Have you ever been stumped? At face value, the request didn’t seem that difficult. In fact over the past twenty to twenty-five years, I’ve been required to include a biographical profile when I’ve submitted proposals for making presentations at both state and national conferences. My credentials and experience related to child welfare services are in line with industry standards and I’ve never questioned or given much thought to the kinds of information to share.
This time it was different. For one thing, I didn’t submit a workshop proposal. The invitation to speak wasn’t something I sought or even contemplated. It was an honor to be invited, but it came out of left field. This time the venue wasn’t work related. This time it was personal.
My niece, Karoni, serves on board of the National League of POW/MIA Families. She provided a copy of my book “Bitter or Better – A Personal Walk Through Grief” to a friend and colleague who also serves on the board. It was her friend’s suggestion after reading the book that I might have something of value to share at the League of Families annual meeting. The annual meeting is in June in Washington, D.C. Consequently, an invitation was issued.
On Sunday afternoon I received an email asking for biographical information. The person requesting the information wrote, “I know what is in your book, but could you just give me a quick bulleted list of all the great talents you possess and experiences you’ve had!?” In addition, she asked if Ronnie and I were identical twins?
I didn’t discover the email until late on Sunday. It should have been an easy task to complete. However, the child welfare related jargon I generally include didn’t seem applicable for this group. She asked for a list. Doesn’t a list include at least two items? Honestly, I didn’t know how to respond. I was at a loss. I couldn’t think of two things.
Eventually I came up with this: “I’d be happy to provide a thumbnail sketch related to background. However, the assigned task of coming up with a bulleted list of great talents and experiences is a stretch for me, so I’ll answer the question as to whether Ron and I are identical twins first. If you look at the cover of Bitter or Better, I’m the cute one on the right. On the other hand, I could be the one on the left. For now, I’m going with my best guess. I think I am the one on the right. We were identical twins and our mom dressed us identically throughout our elementary school years. We finally revolted.
I describe myself as an old child welfare worker that has had the good fortune of continuing to work with children and families from hard places. I worked in the public sector for seventeen and a half years and have been in the private sector as a residential childcare administrator for the past twenty-eight years. I am currently Vice President of Programs & Services for Children at Heart Ministries in Round Rock. In that capacity, I also serve as President of four separate service delivery corporations providing residential care, counseling, foster care and adoption services. I’m also a bi-vocational pastor and have served with same church for thirty-four years.
I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by capable and caring individuals throughout my life. Most folks find me personable and caring as well. I enjoy life, have a great sense of humor and I ‘m committed to finding the adventure in the midst of the common place. I’ve been married for 46 1/2 years; have two children and four grandchildren (including my niece’s daughter who also calls me Granddad.) I tell my grandchildren it is okay to say granddad is crazy as long as they say “ crazy and fun.” Nothing is of more importance to me than building memories for them and for me.
I’ve recently authored two books: “BITTER OR BETTER – A Personal Walk Through Grief” and “More Than Enough.” For the past thirteen months I’ve written a daily blog to capture a life lesson or snapshot in time. It is my hope that my memories will be a catalyst for others to relate to and remember their own similar experiences. When life is grasped and valued for the experience, the associated memories highlight lessons learned and the joys associated with taking none of it for granted.
At some level, I have to confess that nothing is more boring than a bulleted list of great talents and experiences. I have a very full and wonderful life, but if it must be condensed to bullets, I’d go with the following:
- My youngest grandson describes me as the “King of Adventure”
- 45 years of experience in child welfare related services
- Public speaker, trainer and child welfare professional
- Licensed Master Social Worker, Licensed Child Care and Child Placing Agency Administrator
- Husband (46 1/2 years), father of 2, grandfather of 4
- Recent author of two books
As a side note I added, “You probably think I should add ‘certifiably crazy’ to the list, but I’m keeping that a secret. Feel free to abbreviate my bulleted list anyway you choose”.
Since I devoted the time I normally would have given to scripting my blog, I decided to let my response serve a dual purpose. Let me end by providing you an assigned task. Make a list of all the great talents you possess and experiences you’ve had. I’m eager to see the list. I bet you’ll find it more difficult than you might think.
All My Best!