A few months ago, our Pastor encouraged us to think about ways of how the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate could be a blessing. He suggested that God could and would open a door of opportunity for anyone that asked.
As I sat before my laptop screen listening to his message, I felt a nudge inside of me. I wondered if it were possible or even appropriate for a 70-year-old retired professor of communication arts to even consider such a challenge.
The thoughts came: What would a door of opportunity look like? What would it sound like? Who and what would be on the other side of that door? Oddly, the thoughts made me nervous and yet excited. With raised eyebrows, I questioned: Was this challenge really meant for me?
Six months later, I am now a 180 Advisor and Virtual Learning Coach. I am glad that I accepted our Pastor’s challenge. The challenge, however, was not without an inner fight and resulted in many a long nights, bleary eyes, and weary bones.
Perhaps, it’s best to start with telling you what a 180 Advisor is and what it is not. A 180 Advisor is not a pyramid scheme, a swindler’s dream or confidence game. Rather, I find it to be an activity involving both extreme mental and physical efforts. It can draw both the best and worst out of me, so, keeping my eyes open and catching myself from the temptation of bulldozing others out of my way remains high on my must-remember-to-do list.
The name 180 Advisor came from John, my daughter’s beau. John’s work involves helping businesses through financial crisis. He told me that there exists a huge difference between a 360 degree and a 180-degree turn. One leaves you going in the same dizzy direction headed toward crisis whereas the other, 180, means a turnabout, a shift, a complete change in the direction and thought in which one is engaged. I adopted the name immediately and asked his permission to become one of his 180 agents. John agreed.
This excitement helped to balance the anxiety that had recently crept in as the stay-at-home COVID-19 mandate had closed all my avenues of social interaction. Our library volunteer manager wrote an exceptionally long and sad goodbye as the City closed our library’s doors. My Homeowners Owners Association banned all public meetings. The distance to my family and neighbors’ homes grew longer with the passing of each day. And, although, the broadcasted public announcements continually reassured me that I was not alone and that separation did not mean isolation, I could not help feeling I was on my own.
It was in this gradually growing state of mindfulness that I answered my cell phone on that early April morning. The person on the other side of the phone greeted me with her familiar term of endearment “My sister,” and went on to ask: “how are you? I was wondering if you had time to talk.” And talk we did. And I’m glad we did. I still have the notes I took during our conversation about teaching and teachers and developing online training because of COVID-19 and the need to shift from classroom instruction to online using computers and the Internet. The pivot was shaking the field education like a 6.0 earthquake.
A few weeks ago, I gave my first online Zoom presentation to a university in Florida. It went very well. I felt like a 180 Advisor—that I am making a difference. And, best of all, I have been invited back next month to provide additional faculty training in online pedagogical practices for educators. This was not an opportunity that I could have foreseen. It is, however, a personal turnaround for which I am grateful and thank God for opening this door of engagement. I had forgotten most of my training in education and so it forced me to reconnect to theory and to practice and, most importantly, people.
In addition to my consulting work, I am also opening a new series of art on my Art Journaling Facebook page connected to my blog here at Living Life’s Way. Over the last seventy years, I’ve learned a lot about life and the 3P’s—people, places, and pets. And, apparently, a need exists for older Christian women sharing life experiences with younger women in those areas! — (we’ll talk more about that later).
The opening verse is taken from Philippians 1:11 (TLB). “May you always be doing those good, kind things that show you are a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord.”
My hope is that younger women everywhere can learn from both my successes as a new creature in Christ as well as the hard-earned lessons from my missteps as God’s new creation.
God’s blessings and peace!
Dr. Buck / 180 Advisor / Virtual Learning Coach