This traditional saying has always resonated with me because it is so aligned with my experience. It seems that throughout my life, in times of stress, chaos or change, books would "appear" that helped light my way. Whether your call this is synchronicity or the hand of God, this phenomena has been a hallmark of my life. Books fill my home and my Kindle library.
For almost nine months, I have been experiencing a sense of Calling. I have felt that quiet and sometimes not too gentle sense that I am missing something, that there is something that I am being called to do. Something different. I have read constantly. I have listened to diverse podcasts. Audio-books have been my frequent companion. I spent my Christmas in the silence of a Trappist Monastery, deep in thought, reflection, and prayer. I have spent hours writing. I have walked the labyrinth. I have searched. I have tried to be still and let the pieces of this puzzle which is my emerging life coalesce into something new.
Before I go further, please let me digress and try to put this in a life context. First I am 65 years old. I have had a blessed, but not charmed life. I was a wife (and now a widow), mother, and grandmother. I have retired twice, once as an Air Force organizational psychologist and once as an Army Major General (2-Star) with 34 years of active and reserve service. Since I retired in 2006, I have worked as an organization and strategy consultant for a major consulting firm and as a Principal Director of a small business. I have also established a private consulting practice, Learning for the Journey, LLC.
Early last year I got my dream job. I became the Program Director for Veteran Employment Services for an Alabama-based non-profit, Still Serving Veterans. This has brought me face- to-face with the challenges facing Veterans as they transition from military to the civilian world and from one job to another. It is the first time in my life that I have been able to bring to bear all of my experience, my education (a MA in Psychology and a MEd), and my passion for mentoring and coaching in service of those in the midst of significant life transitions. Increasingly I am also being called to share my ideas in writing and in public forums. People seem to be nourished and encouraged by my message. I simply shake my head at the wonder of it.
I also shake my head because I have come to believe part of this Call to service is to engage in the social web in order to share " learning for the journey." So just how do I do this? Thankfully, I am not starting completely from scratch. I am a self-proclaimed geek. I have had a computer on my desk and in my home since 1984. I like my tech toys. I am a "PowerPoint Ranger," reasonably capable with Photoshop, and can even hand-code a website from scratch. However, my social media skills are weak. I use Facebook only for family and close friends and, while I have a strong network on LinkedIn, I only use a fraction of its power. Yes, I have Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and several other social-media accounts (did I mention I have grandkids?), but I am clueless about how to pull them together in a coherent, meaningful, and sustainable way in service to this Calling.
Enter, Mark W. Schaefer (@markwschaefer). I was looking for a book on Social Media (surprise, surprise) and found Mark's Social Media Explained. I started to read it and then realized he had two other books, the Tao of Twitter and Born to Blog. I bought both and read both books for Kindle and then went back and bought the paper versions and am now rereading them. Wow. So much good information written in such an accessible style.
However, what really grabbed me in Mark's writing is his three core elements in the Tao of Twitter - targeted connections, meaningful content, and authentic helpfulness. "Authentic helpfulness" is at the heart of my Calling and also of who I am as a person. I didn't have words for it before, but I do now. In terms of meaningful content, I am going to share my learning, insight, and experience with others. I am going to write widely about topics that I believe are relevant to a life well-lived. Finally, in terms of meaningful connections, if you are reading this, I am incredibly thankful and hope you will come back to my Blog again. Also, please accept my apologies in advance for the clumsiness of my social web skills - I am a beginner - yet again!