The World Needs You… Yes YOU!

Charli at Model Call

These were the sweetness words read to me by my daughter as I recovered from surgery. I don’t know if it was the confirmation I needed to heal or just the emotions that anyone feels when they are told they matter, but it did the trick. I saw this phrase in several letters I received as encouragement and it made you wonder, “The world needs me for what?”

When my daughter read it to me, I immediately thought “Yes, to be your mom!” But, each time I read it in other places, I would think of a different reason. I remember thinking about the engineer who wrote this in his letter, and I thought “Yes, to bring the excitement!” I could give more and more examples, but the main theme was… The world needs you… Because no one else can be you!

This is what I want all of you to know! The world needs you to bring yourself to the table. The world needs your ideas, your creativity, your strategic mind, your critical thinking, and yes your voice. We need to hear from you and learn from who you are!

I encourage everyone who reads this to look into themselves and wonder not “the world needs me for what?” But What can I share with the world that is unique to me? What are my strengths, gifts, and talents? Now, let me settle your doubts right now… YOU HAVE THEM! You were created to be a blessing to others and you are!

As I understand from the outpouring of love I experienced during my recovery from heart surgery, you are loved whether you feel like it all the time or not. Accepting that love or any help from others has been hard for me in the past… Gratitude practices really helps with this. Learning to love and appreciate yourself as the creation you are also helps with accepting love and understanding others motivations.

I am confident that I am loved by God, myself, and others. I say “others” because I could feel the love from strangers as well as friends during my recovery, and it is truly incredible. What strangers’ love did you walk right past and not notice? I challenge you to make it a point to notice. Love comes in so many different forms, and it is an honor to get to know your love language! One of my favorite ways to share love is to mention someone online and include a picture of them (with me if I have it). I like to do this, because I also like to receive that kind of love as well. Bethany Womack picked up on my love language without me telling her. It really made me smile when she mentioned it in passing because I felt like she understood me. Similarly, Bethany captures my soul in photos. Like the one featured here, she captures the things that make me… well ME!

The hundreds of people who posted on my heart surgery and recover posts can not have known how much their comment would really mean to me. It helped me understand that I was loved, in a way I could understand and valued. If this was you, Thank you! I truly felt the virtual embrace!

If public shoutouts aren’t your thing, I’m curious, how do you show love? You can private message me 😀

Ok… I know that is a lot about love on this “professional network” so I’ll get back to business. The world needs you! Know it and shine your light within your industry. We want to hear your voice, we want to learn from your story, and we want to see what you will innovate next!

Don’t know where to start, message me! I’ll listen!

Reflections on The Empowering Women Podcast – Episode 1

You_got_this photo with podcast

Working with the Empowering Women in Industry team this year has been so rewarding!  I have loved connecting with so many inspiring women and learning from them.  Since the start of the Empowering Women podcast, I have been thinking about how I could share some of the lessons I had learned from listening to their stories. I believe listening to each of these Empowering Women stories can help you in your careers.  I understand that each person will relate to a different part of each of these stories.  Hopefully, this summary of my thoughts won’t distract you from your own, but add to them. Here goes…

The Introduction to Empowering Women Podcast with Mel the Engineer.  Can we just stop to appreciate the amazing podcast Mel put together… from the sounds to the vision to better the lives of career women and help them succeed – I am inspired by her every day.  And let’s just say – she knows how to pick out cool podcast tunes. Listen to it here:

In episode 1, Lynn Spivey, the Director of Utilities for the City of Plant City in Florida, shares her career path. She started her early career in the U.S. Airforce working for a defense contractor in electronics. She went to school for Chemical Engineering and ended up in the municipal water and wastewater sector. Lynn has a wonderful perspective on navigating tricky career situations, and the Empowering Women team hopes you enjoy this first episode. The most “ah ha!” moment for me was when she talked about “Figuring out your Boundaries.”

Lynn Spivey photo and quote

Lynn explains that if she didn’t establish these boundaries, she was going to enable behavior that she didn’t want. I think everyone is different and everyone has different boundaries; when working in male-dominated fields, I think we all have a different level of “comfort” in setting those boundaries. I speak to women all the time that like being the only woman in the room; while others don’t like it one bit.  Having said that, today, we need to create an inviting space and demonstrate an appropriate place for women and men to work together.

Lynn makes another powerful statement: “How strong am I?”  Said a different way… what is my level right now? What can I handle today? I love that she poses those questions as these are questions we can ask ourselves…this is the part of the podcast that we can apply to our own lives. Sometimes, we aren’t in a position of strength and this is a moment where we can be taken advantage of. So, let’s ask ourselves about our own strength and our own thresholds. We need to know what this is for ourselves, so that when the occasion arises to draw (or re-draw) a boundary, that we are able to take control of the situation.

I love how she discusses “Experimenting” with her boundaries. It’s not ‘black and white’, though a lot of people want it to be. It’s just not!  It makes me think about my own inclination to hug people. I am a hugger. That’s just me! But I realize that not everyone wants a hug, and it’s a lesson I continue to learn.  I basically announce that I am a hugger and read the person’s reaction. Usually, I don’t hug people in business settings if it is my first time meeting them. I tend to hug the person I know in the group first. Having said that, sometimes I forget and I think it is important to notice and say sorry to the people I may have made uncomfortable. I believe in a world where hugs are great for everyone, but I also understand other people have a different boundary.

Another concept that occurred to me while I was listening to this episode was about the environmental influences in our careers. Most of us are introduced to many different career choices… how do we decide which job to pick?  If we are introduced to the skills needed to do each of these jobs, we can decide which fits us best. Lynn made a choice to join the army to be educated to obtain the opportunity she needed to be successful.  I believe finding the opportunity for growth is the biggest obstacle for growth. This reminds me that it’s our job to be the pioneers to shine a light on these opportunities… for the incoming workforce. We need to have cross-training programs that allow our new professionals to gain experience.  For Lynn, she now has the influence to make the water industry better, and I look forward to following her leadership.

Listen to Lynn Spivey‘s story here:

Once you’ve listened to the first one, it’s close to impossible not to hit ‘play’ on the next episode…

Read my reflections on the Empowering Women Podcast Episode 2 !

Reflecting on what Service means to me…

There was a man with an amazing smile who got my attention. He was very kind but seemed unsettled as I spoke to him. He had been in the Navy. It turned out he was new to the program and had just been given a service dog, named HEART, to assist him a few months prior to the event. I asked him about HEART and his new experience. We had a brief conversation about getting used to traveling with a service animal, but then he told me a story that I will remember forever. He spoke about how HEART helped him get through the stress of going into the grocery store – and while I could see the anxiety on his face as he told me the story, I thought to myself…I have seen this look before…on my father’s face. My dad might have had a better return to the workforce if given a service dog to help him. I didn’t come to that understanding until I had heard several other stories and the speech from another hero the following day: “If I can take care of him, then I can take care of my family. This dog is my family.” As I watched HEART lead his ward away from the crowd, I was in awe of the depth of service. The dogs who are offering a service, and at the same time being given a service (care)…dogs who have been trained to support Veterans, who have served our country…this cycle of service got me thinking about what ‘Service’ means to me.

Reflecting on Service