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What I Learned from Some Unusual Jobs

Another Way for week of May 17, 2019

What I Learned from Some Unusual Jobs

Everywhere it seems I see signs shouting, “Job openings.” The newspaper heralds that unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 50 years. This summer should be a good time for kids to find summer work that not only pays steady money—jobs are ripe learning opportunities for all who take them seriously, even if it’s babysitting, cleaning, waiting tables, or painting walls. Like many girls or women, I have done plenty of each of those.

But here are ten of the more unusual jobs I’ve had. I’m so glad I took the time to write down the odd jobs I had from about age 12 until I took my first permanent job at 24. (And when I say permanent—I stuck with that job for almost 44 years until I retired two months ago—although with many changes in assignments.)

Draftswoman at Mobile Home Factory. My dad, a farmer all his life, went into business with three other men manufacturing mobile homes. They needed someone to sketch blueprints from other previously made plans, so I pretty much copied them, making small changes Dad or others requested. It was a hoot. What if I had taken that up as a career? I was always a doodler, and this job felt like getting paid to doodle. Made $1.80 an hour.

Double click on this to enlarge and you should be able to read more details about my job working in a lumber mill. Written as a fictional short story. Most of the details as written were true. I don’t remember now whether I worked one night or two.

The Worst Job I Ever Had. In a lumber mill taking plywood out of a hot air dryer. On the night shift. In a Florida summer. Pay: $2.05 an hour. No bathroom breaks. No lunch breaks. The other women said you just had to “get ahead enough” to dash to the bathroom or grab a bite to eat. I quit after two nights, the only job I ever quit so soon. I told myself, “There HAS to be a better job than this.”

Ever wonder how those shirts get folded so neat and concise and filled with all kinds of straight pins? Humans did the job (1973) with the help of a gadget or machine or two.

The Shirt Factory. I applied the next day for a job packing shirts in a shirt factory. All those pins they put in men’s packaged shirts? I did that over and over. Pay $2.00 an hour. I learned about people’s marital affairs, cussing, gossip, and having each other’s back—even if there was occasional backstabbing.

Clerical Work for the School Board. I filed financial records and learned what everyone in the educational system earned, from janitor to superintendent. My pay: $2.10 an hour. A bonus was losing weight by taking long lunch hour walks after scarfing down a sandwich.

Party Prep. My fun Aunt Arlene was also a great party thrower (they go together, right?). She had a large house; I cleaned and helped get ready for parties, which I loved. Making everything pretty, watching her arrange flowers, beautiful tablecloths, napkins. She and her husband ran a home decorating store. Pay $1.25 an hour.

Dress Alterations. As a college student one year, I advertised my services for cooking, baking, sewing. A doctor’s wife who had an unusual permanent swelling reaction in her arm after breast cancer, needed someone to remake all the sleeves in her clothes to accommodate the larger size on one arm. Pay: $2 an hour.

Ironing. Yes, it was a thing back then. Women spent whole days or at least half days ironing everything from sheets to underwear to shirts. I advertised that I would iron. Pay: $1.50 – $2.00 an hour. I actually enjoyed it, making clothes neat. Today I have a son-in-law who irons.

Picking up Pecans. These last three jobs were all for the same man, Fred, in north Florida: a single dad with three children close to my age, but he needed help. Paid 10 pennies for each pound of pecans picked. (Say that real fast three times.)

Picking Up Leftover Corn in Field. Farm help for Fred. Great exercise and it helped me pay for three new/remade outfits I needed when I was elected to the homecoming court as a high school senior in north Florida. Pay: $1.50 an hour.

Pruning Shrubbery. Somehow, there was never enough time for this farmer to also prune shrubs. I didn’t mind the outdoor work: better than cleaning. Pay $1.50 an hour.

What are your job memories and stories? I would truly love to hear.

What was your worst job? Best ever?

What did you learn? Earn?

Or, just for fun: do you iron? How often? Inquiring minds want to know! Comment here on any or all of the above.


For a free booklet “Work Therapy,” write to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



My Grandma Miller: An Orphan

Grandma Barbara Miller and Grandpa Uriah Miller, a little younger than I remember them.

Another Way for week of May 10, 2019

My Grandma Miller: Orphaned

I was fortunate to grow up in a three generational home. Now that I’m a grandmother I’ve been thinking about what a having a grandmother means to children.

