How important is taking a moment to listen? Can listening help you reinvent yourself?
One story about these subjects, for me, is told about a worker who lost his tax collecting job. Everything was gone: his income, his years of education, his sense of purpose. He’d been a well-known businessman. Some would say formidable.
The one thing he took away from that career was his pen.
That pen? This guy repurposed it for writing stories that he learned by listening and watching. His work would be published and passed down to generations of readers.
By all accounts, this author did not make money from his stories.
Something of greater value emerged: his legacy.
The stories became powerful influencers for good: affirmations, encouragement, purpose-filled texts to uplift, to sustain.
I’ve always liked this story. It is timeless. Relatable. Unique yet universal. We are all repurposing our gifts, just like this writer dude from ancient times.
It’s amazing, really, this human capacity to listen, adapt, and redirect our energy;
To release what we’d planned on and embrace what is, a busy person will lean down to a little person.
To be grateful we have paychecks and share a bit while others are still waiting for help.
To shift our perspective from Planning as normal to Adapting to what is needed now.
To walk away from everything familiar and step into the Unknown.
Perhaps, in a way, we are plying our pens – writing our own stories for our children to read and re-read. Like the apostle Matthew did.
My next book is also my first children’s story. It’s a picture book about listening. It is also about the sweet lingering ability of dogs and their humans. It has been released on Kindle, and will soon be accompanied by a paperback version and hopefully, the entire hardcover series because I’m reinventing myself.
Some childhood stories stick with you like bright, bobbing buoys in uncharted seas. They serve as vivid markers as we navigate our days. If you would like to know more about how to share your stories with others, or how to listen closely, please contact me or read my new book.
It seems, in this murky year of unknowns, that we have all become bridge builders. By this, I mean we are learning to construct organic passageways between problems and solutions; we are building new platforms to help each other succeed.
A co-worker said it this way: “We are discovering new ways to do old things.”
She’s not wrong. If the word “innovative” carries any weight on a resume, then we need to add that to our portfolios.
Influencers are bridges between ideas and implementation. Let the intangible beget the tangible.
Friends are bridges between opportunity and reality.
Co-workers are bridges between dull days and brighter ones.
Connections are bridges between prayers and answers.
Recently, I was a recipient of one of these bridges between opportunity and reality and between prayers and answers. My publisher announced a connection to make my children’s book sing. “Will You Hold My Story?” is the recipient of some 32 illustrations of Brianna Osaseri, an winning artist who has agreed to produce poignant and imaginative works for the 32- page picture book.
I happened to be going through a particularly difficult time, and I can’t tell you how seeing these fascinating images elevated my sense of wonder about the story and added even more purpose.
When there’s a problem, there is a wonderful collaboration available to each of us with just an earnest request. Unseen reinforcements rush in like healthy blood to a wound. Bridges are built for walking into the future.
Virtual meetings, emails, phone calls, whatever it takes – the work is getting done and readers, or our customers, or clients are being helped.
More than a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done attitude, it’s a large-scale scaffolding that materializes right under our feet, wherever we need reinforcements. Some people call this scaffolding “answers to prayer.” Others call it “favor,” “blessing,” “feeling the love.” No matter what you call it, we each know when we are in desperate need of it. And, we each know when we receive it.
It’s a coming-together of talent, experience, and care.
It’s the filling of a cup.
It’s the measures taken to keep us safe.
These are the bridges to each other’s stories, and to hope.
I, for one, am looking more closely at life for any random blessings that can provide walkways to better days for me and maybe for you:
an encouraging message on your voice mail, “Don’t think that for one moment, you are forgotten, Deary!”
that cup of coffee on a cold morning, and reading the review someone left on your last book.
a holiday card, whether it’s full of giggles or full of pathos,
help from a co-worker on a difficult issue
passing along someone’s story explaining a surprising twist of events when their own need was answered, miraculously
savoring the unique texture of a loved-one’s voice;
all of these, and more, are carrying us and moving us forward.
One of my favorite ways to help someone else along is to congratulate them with words or cards for an accomplishment.
It would be so easy for me to ignore their big win and to think, “Why isn’t it my day to reach the summit?”
My guess is, we will emerge from this wilderness seasoned hikers.
Do you recall doing something like this? As a child, I’d grin showing an adult my palms up, the inside of my cathedral made of my interwoven fingers, and I’d sing, “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open it up and here’s all the people!” Then, hiding all my fingers, I’d ask the patient adult, “Where are all the people?”
We adults still need other patient adults to make us some two-way bridges, don’t we? I need to show up for you on the bridge. You need to show up for yourself and also for someone else on your bridge. Let’s look for one new way to receive a good step forward. Let’s offer a bridge to someone else today in kindness or compassion.
At the summit, we will look down to see we have built networks, catwalks and swinging bridges we’d never before imagined. Intricate networks.
When you’ve built a bridge, you’ve constructed a cathedral of strength and beauty.
Even if it is intangible.
Kathy Joy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Messiah College (Grantham, Pennsylvania) having majored in Journalism and Communication. Her career focused on radio journalism and later on government social work for family members with children in the Pennsylvania system of health and welfare. She is the author of four previous books, the series called Breath of Joy.
Her personal philosophy is that “by telling our stories, we give others permission to unload their own weights and worries.”
Most recently, Kathy Joy’s children’s book is scheduled to be published early in 2021, entitled, “Will You Hold My Story?” It features a stray little pooch and a stray, tired Meggi Beth (depicted by artist, Brianna Osaseri).
Kathy is an enthusiastic supporter of therapy dogs and dogs-in-general – they are loyal friends and excellent listeners.
As the author of four seasonal books, a social media influencer and inspirational speaker, Kathy Joy has found her voice in the world of children’s literature.
Kathy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication and says her favorite semester at Messiah College included the study of children’s books.