Self-Awareness, Gifts, and Calling

My PhD program has a strong emphasis not just on the theoretical, but also on the practical.  We are encouraged to learn more about our own leadership style and gifts.  These are a sample of the books I have acquired on self-awareness, gifting, and calling throughout my life – not including the grad school books.  I realized recently that this is a topic I’ve been interested in for most of my adult life.  Recently a prof used the term ‘quiet leadership’ and that resonated with me.  I’ve been writing about and pondering serenity these last two years; I know that it is a gift and I’m thankful that I’ve been given this gift.  Trying to determine if that is the direction I might be going with my dissertation topic.


Career Reflections

Life takes many twists and turns.  Careers morph during the course of a lifetime.  But certain skills and traits will serve you well in any career.  Of course, serenity helps you to navigate change and flourish. As I was reflecting on some of the things I am learning about leadership and about some of the things that have served me well in the varied course of my career, I came up with a list.

I am a firm believer in creating a strategy map to design your career and your career goals and aspirations.  Lately, I’ve been working on focus and intention.  My new planner is helping me to more effectively use time-blocking and goal setting to have the discipline to work on what matters most.

There are certain life skills that I believe have served me well.  I think these can be taught but are also ‘caught’ through the influence of significant people in your life.

What are the skills and traits you consider most important in a successful career?

Personal Trials

I have a friend who I hold in high esteem although we have not had the privilege of meeting in person yet.  We became phone and then online friends a few years ago when we were both in the midst of transitions and associated with the same ministry.  Now I keep up with her on social media and through her excellent blog, Everyday Derring Do.
Allie said this recently on her blogpost: “It has been a shadowy season. So many mornings the sun felt obscured and the earth surreal. I wished for an unbroken heart. And I worked for healing when breathing seemed too much to ask.”  This quote really resonated with me as we went through the ordeal of the last few months.  When trials seem to much to bear, when daily life is a struggle just to focus and keep putting one foot in front of the other, we must hang on to the One who offers hope and healing.  Even in the midst of pain and heartache, He will meet you.
I often find it easier to process my thoughts by writing.  Love your writing, Allie!  Keep it up – you have a beautiful way with words.  Like you, I find I can express myself better with pen and paper or virtual pen and paper.  Like you, I’m seeking God in the shadowy season.  I’m finding Him nearby even in the midst of one of the most difficult seasons of my life.

The Deli

The Deli

Picture this.  The main street of town ends in a “T” on the waterfront at the Bay.  This is a small town, a handful of shops and restaurants, and no chain stores (except maybe the hardware store but it retains its small town flavor).  At the bottom of the street is a small wharf where the ferry used to run across the bay until the bridge was built in 1969.  No matter, the area is still called East Ferry.

There is a small indy coffee shop with an outdoor patio overlooking the bay.  The town is, as yet, thankfully undiscovered.  My father went to the coffee shop every morning at 6:30 to meet his buddies.  They sat outside and chatted and worked crossword puzzles.  They had a community.   The friends were all in their seventies or older.  I stopped in recently on a Sunday and spoke to the baristas – they knew the schedule of this group – they would be in after church today according to the baristas.  I was hoping to say hello to the group, but I didn’t realize that, like many of their generation, they were faithful churchgoers.  I saw them in July and I’ll catch them next time.

Although my dad was an introvert, he almost never missed a day at the deli during his summers on the island.  In fact, last fall he was taken by ambulance to the hospital with a severe case of bronchitis.  He was not admitted, but the next day he stayed home.  The day after though, much to our surprise, he was at the deli – still feeling awful, but wanting that community.  In Florida, he didn’t have a group or a deli, but he started going to the clubhouse in the early morning and having coffee with the kitchen workers.  Gradually he built up a small community there as well.

I am blessed to have my own group of “dames at the deli” – once a week we meet for breakfast and fellowship.  But I think I might like to have a small town tradition of daily community at the deli.  I am coming to realize I may be missing out.

It's an honor to be there
Walking this sacred road

This morning my friend Sarah sits by the bedside of her father, one of the members of the deli group.  He is in hospice and his breathing is slowing down.  We exchanged text messages this morning encouraging one another on this difficult road as we journey alongside our loved ones as they pass from this world to the next.

We are privileged to have the time to honor the legacy of our fathers as they make the journey from this world.

Best Year Ever? Worst Year Ever?

