Keynote speaker Rosalind Picard overheard an interaction between her husband and his younger sister and shared it with the Flourish: Atlanta audience. Asked to fix a flat on her bike, he replied, “It might be good to pretend to be a helpless female and ask someone to fix your bike tire — but it is never good not to know how to fix the bike tire.”
Why has this story, from a full day of wonderful interactions at Flourish: Atlanta, risen to the surface as I reflect on the day? Could it be because my bike has stood in the garage all summer with not one but two punctured tires?
Keynote speaker Rosalind Pickard with Flourish: Atlanta conference director Karen Guzmán.
Perhaps. But I think the story also illustrates the nature of Rosalind Picard and the other speakers at Flourish. These were women who had not given up their femininity, but they were in no way “helpless females.” Gracious as they were, they knew how to fix the tire.
Rosalind herself was a blend of brilliant scientist, faithful Christian, and caring wife and mother and friend. As another attendee said, “She is so integrated.” Yes! Integrated. Mind, heart, soul, strength. With the winsome addition of grace and humility (“I’m not perfect at this,” she said more than once) and confessed she has had much to learn (“I taped myself giving presentations at MIT in the beginning, and it was awful!”).
I’ve listed her seven tips to flourishing at the conference summary. One in particular has stuck with me: “Decide and follow your priorities.” How often I give mere lip service to this! We all know the drill — God, family, then some ordered combination of friends, work, church, and community. Picard has these prioritized as well: God, husband, kids, family and close friends, MIT and her business ventures. But it is not just lip service. She uses this listing as a guide to make decisions.
She makes appointments with God in her day and in addition, keeps a Bible in her car. When she is stuck — really stuck — in Boston traffic, she will pull it out and read a few verses. She confesses the dates with her husband are sometimes hard to schedule. She does, however, set up family vacations and then, even if asked to speak at a prestigious conference where she would long to be present, says no. (An added benefit — declining choice invitations has given her the opportunity to pass some of them on to junior faculty, who may very much appreciate the opportunity.)
She has also learned to put into her calendar the things she has said “no” to. She says she is always grateful afterward that she has declined, seeing on the calendar, “Oh, I could have been in . . . ,” but instead is so grateful to be with family and friends.
Picard shoots for dinner with the family every evening, though has had to make adjustments as kids get into after-school activities, necessitating some very early or late dinners. It’s not perfect, and they don’t make it every night — but even so, the times together make the effort totally worthwhile.
As to friendships, Roz was accompanied by a half-dozen women — friends from graduate school who came to the conference to be with her. These friends have committed to being with each other on the “big days,” — weddings, babies, funerals — and they make it happen. This conference, held in their hometown of Atlanta, was another special opportunity for them to join together.
In my own life, after traveling much of the past several months, I’ve missed my church small group meetings, a regular prayer group (including our semi-annual retreat), and time with friends. I thought of Roz and declined an interesting trip in January that would have had me miss the same retreat I had missed in July. Priorities. They give a powerful framework for decisions and for those of us afflicted with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
We cannot do everything. How do we decide? How can we if not for a framework of priorities that we keep, though not perfectly, prayerfully and carefully. Thank you, Rosalind, for the model and for the encouragement. If Roz can do it, perhaps so can I.
And about those bike tires . . . fixing them today.
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