My Grandma Barbara Kauffman Miller and Grandpa Uriah Miller, on my dad’s side lived in an apartment or “dawdy haus” (in Pennsylvania Dutch) built on the side of our farm house. It was a precious way to grow up with Grandma and Grandpa just a door away. I remember her sugar cookies and dunking them into large wide coffee cups with a saucer underneath to catch the spills. We loved snuggling with Grandma on her lap: it was very ample, and grandmotherly. I know she loved us dearly even though she was not able to get down on the floor and play (although Grandpa did!).

See Barbara’s name and age–6–and her older brothers. She had additional siblings who were already out of school and some married when she was 6.

On a recent trip to visit my own mother, I was elated to discover a paper showing my grandmother’s enrollment in first grade at the age of six in 1886. That really turned my head: the original document with a list of the other students in her school, including the names and ages of her brothers. They were orphaned when she was five, and bravely she started school approximately a year later.

Barbara lost her mother just 11 hours after she was born. Her mother was 42. This kind of loss was more common at that time, but how sad. It reminds me that there are plenty of women during this month of celebrating mothers, who feel torn and tormented by not having children, losing a precious child, or having an abusive mother or family situation.

Their wedding picture!! So formal!

My grandmother was very attached to her father those first five years. There were nine siblings in all, some of them already married by the time she was born. In a speech she wrote to share at a family reunion about her history, she noted, “me and my father were great chums.” When she became an orphan, she was moved around among relatives. I think not all of those experiences were happy because she got married at 17. That wasn’t considered so young of course in those days, but their marriage blossomed for 67 years, until Grandma died at the age of 84.

I was just ten when she died. We grandchildren all remember Grandpa Miller taking a bud from one of his rose bushes to put in her hand for the days of visitation by friends and family and for the actual funeral service.

A treasured formal photo of my grandma at age 11.

One reader of this column, “Elsie” gave me more insights into the life and times of Grandma Miller. Elsie said she worked as a hired girl in the home of my Grandma and Grandpa while my dad was still at home: she was 18, my father was 19, and his only brother, Truman was 26. She recalled that the family asked Elsie if she could stand to be teased and replied, “Yes, I have two brothers.” Elsie recalled my grandmother having a huge iron skillet which “made the best fried potatoes” she ever ate. She also recalled my grandma making excellent rolled out lemon cookies. Every Saturday, Elsie and my grandma baked around ten pies to feed the family dessert all week.

Grandpa Uriah Miller and Barbara Miller the way I remember them, in front of the playhouse Dad build for us. We have a replica of that playhouse at our home today for our grandsons to play in, also built by my Dad and renovated in 2013 by my husband and daughters.

You can bet that those snippets of memories from my grandma’s kitchen are very precious. May they remind you to write or videotape stories so you and your loved ones will remember and know some of the history of your family. Sometimes it appears that younger folks don’t value or remember family history, but many will come to treasure it, especially as they are older.

Plus, don’t forget to show love and appreciation to the mother you have, even if she wasn’t “the best.” If your mother was destructive or abusive or “not present” much in your life, use the bad experiences to be the best mother (or father) you can be and reach out to children who are in difficult, dangerous, or sad situations. Let’s hear it for great moms—and grandmothers!


Grandpa and Grandma on their outrageous jet plane trip to California from Indiana. My grandpa traveled by covered wagon and jet, all in one lifetime. Love Grandma’s head shawl here and Grandpa’s hat–and cane!

I’d love to hear your memories or stories of your grandmother.


Did your parents or grandparents ever do anything outrageous–read the caption on the photo to the left to learn of an amazing trip they took very late in life.


And if any of you with Indiana or LaGrange County, Ind. relatives see any names you know on the school roster, please let me know!! I would love to hear from you.

Comment here or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  




Facing Decisions about Aging Loved Ones

Another Way for week of May 3, 2919

Facing Decisions about Aging Loved Ones

Two summers ago at a church convention in Orlando, Fla., I had a soul stirring conversation with a former acquaintance whom I knew multiple ways. I’ll call him Steve. His mother was a tablemate of my mother’s for several weeks in a healthcare facility a few years ago while my mother recovered from some pretty serious surgery. His mother lived at the facility for fulltime care. My sisters and I ate numerous meals with them as we took turns hanging out as Mom got rehab, adjusted to her new regimen, and eventually moved back to her independent apartment.

Steve and his father had gone through some tough decisions regarding his mother’s care; families dealing with aging parents were fresh on my mind from helping conduct a seminar that week with family therapists Gerald and Marlene Kaufman, authors of the book Necessary Conversations Between Families and their Aging Parents (Good Books, 2017).

