Tag Archives: life

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

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

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A Walk with Kingsley

A week before Thanksgiving holiday, I received an unexpected knock at my front door. It was Charles, a neighbor who lived just one courtyard over to my west.  As I opened my door, I noticed that he  held a dog leash loosely in his hand along with a small disposable waste bag. Kingsley, his small cocker spaniel companion dog, however, was absent from his side.

“I’m going on vacation,” said Charles with a squinted look of anxiety mixed with anticipation in his eyes, “and wondered if you might be interested in sitting Kingsley.”

“Yes, of course,” I replied excitedly, “I’m available Saturday early afternoon before the holiday. Would that work?”

Dog sitting has been a hobby that I’ve enjoyed as I’ve gotten older. As a young girl and later young woman, however, dog sitting was not always my top choice of things to do. I had been bitten as a young girl of  7. I did not know the dog; it was a stranger; and so was I. During a visit, the dog snuck up from behind me and sank its fangs into the back of my left thigh.

Not much attention was given to the bite as it was a neighbor’s dog, not a deep bite, and the bleeding stopped after a few minutes. Once home, my mom washed it out with soap and water, applied a bandage, and kissed my forehead then sent me on my way. Although inspected, cleaned, bandaged, and comforted, the bite continued to be sore for sometime. I’ve never quite got over the animals first response to me and my inability to clearly communicate.

What I noticed immediately about Kingsley, however, was that he was not the type of dog that used his teeth as first response to strangers. I was glad to learn that he liked fur brushing and petting better. Our first walk together went very well, however, I learned that his second defense was stubbornness.

As we walked together, I in lead position, Kingsley followed behind me by three steps. We walked well together until I passed the first small bush to my right. At this point, he stalled. “Come on, Kingsley. Come on, good boy!” I said gently with a short quick snap of the leash. He replied by sitting, front paws dug into the ground beneath him.

Kingsley had gotten it into his mind that he was on his own. Freedom had made him stubborn. The garden had become his kingdom. I tried to reign him in with a few clicks of my tongue. Evidently, tongue clicking was not in his vocabulary. For despite the many times as I clicked, there simply was no response except for the strong pull on his leash to the right.

“Come on, Kingsley. Come on, boy!” I said with a slightly quicker and stronger tug. Kingsley remained distracted; he had forgotten that our original plan was to walk around the gated community of approximately a quarter mile. Although it took several tries to communicate with Kingsley my desire, he eventually showed himself as a smart and gentle animal.

Through our walks together that week, I learned that like Kingsley, there are those things around me that can distract, detour, and even disturb me from my objective. Some distractions are lovely: the smell of a flower, the warmth of the sun, the sounds of the birds; these should be especially appreciated when life seems to be racing. And then again, some distractions should be simply ignored.

Once Kingsley realized that I was communicating my need to move along, I was very thankful for having him at my side; it was like having a good friend and companion. After Charles picked him up, I wanted to do a mixed media project that would present the wonder of a walk with a good companion.

What does companionship look like, what does it feel like? I’ll use one of my monoprints as a background; add some pattern and texture; an object; and, see if I can capture the element of companionship that only a dog like Kingsley can offer. The title of this piece is: A Walk With Kingsley. The theme is companionship in life. The thumbnail at top of page is a rough draft of concept. Here is the journal entry with text:

 

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