I coulda, shoulda, woulda. Some days I dream.

On humid, foggy morning’s like these when I have no children to chase around and I am peacefully sitting here listening to the sounds of my grandfather sleeping in the other room… I begin to think.  I wonder what life would have been like if…. I think, maybe I could have been this…. I should have done that…..

Not in a negative way, mind you.  In a dreamy, I wonder… kind of way.

When I got my first job I was teaching music at a place we called The Crack House. It was a tiny school run out of an old sketchy looking house, but  surprisingly  enough the talent and skills of the teachers and students were inspiring; a typical “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” type of thing. I had previously tutored elementary students while in Concert Band in High school, but had never really been paid. It was amazing.  Getting paid to do something that was fun?? Shocking! I only taught for a few hours after school two maybe three days a week.  I had 2 or 3 students, not many, but just enough to keep me busy and get a nice little pay check. I felt accomplished and inspired to learn more about music and teach more. Eventually, I left and got engaged and moved in with Eric’s family for my Senior year of High school(yep yep).

During the time that I was engaged I managed to get a job down the street at an Assisted living facility owned by Marriott. I was the activities girl. I went down there in the afternoons and played cards with them, music with them, games with them, Oh yeah and EVERY Sunday played Bingo with them(and let me tell you they were some HARD CORE bingo players!) I loved the creative freedom of the job, not to mention I could bring my animals in and could play the flute for them whenever I wanted.  The higher activity level the patients had, the more comfortable I was caring for them.  When I had to do a shift in the Alzheimer’s unit or the Skilled Nursing side of the building, my stomach churned.  I didnt know what to do with a bunch of elderly people in wheelchairs, drooling all over themselves… except what I saw one other Activity girl doing; color.  We colored. EVERY time I had to work in that part of the building I broke out the markers and paper and we colored or made crafts.  My best customer was a patient named, Mr. Botting; a funny little old man with glasses. He was usually halfway undressed, something un-tucked or missing… but always quick with his words.  He was the type of patient most people stayed away from because he sat there with this angry look on his face, yet when I came in the room and would smile and start chatting away he turned into this witty, smart ass, horny old man. Yep that’s what I said. He was a character and always the first to be willing to come to the table and color with stupid 17 year old me. I loved working in that facility and getting to know the kitchen staff. I would help serve the Asissted Living patients on the other side at lunch time. I would get my lunch made however I wanted it from the cook, who was super nice by the way.  We had company parties and always took the opportunity to decorate and dress up for holidays, even the little ones.  I loved that job.  But soon my wedding day was approaching and despite EVERY Sunday being in my job contract I requested the Sunday after my wedding off.  My boss said no way.  I argued and she turned around and threatened to fire me. The next day HR got my resignation letter and I walked out.

After we got married I worked at some strange places. I worked for a company doing data entry. It was an incredibly boring job, I don’t know how my brother can handle it so well! I enjoyed the relaxing pace, but I guess I didnt work with the right people because no one talked to each other, which made the day ddddrrrraaaaaggggggg.

I also worked at a company owned/contracted out by Sprint… you know, the cell phone company?  Well this job was interesting. It was a mass hire, mass fire type job.  They brought in tons and tons of people from temp agencies to do like 3 weeks of training.  They would also go through surges and fire a bunch of people out of no where.  The training was intense.  It was full days of computer courses learning how to work their system, the phones, their policies and everything about their business. I LOVED IT!

I loved this job for two main reasons: 1. I got to talk to people all day every day.  The job consisted of me answering the phones, typically dealing with confused or angry people because their phones were disconnected due to lack of payment, defusing the situation and somehow managing to get some money out of them.  I would get compliments sent to my managers( I doubt many of them were actually ever noted in my file…lazy managers) and GREAT scores on my customer surveys! I loved it! I would connect with people right away and laugh and joke with them or help them feel understood when they called in angry(come on now I think we’ve all been there once or twice).  And, for those of you who know me…. I get paid to talk all day…BONUS!  2. I also loved this job because Eric worked at the same place too.  I cant remember who started there first, my brain is telling me that he did, but my gut says I did.  Either way we flew through their computer course and training modules. We were one class apart from each other to start and by the end of it were together.  He hated the job(go figure).  But I loved it. We didnt even spend much time “together” we were on different shifts and usually sat in different areas, but I loved sharing it with him.  Eventually I started getting migraines, probably from staring at a computer screen all day every day… I missed work to go to urgent care one day and they started getting pissy about the time I had missed altogether. This company, due to their mass hire-mass fire technique, was very strict on their attendance…so I quit.