2017 started out like many years – with me desiring to make the most of my time and energy. So I signed up for Michael Hyatt‘s course Best Year Ever.  I began the year with great goals and high productivity. I was excited about using time blocking to manage my time and increase my results. My personal and professional lives were going along swimmingly.

On April 3rd everything came to a screeching halt. Our daughter and my parents were in a horrific car accident. Thus began a four month ordeal that I will share more about in a future post. I spent weeks at a time in Florida with my family.

Is it?
Aqua Notes Inspiration

In my shower there hangs an Aqua Notes waterproof pad for jotting down great ideas that often come to me first thing in the morning. At the beginning of the year, I wrote on the top sheet “2017 BEST YEAR EVER.” Every time I came home from Florida, that paper would be staring me in the face each morning. I began to wonder if this was the Worst Year Ever.

Although I was tempted to cross out the word “Best” several times with a big X, I did not. I came to see that even in the midst of the worst ordeal of my life, there were still things to be thankful for. I tried to add to my 1000Gifts thankfulness journal. I held on to my faith and searched for moments of serenity amid the stress and exhaustion. I prayed like never before. I sought God and tried to continue to praise Him despite my circumstances.

Serenity in the Midst of Turmoil

There is a lot of unrest in America following the recent election.  So many are worried about the future of our country.  Social media is full of opinions on both sides of the fence.   It is easy to get caught up in the turmoil.  And yet, we must remember that our God is in control.  He holds us in the palm of His hand.  He watches over us and our country.  He offers peace and rest free for the asking.

One of my favorite activities is to go out for a walk and enjoy the beauty of nature.  In this way, I reconnect with God and refresh my spirit.  I see the incredible world that God has made and I am at peace.  I enjoy fresh air, beautiful vistas, a bit of exercise, and photo ops.  Hope you will enjoy these pics from a later afternoon hike in the woods near our home.

Ridley Creek
This old stone wall (maybe a damn) is in the middle of the woods

As you contemplate natural beauty, allow your soul to be at rest and allow peace to invade your spirit.  Take time to enjoy the world around you.

Meteor Showers

Our family loves meteor showers and star gazing.  Enough that we get up in the middle of the night and predawn hours to enjoy the sights.  When the kids were small, we got up about 4 am to lie on the golf course in Florida one time to watch the meteors.  A few years ago, Katryn and I got up about 2 am, spread a blanket on our lawn, and lay looking at the meteors and talking about life for an hour.  More recently Deryck and I set alarms and went out on the second floor balcony in the midnight hours to watch for meteors.  There is something about the majesty of the skies that makes it worth getting up to see these sights.  I am continually amazed and awed by creation and its beauty.  When I spend time in nature, it grounds and centers me; it reminds me of how big God is and how He loves to bring us joy and delight.  I find serenity when I can spend time outdoors enjoying all the sights of weather, sky, nature, creatures, and trees.  Most days I stop to take pictures of clouds or sunsets.  Taking time for the enjoyment of life’s little pleasures keeps me serene.

Gordon Moments

I attended Homecoming at my alma mater last weekend.  It was wonderful to be back on campus and see how much the college has grown.  There was a vibrancy on campus – an excitement for all that God is doing in and through the college.  There are many new buildings since I was there and the facilities are quite impressive.  The college has kept up with education trends and the needs of the student population.  At the same time, they have kept the natural beauty of the campus intact and there are beautiful places to walk both on the perimeter of the campus and in the heart of it.  The sense of place and of mission is very strong on this college campus.  Even the older buildings are filled with the energy of staff who are enthused about the direction and goals of the college.

We walked through the woods to the large pond and I remembered walking and cross-country skiing on these paths as well as canoeing and swimming in the pond.  I saw a few old friends and met several new ones.  The college motto is “Lives Worth Leading” and they are intentionally shaping students to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Natural Beauty on Campus

Sailing to My Destination

I recently took an inventory of my spiritual gifts.  My number two and three gifts were Nurturing Leadership and Faith.  My faith is central to my life and I seek to love and serve God in all I do.  My primary spiritual gift of Visionary and Managing Leadership can best be described with an analogy from my love of sailing. The owner of the yacht decides where it will go, the navigator determines how to get there, and the helmsman actually gets the boat to its destination. I am a skilled navigator and helmsman both on the water and in life.

In Narragansett Bay
In Narragansett Bay