All posts filed under: What’s Next…

Thoughts on my Gap Year, Encore Career, and Whatever Comes Next

Dinos on the Montana Landscape

UPDATED: How can I miss you if you won’t go away?

Editors Note: Originally posted on May 5, 2019, here we are on September 30, 2020, the day after the first presidential “debate”, and this is the “egg on my face” update. Who knew that good old 77-year old Joe Biden would be JUST what the country needed in 2020 to face down a bullying, narcissist, misogynistic, racist con man? Apparently a lot of older, female, and/or black voters who understood that basic decency, competence, and a long career of public service would be an effective counterweight to Donald Trump. So I take back the concerns I was feeling because Biden wouldn’t step aside for the next generation and salute him for his courage and stamina. I feel he’s taking one for the country. While I still think the basic premise of this post holds, I will admit to both exceptions to the rule and errors on my part. Sometimes it’s hard to say good-bye. Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden—at 76 years of age and counting—became the twentieth announced Democratic candidate for President.  As …

Struggling with separation

In this time of quarantine, has your daily to-do list deteriorated to the point where it resembles one I saw on a recent YouTube video? 12 pm — Wake up 12:30 pm — Eat cookies 12:45 pm — Change into daytime pajamas… Having recently been gifted two pairs of yoga pants, there are days when those comfortable, loose-fitting sweats certainly fill that daytime pajamas role for me. Of course, many of our fellow citizens of the world don’t have the luxury of rising slowly with fewer demands on their time during this crisis. I have nieces who are juggling teaching their elementary school classes online while helping their own children with their schoolwork. My sister-in-law’s father passed away last weekend after a long illness where she was the primary caregiver. We have neighbors working from home while they juggle taking care of their active and inquisitive children. Our mail and packages and groceries don’t show up each day through magic, but because millions of Americans brave the virus and do their jobs to keep those …

Flowers from Pomona Family Weekend

Reflect. Reconsider. Reset.

Navigating through difficult times is both a personal and communal journey. As we each  chart our course through this particular crisis, it is important to concentrate on the ways we can show love and live with hope. Inspiration for my journey comes from a cross section of writers, historians, thinkers, theologians, poets, activists, and friends. One of my personal favorites is Rebecca Solnit.  “When all the ordinary divides and patterns are shattered, people step up to become their brothers’ keepers,” Solnit writes. “And that purposefulness and connectedness brings joy even amidst death, chaos, fear, and loss.” In a 2016 interview with The On Being Project’s Krista Tippett — posted on the project’s website as one of the “conversations we’re longing to hear again and finding useful right now” — Solnit speaks of how the world wants to categorize and pigeonhole love. But coming from a place of abundance, where there is room for everyone, Solnit said, “There’s so much other work love has to do in the world.” That resonated with me. I had returned to Solnit …

Servant Leadership

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” Max DePree, the long-time CEO of the furniture and design pacesetter Herman Miller, wrote those words in his small but influential book Leadership is an Art, and they’ve stuck with me through the years. In the early 1980s, as I was preparing to take my first leadership post as the executive director of a nonprofit organization, I read Robert K. Greenleaf’s 1977 book Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. A humanities major without any background in management or business, I was looking for guidance on how to lead, motivate, and manage people. Greenleaf’s words resonated with me, even if I didn’t come close to fully understanding their implications. “The servant-leader is servant first,” he wrote. “It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” I went on to study other management and leadership theories, attended a Harvard Business School executive …

Remembrance, not regret

Birthdays that end in 0 are much easier for me to handle than the ones that end in 5. I came to that rather trivial realization sometime over the past year. Approaching 30, 40, 50, or 60? No big deal. In fact, for that last one I used the occasion to gather 60 lessons I’ve learned over six decades. It was great fun. The ones that end in 5, however? Umm…they seem to be more problematic. Perhaps it is because I’m suddenly closer to the next 0 and the next decade than to the one in my rear view mirror. At 35 most of us finally realize, if we haven’t already, that we are no longer a kid. At 45 you can claim with some degree of persuasiveness to fall in the middle age bracket, but that has its own set of challenges. (Mortgages, anyone?) By the time you hit 55 you are conscious of the fact that few people live to be 110, and you are face-to-face with all that implies. And at 65? …

Just say it

If I had just one piece of advice to give to colleagues, friends, and family, it would be pretty simple. Say “Thank you.” Say it early and often. Two recent conversations raised this in my consciousness. First, a senior professional and former colleague was assisting an emerging professional with a networking and outreach discussion. They met, and because she was impressed, the former colleague offered up additional assistance. While a verbal thank you may have been given at the end of lunch, there was no follow-up communication after the initial meeting to acknowledge the gift of time and offer of additional assistance. In a second instance, a friend mentioned that a member of her family found it difficult, if not impossible, to say thank you, even when she was the recipient of an extraordinary gift. These family members have had their differences through the years. But despite that, my friend expected an acknowledgement of minimal gratefulness. It never came. Connecting to say thank you is, from my perspective, extraordinarily important. Saying thank you, as my …

Eleven Ways of Smelling a Tree

The February 10th newsletter of Chapter 16, a website celebrating Tennessee literature, was titled Paying Attention. Editor Maria Browning writes that, to her mind, February is “the most fickle month of the year in Tennessee,” with shifts between the stirrings of spring and days of snow (or, worse, ice). She continues, “Wardrobe challenges notwithstanding, this is a wonderful time to pay attention to the ever-dynamic natural world.” Her suggestion for some inspiration led me to read “Eleven Ways of Smelling a Tree” by Sewanee writer David George Haskell. As Browning notes, the piece at Emergence Magazine is a collaborative effort, with musician Katherine Lehman and art by Studio Airport. I’ve recommended Haskell’s The Forest Unseen in the past as a delightful book written by a scientist with the soul of a poet. “Eleven Ways of Smelling a Tree” has the same observational mix and magic. Haskell opens his piece with an ode to the American Basswood. Harlem, New York City Vintage: 1908 We crack the windows on summer’s first warm days. I taste diesel smoke, acid and oily. The fumes …