“They still call me a Yankee,” Pat Layky said of longtime friends and neighbors in tiny Estillfork, Ala., an unincorporated community in the northeastern part of the state. “And I’ve lived (in Alabama) two-thirds of my life.”
Her tone conveyed an understated affection for these neighbors, most of whom go back at least five generations in this remote and beautiful area. Layky felt drawn immediately to the 80-acre plot just south of the Tennessee border and its views of the Little Cumberland Mountain — “but only in the winter; too many trees in the summer,” she noted with a scientist’s precision.
Over the next several years, while living in a mobile home park to save for a down payment, Layky designed and supervised the construction of her home. After she moved in, Layky drove 45 miles each way to work at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville, Ala., until she retired in 2010 after a 42-year career.
She never seriously considered leaving. Instead, she’s crafted a life of hard, rewarding work, time for reading, contemplation and outdoor activities, and a variety of volunteer work in the community.
A good portion of your projects, especially if you work somewhere like NASA, will be canceled. You’re dealing with scientists who give you a first set of requirements, but then costs can spiral and you have to redo things. You often have to redo things. Just keep working hard on your projects.
Because you’re going to make some (mistakes). I sure did.
Stand up for yourself. You’ve got so many opportunities.