Several pieces of advice from Steve stick out. At some point my friend realized that he as a son needed to step up and make a decision that his father simply couldn’t make. “Perhaps Dad literally can’t bring himself to make a decision about Mom,” Steve reflected. He was speaking about the great difficulty they had in facing that it was time to move his mother to healthcare. Other tough decisions include feeding your parent, or intubating so they don’t starve, or deciding to have the DNR “Do Not Resuscitate” order on health records.

He recalled phone calls with his mother as being very hard—and then they became impossible. I’m not sure if that was because of hearing issues, or memory losses, or what. But if you’ve ever been in that situation, you know how painful it becomes when even a simple phone conversation with your mother or father or grandparent—deeply intelligent and robust at one time—just becomes a one-way monologue or shouting match. Very sad. At what point do you stop making mechanical or technical or medical interventions? How do you let go?

“Try to make sure ahead of time the family is on the same page in making decisions,” he said. Steve said doctors and nurses who work in the emergency room had shared with him that when kids come in with an older family member, many times they are not of one mind about what kind of care the parent should receive. “It is heartbreaking to do CPR on a frail body,” Steve said doctors told him. If you’ve seen CPR performed in real life or on TV, you know how strenuous that attempt at saving a life by pushing repeatedly on the chest can become. Steve said we need to get to the point where we recognize that it may be best for Mom or Dad to “go home to Jesus.”

On the other hand, older patients have been revived after a heart episode or other trauma and gone on to thankfully live many additional years and be grateful for them. I worked with one author and medical doctor, Glen Miller who went through major heart episodes and went on to write the book Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well (Herald Press, 2014). In some ways I feel that memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s can be the hardest to deal with.

Regardless of the specific difficulties and decisions, Steve gave this excellent piece of advice he had learned from others that I want to leave with you as well: “The ones who visit their parent or loved one are the ones who have fewer regrets after a parent has passed away.”

I’m grateful my own mother is still in relatively good health and that my husband and I are also. But I know as surely as the sun comes up, those days of difficult decisions and changing needs will come for most of us.

For a free booklet “Wondering What’s Best for an Aging Parent” and my own “A Loving Legacy” providing a guide to the conversations we need to have with our children or parents, write to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. I have plenty of A Loving Legacy if you would like several copies to share.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



Pie Lady Moments

Another Way for week of April 26, 2019

Pie Lady Moments

If you’re wondering, “pie lady?” what on earth is that, I don’t blame you. Greta Isaac is author of a new book, The Pie Lady: Classic Stories from a Mennonite Cook and Her Friends. In it, Greta shares 32 stories of “pie ladies” and their best recipes in a book that is more story than cookbook. I was privileged to serve as the managing editor for this book in my waning months at Herald Press before retiring, and had a lot of back and forth by phone and email with the author as we edited and revised to get all of her details just perfect. She’s an awesome writer and mom.

The Kansas author’s approach is 100 percent upbeat and beautiful—mingled with an earthy reality among plainer Mennonites who have mostly unpretentious homes, modest farmsteads and a “more with less” approach to life. The women Greta invited to share true stories here are, for the most part not Amish nor Old Order nor thoroughly “modern” Mennonite, but women who dress very modestly by choice or tradition. They quite often find fulfillment and deep happiness in raising their families and working at home. In the introduction, the author writes of the women, “Each life is so amazing, and so full.”

The Pie Lady book starts with Greta’s own growing up days when her grandmother, who lived in Texas, was a literal “Pie Lady.” Greta loved visiting Grandma for a week in summer and helped with pie prep when they loaded up homemade pies in “perfect pie boxes stacked on specially made racks in the trunk of her car, and took them to the local café. There people sprang to open the door and the fridge [saying]: ‘Here’s the Pie Lady!’”

The moment I first read those lines, memories of my mother making yeast-raised cinnamon rolls when we lived in north Florida, and transporting them to the small steak house where I worked as a waitress one summer. The restaurant and customers quickly dubbed her delicacy “Mennonite Sweet Rolls.”

But Greta’s “Pie Lady Moments” can better be described with the word she chooses, “sparkly,” to indicate the many magical moments in our lives and families as pure gold—and having nothing to do with money or heaven forbid, actual jewelry.

Greta relates the story of Julia, a new bride during World War II. When their baby was born, and her husband was serving with Civilian Public Service, she took a job as “house help” for awhile so she could earn money and also care for their small son. In the home where she worked, she loved “learning how to set a beautiful table, loved caring for beautiful things.”

