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Now for the second part in our two-part series learning about how Alexa, our double-careerist makes space for work, life and passion. If you want to catch up, read Part 1 here.

How do you feel about your work/life/passion? How do you feel like it will evolve?
I have the best job in the world.  I get paid to backpack 20 miles a day off trail at 10,000ft and catch frogs.  But my work is seasonal, temporary, and without benefits.  Looking forward to a life with more permanence and stability, I am addressing the differences between wants and needs to guide career decisions.  I need a home, a community, daily exercise in the mountains, and time with my amazing husband.  I want (but may need) to think critically and problem solve, to make things with my hands, and to live in a place I love.  I don’t want to feel like I can’t afford avocados, or fresh berries, or a teeth cleaning, or a new exhaust system…

What are some things that sorta hold you back?
I make a lot of excuses to NOT pursue the things I love.  I have a hard time taking risks.

What do you do in your free time to get more passion in your life?
I bake my own bread and crackers and make my own yogurt when I have time.  I run and ski and climb but rarely take ownership of risk in the latter two.  I do yoga on my own but usually call it “active stretching” because I don’t want to buy in too much.  Not much in this world is better than sleeping in with the person you love, enjoying a breakfast of bagels and lox and stove-top espresso, going out for an afternoon hike, ski tour, run, or climb, and finishing off the day with tasty homemade dinner.  Oh, and reading is WAY better than watching Netflix but sometimes TV happens….

When you were little, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
As a kid, I honestly didn’t know what I would be when I grew up. I thought I would figure it out as I went along.  And, now that I am partially grown up, I still don’t know what I will be when I am fully grown up, or if I will EVER fully grow up for that matter.

I will say that as a child,
1) the bottoms of my feet were usually black and tough from running around barefoot outside;
2) I had a sketchbook and enjoyed arts and crafts time;
3) I would conduct week long experiments in the bathtub to create the perfect bath product concoction, and when my mom would invariably knock one of my incubations over while shaving her legs, the experiment would have to start over from scratch and I would not be pleased; and
4) I put myself down for naptime regularly.

So, not much has changed, except that I am worse about the sketchbook and better about the experiments.

Now that you’re grown up, what will you be?
An ecologist-baker-printmaker-mom-homesteader, of course.

How can we find you if we want to learn more?
Rikki Goldenberg has used smoke signals in the past with pretty good results.

Anything else you want to share?
Um, when a page won’t load on Chrome, ever wonder why there is a dinosaur at the top of the message?  Try pressing the spacebar once, and then press it again, and watch that dinosaur…

So there you have it folks! But, one of the last bits of advice Alexa shared may have been my favorite:
It was actually good for me to write these sorts of thoughts down.  I’ve been going back and forth about returning to school for ecology since September, and I just need to do it.  It is time to commit, because committing to something is better than waiting to commit to the “right” thing.  There is no “right” thing at the end of the day.  I do not believe in soul-mates, and I do not believe in a soul-career.  In both cases of mate and career, the chemistry needs to be there, but so does the effort to make things work.  Its about making the choice right, not so much about making the right choice.  Masters (or PhD…..) in ecology, here I come.

Here’s to committing to try new – scary- things! Thanks Alexa!!

If you’re interested in telling me about your own work/life/passion balance creation, shoot me a note at workhappi AT gmail.

We’re excited to share with you Alexa’s take on managing work, life and passion in a two-part series. Alexa is a biological science technician for the Department of Interior from April to October and a ski instructor from December to March. Her story is one that shows just how you can truly craft your own approach to work and joy – and location.

What kind of work do you do?
At the Department of the Interior, the research projects I work on vary in scale, scope, and subject – from grasses to amphibians, from killing invasive species to saving endangered ones, from desert riparian corridors to alpine meadows and lakes. As a ski instructor,  my main bread and butter is ripping around the mountain with 4-6 year olds.  Sometimes trying, but generally adorable.

What are some things that make work “work” for you?
Structure. A job gives me purpose and structure, which in turn helps me manage my free time better.  My dad says, “If you want something done, give it to a busy Alexa.”  Catch-22, but I waste my time when I have limitless amounts of it. I work well with structure but without being micromanaged.  My ideal work environment provides a loose framework within which I can work creatively and with autonomy.

Meaning. I need to work, and my work needs meaning. I am not put together to have my work simply fund my free time.  Work does not need to be awe-inspiring or profound, but it must have a purpose I can get behind.

Repetition. All jobs have repetitive elements.  I do best when my job requires some creativity, problem-solving, or new human interaction on a regular basis.  If not, I better be working outside in a beautiful place.

Outside time. Getting paid to play outside is great.  I currently get paid to backpack and ski, and I have been paid to hike, canoe, climb, and play in the mud in the past.  But no one pays you that much to play outside.  Its a trade-off.

Check in next week to learn more about what Alexa does in her free time, how she’s planning for the future and how I normally try to reach her.

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