Imagine that you find yourself in a position of leadership at work.  Not only do you have people who report to you, you have people who report to the people that report to you.  You’re the boss!

What kind of boss will you be?

Maybe you’ll be a positive feedback type of leader; someone who sees the potential in each member and offers authentic, positive feedback to encourage that potential.  You won’t be threatened if they complete tasks differently than you might have chosen to complete those same tasks.  You see the value in empowering your employees to put their creativity and problem-solving skills to work.

Maybe you’ll choose to be a cynical micro-manager.  You’ll assume the worst of your employees, burden them with stacks of paperwork in the hope that they will do the job in EXACTLY the same way you would.  Assuming the worst of your employees, you’ll caution them against certain actions or choices simply because they MIGHT try to do something that is against policy.  You side-step those that work under you, moving directly to correct those who report to those who report to you and thus making those individuals skeptical of everyone in the business – you and those who report to you.

When deciding what type of leadership to offer on the job, there is only one question you really need to answer – what type of boss would you want to work for?

The Choice Between Tired and Weary

At this point in time, the financial needs of my family of six – with two in college – are such that I must work.  Since I have not been able to find full-time employment, I currently hold down three part-time jobs.  Those jobs keep me going from 7:50 a.m. till about 3 a.m. five days a week and thanks to those jobs I work with everything from Kindergarten or First grade students to college age students every weekday.  That kind of jump is just a tad bit mentally exhausting!

To be honest, most of my employment hours find me doing what I have to do to earn a paycheck.  The one job that allows me to spend time in my one great area of passion – the performing arts – is the one hour or so of my day that brings me real joy.

When this work situation became my reality, it was with the understanding that I still got to set aside time to pursue my passion.  With the help of some AMAZING friends and board members, a dream I’ve carried for at least 2 decades will become reality in January of 2014 when Stage Door Productions holds it’s premiere event.  The hope is that this venture will eventually provide some income.  But for now, it is more avocation than vocation.  Nevertheless, there are things a Managing Director must do to help the first season become a reality!

I work with the colorguard at the local high school and love spending time helping those girls develop their skills (plus this former band geek loves being a part of marching season again!).  Before the school year is out, I will be directing a production for a local community theater (performances in December), will serve as the rehearsal accompanist/pit pianist for the Spring musical at the local community college (for the 3rd year) and will serve as the theatrical director for the Spring musical at the local public high school (for the 5th year).  All of those “theater gigs” come with paychecks.  Modest stipends in some cases, but it’s better than nothing!

When people hear about my schedule, people comment on how crazy busy it sounds.  Well-meaning individuals often tell me that I should free up my nights.  As one person put it “Let someone else handle all the theater ‘stuff'”.   They are convinced that doing so would reduce my stress.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

My jobs (with the one exception I mentioned earlier) provide a paycheck and not much else.  My theatrical/performing arts pursuits provide food for my soul.  There is no experience in the world that compares to standing onstage and delivering a well-timed line or heartfelt song to an attentive audience.  Unless that experience includes getting to accompany others who are doing so, vocal coaching cast members, or directing a show.  It is in performance that I am most in touch with parts of me that existed before I was anyone’s wife or mother.  To cut those events out of my life would NOT lower my stress level.  Quite the contrary.

If you see me these days and ask “How are you?”  I’m liable to answer “Tired.”  You might see “tired” as a problem and you might be tempted to encourage me to give up some of my “extracurricular” pursuits.  If I did that and you asked “How are you?” my answer would change to “Weary.” Frankly, I would rather be “tired” with a slight smile on my face and a soul well-fed than “weary” from a passion abandoned.

. . . Like I Had Lost My Mind

One of my part-time jobs involves working at the local high school as the accompanist for the choral department.  This means that I have to attend a handful of back-to-school meetings to make sure that the district is complying with regulations.

It was during one of those meetings today that a school employee and I got to chatting about our jobs in the district.  When she asked what I did I explained that I am the choral department accompanist at the high school.  She then asked how I enjoyed working part-time.  Then I had to explain that I work part-time as a professor at the local college and have three different paying theater gigs over the course of this school year as well.  Her response was something about how rough it must be to juggle those jobs and without thinking I said, “Actually, I really enjoyed it last year and am looking forward to it again this year.”

And that’s when it happened.

She looked at me like I had lost my mind.  Or like I had grown a third eye in the middle of my forehead.  She realized her “look” and said something to the effect of “Sorry for looking so shocked but that just sounds like a crazy schedule.  I guess it’s a good thing you enjoy it!”

When I had told her I enjoyed my work situation, it had been a knee jerk reaction of sorts.  But I realized after saying it that I was actually speaking the truth.  I really am looking forward to all of the insanity of the coming school year . . .

. . . teaching two classes a semester at the local community college.

. . . accompanying the choirs at FDSH.

. . . working with three different theatrical productions from September through May.

. . . teaching a small number of private students.

. . . helping out in the concessions stand at home games (as a member of the band booster board).

Yeah, maybe I have lost my mind.  But I’m enjoying the experience!


My work life – outside of the 24/7 job of being a wife and mom! – consists of multiple jobs that are part-time or seasonal or both:  teaching part-time at the local community college, serving as the choral department accompanist at Fort Dodge Senior High, working as the rehearsal accompanist for the spring musical at the community college, filling the role of theatrical director for the Senior High each Spring, . . . you get the idea!  The musical theater jobs are all seasonal but tend to follow one right after the other (I’ve had one month off since March of 2011!).  The down side to all this part-time/seasonal work is the fact that the paychecks don’t last over the summer!!

As crazy as that schedule may seem, trust me when I say that it all works out.  This is mostly due to the fact that the theater productions follow one after the other and don’t overlap.  I had applied for a job directing the Fall drama at the local high school but didn’t get it.  I wasn’t exactly overwhelmingly disappointed but the extra income would have been fantastic in helping the family finances to stretch through the summer.  

Then today happened.  Hubby came home from his office this afternoon with a message for me.  Apparently the Director of Graduate and Professional studies from Buena Vista University was trying to get in touch with me.  BVU rents space on the campus of Iowa Central Community College – where I already teach – so I was familiar with BVU and even recognized the name of the person who called.  But I was clueless as to why and even more confused by the fact that she called my hubby’s work number!

A return phone call solved all the mysteries.  BVU is in need of an instructor for their Instructional Technology class which my Master’s Degree qualifies me to teach.  She had gotten my name from on of the ICCC professor’s who also happens to know my hubby.  This prof does not have my personal contact information but knew where hubby was Pastor – thus the call to the church to get in touch with me!  I have the application paperwork to fill out, I have started the ball rolling to get all the official transcripts sent to the BVU offices and, if all the paperwork gets to the proper offices in time, August will find me teaching at two colleges.  The BVU class is intriguing because I can teach it as a hybrid – 50% face to face (which translates into one night a week) and 50% online.  The class only meets for 8 weeks so it will be busy for those eight weeks but I will be clear of the class by mid-October!  Granted, it’s a very part-time job but like I said earlier – the extra funds will make stretching into summer much more doable!  And if all goes well, this class is offered again in the Spring/Summer and I may be able to teach that class as well which would be fantastic!

Needless to say, I am of the opinion that sometimes the unexpected can be a very good thing!!