Unfortunately, their first child, Steve, died at the age of three and they mourned him deeply. Five more sons and a daughter came along who, as Julia relates “of course never completely filled his place.” But Julia always had an eye for bright and beautiful things. “All her life, she loved to set the table the way she had learned when she [worked as house help]. She loved making something new and serving it on a red tablecloth. Friends from India taught her to make chicken curry, each topping served in special lovely dishes.”

Somewhere along the line, I also picked up a love for setting a beautiful table—within the limits of our budget and housewares. I remember loving to set the table for company for Mom: for a while her “china” plates were deep emerald green with bubble bumps around the edges, and stemware that matched plates at their bubbled base. If Mom and Dad went away for a banquet or evening out and we kids were feeling adventurous, my older sister cooked a “restaurant” meal—such as with real French fries (!). I set the table using Mom’s best dishes, and one of us would play waitress and we probably made my younger brother be busboy.

If you pick up this delightful book, I’ll wager that within pages, your own mind will rock back to times of enjoying beauty in everyday life—or the special foods you or your own parents made when they had company over or for a special treat just for your family. At the least it will help you better appreciate the lovely people, special possessions, and moments in your own life.

What stories does this stir up for you? Comments are embraced!

Find more information on Greta’s book at  I’d love to hear your stories! Send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  



An Easter Message from Beyond

A bit late because I was traveling and we give newspapers a week to publish the columns before posting here.

Another Way for week of April 19, 2019

An Easter Message from Beyond

For an Easter reflection I feel compelled to share a little of the story of a friend and fellow church member, Charles Churchman II, who died last December at age 89. A poet and English professor, he once wrote “Do not dread darkness at the day’s decline” inspired by Dylan Thomas’s well-known “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Those of us attending the memorial service for Charles in January were able to pick up a lovely free volume of poetry Charles had penned over the years.

As far as I know, my husband and I were the last ones to serve communion to Charles. Our pastor had asked us to share the bread and grape juice at our annual Christmas Eve Lord’s Supper as he communed from his seat. When the announcement came that Charles had died on Sunday morning December 30, that special connection was the first thing I thought of.

Charles and his wife Pat knew my husband Stuart since he was a young boy and were generous in sharing their family experiences with him because his own mother was unable to participate in many of the family outings or excursions most of us enjoy. Several years ago Stuart reflected in a Father’s Day tribute at church, “The Churchmans invited me to go camping or hiking with them at times, which I couldn’t do with my own family because my mother was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. So the Churchmans have meant a lot to me through the years. You never know how what you do will affect the lives of other people.”

Charles was a great naturalist and lover of the outdoors, enjoying many hikes, camping trips, fishing and just relaxing in nature.

But the Churchman family went through more illnesses and accidents than any family should have to endure. I’ll not recount them all here. Charles II and his son Charles III–known as Chad–both suffered severe head injuries—years apart—resulting in comas. They both recovered although Chad especially had long lasting effects. These things led to years of intense questioning about faith and the why’s. Charles and Pat’s oldest son John almost died of meningitis. Their daughter Beth and her husband’s family grieved tragic losses of young family members. Ultimately, Charles’s youngest son, Chad, died unexpectedly in August of 2017, at the age of 55.

The doubts expressed by the senior Charles were not just a result of bad things happening to good people—but the bigger how’s: how could a kind and loving God permit the immense suffering endured by millions around the world? What about the various religious faiths in the world? Where is God when we question and wonder? Is it okay to be angry at God? I heard Charles pose these and many other probing questions in our Sunday school classes and small group discussions. I sometimes despaired for his faith.

Charles’s journey in his final days, however, as described by his daughter Catherine and verified by his wife and family, was an amazing witness to the afterlife that Easter points to. Catherine shared at the memorial service, “Dad taught messages through his life, and through his actions. He was not one to tell anyone what to believe, which is why the messages he shared at the end of his life were even more powerful and profound. He showed his love. He loved us all powerfully. He loves us still. And, I was blessed beyond measure to be able to walk that final road with him, holding his hand, cradling him, and listening to what he shared.”

The main message Catherine gleaned from her father was “We need to believe. This is crucial and urgent.” He was intent on sharing that message, even with those at the hospital. He asked to be moved to his own home for his final days and there the family sat vigil and often felt that son Chad, was still “sitting vigil with us as a constant companion.”

