How did I get here anyway?

Have you ever thought about the roads less traveled or traveled not at all? We all have them — possibilities for careers we didn’t choose or jobs we passed up. Along the way, we make choices, choices that lead to other paths and possibilities.

As a woman who started out on the Nebraska Plains, it seems strange even to me that I’ve now lived 43 years on the Gulf Coast, first in Texas then in Mississippi. That is longer than I’ve lived anywhere: I lived at least 11 places the first 30 years of my life and only two in the last 43. So how did I get to Mississippi?

Getting a master’s degree while I lived in Houston ultimately would lead me in a different career direction.

In the late ’70s Ken took a job with the University of Southern Mississippi – you know, that state that’s first in everything negative and last in everything positive. I didn’t want to move to Hattiesburg, but when I got here and found the house I wanted to be in — in an historic neighborhood next to an historic downtown — I pitched in and started trying to help make ithis the place I did want to be.

Since moving to the Deep South, I’ve retrod some of the earlier paths, working as a journalist before getting an opportunity to pursue planning and community development, jobs my master’s degree prepared me to do. In addition, I have served on nearly a dozen non-profit boards at the state and local levels, volunteer work that also contributed to development in my adopted state and city.

If Mississippi — or anywhere in the Deep South — was not my choice as a place to spend these past decades, I haven’t spent any time sitting around wishing I were elsewhere.

I worked for my neighborhood, doing whatever needed to be done to accomplish its goals. I worked in journalism to inform the public about what’s going on in their city, especially its government. I’ve worked in that government to do my best to make things better, particularly for the historic districts, including downtown.

The point is that over my lifetime I’ve made many choices, while other choices were more or less made for me. What has happened as a result of those choices has been up to me. Many times I’ve wished I’d worked harder at this or that, but overall, I think I’ve paid my dues when it comes to making the place I am the place I want to be.


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