Now, after feeling as if, not only have I been doing the same thing for way too long, but also someone else’s thing—helping not only my husband but others to fulfill their goals and dreams—I started to think about my goals and dreams.
Three words that describe you today?
Curious. Candid. Connector.
What are you up to these days?
I took the leap in the Spring of 2018 to start my doctorate in cross-cultural transformational leadership. Back in the day, I had just squeezed in my MBA in International Management before our daughter was born (I missed the graduation ceremony because I was giving birth). She is now in medical school. Our son is finishing his master’s degree…so that’s how old our kids are.
My husband and I have been helping authors write books for twenty years (www.killiancreative.com). As freelance writers and editors, it sometimes seems we never leave our computer screens, let alone the house! We met as Peace Corps volunteers in the Central African Republic thirty-five years ago—and then moved to Greece for eight years where both of our kids were born.
Before joining the Peace Corps, I had gotten my undergraduate degree in International Relations. My husband shared my love for traveling and living overseas. But when the kids were nearing school age, we decided to move back to the States—for reasons that both pulled and pushed us in that direction. That was twenty-three years ago.
Now, after feeling as if, not only have I been doing the same thing for way too long, but also someone else’s thing—helping not only my husband but others to fulfill their goals and dreams—I started to think about my goals and dreams. I did not dream of being an editor, nor was it my life goal to help people write books.
So, what did I dream of doing? Did I dream of going back to school? Maybe. Did I dream of traveling? Yes of course. Did I dream of doing something that would make a difference in the world? Heck yeah.
I started my doctoral program on April 1, 2018, and in May traveled to Kuala Lumpur for the immersion portion of that first course. That summer, we went back to Greece (for a wedding) for the first time since we’d left, and in the Fall, returned to England (also for a wedding) for the first time since my husband and I traveled there between my first and second year of Peace Corps (he had completed his two years so was headed back to the States, while I returned to Africa).
It was a year of coming full circle on many fronts.
And, yes, back to Africa: Deciding to focus my doctoral research on factors enhancing women’s leadership efficacy in Sub-Saharan Africa, I traveled to Ethiopia to a visit a program there this past summer (2019)—and based on that trip, was inspired to create this website: www.modelagencynow.com. In November, I will travel to Rwanda to visit a different type of program.
What brings you the most joy today?
Aside from my family (which always feels like stating the obvious), it would be our family cabin. My favorite place on the planet is a little cabin that has been in our family for generations; it’s like going back in time—no wifi, no phone, no TV. It sits on enough land that you can’t see any neighbors. You can walk out in your pajamas and drink your coffee on the swing, watch the squirrels, listen to woodpeckers, study the ants.
I do most of my journaling and reading and thinking there—and when I have a deadline, it’s the place I most readily find my genius zone. It’s also where I head when I need to detox on all levels. I find it’s about the only place I can really unplug (that’s not a Greek island)—being there always refreshes me, and I’m always sad to leave. It’s definitely my happy place.
The only drawback is that there are no bike paths or tennis courts. Aside from just “being” at the cabin, I love riding my new e-bike and playing tennis—my two favorite “activities” other than reading and journaling.
I recently attended a free writing workshop at the library facilitated by Lisa Jones, where she had us do a little exercise about where we are from. I can’t remember now what the actual prompt was…but this is what I came away with, and it brought me joy:
I’m from the crunch of fallen needles under my feet,
The mischief of squirrels and the quiet rushing of pine.
I’m from dry, arid savannah, kerosene lanterns, and mud walls…hard earth and big skies…drums and dancing barefoot with neighbors.
I’m from precious solitude, pen on paper, piles of books, and curiosity—the smell of rain on dust, smoking fires, and benevolent vermin.
I’m from friendship, fellowship, and fidelity.
I’m from close-knit relationships, solid ground, and safety nets…long genealogies, family relics, and quirky treasures precious for the stories they tell of a distant time.
I’m from so much wine, flowing freely, softening the hearts of mothers and mothers-in-law..
I’m from generosity.
What books have you recently enjoyed and why?
A book I recently read that I very much enjoyed was The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. I probably read it through twice. I thought it was really well presented and written (“preach it sister” is what I said to myself quite a bit). Kudos to Mrs. Gates.
Two other books I read this year side by side, which seemed serendipitous actually, were Conscious Capitalism by Jay Jakub and Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura. I’ve recommended to everybody I know that they read both, together. It’s like who would have thought ranch dressing would go so well with barbecue sauce. Good stuff.
A “pop” book I’ve enjoyed is Marie Forleo’s Everything Is Figureoutable…had to pick it up because I’m a long-time fan of hers. She never disappoints. It’s a well-written and engaging read that will inspire you to go figure something out—if not everything.
A recent novel I couldn’t put down was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I also recommend Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Ethiopian author, Maaza Mengiste (greatly anticipating her newly-released The Shadow King). Powerful historical fiction that more people should be reading.
Favorite way to spend time today?
I would be remiss if I did not come right out and say that my favorite way to spend time today is with my husband. Of course, I want to also say my children, but today they are on two opposite ends of the country. I will admit, however, when we were all together for a rare few days on the Oregon Coast this summer, it was my favorite thing of all. My next favorite thing was when my husband and I had a rare opportunity to travel just the two of us to London. That was special. I would like to do more of both of those things. Just being with the people I love the very most…no matter where.
Hopes for ten years from now?
Just being with the people I love the very most…no matter where.
When I’m 66 years old, I hope my husband and I are fit and healthy—more fit than we are now. I’ve taken my health for granted, and now that I’m “getting older,” it’s time, I suppose, to get serious. So, my number one goal is not so much to “get in shape,” as it is to establish a daily exercise routine that I enjoy. I just need to move more—and move for the love of moving.
Ten years from now, I hope my kids have found love and work that brings them joy. I know they both would like to start families of their own, so I do hope that has become a reality for them ten years from now (also, selfishly, so that I will still be around many more years to enjoy that adventure with them!).
Ten years from now, I hope I will have written a book with my name on the cover. Perhaps as a result of my research, or some other thing I have discovered along the way—I hope to be able to add something meaningful to the global conversation concerning women’s leadership efficacy. I’m not quite sure where my research will lead me, I’m just getting started; but I would like to contribute to changing the narrative of who is able to lead, especially where leaders are needed most.
Last but not least, I hope my husband and I are partnering in some interesting endeavor. We have worked together in this business for twenty years and have always dreamed of facilitating writing workshops—or some kind of a retreat. It would be a long-time dream to co-facilitate something like that at an interesting venue (not a hotel conference room)—maybe on a cruise? At a mountain resort? In another country?