Friday, January 13, 2017

The Importance of a Mentor



Mentor:  An experienced or trusted advisor.

In a couple of short months, I will turn 50 years old!  Can you even believe that?  Throughout this year, I have constantly held in the back of my mind that I need to come to some big revelations about my many trips around the sun and be able to share them.  

50 years seems like a long time and I should have a lot of wisdom by now.  Strangely though, I feel that much of the wisdom I do have, I have learned in the last 5 years.  Before that it really seemed as though I was just having experiences and maybe not learning all that much, but lately I feel AWARE of my experiences as being teachers and that lessons are imbedded in them and I need to decode the lesson.  

So, in this time around my half century birthday, I will try and articulate some of the lessons and knowledge that I have learned in my time here on Earth.  I am a teacher so I am always thinking in terms of lessons and sending knowledge out to others.


Lesson 1:  Never underestimate the value of a mentor.  

Education is the key to unlocking your potential and for gaining knowledge, but a mentor is someone who knows which door the key fits into and how it opens.  There are many, many opportunities that can come your way if you find a mentor who believes in you and if you are open to listening and learning from them.  Relationships will open many doors that your resume will not.

When I was around 30, I was invited to a book club where the average age of the women was between 50 and 60 years.  It was really my first group of friends that were in a different stage of life.  Their kids were grown, they had successful homes or careers, they volunteered, and once a month they shared their wisdom with me through books.  It was eye opening for me.  It made me see the value of older women as friends and mentors.  They had knowledge that I didn't have and were willing to share it with me.

If you are a young women, get a mentor.  Do not try and reinvent the wheel.  There are shortcuts, connections, and easier ways to do things.  Be open to another woman's advice.  Doors can be opened by mentors that cannot be opened any other way. Mentors are not people who tell you that you are awesome all the time, as the saying goes, if they do...it's time to find a new mentor!  

Mentors tell you the truth, they impart insight, they say things you need to hear sometimes. Hard things to help you grow.  Be humble, find a mentor.  And when you do, listen.  It is a listening relationship for you.  I think of Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey.  Oprah would sit at Maya's feet and listen.  How much wisdom was passed form one generation to the next through that kind of beautiful mentoring relationship.


Lesson 2:  Be a mentor 

I'm a teacher.  I teach 5th grade and they don't usually sit at my feet and listen carefully to every word I saw.  I drag them kicking and screaming to the tree of knowledge much of the time.  But, I love being an awakener.  Awakening the thirst for knowledge in a child.  

You can do the same thing by being a mentor.  If you have been on this planet for 50 or more years, you, too, have wisdom to share.  Be willing to share what you know.  

I find that many times, especially in business, we are afraid of competition.  What if we mentor someone and they become better than us?  We have to think more abundantly than that!  There are 7 million people on this planet, there is plenty of business to go around.  Share your knowledge!  Be the mentor that you wish you had when you were young.  

So many things in my life would have been easier, had I had a mentor.  When I look around our community and see wonderful women sharing their gifts with younger women, and younger women being willing to be still and listen, I see the future. 

We can inspire another generation of women to take over where we have left off and make our community and our world better. It will be our legacy. 

Enrich your own life by being a mentor.  




Monday, January 2, 2017

Best books of 2016



Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave was my absolute, favorite #1 read of this year.  I am a total sucker for smart, funny characters and witty dialogue and this book delivers! I also love any book that is set during World War II. This was a novel after my own heart!   This book also now resides on my Top 10 of all time list.  Read it!  You will be so happy you did.


This gem was not a 2016 book but I didn't read it until I really needed it.  2016 started with a lot of unhappiness, stress, sorrow, and sadness.  By April of 2016, two of my kids were diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, my army son had broken his leg badly in an airplane jump, my husband had been without work since January, and I was really heart-sick and not able to find my joy.   I read this book at a silent retreat and tried to put what she said to practice.  Most helpful to me was the section on really knowing yourself.  I now also have a whole page of awareness of myself..being Gretchen...so that I can attempt to not put myself in positions that threaten my joy.


I read this in one sitting on New Year's Eve.  I love Liane Moriarty!  Her characters feel like my friends and I can't put her books down.  They are great when you just want a book that feels like an old friend and some fun characters who feel like real people.  I recommend all of her books!


I tried to read this book last summer but it required a level of concentration that I couldn't find.  That is a hallmark of stress, when your brain can't focus.  I got through half of it and had to put it down.  I picked it up on the first day of winter break and started over.  It was very good.  Set in New York, it follows the lives of 4 siblings as they try to get their inheritance back from their badly behaved brother.  Great character development and dialogue.


I bought this book at the Sycamore Tree while on a silent retreat.  I felt like it was on the shelf just for me.  I was really struggling with why God allows bad things to happen to good people.  He is a really good writer and this book was full of anecdotal examples as well as questions for personal reflection. This book was just what I needed, right when I needed it.  So, you have to ask yourself which


"what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?"  and who doesn't love a good Mel Gibson quote :)  and view :)


I also read The Aviator's Wife which I liked, but did not love.  I found the story fascinating, but for some reason the characters were a little flat to me.  A Man Called Ove was also another that didn't move me greatly.  I liked it though so perhaps it was me and my stress level that kept me from loving them and being able to fully immerse myself.  



I just started this...a haunting story of Auschwitz and the horrors that twins, Peal and Stasha are subjected to under Joseph Mengele.  Beautiful character development and prose.  

How about you?  What were your favorite books of the year?  What are you reading next?