The Southern California Mediation Association is one of the most extraordinary organizations I’ve ever been a part of. The benefits of joining are only equal to the benefits you derive from becoming a mediator. The most important qualities a mediator has to possess are patience and generosity of spirit. Also, the ability to listen with an open mind and heart, leaving your own biases behind in your quest to be as even-handed as the case demands.

The members share a moral imperative to be of use, a need that made me leave behind my former career as an actor and, at first, become a continuation high school teacher and adjunct community college professor.

But my need to be of use came to me at three o’clock in the morning while sitting on a pipe inside a pet food warehouse somewhere in deepest, darkest Pennsylvania, waiting while the employees to complete their “lunch” break. I was in the middle of the shortest job I ever had – driving 18-wheelers – which I did for four months during the winter of 2001-2002.

Having returned to live in America after 26 years of living in Europe, 25 in London, I needed a job and the county I chose to live in was offering free tuition in the job of my choice so I chose driving because I’ve always loved a challenge. But while it was thrilling, dangerous, and occasionally boring (especially in Pennsylvania), it did not satisfy something in me.

Having driven down from the depot in upstate New York to the warehouse, I was perched on the aforementioned pipe, and I realized that truck driving was not going to be it for me. So it became the only job I ever quit, and I never looked back.

Soon after that, we moved to California where I started subbing, then realized that I enjoyed teaching (though not subbing), got a Master’s Degree in Education and Instructional Technology, and my single-subject teaching credential and went full-time, mediation being not yet a blip on my radar.

From 2008 until 2021, I taught English in the continuation high school, and the day I retired in July 2021, I started training to be a mediator and I love it. Who has made it possible? The men and women of the SCMA, who hold online meetings frequently especially to help new members. Their annual meetings are excellent forums of information and inspiration. I haven’t started making money from mediation yet but I’m sure with their encouragement, advice, and mentorship it won’t be long.