I also got a job during this time in my life working in fast food.  Most people probably would have hated this.  I LOVED IT! I worked at Wendy’s.  A tiny little Wendy’s that sat ironically across from a field of cows, I believe we looked into it and thankfully they turned out to be dairy cows, not beef cows…but still it was humorous to us.  I enjoyed memorizing the menus and the special way of making each sandwich; including how to put the mustard on in the shape of a W (so you get a little mustard in every bite).  I loved working with the team of people we had there.  I worked every shift and every position, even the grill!  Closing was super fun because i’m a night person anyway, but also Eric and his brother would come by the drive through at 1130 and score any burgers we made with our extra patty’s we were going to throw away, and he would take home our day old salads that couldn’t be sold any more. I love people and fast food deals with SO many people, in and out, day to day… I enjoy the consistency of having a job that allows for routine and getting a process started that works, but then invites change and creativity when customer service and people are involved. Ironic but I feel like I learned my strengths as a person working in the fast food industry; memorization, organization, socialization, leadership, heck… I learned I could cook! I learned how to do the math to prepare change up to the dollar so it would be ready at the window, rather than using the register to tell me what change to give them.  I learned I could run two stations at once and master the opening/closing protocols and get 100% on my scores from the manager. I loved my job and I was good at it.

But, alas… I was headed off in another career direction at this point.  My mother in law was a Nurse working at a small, privately owned nursing home in town. She encouraged me to go to the local Tech School and become a Certified Nurses Assistant and work with her.  I had seen the CNA’s at my last job in California…you remember, the Marriott? I balked every time I had to work with the skilled nursing patients or the Alzheimer’s… the ones in wheelchairs, stinky, drooling, hooked up to IV’s or oxygen… it made me squirm and I just didnt know how to act around them. For whatever reason, I agreed and happily embarked on my next journey to become a CNA.  While doing my schooling I was “working” as an NA(same thing just notably without the certification and the pay that comes with it). I learned hands on while at the nursing home and then when in class going through the books I understood more of what we were learning and writing about or testing about, because I was already there doing it.  Once finished with my training I worked at this nursing home for a long time. One of my longest jobs to date at this point.

I loved the routine, getting to know my patients. they were mine. I cared for them like my children. I knew their likes and dislikes, i knew their quirky little must have’s, or must not’s that other CNA’s didnt take the time to notice.  I knew how to get my job done quickly and efficiently and it left me time to visit, socialize and bond with the patients.  I dont know how I got over the squirmy feeling, I feel now that it disappeared as soon as I learned more about how to properly care for them in that sate. What this mean, how to work around that, what not to do, and what I needed to do. I felt more comfortable and felt prepared to help them. I was able and willing. I loved the honor of caring for patients as they were dying. I’ve had the pleasure of caring for two of them postmortem, being the last one to see them take their last breath, holding their hand and talking to them, making their comfort my priority. I was honored to take care of their body and belongings before the mortuary got there. I was honored to sit and be with the family. I was honored to be given the opportunity to serve them.

okay enough of the mushy gushy part, In all reality though it was a lot of fun. I laughed so hard when I would find strange things in the sock drawers of little old ladies who felt they needed to hoard EVERYTHING. I enjoyed the bonding time when I was scheduled to be a “feeder” in the dining room and help patients eat that cant serve themselves. I made a point to keep my eye out for bedsores, scrapes or bruises that weren’t there before. I prided myself on my attention to detail and noticing any change in their condition and vitals so the nurse could be notified quickly.  I felt like I was great at what I did. I never considered becoming a nurse though. I felt that I would lose the personal connection with my patients if I did, not to mention all the math and science I’d have to swallow were I to complete Nursing school…bleh!

After moving back to California I nervously applied to the Hospitals in the area… I didn’t think I was qualified, seeing as I had only worked in geriatric’s as a CNA.  For whatever reason Scripps, Encinitas called me back right away. I went through a long rigorous training orientation with them(literally days after having all four wisdom teeth removed lol it was quite comedic if you had known me at this time) and then started my first day in the PCU unit.I dont remember what P-C-U stands for now, but it was a step down unit from the ICU. We only had 9 beds and three nurses in our unit. It was SUCH a change from the Nursing home where I had 30 some odd patients on the “hall” to run around and manage.  They were SO encouraging and inspiring at Scripps. Although I walked in feeling like I was unprepared and under-skilled, they encouraged me and challenged me to learn.  I had never cared for patients with certain conditions that came in through our PCU, but they were memorable and I took those lessons with me.

I had a patient from Auschwitz, I’ve had a patient with a brain aneurysm, I’ve had a patient detoxing; smelly and dirty because she came straight from the streets, I even had a patient with cancer and brain tumors that caused him to be violent. I loved the unpredictability of this job, the close knit family we became in our unit and the education I was getting on the job. This job inspired me to think, maybe I could be a Nurse. I thought to myself after seeing the patient care from the three nurses on our unit and the quality time they spent with our patients that maybe just maybe, I could enjoy it too.

The job ended up getting too demanding at a time in my life when I had a young baby and demanding 3 year old. Working 12 hour night shifts didn’t work out so well, especially when my husband would travel for work.  I found myself sleeping through lunch time and not hearing the baby crying in the crib, or sleeping past time to pick Kaelob up from pre-school.  I put in my 3 weeks and sadly left my job.

I have worked off and on with a registry in Carlsbad/Oceanside over the last few years doing the same job as a CNA. I have worked in nursing homes, private homes and hospitals.  I like working for the registry because I have some scheduling flexibility. I miss working, but am getting my fill of CNA work now taking care of my grandfather 24-7.