Catherine shared another discovery of those final days: “When we hold hands with one another, we are all connected–and connected to God. The circle has no end. Dad spoke continuously of his faith, rarely resting, sharing with urgency the truths he had experienced. He wanted to be sure everyone (nurses, doctors, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, those who called to speak with him) heard the message and also believed. ‘It’s important,’ Dad said.”

I hope you will take this beautiful message with you as you reflect on the message and meaning of Easter this season. We need to believe. As Catherine wrote what she learned from her earthly father, “The love of God surrounds you. Show that love to others you meet along this road.”


Send any comments for Catherine or the family to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. I will pass them along.


Any special Easter blessings, thoughts, or your own grief and memories?

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.

When Doctors Had Time for Patient Care

Doc Teters, you can barely see the green visor but it’s there, along with his vest and bottles of medicine in his old timey practice.

Another Way for week of April 12, 2019

When Doctors Had Time for Patient Care

The first doctor I remember in my childhood was, as we called him, “Old Doc Teters” (pronounced like “meters”). Walking into his quaint office in the small burg of Middlebury, Indiana, was like stepping into a museum from the 1920s. It smelled of antiseptic, like rubbing alcohol. The floor of the waiting room was wooden and the chairs, if I remember correctly, were just plain wooden benches, like old TV programs “Little House on the Prairie” or “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” Doc Melvin Teters’ father, B. F. Teters, was also a doctor. So his son Melvin maintained the passed-down office décor of his father.

An article posted at the Facebook page, I Grew Up in Middlebury Indiana

An article I have from the Middlebury Independent notes that local Amish families were fond of having Doc Teters as their doctor, especially since he made house calls. After he died, several of his Amish patients came to rake and clean up his yard since the sister with whom he lived had also just been hospitalized, according to the article. The paper said he was “the last of the old-time doctors,” delivering “generations of babies.” He died November, 1969, shortly after my family moved to Florida.

But I had totally forgotten he may have saved my oldest sister’s life. Nancy was just seven when she developed intense pain in the lower right region of her abdomen. My parents called him asking how long it would last. Mom remembers Doc saying, “Well how long do you want her to live? You need to get her to the hospital right away!” This early hospital experience left her with a strong desire to become an RN and she enjoyed a long career until she fully retired last year. She also remembers sitting beside him for him to pull out a splinter under her fingernail—a very painful place. She almost fainted but was steadied with Doc Teters by her side.

As a child, I never dreaded going to Doc Teters because he knew how to make a doctor visit fun: he wore an old timey green visor, glasses, and a sweater vest. The shelves in his examining room were lined with glass bottles bearing white piles of powder—and huge yellow sulfa pills that would usually make a sore throat go away almost immediately. He would shake down his thermometer swinging it from a string in a big circle: that was just plain amusing. If you were getting a school or athletic physical, he tested your heart by asking you to jog 10 or 20 seconds and then declare you “as healthy as anyone else would be.” Physical all done! He gave free pre-camp physicals when we went to Bible Memory Camp. I also remember a time he tightly tied a string around a wart on my brother’s forehead. It eventually fell off as he said it would.

Many of us have memories of doctors who made house calls, or open their doors on a Sunday morning if necessary. Once when my sister was visiting us here in Virginia, her baby daughter had obvious pain in her ear and we called Dr. Huffman. He quickly dispensed a prescription and she soon felt better.

Medicine has changed much in 60+ years but there are Doc Teters out there who still care deeply for their patients. While house calls are out of fashion, we all appreciate the docs who take time to really talk with you, not at you, who go the second mile in making sure you get set up with a specialist if needed, who make their staff available to answer questions and actually get back to you in person—not call you with a message-leaving mechanism. Insurance practices and hospitals where you are seen by “hospitalists” instead of your family doctor make practicing old-style medicine difficult. But even hospitalists who take the time to really listen, explain, and explain again—help. Plus patients need patience to keep asking until we feel we are truly heard.

And old-style medicine wasn’t always the best, obviously. We were never sure at the end of one of those cheap or free physicals from Doc Teters if jogging in place for 10 seconds was a true test of a flourishing heart!

He thrived on taking care of his patients. I feel privileged to know a few of those today. If you have a doctor like that, make sure he or she knows how much the extra attention and care is valued. We appreciated my husband’s surgeon praying respectively to the Great Healer with us before operating a few years ago.


Did you have the privilege of going to an old-timey doctor? Or perhaps he (or she?) made house calls?

I’m all ears right here. I’d love your comments!


Do you have a favorite doctor you recall or go to now? What makes this doctor a fav?


