Joan what brings you joy?

This is hard for me to answer; I tend not to think in terms of what brings me joy, but more in terms of being content. Great moments can bring huge excitement, but then like a sugar rush, there’s a hangover.

I strive to do or see things that make my whole self content. In my work life, that is seeing the sense of fulfillment people have when we help them accomplish their goals. At home it may be as simple as talking to a friend, cooking dinner with my family, knitting, or reading.

What are you scared of?

(Laughing) I’m not scared of anything. Because I am older now, I know that everything is relative and nothing turns out to be that bad. When I was younger and I became fearful, I would not achieve success. Then I realized I was allowing others to define what success meant. After that I worked on my own definition of success. My life improved and I could give up being fearful.

What would you like to learn?

I’d like to turn that question around, what wouldn‘t I like to learn? I am a curious person and constantly seeking new interests, experiences, and skills. I would really like to learn to surf, however, I would like to do that without injuries. My inner prudence tells me that at my age, sadly, that is not a realistic goal.

Who or what inspires you?

Extraordinary writers, filmmakers and artists. There is no real set process to follow to gain skill in those areas.  It all has to come from within and be expressed in such a way that it resonates with an audience. A person can study what has been done before and learn how to use various media, but that only provides technical knowhow, not the artistic product.

What is your Favorite book and why?

My favorite current book is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. Set in World War II, the characters, are ordinary people, who when confronted by extraordinary events become great. It’s not about generals and great battles, It’s about a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. The reader is taken on a journey with them, and the other characters, as they triumph when the odds are stacked against them.

While we are discussing books, Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction written in the 70s is one that will pull you into its complex plot.  Described as “this stunningly original seriocomic thriller is fully capable of simultaneously eating a literary hot dog and eroding the borders of the mind”. If that doesn’t ignite interest I am not sure what will!

And, of course, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patteron, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler is my old standby. I try to read it every year to improve my skills. I always find something new in it.

What would Joan tell her teenage self?

I am not sure I would want to confront my teenage self, however, I guess I would tell her to stop moping and get to work on whatever was in front of her.  I would tell her, teenage Joan, that it is not important how many friends you have, where you went to school, what you wear, what you like, or what you own, where you come from, or even whether your parents love you or not. You are fine. You will be fine. Just move forwards.

What have or what would you like to write on the ‘Before I die Blackboard’?

Nothing! I enjoy reading the comments, learning about other people’s aspirations, however, I live my life every day. I am in the midst of doing what I want to do before I die.

What do you understand by diversity?

Everyone has a skill, an opinion, a story, something to offer to society, and is expressing it in the best way that they can. When we let stereotypes dictate what we listen to or give credence to, we all lose. A wise friend of mine tells me that the more I dislike something, the more I need to pay attention to it. She tells me that if I really hate it, it must have something to teach me, otherwise I wouldn’t be so irritated.  I’m still working on that.