission.
I’m keeping all three of them in mind as I consider the options in my own professional life. Yes, it’s a recession. Yes, good jobs are scarce. But money truly is NOT everything and, for me, the lesson is that I require more than a good job. I need to be doing something I love. And if living more simply and cutting my spending gives me more freedom to consider the jobs that pay my spirit as well as my wallet, that’s a fair trade.
Do what you love and the money will follow, the old saying goes. Even if it doesn’t, what’s job satisfaction worth to you?
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Barnett is the producer and host of 51%
The Women’s Perspective,
a weekly women’s issues radio show carried nationally on NPR,
ABC and Armed Forces Radio stations. 51% The Women’s Perspective
is part of WAMC
- Northeast Public Radio’s national productions. "The View From Outside," Susan Barnett’s new collection of short fiction, is available in eBook format at Amazon and Barnes and Noble through Hen House Press. You can connect with her on Facebook.
Photo by DB Leonard.