Of course, there were quacks then as now. Overall, I’m very grateful for the medical care

that is available in most communities today.


I am also grateful for whoever posted the article/obituary for Doc Teters some years ago on the Facebook page “I Grew Up in MIddlebury Indiana: (without which I would never have been able to verify the details of my Doc Teters memories!)

Send comments or stories to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  








Five More Days

Nearby mountains and rocks–here at Seneca Rocks in nearby West Virginia, are favorite places for day trips. Here my Mom stands in the shade as we enjoy a stop.


Another Way for week of April 5, 2019

Five More Days

The countdown is on in earnest now. As I write this (I write about two weeks ahead of when you read this), I have just five more days until I retire. As I always quickly add for readers of this column—no, I’m not retiring from writing Another Way! But I’m retiring from my main job for MennoMedia which has gone through six to seven name changes, a merger, and more. I’ve worked as an editor, a writer, a columnist, a producer, a radio host and radio scriptwriter, a scriptwriter for TV documentaries (including some on national TV), an ad writer, and much more. Always with a religious and Christian bent.

If I worked until July 7 of this year, the number of years would mount to 44 altogether, for one basic company. But I decided, why wait when grandchildren are growing and waiting to be swung, read to, cuddled, and to play backyard football, soccer, and shooting (lowdown) hoops.

I keep thinking of other big life changes when I was counting down the days: like when it was just a week until we would get married, or a week until I started this job—my first real job out of college. Or, when it was just a week until my first maternity leave began, or my oldest would begin school, and then college. The big events.

This marks a different kind of life passage and with it the inescapable reality that I am getting older. Some writers I know have started using the Spanish word for retirement: jubilado or jubilación. As in the English word, jubilee or “jubilation”. Does that bring a different twist to it?  A celebration of joy, euphoria, even triumph!

I have loved my job, loved almost everything I was asked to do, especially on the more creative end. Not so much the reports, news releases, marketing copy—some of those got old but I’ve been fortunate to create a wide variety of media over many years. I loved the travel, meeting people, conferences, conventions, meeting in some pretty fancy hotels. I appreciated and enjoyed almost 100 percent of my coworkers and I used to say I could count on one hand the times I was frustrated to tears. And only one time was my hand slapped, literally, by a young and immature recording engineer—reminding me not to touch any knobs. Okay! But not bad in today’s working environment: blessed to work with Christians who cared about their work, each other, and their ultimate goals.

The hardest part has been times of downsizing, times dear friends were cut from their jobs, times when I wondered if I too should quit in solidarity—for the raw deals I felt they got. Those were tearful times, and there have been far too many but that’s probably part of working for a church agency in years when churches are declining in both numbers and the ability to support large church agencies—a time of diminishing church institutions.

But my inner journey these past few weeks and months has had me thinking: When I was just starting out at Mennonite Broadcasts, Inc., all the shiny accomplished people—amid names and programs I’d heard of, I was a little starstruck to think I’d be working among them. I felt like I was swimming behind, struggling to reach forward and catch up.

Then as I hit my stride after a few years—or my stroke—to continue the water metaphor—I felt like I was holding my own, making waves, holding up my end of the boat, rowing as fast as everyone else. I began to be moved into positions of higher responsibility, was held in high respect, and I loved sailing along.

This was right after we moved to a new office location in Fall 2017. That transition helped me prepare and downsize for eventual retirement here in 2019.

As I’ve neared retirement, I now feel as if I’m slightly behind the boat again—like movements and tides are running on ahead and I’m slipping out of the race. They don’t need my input in meetings. I care somewhat less about what happens with this or that problem. I feel like I’m shrinking away. This is all normal, I’m sure.

I’ve also been feeling very scattered—I’ve had a hard time focusing if anyone distracts me, and writing the wrong name for someone, and in general, missing the mark.

Sound like pre-wedding jitters? Pre-baby panic? Pre-graduation worries about forgetting to do or arrange something very important? All of the above. Stay tuned for my follow up “this is how it feels” column that is sure to arise at some point, good Lord willing!

What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you dislike or hate?

If you are already retired, what wisdom can you share?

Post here or send comments to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

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Shirley Hershey Showalter

writing and reading memoir

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

A blog looking for harmony, grace and wisdom in many spheres of daily living.

mama congo

A blog looking for harmony, grace and wisdom in many spheres of daily living.


A blog looking for harmony, grace and wisdom in many spheres of daily living.

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

The real Italy, as seen from the heart

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