In recent years Iíve become a big fan of thinking ahead, or at least trying to envision how present actions relate to future hopes, wishes, and dreams. In 1996, this led me to a position as an Assistant Professor at George Mason University in Northern Virginia, where I taught courses on Language, Culture, and Technology, and mentored graduate students conducting qualitative research.
A portion of my time at GMU was also dedicated to community work. We had a sizable grant from HUD to develop a program called The Urban Alternative. UA was located in an extremely culturally-diverse section of Northern Virginia. Among other things, we got together a bunch of cast off computers and set up a free lab in one of the neighborhood housing complexes. As part of my work with UA, I helped adult English as a Second Language students write stories about their cultural keepsakes and their dreams for the future. This project culminated in a collection of essays called Keepsakes and Dreams.
The irony was that while I diligently worked with community members to identify and articulate their hopes and dreams, I began to realize how little time I reserve to reflect upon this in my own life. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that the goal of pursuing academic ambitions had overshadowed more important dreams. I realized that I needed to realign my priorities--to be with my husband in Boston, fulfill the dream of having children, and find a house I could make my own.
After coming to this realization, in short order I left George Mason, returned to Boston, bought a house, and adopted our two children.
So be forewarned that grounding the present in the future can turn your world around.
My life has come into alignment in such a short period of time that I can sometimes hardly believe it.
But I do have one wish that I'm still working on. I would like to strike a balance between my professional life and my family life. Before I had children, I worked around the clock. But just because I love my children doesn't mean that I want to abandon the idea of a work life that is as ideal as my home life.
I want to work in contexts in which my intellect and creativity are perceived as assets. I want to be provided time and resources to keep current in my profession. I want to work within a community of dedicated people who have a sense of play and warmth. I want to be involved in projects that generate high-quality educational experiences on the Internet.
... and I'd also like to find a little more time to spend alone with my husband ;-)