The long awaited point to this blog, however… was simply to discuss the fact that although most of my jobs have been related…there are SO many more I have seen others do and think, “man I would really love to do that” .

My best friend, and since many other friends, worked at Starbucks. It reminded me of my job at Wendy’s and I always thought to myself it would be a fun job to try. Sure “coffee” people can be particular and bitchy, but no more so than elderly people right? I have always thought getting into sociology would be fun… becoming a social worker, helping children and families in need. I know it would be a lot of work emotionally and exhausting as well, but very rewarding and I’d like to think I would be amazing at it.  I think after all this medical training I would enjoy being an EMT/Paramedic… My husband wouldn’t go for it, since he thought working in the hospital was too dangerous but I think it would be challenging and exciting. Not that every call would be the kind that gets your heart pumping and adrenaline kicks in, that’s not what is exciting to me. I think on a job like that every call will be different, different people and situations. similar, but not exactly the same. I like that.

I think being a Chef would be amazing! I love to cook but break all the main rules of cooking. I barely ever taste my food that I cook. I have NO idea what spices pair with which foods…not to mention I know absolutely nothing about wine. Despite all that, cooking is something I love to do when I have time and think it would be an amazing opportunity to make a career from it… maybe even just working in a little coffee shop/deli where I make the little goodies and sell them. Haha see, im not even very picky lol.

I have always wanted to be an English teacher and that is what I have currently been working to achieve(since 2004). I love English and everything about it. Grammar, sentence structure, metaphor’s and similes… big words and little words, they fascinate me. Just dont ask me to translate/interpret Shakespeare… most British Literature is lost on me despite my mass amount of college credits in that area. I know my ‘English’ is not perfect, especially on the online media, however neither is my cooking yet it is something I love. I would love to be an author; and have since a teenager written many rough drafts of various story plots. I love Nora Roberts and have been inspired by many of her stories.  I remember when I got married and took the name Rabecca Ranaldi I heard the ringing in my ears telling me “that is a perfect Author’s name!”. No books have been completed yet, and I got married nearly ten years ago! haha.

I have spent years organizing and pulling off a casino night type fundraiser for the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation and although it is sometimes stressful, I love every minute of it. I have learned techniques to acquire and inspire help, how to organize the help and the specific jobs needed to pull the event together. I love knowing that the money we bring in each year is helping find a cure for my husband and our family.  I love the planning and the creativity of the “job”. I dont think I could be an event planner year round, but it intrigues me.

I have taught Sunday school for almost 5 years now and LOVE everything about it. I love getting to know the kids, creating material and games, preparing the schedule and classroom… in fact because of family circumstances right now I cant be as much a part of it as I have been, and I miss it.  Originally I wanted to get involved with Jr High and High School…I still do, but there is a greater need with the 4th 5th and 6th graders, so there I am. And I am grateful for the opportunity. I have learned so much myself by preparing lessons for this age range and answering some of their very specific and challenging questions. I feel proud to see our group grow and become so successful over the last few years. I am excited to see our new classroom and all the possibilities for our future. To be a career youth pastor?? Maybe… I know I have a passion for children…who knows…

I am the weird person that thinks being a cable man, working for the city in the office buildings, working in a movie theater, being an animal trapper, tv reporter, church receptionist…. so on and so forth. Im fascinated by them all. I think I could jump into all of these career’s and love them. It has occurred to me I think this resembles some people’s desire to travel. My best friend loves to go anywhere and everywhere and experience to food and culture. I envy that, but the idea of going so far and being somewhere SO different, I am overwhelmed with my stupidity. I sit there and stare at the signs and dont know what to do or say because none of it is in English. She will just point to a word in the menu and order that. She will just take her bag and head off to the train station hoping she knows enough english, or German to successfully get herself to Paris or wherever she decides to go. She lived in Italy to study abroad and made herself at home almost instantly… I would be so lost.  But in a strange sort of way I can do that with jobs.

I wonder why, though.  To get philosophical and slightly religious on you… I truly wonder why.  I believe it is a God given gift to be content and happy in whatever job I do… and to be interested and intrigued by other off the wall jobs that most people would be dissatisfied with.  But I am not really sure how to use this “gift”. I find it ironic as well that the “job” I ended up with (and struggle with every day) is being a mother. This year I have learned a lot about how to accept, love and succeed at this…but again quite ironic when I’ve loved and adapted so quickly to all these other job’s i have had in the past.

Anyway, I guess there is no real point to this rather LONG post. I just spent the morning sitting here thinking about my career past and thinking how convenient and God-guided was my path to land me here, in this home caring for my dying grandfather with such comfort and ease. I feel prepared and know that I am doing the best job I can and that it is better than what anyone else could do because I have been trained to do this, by the sate and by God.  But I wonder with that little voice saying “what if..” what God has in store for me in the future… a completely different job? Will I become a teacher? Will I end up working at the zoo?? I don’t know, it is kind of exciting embracing that new concept of unknown; the realization that I can be anything I want to and I know I will be happy doing it…. just how do I decide lol

ps. thanks for stickin with me till the end 😛

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