Before being eligible for working papers at age 16, I did extra chores for cash, and I babysat. I didn’t always enjoy babysitting but knew that parents needed time together and was happy to earn 50 cents an hour. After the children were safely tucked in bed, I’d stay awake reading, watching late-night TV or mentally counting my money and thinking about what I might buy – a new pair of shoes, a record album, birthday or Christmas gifts.

In return for performing your duties, whatever they are, you receive money that you can use freely and in accordance with your highest desire.
Peggy Noonan, Work and the American Character, WSJ, August 30, 2013 

How did you earn money when you were a kid?

As a high school junior in 1968, I landed my first real job at The Edward Malley Company, a now defunct department store in New Haven, Connecticut, working summer inventory, then as a floating salesperson and finally in the Credit Office. At my station, I filed charge, payment and credit slips into individual account folders, rated people’s credit worthiness and authorized larger purchases – or, in case of denial, consulted the assistant manager. I enjoyed working with the ladies in Authorization and the confidential window we had into customers’ lives – what people purchased and how they paid their bills, or didn’t. Every summer and Christmas until I graduated from college, I punched the clock outside the Credit Office. Through observation and by accepting more responsibility, I learned about management.

There is pride and satisfaction in doing work well, in working with others and learning a discipline or a craft or an art. To work is to grow and to find out who you are.
Peggy Noonan, Work and the American Character, WSJ, August 30, 2013

What was your first paying job?

During high school and college, I also did some teaching, Sunday school and flute lessons to elementary students, and course work and student teaching for secondary certification. For me, teaching was a mission. I loved high school freshmen more than any other level. The students’ enthusiasm and growth and mine seemed to go hand-in-hand. I also loved mid-management supervision, which I did for most of my career in education, and program building, which I was blessed to do twice in 34 years, a mentoring program at Ursuline Academy of Dallas and a laptop program at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Maryland.

Work gives us purpose, stability, integration, shared mission.
Peggy Noonan, Work and the American Character, WSJ, August 30, 2013

Why did you choose your profession?

For the past three years, I’ve been working as a writer. Yes, I miss the students and my colleagues in education, but writing is also a calling, another mission. Taking classes at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda and Writer House in Charlottesville, I’ve met many new colleagues, all with stories to tell. I haven’t made any money as a writer yet, but I’m certainly learning and growing, especially in discipline. I write every day and pray for guidance, knowing that I share this with many people who enjoy purposeful work.

A job isn’t only a means to a paycheck, it’s more. “To work is to pray,” the old priests used to say. God made us as many things, including as workers.
Peggy Noonan, Work and the American Character, WSJ, August 30, 2013

I wish all my readers a happy Labor Day.


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