Open Your Gifts and Make a Difference

by Liz Jansen

open your giftsWhen I was a child, I became known in family circles for my piano talents. Lessons started at age six, from Miss Pearl Latcham, an elegant woman who sat erect, her silver, coiffed hair held precisely in place with a bejeweled comb. Her rouged complexion was smooth and tissue-paper thin. Pendants and earrings bedazzled with exquisite gemstones. I couldn’t help but stare at her giant, fiery, opal ring that shimmered when she played.

While I sat on the bench, plunking away at the keyboard of her black concert grand, she’d train me. I advanced through the Royal Conservatory of Music’s grades and was good, but I was no child prodigy. To the delight of my parents, not only did I play Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, I could rattle off any hymn in the hymnal in any key, from memory. As a teen, I served as a pianist and organist for our church, accompanying choirs, congregations, and playing at weddings and my grandparents’ funerals. The money I earned from teaching piano lessons put me through nursing school.

At 16, I latched on to one of the most significant gifts in my life—learning to ride a motorcycle. The bike belonged to my younger brothers but somehow they allowed me more than my fair share of saddle time. Since then, except for a brief hiatus, a motorcycle’s been in my life.

It’s taught me about confidence, resourcefulness, personal power, and community. About being comfortable in my skin. It uncovered the courage I used to change my life, and given me life-changing moments.

I’ve wandered through careers in nursing and Corporate Human Resources but it’s only in the last decade, thanks to motorcycling, I’ve uncovered an interest—and skill—as a non-traditional healer. Motorcycling led me into writing.

Letting go of who I thought others thought I should be, or who I thought I should be opened my world. That’s allowed me to share my insights with others.

We come into the world with unique interests and talents. Using them brings joy to us and those we share them with. It’s how we find meaning, purpose, and new possibilities.

It doesn’t matter if your calling is as an accountant, pilot, or technician. You may have a passion for sales, physical labor, arts, or politics.

What’s more important is following your heart’s calling, even if it’s not a full-time gig. There’s a way to work it in. Interests can change over time, but using them, being true to ourselves, is how we make a difference.

While I no longer play the piano, like any dormant gift, it can surface in unexpected ways. My mom is in long term care because of dementia. Last week when I visited the brutal cold kept us inside so we went to another floor for a change of scenery. Our meanderings took us to the piano in the auditorium. She knew right where the hymnal would be and removed it from the piano bench. I sat and played and we both sang our hearts out. It didn’t take long for staff and other residents to join in. The words didn’t matter. Thank you mom!

Your gifts are waiting. How do you use them? Tell us in the comments.


Photo credit: brooklyn tyger on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Posted in Leadership Tagged with: , ,
4 comments on “Open Your Gifts and Make a Difference
  1. Bill Airsman says:

    Liz,
    Your writing has become so insightful, inspirational, and clearly written.

    Thank You

    My challenges now are those of approaching old age and developing a lifestyle that will allow me to help others who have lost most of their mobility. Reading your posts gives me a renewed sense of purpose.

    Thanks Again.

    Bill

    Bill Airsman
    airsmaw@gmail.com

    • lizjansen says:

      Why thank you Bill. And you’re welcome! 🙂

      You will find what works for you. There’s no shortage of need. I love that you’re ‘approaching old age’ with vitality and meaning.

      Liz

  2. Julie Rossall says:

    Hi Liz, as an unfulfilled and almost-retired accountant who has been given high marks for delivery of training, I’ve teed up to teach financial literacy through a local non profit in Fall 2018. Really looking forward to it… I know there is a huge need and it really plays to my enjoyment of simplifying concepts, public speaking and creation of presentation materials.

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